Renna's Discoveries: Essential Cuisine Stocks - Lets Get Cooking !!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Essential Cuisine Stocks - Lets Get Cooking !!

I love cooking, always have. I'm not an amazing cook, but I do understand flavours. I used to use stock all the time in my cooking as it adds lovely natural flavours.
I was sent a selection of Essential Cuisine stock to try out at home. I asked for stock that could be used in risottos, as that is a recipe that always need stock and with risotto you can get very creative with your flavours. 
Essential Cuisine provide stocks to the professionals and is used in casseroles, stews, pie mix, soups, rissotto, gravies, and any food that is sauce based like bolognese.
 These little pots are only 96g but they are absolutely bursting with flavour. As soon as you open them you are hit with a very intense smell, it is so strong. I was sent the Chicken, Vegetable and Beef flavoured ones. It may sound weird, but just smelling the chicken stock made me really want a Roast Chicken.
Very simple instructions : 1 heaped teaspoon to 500ml of boiling water. This can be halved and doubled depending on how much you require. So, each pot is great value for money.
Look at the colours.
 These are all Gluten Free aswell. I do love the colour of the beef stock.
 My husband decided to make a Mushroom Risotto for dinner.
This is a simple as it comes, I told him to make it so anyone and everyone can make it. As I feel some people who are not confident in the kitchen wouldn't even attempt a risotto, but actually its really easy.

1 tbsp Olive Oil
300g Rissotto Rice
500ml Stock (Any flavour - its your choice)
6 Chestnut Mushrooms
20 Button Mushrooms
2 Garlic Cloves
Grated Parmesan to serve

(you can add a small chopped onion and sliced bacon bits if you like it with even more flavour)

Add olive oil to pan and add squashed garlic and mushrooms and fry until soft.
In another pan add your rice and coat in olive oil, and then pour in a soup ladle of stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and keep adding the stock gradually whilst cooking. You must stir this every time you add more stock. Add the mushroom mix and then leave to cook and infuse all the flavours until the rice is soft.

Serve with parmesan cheese on top and enjoy !

This took approximately 20-30 minutes to cook and serve.
I'm not sure why my husband used two pans as this can all be done in one pan. You can add the risotto rice to the mushroom mix once they have softened and add to the stock directly to the whole mix. But as he was washing up, he can do what he likes.

Whilst the risotto was cooking, he put some Black Farmer Sausages (Gluten Free) in the oven to cook.
Here's the finished result. It was super tasty with so many flavours going through it, we all had seconds - even the kids !

Now, I decided to do an experiment with the kids for you using Couscous. I wanted to find out how much flavour each stock actually gave the ingredients, and to do this, you need something really bland with no flavour added. Couscous is perfect for this.
Now I eat couscous quite a lot as its so quick to make - literally five minutes and its done - I then add whatever I can find - peppers, chicken, sweetcorn, avocado, peas, cucumber, feta cheese, mozzarella....whatever I fancy really. I just use plain water with a drizzle of olive oil to flavour it.
This time, I'm going to add stock.

Each stock produced a different colour, so I was also interested in whether the couscous soaked up the colour as well as the flavour. We all compared the smell of the natural stock powder, to the made up stock. You can tell each flavour by the smell, there is no denying what each of them is. Just think of a roast meat smell, and roasted vegetables smell.

We all made sure we did everything one by one, so we didn't get confused. So we made up 250ml of each stock and compared the colours and the smells.
Then we poured 160ml into 100 grams of couscous, stirred and left. After three minutes we fluffed up the couscous and tasted each one.
 As you can see, the colour was exactly the same with each flavour, which surprised us as we thought the beef flavour would at least pick up a bit of colour, but no. They were all identical. So this is a good thing if you didn't want to colour food.
But.....they all tasted very different. In the past, I have found some stock brands really salty and the taste over powered the actual dish, but I didn't find these over powering flavours, they were just right to give the dish what it needed.
Our favourite was the chicken, then the beef, and then the vegetable. The vegetable flavour was very mild, but, strangely, I did taste a slight hint of carrot but the chicken and beef retained much more flavour.

Essential Cuisine have loads of flavours of stocks, glaces and gravies as well as Asian Fusion flavours which I really want to try. I love a good Miso Soup, so to be able to make a ramen at home is brilliant. Each pot is only £3.95 each and considering it can make up to 6 litres, I would say that is well worth buying.

Have a look at their website and get stocked up for home. Our weather is very strange at the moment. One day its hot and the next the winter coat is back on. So you should always have stock at home for those casserole days.