How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer)

dark stock

The first summer we were married, our situation wasn’t exactly ideal for two starry-eyed newlyweds doing life together. I finished late at night at a popular fine dining establishment where I worked the line and Danny rose early to meander through the Plateau to morning class at McGill. One of us was always tired when we greeted each other at the end of a day, and one of us frequently smelled of soup, but I’m not telling who.

Fed up of only seeing my husband from midnight to 6 AM, I petitioned my boss for day position as a prep cook. I may have stammered, blushing, through my reasoning, but he only twinkled his eyes at me and agreed, that just for the summer, I could work days, and he would find someone to cook the fish and the foie in my place at night.

Stepping down the ladder rung of the competitive kitchen hierarchy was not a move that gained me respect among my co-workers, but I always have (and continue to do so) put family first over ambition. There were stares and a few snickers when the new work schedule came out, but I was elated. A ‘normal’ 9-5 job in fine dining is almost unheard of and these new hours suited me to a T.

Eight blocks north of the kitchen, in our tiny apartment on St. Denis street, I went to sleep and woke up in Danny’s arms. We went out for coffee and fresh croissants in the mornings before parting ways, with lingering kisses, at the corner of Duluth and St. Denis.

Making stock was always the first order of the day, for it required long hours of simmering at an unhurried pace. I cranked the ovens to 400 degrees down the entire line and set to roasting bones for duck stock, veal stock, venison stock, and roasted guinea fowl stock, the essence of which I’m sharing today. I attacked a tray of carrots, onions and celery for my mirepoix, those flavoring vegetables essential for every stock, and gathered fresh parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns. By 10 AM, the massive sturdy pots would be set over burners with bones, mirepoix and cold water, and I would assess my prep list, left for me by the cooks the night before, and organize my day. [Read more…]

How to roast a turkey {simply}


(Excerpts from this post were published in November, 2010. This is an updated, printable tutorial for the best way to roast a turkey – the simple way.)

Whether you’re planning on roasting a turkey for American Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner or New Year’s Day, you can always use a few helpful tips to make it the best it can be. Since roasting a gargantuan bird is not on the usual M-F menu plan, it can cause even the most experienced cook to hesitate before proceeding. Fortunately, I know my tips and tutorial can boost your confidence for preparing your event’s main attraction.

My Crash-Course on Turkey

You may be wondering what a relatively young lady such as myself could have to add to everything that has already been said about turkey, and you would be right to wonder. After all, how many Thanksgivings have I been cooking? Not nearly as many as some experts out there…right? But here’s the thing, I’ve been to Turkey Boot Camp.

When I was nineteen, I had the privilege(?) misfortune(?) – honestly, it was a mix of both – of working a summer at a remote fly-in fishing resort on the Pacific Ocean. Another fellow and I were the chefs for the camp, cranking out three square meals for over forty people. Every three days, a couple of float planes would fly in carrying a new group of clients – and a frozen turkey. Along with the requisite pancake breakfast, shrimp bisque lunch, and other culinary highlights, we were obliged to prepare a well-rounded turkey dinner for each group of guests.

Two groups per week, eleven weeks of work. Yes, that’s right, in the span of one summer, we cooked twenty-two turkeys! If that doesn’t make me qualified to talk turkey, then I don’t know what does.

Read on for the full tutorial and printable recipe.

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A simple guide to cooking dried beans

The October Unprocessed challenge officially kicks off today (more on this at the bottom of the post) and I’m starting it off with a big batch of home cooked pinto beans. Later I’ll add them to soups or chili, stuff them into toasted campfire burritos, or fold them into a soft egg scramble for a breakfast tortilla wrap. And that is just the beginning of the bean goodness.

Allow me to reiterate my love of Julie Van Rosendaal’s most excellent cookbook, Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday. I thought I used beans fairly creatively, but Julie has literally written the book on the topic and thus broadened my bean horizons.

If you usually tend to open a can of beans, I want to walk you really quickly through how I cook mine from dried. I think once you try it, you’ll be converted. Not only is it more affordable (especially if you buy organic canned beans), but you can control the amount of added salt and, well, like most homemade versions of pantry staples, the taste is far superior to anything that comes in a can.

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So I attended a food photography workshop

Last weekend the stars aligned in my favor and I slipped away from everything – dishes, diapers, and other domestic duties – to attend a food photography workshop here in Montreal with Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille.

Organized by the resourceful Mayssam, to whom all credit is due, the intimate workshop was held at Montreal’s SAT food lab, a thoroughly modern yet rustic setting.

I came expecting to learn from Aran, as well as network with a few fellow bloggers; what I didn’t expect was the affinity that formed within the group, nor the lump in my throat that came while watching Aran fashion her magic.

With absolutely awe-inspiring focus, she demonstrated the making of a definitive ‘Cannelle et Vanille‘ photograph. I learned so much just by watching her, but perhaps my greatest lesson of the session was to slow. down. Think more about the shot, the story, the light.

We got to play around in the afternoon session. Here are a few favorite shots of mine that I snapped.
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Ask Aimee: The Answers

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed receiving your questions. As each one popped into my inbox, I smiled, and couldn’t wait to answer them. A few made me scratch my head and others had me thinking back ten years to the days of professional kitchens and cooking school.

I closed the questions after 48 hours, or else this would have been an ongoing series (pipe up in the comments if you’d like to see that happen), as it is, this post is wordy!

We’ve got a lot of questions, so let’s just jump right it, shall we?

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