Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas – Book Review Part 1

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I managed to lay my hands on an exciting new book that is hot hot hot off the press. From the title, front cover, recipes and photographs this was a book that I knew that I would instantaneously love. Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas, published by Jacqui Small and photographed by Lisa Linder, does what it says on the tin. It shows the reader how to cook all manner of broths from ‘classic beef bone to ham hock, white fish bone to vegetable top and tail broth.

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Once you’ve decided which broth to prepare you can then use that broth in one of the many ‘soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, rice and grains’ recipes further on in the book.

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Simple but wonderfully user friendly. Unlike many of the cookery books being published at the moment Broth consists of 50 recipes (instead of the ubiquitous 100) with a photograph accompanying each recipe.  Joy of joys! There is enough to whet the appetite and to encourage you to try the recipes that having 50 as opposed to a 100 options is irrelevant.

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Now cooking broth is nothing new. I recall my grandmother and mother for that matter regularly preparing broths, or stocks as they are also called. Whist some are a labour of love not all take hours to prepare – chicken and white fish bone broths being a good example. In the last couple of years though  boiling your bones and making your own broth has become more talked about and dare I say ‘trendy’. This has been largely helped along by cooks such as the glamorous Hemsley sisters, whose motto is quite simply ‘boil your bones’.

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The reason for this upsurge in making our own broth is down to the healthy qualities and nutrients that are found within the bones themselves. Nutritionists (such as Edgson who has been a practicing nutritional therapist for over 20 years) have given the nod to the wider populous that bone broth is a tool for gut healing and giving us an inner glow or as Edgson and Thomas put it broths are ‘nutritional powerhouses that contain the building blocks of good health’. As such more and more of us are pausing before throwing away the chicken carcass and instead putting it in a deep pan along with some celery, onion, carrot, garlic, pepper, salt, a bay leaf and covered with water and then simmer for an hour or so and you will have a magnificent chicken broth packed full of nutrients for the body.IMG_9493

 So ‘Broth’ is both timely and a much needed book to help steer us with ideas once we have made the broth but are unsure of what to do with it. The first few chapters elaborate on the health benefits of broth and effectively set the scene, both concise and readable, they focus on the salient points keeping the interest of the reader.

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They have then created a chart which lists the nutrients, what they are required for and then coloured dots representing the different broths that the nutrients are in. Further on in the book the recipes then have one of two coloured dots, showing which broth is used in the recipe. This is a great idea, however I almost feel that one extra page outlining the broths and then which recipes correspond to that broth and the page of the recipe would have been helpful.

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I opted to make a combination of the classic beef bone broth and the rich marrow bone broth – the one on the right (although as you can see from the photo above I also had a white fish bone broth on the stove at the time). My butcher only had bone marrow and not T-bone or knuckle, otherwise I would have stuck pretty much to the classic beef bone recipe. A few differences I made were that I used red onions, leeks and bay leaves, as specified in the bone marrow broth but omitted the bouquet garni, although the fresh herbs that I added are pretty similar to a dried bouquet garni. I also did not add paprika/cayenne pepper.

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The result approximately 24 hours later was a delicious tasting broth. Part of the broth I used in a recipe that I will share with you next week from the very same book. It’s a good one so make sure to come back and visit then.

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I am curious on how many of my readers make their own broths already. Please please let me know by leaving a comment below. If you do make them, which ones do you typically make? For those who do not, have I convinced you to try making one? The book ‘Broth’ retails at £20 and I think is a great addition to your cookbook library, I am certainly glad it is part of mine. Our culture for the past couple of decades has been dominated by speedy, convenience foods but the realisation has set in that this is not good for our health and long term wellbeing – as seen by the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. We need to take a step back from our busy lives and invest time to create good nutritional food and preparing homemade broths is one way we can all do this for our families. They freeze well so separate them into a number of portions ready to use over the months ahead.

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(left is the white fish bone and the right is my bone marrow broth)

A combination of Classic Beef Bone and Bone Marrow Broth

adapted from Broth by Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas 

Makes approx 1.2 litres/2 pints

1.6kg beef bones (if you can use T-bone or knuckle, if not bone marrow like mine)

2 celery sticks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 medium red onions, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

3 bay leaves

1 mixed bunch of fresh thyme, sage and marjoram tied together by string

2.25 litres/4 pints water and more during the cooking

4 tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider

freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/375 F/gas mark 5. Spread the bones out on a large roasting tray and cook in the oven for 45 minutes allowing the fat to drain out of the bones. Drain the fat and set aside.
  2. Place all the vegetables and bones in a large pan and cover with water so that the bones are completely covered.
  3. Bring the pan to the boil and then turn down and simmer for approximately 24 hours or longer if you can (the longer the broth the richer it will be). Make sure to turn off the pan at night for safety. You want to top up the water regularly to ensure it always covers the bones.
  4. Allow the broth to cool and then strain through a muslin and sieve into a large bowl. Then transfer to freezer proof storage containers. The broth will last for up to 5 days in the fridge and 5 months in the freezer.

Yes it takes time, but it is very easy to do as you can see.

 Note: I found marjoram hard to find so left it out. You can always replace the fresh herbs with a bouquet garni!


No more cold cuts please – Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones and that it was not too stressful if you were the one in charge of feeding the masses. We always end up with loads of turkey and ham/gammon leftovers and whilst cold cuts are delicious for maybe one or two sittings, any more than that and one craves for variety. I felt a good old fashioned pie would be the perfect way to use up some of the leftovers and fill the bellies of my guests. Whilst I had every intention of following the recipe on  ‘lovefoodhatewaste’ I ended up deviating off a lot to the extent that I think it is better to describe the recipe on the site as giving me ‘inspiration’. I found that the dish to be a hit and it was polished off completely in one sitting.

Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

serves 8

450g turkey, (or chicken) cut into small sized chunks

350g ham/gammon, cut into small sized chunks

5 leeks, chopped

2 celery, chopped

100g mushrooms, chopped

2 tsp of cornflour

1-1.5 litres of turkey stock

pinch of salt

black pepper

400g of shortcrust pastry or ready made

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Evenly chop the celery, leeks and mushrooms and place most of them on the bottom of the pie dish. (The dish I used was 35cm length by 24cm width). This will allow the vegetables to cook properly through when they are in the oven.

3. Cut the turkey and ham into small sized chunks and scatter over the vegetables along with the remainder of the vegetables that you put to one side.

4. If you have any turkey stock left over use that, otherwise, use chicken stock cubes, such as knorr. I also had some juices left from the ham so I managed to combine these into the stock as well giving it a really delicious taste. Add approximately 1.5 litres of stock to the pan and warm it through completely. Place 2 teaspoons of cornflower into a small bowl along with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. Stir until the cornflour is smooth and watery and add to the stock to thicken it. As an alternative to stock, you could use a tin or two of Campbell’s chicken soup so as to give it a creamier consistency.

5. Add the stock over the meat and vegetables and using your hands try and make sure all the pieces are covered to some degree in the stock. Add salt and pepper to season.

Easy Shortcrust Pastry

400g plain flour

200g butter, cubed

2-3 tbsp of cold water

6. To make your own pastry, simply place the plain flour into a large mixing bowl along with the cubed butter (room temperature is best). Using your finger tips gently mix the butter and flour together so that it begins to crumble. Using a knife stir in a little water into the dough so that it binds together. If you put in too much water just add a little extra flour. Once the dough has come together, form a ball and cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

7. Roll the pastry out onto a cold floured surface. Once it is larger than your pie dish gently place it over the top of your filling making sure the extra pastry hangs over the sides. I find it is best to use the rolling pin to place it gently on top. Press down at the edges using your finger and thumb so that the pastry is completely secure. Using a knife cut the extra pastry that is hanging over the sides. You can then get creative on the top of your pie using the left over pastry.

8. To help give your pie the perfect brown glow, gently brush the top of the pie with your beaten egg.

9. Using a fork place a few fork marks over the top of your pastry so that it can let out the air within the body of the pie when cooking.

10. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking to see that it does not brown too much. Serve immediately with peas and new potatoes.