It is Sunday night while I write this. After spending almost an hour pondering my dinner for the night, I finally settled on shrimp and noodles. Hopefully, on Monday night it would be easier to decide on a meal. I am leaning towards a simple lemony spaghetti with thyme.Continue Reading “Lemony Spaghetti with Thyme”
Pasta is a staple in my pantry. I like to have it available in all shapes and sizes. On a harried day, I like to throw pasta into a pot of water. In less than 30 minutes, I have a meal. Meal planning is easier with pasta as an option The Leek and Lemon Pasta Bake is not one of my emergency meals. It is one of my meal plan option.CONTINUE
I once put up a picture of my pot of chicken broth coming to life on my personal Instagram account. One of my friends asked jokingly what I was doing. You see, in the Nigerian kitchen, chicken broth is not something we intentionally make. Broth is often the result of braising meat for consumption. So, I feel almost silly writing this recipe on how to make chicken broth.
In Yoruba Language, Omi Eran is what we call stock or broth. It literally translates to the juice of the meat.
My knowledge of Nigerian food is based on my heritage as a Yoruba woman. This caveat is important because Nigeria, as a country, is an amalgamation of many rich cultures that have many different traditions. These traditions converge and often times, they diverge. Even when the Yoruba heritage, many different tribes have their perspective on food. My knowledge of food is based on my heritage as a Yoruba woman who grew up in Lagos. My food is rooted in my mother’s Abeokuta lineage and watching the Cooking Channel obsessively.
The intersection between what is mine to claim within my culture and that I have gleaned from a foreign culture is what makes my food interesting. It is what makes my chicken broth interesting. I have often seen food bloggers talk about how to make chicken broth. Many recipes focus on wringing out the essence of the chicken bones.
I view chicken broth as more than just the essence of chicken. For me, making chicken broth is about creating a flavor base that saves times. In writing this recipe on how to make chicken broth, I am really telling you one of the ways I bring flavor into my kitchen. A cup of my homemade chicken broth already is well balanced with different herbs and spices so that when I use it, I can worry less about building a flavor profile.
Here is the truth about my daily cooking, it is very unfussy. I am often short on time but long on hunger when I get into this kitchen. This means I want something quick that is not bland. Having homemade chicken broth stored in my freezer allows me to cut down on time when I am making things like soups. My chicken broth also makes cooking whole grains like brown rice and quinoa much more pleasurable.
One thing I will say about how I make chicken broth is that I want to have as a versatile brew. This means I stay away from strong herbs and lots of spices. So, although I am a big fan of cumin and rosemary, I prefer to avoid them because it is hard to build other flavors on them. I tend to reach for the more thyme, celery, leek and onions in my broth. This combination produces a broth that is beautiful in color, tasty in the mouth and easy to use when cooking.
The goal this week is to show you ways that I use this chicken broth so that you are inspired enough to make it.
- 3 Pounds Chicken Bones
- 1 Onion (large)
- 1 Leek (large)
- 2 Garlic bulbs
- 2 Carrots
- 2 inches Ginger
- 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme or 1 tbsp of dried thyme
- 1 tbsp Parsley
- 1 Lemon
- This step is optional. I like to brown off the chicken bones before I use them. The browning of the bones allows the fat on the bones to rendered off in a pan. I collect this fat for roasting vegetables and other recipes
- The vegetables in this broth don’t have to be finely cut. The onion, garlic and ginger and lemon can be halved. I cut the carrots and leeks into chunks. Also, note that I often only use the green bits of the leek for making broth.
- Arrange the vegetables, herbs and chicken bones in a large stockpot. I usually cook mine in 4.5-quart pot pan. Arrange the vegetables and chicken bones in the pot, and fill up with water. Then bring up to a boil.
- Once the water in the pot is boiling, I turn down the heat to a simmer, and then I start the clock. I’ll usually let the broth simmer for about an hour after it comes to a boil. Let it cool down completely before attempting to strain out the liquid.
- If you have a bit of fat floating on top, this can be captured by putting the broth in the freeze let fat solidify. Then the solid fat can be picked off the broth. I usually don’t have this issue since I render the fat off before making the broth
There are days when I get really frustrated and the way I communicate is by text to my dearest saying, “Today is a good day to drink.” I will usually get a response reminding me that I don’t drink alcohol and that it is not a good time to try. We laugh over it and I move on. Mostly, I get annoyed about my teetotal status when I dine out and my options are severely limited.
Alcohol is such a big part of many cultures. Due to the prominence of alcohol, it is so normal to see many alcoholic options on the menu. Even private functions often have varied options for alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic drinks tend to be very few with mostly soda. Many times I have gone for food-centric events that featured different kind of wines and beers but nothing for the non-drinker. Bartenders in their kindness would often offer me a cup of soda for free. Sometimes I am stuck drinking water because I just don’t want to drink soda.
Even when there are non-alcoholic menus at the restaurant, it tends to be designed more to suit the palette of a child. Hence, the ubiquitousness of Shirley Temple and other color heavy drinks with an overpowering presence of sugar. I don’t have anything against sugar. I just believe that it is possible to drink non-alcoholic drinks that are not overly reliant on sugar. There is a whole world of non-alcoholic drinks that can be created with complex flavor profiles.
One of my favorite ways to create complex flavors in drinks is to play with citrus. Citrus fruit like orange would feature a juicy center, white pith, and the skin/zest. Each part of the citrus has a different flavor that can be played up in a drink. The often sweet and acidic center is often the most used part of the citrus fruit. For me, I find that because I love bitterness as a flavor, the pith of the citrus fruit is valuable. The zest of the fruit often contains the oil as well as the scent of the fruit. Smell is a huge part of the experience of having a drink. By using the zest of citrus fruit in a drink, it is possible to greater sensual experience in a single drink.
This thought process is what inspires me to create drink mixes like this grapefruit thyme syrup. The use of the whole grapefruit in this recipe creates a balance of flavors without any harshness. The final taste of the drink can be manipulated by adding in other flavors and textures.
The easiest way to use this syrup is to mix it with sparkling water. By playing with the ratio of grapefruit thyme syrup to sparkling water, the flavor intensity of the drink can be manipulated. The syrup can also be used to add flavor to baked goods, either by soaking the baked goods or using it to make
For something a bit more fun than just sparkling water, check out the Grapefruit and Tonic Drink.
Grapefruit Thyme Syrup
- 2 Grapefruit
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 3 Sprigs Thyme leaves
- Rinse and cut the whole grapefruit into thin slice. Transfer into a jar with the thyme leaves
- In a saucepan, add in 1 cup of water and the 2 cups of sugar. Bring the sugar solution to gentle simmer into the sugar crystals have melted. You now have syrup. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the syrup over the grapefruit and thyme. Cover the grapefruit mixture with a tight lid. Place in a fridge for at least 12 hours. Preferably about 48 hours. This allows the grapefruit and thyme to infuse properly into the syrup.