So this is page two
Thickening agents: Stuff to thicken what you are making.
The days of grandmothers flour and water thickenings are over. This method will only dilute the flavour of what you are making. Remember to add these agents when the liquid is at a boil and not before only adding to the mixture a bit at a time allowing the thickening agent time to cook, checking the thickness and again adjusting the thickening agent. Some of these thickening agents are added after all of the work has been done while others are added at the start and liquid added once all of the needed ingredients are added such as cream soups, in all cases a reduction of stock before thickening will give a far superior out come.
1) White Roux; this is a mixture of Flour and oil. A one to one ratio. One part flour and one part oil blended together with a whisk or fork. This can be kept a room temperature indefinitely because it contains no moisture. It can be made in large batches. There are three kinds of roux and are as follows. A white roux, used in making white sauces and cream soups and not cooked when made.
2) A blond roux; not used very often and slightly cooked over med heat until the colour of the flour begins to change to a blond colour. Remember the flour will continue to cook even after it has been removed from the heat so pay close attention to it as you stir your roux. This can be used as thickening for any sauces you want to obtain the blond colour when finished.
3) A brown roux; this one is cooked until the flour takes on a nutty aroma and light brown colour. Remember it will continue to cook after it has been removed from the heat. It also must be stirred while on the heat until finished. It also must remain cooking for fifteen to twenty minutes to allow the flour flavour to cook out. It is used for thickening any brown stock such as the beef brown stock made from roasting bones from the previous blog.
4) A slurry; this is a corn starch and liquid mixture (milk, stock, or juice) made up of one part corn starch and three parts liquid. This is added after other basic thickening agents have been added and cooked out.
5) Liaison. An egg and (cream, milk, stock or juice). This is a finishing thickener. It is added at the end by placing the egg in a bowl with the other liquid mentioned above and whisking it together until all of the egg has been incorporated into what ever you have added. You then ladle out one ladle of your hot preparation into that bowl whisking it as you add the hot mixture. Once the temperature of the bowl is warm to the touch add it to the preparation with a whisk and allow the heat of what you have made to finish the cooking of the liaison. This is always finished with tabs of butter laid on top to stop a skin from forming.
6) Heavy cream reduction; this is nouvel cuisine. It is the new cooking of France. It is done with stock reductions, wine, brandy, sauces and heavy cream after your main dish is browned or sautéed. It will be used a lot in this blog because this is my passion.
7) Soup roux; Used with the garnish you are leaving in your soup. Most soups have finely chopped onion, celery and carrot with fine herbs and some times green and red peppers sautéed in oil until all are cooked but still have a nice crunch to them. If you add one table spoon of oil to your pan to sauté then half a table spoon of flour must be used. Most recipes will tell you to use enough oil to cover the bottom of your skillet to a depth of ¼ inch. So with that you will have to figure out how much flour you will need. Half a cup of oil to one quarter cup of flour.
Vegetable stocks; these are made to lend flavour to what you are making. A cream of celery soup will need a celery stock a mushroom soup will need a mushroom stock and so on. This is accomplished with the same rules used to make a meat based stock.
In a large pot place one onion, one garlic clove coarsely chopped with one bay leaf. Add course ground pepper. Lets say you are making a celery stock, you will need enough celery cut coarse to fill the pot to its half way point. This must be prepared ahead of time. (Mis en placé) is the French term for this. Add enough oil to the bottom of the pot to sauté the onion and garlic =. Do not brown this, cook until the onions are translucent. Add the celery to the pot and sauté this until it begins to soften. Fill the remainder of the pot with cold water and place the pot on the heat. Bring to just below the boiling point and simmer for two hours. Remove from heat and strain the liquid into a storage container discard the rest. Now you have a celery stock used in making cream of celery soup. If you want a green pepper stock or a carrot stock or any other vegetable stock use this guild line to make it. A vegetable stock can be made from any vegetable or all of them if this is the flavor you are looking for.