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Stocks, Cream Puffs, Broccoli

February 28, 1991|BARBARA HANSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A fish stock so versatile that it can be used in anything from soup to desserts and even for stir-frying is now on sale at Santa Monica Seafood. Called the Ultimate Stock, it is made with halibut and purified water, and with vegetables that are organic and pesticide-free. In addition, it contains no salt and no preservatives and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Kelly Mullarney, executive chef of Ocean Ave. Seafood in Santa Monica, developed a whole parade of dishes without butter or oil to showcase the product. For stir-frying, he poured it into a hot wok and boiled it down to a concentrate. Instead of the butter that usually soaks garlic bread, he made an infusion of stock, garlic and herbs, dabbed it lightly onto the bread and baked it until crusty. And for dessert he made a blueberry soup that combined pureed berries with the stock, a rare blueberry wine and a dash of red wine. "If you didn't know that it was made with fish stock, I don't think that you would taste it," Mullarney says.

It's available frozen at the seafood company's two outlets, 1205 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, and 1700 N. Main St., Orange. The price is $2.98 for an 8-ounce container.

When a recipe calls for veal stock, most cooks simply pass it by and make another dish. Veal stock is laborious to make, and although dedicated cooks may be willing to spend hours baking bones and skimming stock, most people are anxious to substitute something easier. The problem is that veal stock does not come in cans or bouillon cubes.

However, you can get the real thing at Bristol Farms for $2.98 a pound, which is approximately one pint. (The stock is frozen and thus can be weighed.) Each Bristol Farms market has its own catering kitchen, where the stock is made from fresh veal bones, onions, tomatoes, carrots, fresh thyme and pepper--no salt. The three locations are South Pasadena, Rolling Hills Estates and Manhattan Beach.

A dessert that tastes as if you labored for hours, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in hand, actually requires no work at all. All you need to do is jump into your car and drive to Gardena or Little Tokyo. Your goal is a box of mini cream puffs from the Chateau Cake Shop. They're filled with luscious soft custard in three flavors--plain, chocolate and lemon. For a little extra, you can have sliced fresh strawberries tucked into the pastry shell too. Most commercial fillings are thick and starchy, but these are made daily from good fresh ingredients, so they're delicate and runny (watch out for dribbles). Freeze the puffs, and they'll make a nice treat for youngsters, sort of like an ice cream sandwich.

The Chateau Cake Shop is located at 1630 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in the Pacific Square Shopping Center, Gardena. Puffs and fillings in separate containers are shipped daily to the Modern Food Market in Little Tokyo, where they're assembled and sold from a counter near the door. A container of 12 puffs is $3.75. With strawberries added, the price is $3.75 for eight.

This is a good week to eat broccoli. The harvest around Santa Maria has been so plentiful that prices are dropping. Carrots from the Imperial Valley and celery from Oxnard are also increasing in volume and dropping in price.

The pale hothouse variety of rhubarb is coming in from Washington State and the field-grown stalks from California are also beginning to appear, The California rhubarb has a deeper color, but both types taste great and will produce a wonderful rhubarb pie.

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