Stocks 101: Butternut and Coconut Cream Soup with Veggie Stocks

This is the second workshop organized by the Richmond Food Security Society on Basic Food Skills. This workshop is all about stocks.


I must say that documenting such workshop is the hardest. All I got was the few words on the board. I had to take photos and notes at the same time. Unfortunately, I do not know short hand and have not pickup the texting language. I’m trying my best to share what I learnt.

We learned from Ian, that there are three kinds of stocks, brown stocks, white stocks and veggie stocks. Brown stocks is usually made with veal and chicken bones and it takes a long time to make, something like 12 hours to simmer. So, we are not going to do this. It is usually made in restaurant with shift work.

White stocks is made with chicken bones and veggies like celery, onions, leeks, carrots and herbs.

Veggies stocks is also made with veggies like celery, onions, leeks, carrots and herbs. The ratio of celery, carrot, leek and onion is 1:1:1:2. Leeks can be substituted with onions as it’s expensive.

Herbs which are common for making stocks includes pepper corns, bay leaf and parsley.


It is recommended to use a tall pot to make stocks. Tall and slender pot is recommended to prevent too much evaporation during simmering as the stocks is to be simmered uncovered.



To make veggie stocks, Ian used:

  • two carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • some frozen chopped parsley (leftovers from the previous workshop)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn
  • 1 bay leaf (if possible, get some from someone with a Bay Laurel tree, an evergreen tree which has more intense flavour than those store bought one)
  • a small bunch of thymes


  • a stock of lemon grass (to tie to the Thai flavour as Ian will be making a Butternut and Coconut Cream Soup with the veggie stocks). Cut the lemon grass 6 inches from the root, remove the outer husk, trim root off and rough chop.


  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (without the skin as the skin makes the stocks bitter)
  • 1 leek roughly chopped (use only the white part as the greens will yield a dark stocks, make sure you wash the leek thoroughly as it often has dirts in between the leaves)
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger
  • cold water just enough to cover all the veggies


  • Bring the water to just bubbling, lower heat and let simmer, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes.


After simmering for 30 to 40 minutes, you’ll get a flavourful clear veggie broth. Strain the stocks.


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Baba Gha-Hummus Sandwiches

Minoo also prepared some Baba Gha-Hummus for making Baba Gha-Hummus Sandwiches for the South Arm Christmas Craft Fair fund raising. Minoo was given a lot of ready made hummus and all she did was to roast some eggplant to make Baba Gha-Hummus. If you’ll like to make Baba Gha-Hummus from scratch, here is the recipe.


Baba Gha-Hummus Sandwiches is a sandwich with middle eastern twist. It is not a common sandwich that you’ll find in the store.


While the fillings of the sandwiches were prepared by volunteers from the South Arm Community Kitchen, the assembly of the sandwiches was done by another group of participants from the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors and also 4 teenagers volunteers on the morning of the craft fair. This team was led by Phil. Thank you all who volunteer.


  • 2 tubs hummus
  • 1 large eggplant, roasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 60 sliced whole wheat bread


Source: Minoo; makes 30 sandwiches


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Egg Salad Sandwiches

The South Arm Community Kitchen volunteers also prepared an Egg Salad fillings for Egg Salad Sandwiches which was very popular in last year’s fund raising at the South Arm Christmas Fair.


We used ciabatta bread to make this Egg Salad Sandwiches instead of regular sliced bread.


  • 6 peeled hard-boiled eggs, chilled
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 12 slices of whole wheat bread or 6 ciabatta bread, sliced in half


Please note that the garlic should not be in this picture.

Source: unknown; Makes 6 sandwiches


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Faux Smoked Salmon Sandwiches

The South Arm Christmas Fair fund raising also made some sandwiches for the food concession at the fair. The fillings of the sandwiches were prepared a day before the fair.


Another group of volunteers from the South Arm Community Kitchen participated in the preparation of the fillings. Thank you for all who volunteered.


One of the sandwiches that we made is Faux Smoked Salmon Sandwiches. It is made with canned salmon instead of smoked salmon but we flavoured the salmon with smoked paprika to gives it the smoky flavour. Use canned salmon with bones for much higher calcium content.


  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (4 oz or half a block)
  • 1 x 7oz can salmon, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika/pimenton (or use a scant 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill or 1 teaspoon fresh dill, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4 lettuce leaves, or 12 thin cucumber slices


Source: unknown;  makes 4 sandwiches


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Hearty Vegetable Soup

It’s the time of the year where a hot bowl of soup is good for any meal. We are embracing a very cold winter according to the weather forecast.


In the South Arm Kitchen, a group of seniors made a big pot of Hearty Vegetable Soup. We made so much that there were plenty of leftovers to take home.


While one group was making the soup, the rest were busy making brownies for the South Arm Christmas Fair fund raising for the Richmond Food Bank.The South Arm Cooking Club for seniors made brownies for last year’s fund raising too and managed to raise $681 for the Richmond Food Bank as reported in this post.


The brownies are very rich and chocolatey. You can find the recipe in this post except that we added 2/3 cup of chopped walnuts this year.


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Multigrain Salad

Following the knife skills workshop, Ian proceeded with a grain workshop.


In this workshop, Ian introduced us to four grains, i.e. Couscous, Bulgar, Quinoa and Kasha. Ian showed us how to cook the different grains and we got to taste the texture of all the grains which is lightly dressed with olive oil and salt. Most of the grains can be cooked like pasta but the nutrients will be lost in the water. So, if you cook it the pasta way, save the water to make stocks.


A good place to buy such grains is Galloway’s Specialty Foods.


The grains are used along with some fresh vegetables, herbs, seeds and dried fruits to create a healthy multigrain salad.


The above are some of the vegetables and herbs that were prepared from the knife skills workshop.


Couscous is the easiest and quickest to prepare among the 4 grains. All you have to do is … (more…)

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Knife Skills

The Richmond Food Security Society hosted a series of Basic Food Skills classes on three consecutive Monday nights, from November 15th to the 29th, at Garrat Wellness Center, from 7-9pm. The cost for all three workshops is $25.

The mandate of the Richmond Food Security Society is to support the growing and consumption of local foods in Richmond. The Society has identified that the lack of culinary skills to cook food at home to be one of the bigger obstacles to community food security.It is hoped that as more people feel comfortable around the kitchen, the more cooking, using fresh, preferably local ingredients, will happen. The goal is to eat healthy and reduced consumption of processed or boxed food which are usually high on salt and fat.


The Basic Food Skills workshops were conducted by Chef Ian Lai. Ian teaches school children to connect with the earth, the community around them, and agriculture at large. Students learn to grow, monitor, harvest, and eat nutritiously on a weekly basis. Their garden activities integrate the complete food cycle – from seed to table, and from table to soil, in the form of composting. This Terra Nova Schoolyard Society was founded by Ian in 2006 and is a non-profit, community-based garden project.

In the first class, Chef Ian Lai guided participants through Knife Skills: how to choose a knife and maintain it; and how to properly chop and prepare foods. Students will then use their skills to cook a grain dish which will be covered in the next post.


Ian brought along his professional knife kit for demonstration. It is his travel kit. Ian quoted in the workshop “My knife is my knife”; not even his wife can share it. I guessed chefs are passionate about their most precious cargo which is their knives and kitchen tools.


Ian shared with us that his most favourite knives are his paring knife and a Japanese style thin blade knife. He said a good knife should have metal extended all the way to the handle. One must feel comfortable holding and using the knife when choosing a knife. Ian suggested to bring a carrot when shopping for knives and one must try out the knives before buying them. The knife should balance well on your hand and neither front blade or the back handle is heavier.

Ian also suggested that one must have a knife block to store the knives to prevent chipping.

Some of the participants brought their knives for Ian to share on what is the best application of them. Knives with thicker top are good for … (more…)

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Apple Crumble

Marian prepared a simple Apple Crumble for dessert at the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors. This is just perfect as fall is the season for apple harvest.


This Apple Crumble is easy to make and the topping is flaky. A scoop of vanilla ice-cream will make this Apple Crumble a perfect dessert any time.


  • 5 to 6 medium size apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water

For the Crumble:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


Source: Marian

Serves 4 to 6


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Zucchini and Cheddar Muffins

This is another recipe shared by Marian in the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors. This is Marian’s way to incorporate vegetables into her daughters’ diet. Marian also has fussy eaters in her household like mine.


These Zucchini and Cheddar Muffins are moist and cheesy. They are savoury and not sweet. You can replace the zucchinis with carrots. These savoury muffins are perfect for lunch boxes.


  • 2 medium size zucchinis, trim ends and grate coarsely
  • 125 gram cheddar, grated
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Please note that the baking soda should not be in the photo above.


Source: Marian

Yield 12 muffins.


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