daily reflection: brown veal stock

everyday we have to choose one recipe, take lots of pictures of it, then write a recipe for it + a reflection on it.



Rubber mat
Cutting board
Pie Tins
Sauté pans
Butcher’s twine
Round Mesh Strainer
Water Pitcher (with measurement lines)

chopped veal bones
sachet (bay leaves, cracked peppercorns, dried thyme, chopped parsley stems)
mirepoix (large dice)
tomato puree
vegetable oil

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Step 2: Weigh out the veal bones on an appropriate scale and write down the weight so you’ll know how much water to add later. The general guideline is that 8 pounds of bones will yield one gallon of stock. For one gallon of stock, you’ll also add 6 ounces of tomato puree (step 7). Do not wash the bones. If they are wet, you should try to dry them with paper towels. If the bones are wet, the bones won’t roast well, and the flavor will be adversely affected. Now add a small amount of oil to the veal bones and mix with your hands to coat all surfaces. Add more oil if necessary. Try to break up any pieces that are stuck together. Next, spread the bones into a single layer in a large sauté pan (use multiple pans if necessary or a roasting pan). Make sure the bones are in a single layer, or else some of them may steam and not roast properly, which means less flavor.

Turn the oven down to 450°F – 475°F. Place the sauté pan(s) onto a rack in the oven and close.

Step 3: Prepare the mirepoix and sachet. Make sure the sachet is tied well with butcher’s twine, so you’ll be able to control when to take it out. You can’t remove spices if they escape into the liquid. Also, remember to wash the cheesecloth first with cold water so the starches in the cheesecloth don’t end up in your stock and affect the flavor.

Step 4: Remember to check on your roasting veal bones so they don’t burn. The total roasting time will probably be around 40 minutes. If the bones burn, your stock will also taste burned, and you might have to start over. Once the bones look browned, take the pan out of the oven carefully.

Carefully pour off any excess oil into a pie pan. Remember to dispose of this oil properly, not down the sink!

If you don’t pour off the oil, the bones will be deep fried instead of roasted, which is undesirable. With one hand and a dry 6x-8x folded towel, hold the sauté pan and move it back and forth on the stove. With the other hand and a spatula, break the bones up and move them about. This will ensure that more than one side of the bones gets browned properly.

Now put the bones back in the oven until they are a nice golden brown. It will probably be another 10-15 minutes. Make sure to check that they are not getting burned. When they look ready, take them out. Drain excess oil into the pie pan again if necessary. Don’t wash the pan!

Step 5: Transfer the bones to a large sauce pan or sauce pot. Use multiple pots of necessary.

Measure the appropriate amount of water in a pitcher with measurement lines. Pour the water over the bones. If there is a little extra water that won’t fit in the pot, keep it on the side and add it in as water evaporates. Put the pot on a stove and bring it to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer. You don’t want to leave it at a boil because the water will evaporate too fast and you won’t get enough flavor from the bones. Add the sachet.

Step 6: Now back to the sauté pan. We need to deglaze it. If there’s still a layer of oil in the pan, blot it with paper towels to remove the oil. You don’t want extra oil in there because we’re going to deglaze with water, and hot oil and water will make a mess. Put the pan on the stove on high heat. Pay attention that none of the fond burns. Add a small amount of water to see if it’s hot enough. If a lot of the water turns to steam right away and sizzles in the pan, it’s hot enough. Add a little more water, enough so you can swish it around in a shallow layer. Using your spatula, scrape up the fond. Pour the deglazed liquid and fond bits into the pot with the veal bones. Do the same deglazing process again to get more of the fond, and put it in the pot with the veal bones.

Step 7: Your sauté pan should be relatively clean now. It shouldn’t have a lot of water either though, because now we’re going to add vegetable oil to the pan. Add enough oil to coat the pan in a light layer of oil. Drop in a vegetable from the mirepoix to test the heat. If it sizzles and there are bubbles, it’s ready. Add the rest of the mirepoix.

With your spatula in one hand, and the pan in your other hand, keep moving the vegetables around so they don’t burn and have even caramelization. Adjust the heat as necessary to make sure nothing burns. Once you smell the sugars, you should lower the heat to moderate because they will more easily burn at this point. If some bits of vegetable are near burning (but not burnt yet), you can remove them earlier and put them into the pot with the veal bones. Don’t put anything burnt into the pot though. Don’t over-caramelize either.

Bunch the vegetables together in one area, then add the tomato puree on top. This is done to prevent the tomato from burning. Continue cooking and stirring the tomato and vegetable mixture.

Keep your eye on the heat, because tomato can burn very easily. You’ll smell acid first, then sugar, and then you really want to watch for burning. Remove the pan from the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Cook the tomato until it’s as dry as possible, then add the tomato and vegetable mixture to the pot with the veal bones.

Give it a stir to make sure all those flavors get incorporated into the stock. It’s okay to stir because brown stock doesn’t have clarity.

Step 8: As the stock simmers, depouillage it as the fat gathers on the sides. Hold the ladle as close to the spoon end as you can so you’ll have good control for turning. Starting in the middle of the pot, push the ladle down about ¼ of the way down of the spoon part, so it’s just sitting on the liquid. Push in a counter-clockwise, then clockwise direction to push the fats toward the edge of the pot. Then go around the side of the pot, and skim off the fat into a pie tin.

Step 9: When the stock is about 1” above the bones, it should be ready. Set up a metal bowl, strainer, and washed cheesecloth as in the picture. Make sure the cheesecloth is big enough for the strainer. Pour the liquid into the cheesecloth, and let the liquid strain out into the metal bowl.

Now we have a bowl of brown veal stock. Taste it. If it’s good, cool it and store or use it.

Reflection: Overall, this recipe came out pretty well today. I think that’s because there were some good examples from other students and also some advice. Ben’s bones roasted very quickly, so we got to see what the bones should look like when properly roasted. I’ve never roasted veal bones, so I wasn’t sure what to look for. I went to look at his bones several times to note the color of the bones. Later, when I was cooking the tomato puree and mirepoix, David told me his burned so watch out for that on mine. I made sure to be more careful because of that. Chef said I over-reduced it a little, so next time I make stock, I’ll have to pay attention more to the level of the liquid. It was an interesting process making brown stock, so I enjoyed it.

fundamentals of cookery: week 1 reflection

we have a surprising amount of writing for fundamentals. here’s my first weekly reflection that we had to turn in:

Goals: I think before class started, my goal for the week was to not get kicked out of class. That was my biggest fear. Also, just to get through the first week, in terms of sleep, doing homework, work, and staying healthy.

Expectations: I was really nervous before this class started. I was having trouble sleeping and driving my husband crazy, checking my supplies over and over, practicing tying my neckerchief, reading the website, and stressing a lot. My main thought was, “I hope I don’t get kicked out of class.” If I think about it, yes, that was probably irrational, but that’s all I could think about at the time. Actually, I was kicked out of class once in first grade, so maybe that is why I have this fear. Anyway, I read the website a lot, but I still didn’t know what to expect, and I generally have a fear of the unknown.

Reflection of Experiences:

The first day of class was hard for me. I hadn’t slept well for a few days, I was pretty stressed out, and feeling like I was already on the verge of getting sick. Sitting in a classroom for many hours when you’re extremely tired is pretty rough. Also, I didn’t drink any water the first day of class so I think I got a little dehydrated. I did like seeing the herb garden though. I’d like to grow my own when I have a yard. I even forgot my house keys that day, to top things all off.

The second day was pretty hard too. I had work and errands the night before, plus homework, so I didn’t get to sleep that early. I was pretty tired again. I was glad to get to start cutting fruit though. I felt pretty comfortable with all the cuts, which is good, because they’re the easiest. We didn’t get to spend that long on the cutting though, so it wasn’t my favorite day. I know cleaning is important, but it’s not as fun as cooking. I was also a little sore at the end of the day.

The third day was a good day. I finally got more sleep last night, and today I brought my chair to watch the demos, so I was more comfortable and had an easier time taking notes. Today we got to spend a lot more time cutting fruits and tomato concassee, so the time went by really fast. The orange supreme and concassee were new to me. They still seem a little crazy to me. I grew up in California, so I peeled and ate an orange almost everyday. That would be my preference. The supreme oranges are like small naked pieces of orange. Similarly, the concassee seems like an excessive amount of work to get a few small squares of tomato. Maybe a dish that calls for either of these could find some substitute that didn’t take so long and didn’t have so much edible waste. Anyway, that’s fine if some people want their oranges and tomatoes served this way. Now I’ll know not to order these things if I ever see them mentioned on a menu. Today I also took some good notes and remembered what I watched in the videos, so things went well. I had fun today, and I didn’t feel too sore either.

Positive Experiences:

First, I thought today when it was time to clean, my group, as well as the whole class came together well to get the job done. It’s nice when one person takes care of all the cutting boards, another person cleans all the counters, someone else is washing the pie tins, and the last person is starting on cleaning the demo station. Similarly, the class as a whole had good teamwork and pretty good communication. Everyone was contributing and doing his or her part. I like teamwork and people helping each other accomplish something.

Next, today when we were cutting fruit, I was chopping away, and when I looked up after finishing the watermelon, I realized I was one of the first people done, and Chef Leake said all my cuts looked good. I was pleasantly surprised at that. I do cut a lot of fruit at home, so maybe that helped. Anyway, if I can get better at knowing the size of the cuts, I can get faster while retaining accuracy.

Humbling Moments:

I had some trouble with calibrating my thermometer, which is kind of funny since I’m a chemist, but I got it in the end; I guess I haven’t been in lab for several years. I got a little flustered in the middle because of the heat and because I started getting mixed up with which way I should be turning it. I asked Kelly about which direction to turn it to make sure I wasn’t going crazy, and then eventually I got it. I’m glad I asked her, even though I felt a little embarrassed about my confusion.

For my bananas, Chef Leake said some of them were more like ¼”, which I hadn’t noticed because I was trying to cut it quickly. After that, I made sure to take enough time to ensure the cuts were more accurate. I think it made a difference because on the 2nd day of fruit, Chef Leake didn’t say any of my cuts were too big or too small. I had to measure a lot though, so I still need to get better at knowing the measurements.

Of the things that I learned this week, I am best prepared to demonstrate to someone else? (list in bullet form)

  • Orange supreme
  • Lemon supreme
  • Watermelon large dice
  • Apple eighthed
  • Pineapple large dice

What feedback did I receive from my instructor and how did I use the information to improve my performance?

As I mentioned before, the bananas helped me be more aware of measuring the cuts and being accurate. Chef Leake has some similar comments about a couple of my other cuts on the second day, so those also helped me be more careful on the third day. Also, when I was boiling water, my flame wasn’t all the way up. Chef Leake pointed that out, so then my water finally boiled. I’ll make sure to remember that in the future.

cruise food (formal)

overall, the formal dinners on the cruise were delicious. half the menu was always the same and half changed every night, so there was always a good selection.


crab louie, shrimp cocktail, mushroom soup, salad


beef carpaccio, consommé, tomato bisque


crostini plate, salad, asian soup, potato leek soup


puff pastry with mushroom sauce, steak tartare, salads


salad, minestrone, eggroll, ratatouille w/ mozzarella

main courses


coq a vin




lamp chops




seafood risotto


lobster and pork chop


filet mignon and turkey



cherries jubilee




baked alaska


cherry cake

cruise food (casual)

we enjoyed lots of good food on our alaskan cruise aboard the celebrity infinity. here’s some of the breakfast/lunch/buffet stuff…


eggs benedict


breakfast buffet


smoked salmon on a bagel


spaghetti bolognese


assorted food from the grill


special brunch buffet (1 day only)


dessert table at the special brunch buffet


sushi – available everyday 5-9 p.m.

formal dinner pictures coming soon, plus great food in seattle!

kung pao chicken

cameron got me two chinese cookbooks for my birthday. what a smart guy…


kung pao chicken
from chinese cuisine by su-hueu huang

2/3 lb. (300g) chicken meat
for marinade: 1/2 tbsp cooking wine, 1 tbsp each: soy sauce, corn starch
1/2 cup oil for frying
3 dried red chili peppers, diced
1 green onion, cut into 10 pieces
for sauce: 1/2 tbsp cooking wine; 2 tsp sugar; 1.5 tsp each: corn starch, vinegar; 2 tbsp each: soy sauce, water
1/3 cup fried cashews or peanuts (or roasted)

1. use the blunt edge of a cleaver to lightly tenderize the chicken meat; then cut into 1″ cubes. add marinade; mix thoroughly. before frying, add 1 tbsp oil and mix so that the meat will separate easily during frying.

2. heat a wok then add oil. stir-fry chicken until cooked; remove (precooking). remove oil from the wok. reheat the wok then add 1 tbsp oil. use low heat to stir-fry the diced red chili peppers until fragrant. add chicken, onions, and sauce mixture. turn heat to high and quickly stir-fry. add nuts and mix.

comments: this kung pao chicken was yummy. the dried red chili peppers we have are small so maybe next time i’d add another one to make it a little spicier. hmm, i don’t know what else to say.

well, this is the first recipe we’ve tried from this new book. so far so good. apparently this book was first published in 1972 and the author was principal director of the wei-chuan cooking school in taiwan.