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Thursday, 1 July 2010
A SIMPLE DISH
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” - Edith Sitwell
Another wintry, cold and rainy day in Melbourne today. It is good to see the rain falling down and the garden looking soaked. Our spring bulbs have started to sprout and soon they will start to bud. The rose bushes have all been pruned and the trees are all bare, except for the citrus trees that are laden with ripening fruit. We have two lemon trees, an orange tree, a grapefruit tree and a very young mandarin tree not yet fruiting. Except for this mandarin tree, the rest are laden with fruit and we have been enjoying them at the table or freshly squeezed as a mixed citrus juice which is delicious.
One of the easiest dishes to make, but also one of the most tasty and nutritious, is clear broth. Although it serves as a basic ingredient in all sorts of dishes, for example, stews and risottos, it is in its own right a perfect supper. A bowl of broth will warm you in the winter, refresh you in the summer, heal you if you are feeling unwell and nourish you if you are hungry. It is perfect year round if you’re on a diet.
BEEF BROTH Ingredients
• 4 litres of water
• 1.5 kg of beef, either shanks, short plate, short ribs, or brisket (gravy beef is fine too).
• A large piece of spongy bone, or a joint, split
• A chicken carcass
• 3 sticks of celery with leaves (or a celery heart)
• 2 carrots
• 2 onions
• 5 pepper corns
• 2 cloves
• Salt to taste (add at the end, and I do mean add it to taste!)
• Finely chopped parsley and/or chives, and/or thinly sliced mushrooms for garnish
Meat from older animals is better because it has more flavour, and the beef should not be too lean. A piece of spongy bone, or a joint, split, enriches the taste and nutritive value of the broth, although it also makes it greasier.
Start with cold water and add the meat, vegetables, and seasonings (minus the salt) to the water at the same time. Heat the pot over a high flame until the broth comes to a boil, and then turn the heat down. Simmer the broth for a couple of hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat. Add the salt and check the seasoning, strain the broth, let it cool, and remove the fat that rises to the surface (the best way to do this is to chill the broth and remove the congealed fat with a fork). Use the broth to make other soups, risotto, and other dishes, or serve it by itself. We are having this for dinner tonight, accompanied by toasted bread and a light dry red wine.
The meat can be used as a boiled dinner, or made into meatballs. However, the long boiling does tend to extract its nutrients and taste. The vegetables tend to disintegrate, and the bones of course should be discarded (or everything fed to the dog!)
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.