First you stock, then you broth, and finally, you garlic noodle soup.

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I had no idea until I took a professional cooking class that there’s a difference between stock and broth. Straight from the ladle, here’s what The Professional Chef textbook says…

“The major distinction between broths and stocks is that broths can be served as is, whereas stocks are used in the production of other dishes.”

So throughout my whole cooking life I’d been making stocks and calling them broths. I know that in the grand scheme of things what happens between you and your stock pot is just between you and your stock pot, BUT I decided to walk myself through both to make sure I really understood the difference.

Vegetable Stock:

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Because I’m a vegetarian making good veggie stock is a priority (and a challenge). I’ve found the more veg I stick in the pot, the better the flavor. I used to put in whatever I had in the fridge, but now I stick to non-starchy veg to help keep my stock clear(er). All chefs want clear stock. I think of it like a painter having perfect paints. I didn’t even know stock was supposed to be clear until I put on a chef’s jacket, so clear stock could be a low-totem pole concern in your kitchen, and that is totally fine. I hover somewhere between clear and slightly cloudy, but that’s just my style.

Vegetable Stock: 1 Gallon

(Making 1 gallon is a good way to go. You can freeze the stock and use it for other recipes)

Ingredients:

*5 lbs of non-starchy vegetables– I use a combination of lettuce, mushroom, leek, white onion, carrot, celery. You can chop or put the vegetables in whole. I often do a mix, but if you do chop your veg, make sure to chop larger pieces (it’ll help with fishing them out later). And okay, I do put a parsnip in there. It breaks the non-starch rule, but that’s why my stock is always on the (er) side of clear.

*5 quarts of cold water – Cold water is key because you want your veg and water to start out at the same temperature.

*1 Standard Sachet d’Epices- A sachet d’epices is a small bundle of cheese cloth that contains, a sprig of thyme (1 teaspoon), 2-4 parsley stems (2 teaspoons), 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of cracked peppercorns, and 1 garlic clove (optional). You put all that in the cheese cloth and tie it off with cooking string, essentially making a teabag for your stock. You can always forgo the fancy and put the spices directly into the stock. Again if you want clear stock, you shouldn’t just toss in the spices, but you can join me in the (er) camp any time you like!

Vegetable Stock How-To:

*Place the water, spices and veg in a stock pot.

*Bring to a simmer.

*As the stock simmers, you’ll see bubbles gathering on the surface of the stock. It kind of looks like bubbles in a bubble bath or froth. Use a mesh strainer or spoon to skim the bubbles off (this again is for the sake of clearness).

*Simmer for an hour.

*Remove all vegetables. This usually involves a strainer. Save any veg that you might want to use in your soup. I almost always keep the carrots and the celery.

Here is me testing my clearness….It’s defineately on the side of (er).

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Now it’s time for broth! I’m making a garlic broth. So this recipe should be tasty enough to eat just as it is. I won’t be using the whole gallon, so I’ll only put in what stock I need for the soup and freeze the rest.

Garlic Broth: 

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Ingredients:

2 quarts of Vegetable Broth

14 peeled, whole garlic cloves

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of cloves

1/4 teaspoon of sage

1/4 teaspoon of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons of parsley

1 cup of white wine (A sweet white wine is nice, but anything works!)

Garlic Broth How-To:

*Bring your stock to boil.

*Add all ingredients into the stock. Let everything boil for 30 minutes.

*When the 30 minutes are up, fish out the bay leaf and any garlic you’re not keen on eating. I usually leave 7 cloves. And that’s it– you’ve got Garlic Broth!

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The final step-SOUP! I started making garlic noodle soup when I was looking for a substitute for chicken noodle soup. The great thing about this soup is you can pretty much add anything to it. Whatever ever will warm your bones will do the trick. I often make this soup in the late summer with fresh garden veg and freeze it for when flu season rolls around in December.

Garlic Noodle Soup:

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Ingredients:

2 quarts of garlic broth

2 cups of egg noodles

1 cup of giant lima beans (Canned or soaked is fine)

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

2 carrots, chopped (Remember these can be the same carrots from making stock!)

2 celery ribs, chopped (Ditto.)

2 cups of water

2 eggs scrambled. (You can scramble your eggs while the soup is cooking).

Garlic Noodle Soup How-To:

*Bring the garlic broth to a boil. I usually add a cup or two of water at this point. This will help with evaporation and the noodles pesky habit of soaking up broth.

*Add egg noodles. Cook according to package.

*Reduce to a simmer. Add beans, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Simmer for 10 minutes.

*Scramble your eggs if you haven’t already.

*Add spinach and stir to help with wilting.

*Add eggs! These guys give you an extra boost of protein and add nice flavor.

*Turn off the heat and let the soup rest for another 10 minutes, the eat it up!

*Season to taste.

Cooking School Confidential: My Inner Hermionie and Thor the Chef

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All my life I have been the shy and quiet student. I’ve never had that “you raised your hand too much” moment , but I had it last week. It all started when my new professor/Chef generally asked if anyone had made a soufflé?

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Sigh. I stopped raising my hand after 3 questions and just pretended I hadn’t cooked, or eaten, or was excited about X, Y, and Z. Because guess what? I am excited and I love to cook and I love to eat and it’s obvious.

This is Professional Cooking 101, so we are starting  as basic as you can get: stock, chopping, sauces, scrambled eggs, etc, so I should know a thing or two about a thing or two…right?

Wrong– Do I know why I dice my veg when chopping? No. Do I even dice my veg? No. Do I heat up my saute pan before putting the oil in? No. And that is just the tip of the giant KitchenAid Mixer.

Our Chef is focused on thinking well to create well (he also loves hip-hop and England) so he’s coming from a good, “food is love” place, which is important to me since it’s the foundation of who I am as a home cook.

This week we watched these fantastic videos from the MAD (A community of chefs, cooks and farmers with an appetite for knowledge) that I had never heard of before. They are all on-line and free http://www.madfood.co/videos/ . With so many interesting food people and topics I’ve never really thought about  (like foraging) on the symposium list, I know I’ll have a lot to watch on my lunch breaks for a while. So check it out.

The one by Mangus Nelson, a Swedish Chef, who grows all his own food at in an arctic climate was fascinating if you garden (and he reminded me of “Thor” the Chef if there was a Thor the Chef). Wiley Dufresne (Top Chef guest judge) talked about the how and why  cooking and it made me want to eat at his restaurant in New York.

I’ve only been to two cooking classes so far and I am so excited to be in a room with sincere, liked-minded food people, that I can’t go to sleep when I get home.

I know once the actual cooking starts next week, I’ll be so exhausted that going to sleep won’t be a problem, but until then it’s a little like Christmas.

Cooking School Confidential: School Supplies

It’s been a bit since I posted anything. I’ve been writing a food novel and testing new recipes (mostly Mexican). This experience made me realize I really need to learn the professional fundamentals…so TA-DA, professional cooking class here I come!

Our community college had an excellent culinary program, so I signed right up. First I had to pass my Serve Safe exam which took a whole semester. It was hard, but I passed and now know how high sneeze guards should be at buffets (and that I will never eat at a buffet again).

Professional Cooking 101 started this week and I plan sharing highlights, cool tips, and challenges during the 17 classes….BUT first, let’s talk school supplies because who doesn’t love them.

My white chefs jacket. My professor insists on a white jacket, black pants, and black, closed toe shoes. He says if he ever sees us in anything but a white jacket, he will mock us publicly.

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I can’t decide which shoes to wear yet…steel-toed Doc Martins I already own or get the dishwasher safe Birkenstocks he recommended. I have a week to make a decision.

My textbook, which is a crazy detailed cookbook. It has great photos and was reviewed by chefs like Thomas Keller, so it seems like a good resource.

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My thermometer

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My chef beanie…because I am just a lowly bean.

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My notebook with cherries on top!

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And of course, my school bag- appropriately themed.

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