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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Stocks & Soups From Trimmings

Root Vegetables

Chicken Stock

Soup From Trimmings

[1] Lots of trimming to come (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen). [2] Stock, ready to use or freeze—or season it and enjoy a cup of broth (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Plan B: Instead of stock, turn those trimmings into a purée of vegetable soup (photo courtesy Botanica | LA).

 

When we were quite young, a friend of the family was watching our mom cut vegetables for soup, and toss the trimmings. He had grown up on a farm in Sicily, and said: “We never threw away anything edible, not the smallest part. If we could have saved it, we’d have cooked the ‘oink’ from the pig.”

That’s how it’s been through history, except in affluent homes in affluent countries, whose denizens weren’t scraping for every bit to eat.

Modern cooks who want to minimize waste know that they can add flavor to homemade stocks by saving the carrot peels, celery leaves and trimmed ends, the last scrap of onion before the root, parsley and other herb stalks, wilted herbs, sprouted garlic and onions, the tops of scallions, and many vegetable trimmings.

Consider anything that isn’t rotten or moldy, or on the “Avoid” list below.

Limp vegetables? Stock. Herbs that have begun to yellow? Stock.

Wash and trim the vegetables as usual. Then set the trimmings aside and let them dry a little bit to remove moisture before you bag them.

Toss the ends, leaves, peel, roots and stalks into the same freezer bag—and feel good about not wasting money or contributing to a landfill. (If you’re planning to use them in a week, store in the produce drawer with the air pressed out of the bag.)

When you’re ready to make stock, plan for 2 cups of trimmings per quart of stock from vegetables.

And note that the venerable chef Jacques Pépin, an instructor at French Culinary Institute in New York City, always checks his students’ waste bins to see what they’ve thrown away. For him, scraps are more about flavor and less about thriftiness (although his wife has blocked the process at home; it drove her bonkers).

SAVE THESE TRIMMINGS

  • Ends: asparagus, celery, chard, green beans, spinach.
  • Green tops: beet greens but not the rest of the beet (it will color the stock red), carrot and just about any root vegetable.
  • Herb stems: cilantro, parsley (basil and mint stems are best reserved for pesto or chopped into salads).
  • Onion family: garlic, leeks, scallions and any type of onion.
  • Peeled skin: cucumber, eggplant, potato, summer squash and zucchini, winter squash (unless you like to bake them—our Nana sprinkled them with cinnamon as a snack for us kids).
  • Root vegetable trimmings: except for the bodies of beets (color leaches in) and turnips (not everyone likes the way it tastes in stock).
  • Stalks: celery, chard, fennel (we’ve never tried rhubarb).
  • Other trimmings: bell peppers, bok choy, corn cobs, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, napa cabbage snow peas, sugar snap peas (we’ve never tried the pods of green peas).
  •  
    AVOID: COMPOST OR TOSS THESE TRIMMINGS

    What not to use: vegetables with very strong flavors:

  • The cruciferous group: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Ditto, artichoke trimmings (but the cooked stem is delicious to eat).
  • Anything that will color your stock, unless you don’t care*, such as beet, tomato or the papery skins of onions (they’ll turn stock brown) and garlic. But here’s what you can do with those skins.
  • ________________

    *That being said, we once cooked a ton of beets and had lots of leftover red “beet water.” We reduced it and used it to cook white rice. It was fun.

     

    PLAN A: READY TO MAKE VEGETABLE STOCK?

    The difference between stock (photo #2) and broth is that broth is seasoned and ready to consume. Stock is left unseasoned, to provide flexibility for different recipes.

    You can use vegetable stock in braises, poaching, sauces, soups, stir fries and stews etc. We use it to cook rice and grains, including risotto: half-and-half water and stock (or all stock, if we have too much).

    Season it for udon or other Asian-style noodle soup.

    Substitute for cream in mashed potatoes, add to the vegetable steamer to infuse flavor, and many hundreds of other ideas.

    Ingredients For 2 Quarts Of Stock

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups of vegetable trimmings
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed, halved crosswise
  • 6 sprigs parsley (if you don’t have stems in your trimmings bag)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3-5 minutes or so.

    2. ADD 4 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the stock is reduced by half. This should take about 1-1 1/2 hours.

    3. STRAIN the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard the solids. Let cool.

    4. USE immediately, or transfer to pint or quart containers (or freezer bags, if you prefer), portioning it based on how you think you’ll use it. Ideally use frozen stock within three months.

     

    Soup Used As A Sauce

    Root To Stalk Cooking

    [4] Trimmings cooked, pureed and turned into a sauce (photo courtesy Vital Choice). [5] This cookbook has delicious recipes for every part of vegetables (photo courtesy Ten Speed Press_.

     
    PLAN B: READY TO MAKE SOUP OR SAUCE?

    Make soup. Cook the trimmings (in stock or broth) and turn them into a puréed vegetable soup, like the one in photo #3.

    You can also turn the pureed vegetables into a sauce (photo #4).

    Good news: Plan B lets you use all the cruciferous vegetables. All those broccoli stalks and cauliflower stems: delicious! We cook them even when we aren’t making soup.

    Cook, taste and season. Dilute as desired with stock or milk and voilà: Your trimmings are now a tasty soup.

    And you’ll feel good about that!

     
    MORE FEELING GOOD

    There’s an entire cookbook devoted to using every part of the vegetable (photo #5): From Root To Stalk.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plateau De Fruits De Mer For Vegetarians & The Seafood Averse

    One of our favorite I-deserve-a-treat meals is a big plateau de fruits de mer (PLAH-toe-duh MARE, platter of fruits of the sea—photo #1): a large pile, nicely arranged, of raw shellfish (clams and oysters in multiple varieties, scallops) and lightly cooked shellfish (crab legs, langoustine, lobster, lump crab meat, mussels, prawns, shrimp).

    Sometimes, in coastal areas, it may include delicacies that are rarely seen inland: abalone, cockles, limpets, periwinkles, sea snails, whelks.

    A plateau de fruits de mer is considered an appetizer and comes in different sizes depending on the number of participants.

    We’ll just have the whole thing as our appetizer and entrée combined—two or three tiers of it. We don’t even need the mignonette sauce and spicy seafood sauce that typically accompany it; just the lemon wedges.

    There are extra points for adding those custardy echinoderm corals* from sea urchins—ideally presented in their dramatic porcupine-spiky shells.

    Sashimi doesn’t count here…not that we wouldn’t be just as happy to eat the contents of a large funamori (sashimi boat—photo #3).

    But let the French serve their beautiful plateaux des fruits de mer and let the Japanese serve their beautiful funamori. It’s more special that way; and as the French say, “Vive la différence.”

    (The Japanese translation is “Vive no ra chigai,” although we’re not certain that the Japanese actually use the phrase.)

    But what if you’re allergic to seafood, a vegetarian, vegan, kosher, unable to eat raw foods, and so forth?

    You can create a kindred dish that we’ll call a plateau des légumes, a tiered platter of gorgeous vegetables (photo #2).

  • Similar to the plateau de mer, it’s a mix of raw and lightly cooked produce.
  • Serve it with two or more dips, including a tart, vinaigrette-type dip and a creamy one.
  • Consider some dipping spices, like berbere, dukkah or ras el hanout†.
  •  
    This inspired idea—serving a melange of raw and cooked vegetables on a tiered tray—is from Botanica, an exciting new vegetarian-focused restaurant in Los Angeles. If you can’t be there, you can still enjoy the riches of their webzine, which is available to everyone.

    We spent hours poring over their Facebook and Instagram photos of beautiful, nutritious, locavore‡ and guilt-free foods for every meal. There was nothing we didn’t want—immediately!

    Whether you go for the seafood or vegetable plateau, either is:

  • Gluten-free
  • Lactose-free
  • Low calorie
  • Low fat
  • Low-Carb
  • Nut-Free
  • Soy-Free
  • Sugar-Free
  •  

    Plateau de Mer

    Plateau des Légumes

    Sashimi Funamori

    [1] Plateau de fruits de mer at The Smith in New York City. [2] An analogous vegetable platter at Botanica in Los Angeles. [3] Funamori: the Japanese version of plateau de mer (photo courtesy Kintarouonsen.co.jp).

     
    If you decide to buy a tiered tray, you can also use it for cupcakes, cookies and other sweets; tea sandwiches’ and other festive presentations.

    FOOD HISTORY: THE ENTRÉE

    In the modern-day U.S. and Canada, an entrée refers to the main dish of dinner. In French cuisine, as well as in the English-speaking world outside of North America, it is a dish served before the main course in a multi-course dinner.

    In French, the word originally denoted the “entry” of the dishes into the dining halls of the wealthy. You can see Medieval paintings and illustrations (here’s one) that they enter with a trumpet fanfare from the musicians’ gallery.

    The procession of servants bearing a large number of dishes was led by by the maître d’hôtel, who carried the tureen. The procession marched around the room, presenting the fare to all diners before beginning to serve the courses [source].

    ________________

    *The corals are also called roe, both terms more appetizing than their biological name: gonads. Both male and female sea urchins have the delectable, edible “sea urchin roe,” which are difficult to gather and thus a pricey delicacy.

    †You can mix your own from any combination of chiles, citrus peel, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and peppercorns.

    ‡We acknowledge that it’s easy to cook locavore when you live in the land of perpetually plentiful produce: California.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad Bouquet

    We found this spring salad (photo #1) on the social media pages of the New York City outpost of Catch seafood restaurant (a charming spot with a roof deck for alfresco dining).

    The salad is no longer on the menu, but it looked so festive we had to make it for ourselves.

    The ingredients:

  • Beets: red, orange and yellow (choose two; substitute chioggia beets, photo #3)
  • Baby greens
  • Capberberrieshttp://blog.thenibble.com/2014/09/26/tip-ways-to-add-more-flavor-to-food/
  • Chives
  • Croutons: pumpernickel (for color contrast and flavor)
  • Radish (look for specialty radishes, e.g. breakfash radish, watermelon radish)
  • Smoked salmon (substitute prosciutto or serrano ham)
  •  
    It’s topped with zigzags of ranch dressing.

    We preferred tossing it with a sprightly vinaigrette (two recipes below)

    More To Add To Your Spring Salad Bouquet

  • Asparagus
  • Citrus zest
  • Fiddlehead ferns (photo #2, blanched)
  • Garlic scapes
  • Kumquats, halved
  • Orange segments
  • Spring peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  •  
    SPRING SALAD VINAIGRETTE RECIPES

    RECIPE #1: BASIL VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 9 tablespoons basil olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    Spring Salad

    Fiddlehead Ferns

    Chioggia Beets

    [1] A festive spring salad at Catch NYC. [2] Fiddlehead ferns (photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE). [3] Chioggia beets (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen).

     
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.
     
    RECIPE #2: BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar (substitute sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.

      

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    TIP: Spring Produce

    We just couldn’t resist sharing this photo from Good Eggs, a purveyor of specialty foods—including the best local produce—in the San Francisco Bay area.

    Eat up while they’re in season: The season is fleeting.

    Spring Produce

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Peas, Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em

    Green Pea Potstickers

    Spring Peas

    Edamame

    Spring Tartine

    [1] Recipe #1, Spring pea dumplings (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. [2] Spring peas (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Edamame (photo courtesy Burpee). [4] Recipe #2, a tartine (open face sandwich) with spring peas and other spring ingredients from Chef Alain Ducasse (photo courtesy All My Chefs).

     

    Spring pea season is fleeting. Enjoy as much of the tender green nuggets as you can: raw in salads or for snacking; or lightly steamed in recipes.

    Spring peas are also known as English peas and garden peas.

    At breakfast—the meal least likely to include spring peas—you can use them to garnish eggs, avocado toast, or a bagel with cream cheese.

    You can toss raw or cooked peas into plain Greek yogurt. Use them as a garnish, or mash them and stir them in as you would preserves.

    Moving on to snacks and appetizers: Here are three tasty recipes for appetizers, first courses or snacking. For a special main course, check out this innovative approach to surf and turf: Squid With Bacon & Spring Peas.

    Here are more ways to use spring peas, and the history of peas.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: SPRING PEA OR EDAMAME POTSTICKERS

    Hannah Kaminsky adapted her easy edamame potstickers recipe to showcase spring peas. She mixes the legumes with hummus for extra protein, although you can skip the hummus and just fill the dumplings with peas).

    Hannah notes:

    “General folding advice still stands as a good guideline to follow when wrapping things up, but once you get those papery thin skins to stick, you’re pretty much golden.

    If you’re less confident in your dumpling prowess, cut yourself a break and fold square dumpling wrappers in half instead. You’ll still get neat little triangles.”

    If celebrate Purim, you can serve these as savory Haman’s Hats.

    Ingredients For 15 Dumplings

  • 1 cup shelled spring peas or edamame
  • 1/3 cup edamame/pea hummus (mash them into regular hummus, to taste)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Savoy cabbage
  • 15 (3-inch) round wonton skins or gyoza wrappers*
  •  
    Plus

  • Steaming basket or rack
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SET UP the steaming apparatus: Line a bamboo steamer or metal steam rack with leaves of savoy cabbage to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the bottom (and eat it afterward). Place the steamer in a large pot with water and heat the water to boiling; then reduce to simmering. Meanwhile…

    2. MIX together the shelled edamame, hummus, scallion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cumin, stirring thoroughly. Lay the dumpling wrappers on your work surface and place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each. Run a lightly moistened finger around the entire perimeter and bring the sides together, forming a triangle. Tightly crimp the corners together with a firm pinch.

    3. PLACE the dumplings on the cabbage leaves and cover the steamer or pot. Steam for 2 to 4 minutes, until the wrappers are translucent. Serve immediately, with additional soy sauce for dipping if desired.

    ________________

    *You can typically find these either in the produce section near the tofu, or in the freezer aisle with other Asian ingredients.
     
    RECIPE #2: SPRING TARTINE

    This recipe, courtesy of All My Chefs, is from the great Alain Ducasse.

    It requires no particular cooking technique…or even cooking, except for blanching the asparagus and green beans. Otherwise, you just slice and assemble.

    Serve them as a snack, a first course, or with a glass of wine.

    Here’s more about tartines, French for open-face sandwiches.

    This recipe was originally published in “Nature By Alain Ducasse” (Éditions Alain Ducasse).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 16 small green asparagus
  • A good handful† peas
  • About 10 radishes, washed and peeled
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, rinsed
  • About 20 cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • A handful wild arugula, rinsed, patted dry, stalks removed (you can save them for salads)
  • 4 slices multigrain or whole wheat bread
  • 5-1/2 ounces (100g) Saint-Moret** or similar cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 ounces (40g) grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt or flake salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING a saucepan of salted water to a boil, and prepare a bowl with water and ice cubes.

    2. CUT the tips of the asparagus into approximately 2 inch (5-6 cm) pieces. Rinse and immerse in the boiling water with the peas.

    3. DRAIN and immediately plunge them into the ice water to keep their color. Leave for 2 minutes, then drain with a slotted spoon and lay on a dry tea towel. (TIP: We put the vegetables into a strainer. It’s easy to lift the strainer to drain, then plunge it into the ice bath.)

    4. SLICE thee radishes into fine rounds (about 3 mm) with a mandoline (we used a knife). Slice the fennel into thin slivers of the same size.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Spread the bread with cream cheese and arrange the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, a bit of crunchy salt and some pepper.

    ________________

    **Saint-Môret is the leading natural fresh cheese in France. While it has a different flavor and texture from American cream cheese, it is the closest comparison. We actually used spreadable goat cheese: We love the extra tang.

     

    RECIPE #3: SPRING PEAS & BURRATA SALAD

    We adapted this recipe from Julie Andrews, The Gourmet RD. It takes just 10 minutes to prep. We could eat it every day.

    Her recipe uses sugar snap peas. We added spring peas as well.

    You can eat the pods (shells) of sugar snap peas, but it depends on the age of the pea. Older sugar snap peas tend to be more fibrous, making the pod hard to chew. Eat one, then decide.

    Unlike sugar snap peas or snow peas, the fibrous pods of English peas cannot be eaten—although they can be saved and used in a vegetable stock (freeze until needed).

    TIPS:

  • Shell spring peas immediately before cooking. Break off the stem and pull the fibrous string down the length of the pod.
  • If you can’t find burrata (we get ours at Trader Joe’s), use a mozzarella ball. And…we serve 1/2 ball with each salad.
  • If you have fresh tarragon on hand, toss in some leaves.
  • As a change, we like to substitute balsamic vinegar for the honey.
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 First Courses

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed, strings removed
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup carrots (thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 ball burrata (substitute fresh mozzarella)
  • 1/2 cups pistachios (roughly chopped
  • For serving: toasted sourdough bread
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Spring Peas Salad

    Burrata

    [5] Recipe #3: burrata salad—note that you can’t eat the shells of spring peas (photo courtesy The Gourmet RD). [6] Be prepared when you cut open a burrata: The creamy insides will spill out (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese).

     
    1. WHISK together fresh lemon zest and juice, honey, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as necessary.

    2. ADD the peas, green beans, carrots, arugula, basil and mint to the bowl, and toss with the dressing.

    3. QUARTER or halve the ball of burrata and arrange on a platter. Top with salad, sprinkle with additional coarse salt and ground black pepper, and garnish with pistachios.
     
     
    MORE BURRATA

    Here are two more burrata salad recipes and a dessert burrata recipe.

      

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