Friday, 5 September 2008

Friday Nibbles - The Stock Cube

I made it! It’s Friday and I’m posting a ‘nibble’ on time. Cause for celebration indeed. There’s plenty to come over the next few days. I’ve had a number of requests for the falafel and flatbread recipe (thanks to everyone who asked for that) so that will go up next week as soon as I make up a batch and get some good photographs because a recipe without pictures is like a birthday cake without candles – it’ll do, but you notice it for what’s missing there rather than what’s present.

But in the spirit of maintaining the momentum that I started building up two weeks ago (but stalled a little last week) I’ll put these on hold and write about another essential item for any storecupboard.

For this week’s nibble, I’m going small – a bite-size nibble, if you will, although I probably wouldn’t recommend biting into one of these.

Chicken stock cubes (other stock cubes are handy too – we tend to have fish and vegetable ones in the cupboard most of the time as well, but chicken stock is so adaptable that I thought I’d focus on this particular flavour) are such an integral part of my ingredients list that I really can’t think of a suitable replacement. Of course, actual proper homemade chicken stock is superior to these highly flavoured little cubes, but it can be hard to find room for chicken carcasses, so these are the best substitute.

Even if it seems we eat a fairly constant stream of homemade meals lovingly constructed in the kitchen of our little cottage, this is not necessarily the case. Rest assured that we too get bitten by the apathy bug or succumb to a wave of laziness. This is where we crack open the Knorr. It might sound crazy but if you have a packet of these to hand, you can be mere moments away from a warming meal.

It is at times like this that the humble stock cube comes into its own and a noodle soup is just three minutes away. I tend to sit back at this point and let my girlfriend work her culinary magic. Some spring onions, a little garlic, some chilli and maybe a few slices of chicken, if you have any, can be dropped into a pan along with a pint of boiling water and one of these little flavour powerhouses. Add a slab of noodles then when they are cooked pour the soup into deep bowls and you’ve got a dinner to warm the soul. It tastes even better if you can hear the wind and rain lashing down through the windows.

The first stock cubes were introduced exactly one hundred years ago by a company called Maggi. These bouillon cubes were then copied by the iconic Oxo brand two years later, although I prefer the squidgy varieties to the crumbly - and incredibly salty – Oxo cubes. They can be used to add flavour to stews and sauces as well as soups but they really come into their own when making risotto.

Some of the finest comfort food it is possible to consume is a simple risotto made with Arborio or Vialone Nano rice, stock and then finished off with butter and parmesan. It might not be as quick as a noodle soup but the extra effort is certainly worth it.


Anonymous said...

You say "don't bite into one of these" but I have to confess that I used to nibble on the corners of a knorr cube while waiting for water to boil for soup/stock/etc. Mmmm - chickeny, salty goodness. that's what a salt addiction will get you!

nice post :-)

Anonymous said...

Saltychickenfiend, I can't tell you how glad I am to find out I'm not the only one who did/does that! I still nibble on the Herbox when I make pasta (a cube in a pot of boiling water adds just a little zing) because they're so wonderfully soft and gooshy. I come from a salt-living family -- my Mom salts her oatmeal!

Nickki said...

So it's not just me who has a sneaky nibble of a knorr stock cube whenever I open one then lol. I thought I was in the minority there, I'm so glad that's not the case!

I couldn't agree with you more, I could never be without knorr stock cubes in my cupboard. I especially love the chicken ones, I love the flavour they bring to a meal.

Get Lippie said...

Heh, I used to love oxo sprinkled on bread.

Or just an oxo in hot water as "soup". Now that's cooking in a hurry!

Unknown said...

I'm with you other corner nibblers! Speaking of Maggi - the liquid form is something I grew up with - always have the 27 oz. bottle on hand. It was always on the table to splash into our soup or whatever. I still keep it and the cubes on hand at all times. Try making a cup of broth and add leftover fried rice - yummmm. GMcD

Dad the Baker said...

Have you ever tried "Better than Bullion"?

OMG, i quit using bullion cubes since finding this.

Jan said...

Oh yes if you're going to have a stock cube it has to be Knorr!
Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog - which has led me to yours! A great blog you have here btw!

Just Cook It said...

Saltychickenfiend - I would have said that you're a bit weird, but it seems that you have many supporters and I'm in the minority!

Sotto voce - Totally agree - a little stock in the water when you're boiling pasta or rice is excellent.

nickki - Apparently it isn't just you! Looks like I'm the one in the minority.

luce - quick and tasty soup, pretty much the perfect meal.

gabrielle - I'll try and hunt out a bottle of Maggi, sounds like a good addition to make to the pantry.

wheresthegrub - I've never tried it (or seen it, for that matter) but will hunt it out and give it a whirl. Thanks for the tip

Laura Paterson said...

I'm a salt addict... but have never nibbled!! Something to look forward to ;)

My fav stock product is Marigold Boullion - only comes in veggie flavour, but has a a great flavour, with no weird after-taste :)

Anonymous said...

wow i never would have thought to make my own boullion cube but now i think i'll have to try it!

p.s. you've been tagged!

Dad the Baker said...

Oh my, you are not in the US... mybad. Better Than Bullion is a condensed stock in paste form. The number one thing I like about it is there is no MSG, of which my body is somewhat intolerant. It comes in chicken, beef, vegetable and lobster flavor. I've tried all but the lobster, and keep one of each in my pantry. Gosh, I do hope they have it where you are. It is very nice to use. If they don't have any, email me and I will send you one.

Belly said...

I forgot about these myself. I too have to confess that I loved nibbling on these as a child. I have a feeling I know what I'll be picking up after work. :)

Anonymous said...

The Better Than Bullion also comes in a "No Chicken" flavor, a non-tomato based vegetable flavor. This one is my absolute favorite flavor, though it can be a little hard to find. I confess, like the others, I tend to lick the spoon after measuring. . . .

Just Cook It said...

Kittie - hope the nibbling was enjoyable!

bexxie - thanks for the tag.

wheresthegrub - thanks so much, that's such a kind offer.

melanie - I can't believe there are so many nibblers.

anon - thanks for the tip