Articles By Pascale Beale


Written for Edible Santa Barbara - Winter 2024 Issue

Late 1980s, Los Angeles

After finishing business school in London, I came to Tinsel Town to work in the property development business. If I wasn't working, I spent my hard-earned dollars on discovering restaurants, as my passion lay in the kitchen and fine cooking. Through sheer good luck and a family relationship, I turned up very early one morning in Michel Richard's spotless kitchen at his then flagship restaurant, Citrus, for a mini 'stage.' Over the next 72 hours, I learned two essential lessons. The first was that the restaurant business is a life of unending hard work surviving on thin margins and the second, more importantly for me personally at that time, I realized that although I was then a good home cook, any illusion I had that I could do something professionally with food fell to pieces in my first ten minutes in his kitchen

I arrived as the maître saucier and French chef de cuisine monitored his stocks. 'Who are you?' he asked. 'Michel said I could do a stage starting this morning,' I replied. 'Is he here?' 'Non, not right now,' said the chef as he looked me up and down. 'You're with me this morning,' and nodding to the six large, steaming pots on the massive stoves, grabbed a handful of small spoons. 'Taste it and tell me what it is,' he said, handing the first spoon to me. He tasted as I did. My mind went blank. The aroma and flavor were so familiar, but I couldn't spell it out. 'Alors - So?' I shook my head. He gave me a pitying look. He took the lid off the next pot, 'This one?' 'Fish stock,' I replied confidently. He shook his head, 'Non!', 'It's not fish stock?' I asked; I was genuinely confused. 'It's a crustacean stock – you should know the difference.' He stepped up to the next pot, 'This?' I'll save you the rest of the excruciating details; suffice it to say I failed the taste test for every one of them. The last stock, made with olives, was extraordinary in its depth of flavor and intensity. He reduced my knowledge of basic stocks to nothing. It was a completely humbling experience. I left simultaneously deflated and enthusiastic if that's possible. I would have to do better.

He took pity on me then and asked if I had had breakfast or a coffee. I shook my head, not entirely trusting that I could speak without a wobble in my voice. He handed me a strong espresso and a piece of baguette, sighed, and said,' Let's start again – what's your name?' This was my introduction to creating more refined food, and it all began with stocks. 

Three days later, I left the kitchen armed with more culinary know-how, a few unique recipes up my sleeve, a small coterie of new friends, and a long list of essential techniques I had to learn to become a better cook. 'It all begins with the foundations,' he had said, Les Fonds or Fonds de Cuisine. Like the foundation of any structure, stocks are the building blocks of cooking for sauces, soups, stews, and braises. 

I had long made a basic chicken stock, but there was evidently more to it than that. I plunged into cookbooks, consulting the culinary masters on the subject, Escoffier, Raymond Oliver, Julia Child, and many more. Essentially, they all said the same thing. Use the best ingredients you can find to make the freshest, cleanest stock (or broth) possible. With that in mind, I started my stock education, and the fundamentals came down to these salient points:

Stocks are clear liquids that result from gently simmering bones, meat or fish, and vegetables in water, usually with aromatic herbs and spices. 

There are four principal stocks: Beef, chicken, fish, and vegetable. 

Beef stocks are made with beef knuckles, joints, and feet to achieve a rich flavor and velvety texture. Sometimes referred to as fond brun, this stock is golden to deep mahogany in color, created by roasting bones and vegetables to intensify their flavor. Beef stocks are an elemental part of dishes like pho, short ribs, and French onion soup and are used in braised dishes to add depth of flavor. These stocks take 6-24 hours to develop their rich flavor profile.

Chicken stocks are usually made with uncooked chicken carcasses, chicken legs or feet, and a mirepoix (a chopped mix of onions, carrots, leeks, and celery). However, you can also use the carcass from a previously roasted chicken (you can freeze the bones for later use) to make stock after removing any remaining meat. The bones are full of collagen and result in a nutritious gelatinous finish. This silky stock is the foundation for many soups, for cooking pasta and risotto, for poaching, and myriad sauces. An excellent light chicken stock can be made in two hours. 

Fish stock (or fish fumet) is quick to make, usually in about 30 minutes or less. However, it is delicate, and overcooking will dissolve the calcium in the bones, resulting in a cloudy, chalky stock. It is made by very gently simmering fish bones in water with aromatics such as leeks, carrots, and fennel and herbs such as parsley and tarragon. Fish stocks are used for poaching fish, soups, and cooking rice, risotto, and pasta in seafood dishes. 

Vegetable stock is versatile, inexpensive, quick, and easy to make. Using a foundation of onions, leeks, carrots, and celery, other vegetables and trimmings can be used in all manner of soups, sauces and as the cooking liquid for pasta and grains and can be used as a healthy alternative to meat or poultry-based stocks. It is an excellent way to use vegetable trimmings. I like to save all the carrot peelings, onion skins, leek greens, and parsley stems by popping them all into a large freezer bag as I prepare food during the week. When I'm ready to make stock, I have all the ingredients ready and can tip them into a large stock pot and cover the vegetables with cold water. 30-40 minutes later, I'll have a lovely, clear, bright vegetable stock. 

Simmering is the key! The gentle cooking of all these stocks is the recipe for a successful stock. Boiling bones causes the albumin in them to be released too quickly, resulting in a cloudy, sometimes chalky stock, which is also why only cold water should be added to the ingredients when you start your stock. Simmering will allow any impurities to rise to the top of the stock pot. It looks like an unappetizing grey, scum-looking foam. Carefully remove this from the stock pot. After 40-50 minutes, there should be none left. Cook the stock uncovered, reducing the chance that the stock will boil. 

Finally, stock and broth are technically different (except for the vegetable version), although they are often interchangeably used in recipes. Stocks are made with bones and have a more gelatinous texture. They are also unsalted. Broths are made with meat (or fish) and are more liquid. (For a detailed breakdown of the science behind making stock, Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking provides an in-depth analysis of the processes involved.)

Santa Barbara, 2023

More than three decades have passed since I stepped tentatively into that restaurant kitchen. I have cooked thousands of meals since then and discovered new cuisines, techniques, and foods, but the foundation of all I do has its roots in the stocks I learned to make then. There is always a batch of frozen vegetable and chicken stock in my freezer and a bag of trimmings ready to use for the next pot. As Thomas Keller, famed chef of The French Laundry, said, stocks are "the base for everything else you're going to do. And that's why it's so valuable to learn how to do this and so valuable to have it at home. It's a life changer."


Fresh stocks are a vibrant foundation to any soup, stew, tagine, or sauce. A stock that is full of flavor, made with fresh ingredients will improve any dish, and most stocks are easy and economical to make. Use simple vegetable stock when cooking rice, risotto, and couscous to enhance the grains and the roasted stocks add depth and richness of flavor to all manner of soups and stews. They are truly worth the effort.

Simple Vegetable Stock

Makes 2 quarts (1 liter)

2 large onions – peeled and diced
4 carrots – peeled and diced

2 leeks – carefully cleaned, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

1 celery stalk – diced


  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and pour in 2 ½ quarts of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, but do not press down on the solids as this will cause your stock to be cloudy.

Roasted Vegetable Stock

Makes 2 quarts (1 liter)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 carrots - peeled and diced

3 stalks celery - diced

2 leeks - carefully cleaned, ends trimmed and quartered

2 large onions - peeled and diced

3 quarts of water

1 bouquet garni - 1 bay leaf, 6-8 stems parsley, 6-8 stems fresh thyme loosely tied together with kitchen twine.

3 good turns of fresh ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large roasting pan and add the carrots, celery, onions, and leeks into the pan, toss to coat with a little olive oil and then roast for 45 minutes.
  3. Fill a 4-quart stockpot, three-quarters full with cold water, and then add the roasted vegetables, bouquet garni and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.

Chicken Stock

Makes 2 quarts (1 liter)

2-3 lbs chicken parts e.g. legs or backs or chicken bones, or the carcass of a roasted chicken
2 ribs of celery - diced

4 carrots – peeled and diced

3 large onions - peeled and diced

4 leeks – carefully cleaned, root end trimmed and quartered lengthways

4 turns fresh pepper

1 bay leaf

Stems from 1 bunch of parsley,
6-8 stems fresh thyme loosely tied together with kitchen twine.

3 quarts of water

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. During that time, carefully remove the scum, (a grey looking foam) that sometimes comes to the surface of the stock, with a large spoon. It is very important to do this regularly during the first 45 minutes of cooking to keep a good clean flavor in your stock.
  3. After 1 ½ hours remove from the heat, let cool and strain the stock. When you are straining the stock, do so carefully, avoiding pressing down and squashing the meat and vegetables in the strainer. Your patience in letting the stock filter naturally through the strainer will be well rewarded with a good, clear, fresh tasting stock.
  4. The stock will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. This stock freezes well. Use different size containers. If you are using glass jars to freeze your stock, make sure you leave at LEAST 1 ½ inches of space between the top of the stock and the lid, as the stock expands as it freezes. If you overfill the jar, it will crack in the freezer. It can be kept frozen for 3 months.

Silky Cauliflower Curry Soup with Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Serves 8 people

 For the soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion — peeled and finely chopped

2 leeks — ends trimmed, cleaned, white and light green parts finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 heads cauliflower (2 lbs each) — core removed, separated into florets

8 cups vegetable stock



For the Brussels sprouts:
Olive oil

1 lb Brussels sprouts — finely sliced using a mandolin

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Zest of 1 lemon


1/3 cup crème fraîche

  1. Pour the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and curry powder and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are softened. Add the cauliflower, a good pinch of salt and 10-12 grinds pepper, and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable stock to the saucepan and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and purée the soup using an immersion blender. For a smoother texture, pass it through a fine mesh sieve. Cover and keep the soup warm until ready to serve.
  3. Pour a little olive oil into a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, a good pinch of salt and 4-5 grinds pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the sprouts are golden brown. Add the chives and lemon zest and toss to combine.
  4. Serve the soup in warmed soup bowls. Place a dollop of crème fraîche in the center of each bowl and top with a spoonful of the crispy Brussels sprouts.

Citrus Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins

I have delved into the world of Moroccan and North African cuisine, reading about sumptuous dishes in books by Claudia Roden, Paula Wolfert, the Maloufs and Clifford A. Wright. I’ve been inspired by their culinary journeys and revel in the fragrance and spices of the African continent. After making a batch of Ras al Hanout, a spice mix that means “best of the house,” I thought I’d try combining it with some curry powder to make a tagine with an African-Asian spice fusion. The aroma drifting across the kitchen as this simmered was mouth-watering. The end result produced a chicken that melted off the bone with plump, juicy, succulent fruit. This dish has become a family favorite.

Serves 8 people

1 heaped teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon Ras al Hanout

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup orange juice

8 chicken legs or a combination of legs and thighs

4 cups chicken stock

Salt and black pepper

Olive oil

2 large onions — peeled, halved and sliced

25-30 dried apricots

2 small, preserved lemons — roughly chopped

4 oranges — peeled and sectioned

1 cup golden raisins

  1. In a large bowl, combine the curry powder, Ras al Hanout and olive oil to form a thick paste. Stir in the orange juice. The mixture should be quite thick. Add the chicken and coat all sides. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes. (This can be done up to 8 hours in advance.)
  2. Pour 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into the base of a tagine with a cast-iron bottom (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden, about 6-7 minutes. Add the marinated chicken legs and brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Pour enough chicken stock, (depending on the size of your pan you may have some stock left) to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. Cover with the tagine lid. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the apricots, golden raisins, lemons and oranges to the tagine and stir, turning the chicken legs once or twice. Replace the lid and cook for an additional 40 minutes or until the chicken is tender and meat is almost falling off the bone.
  4. Serve with plenty of the pan juices, the fruit, and onions.  I like to serve this dish with couscous.

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