Quick shiitake stock

The holiday season is upon us and the one ingredient that always seems to pop up in these comforting, winter recipes is vegetable or meat-based stock. Sure you can buy it, but it's a good way to use up vegetable or meat scraps. Stock normally takes a few hours to make as it quietly simmers, reducing the amount of liquid and extracting flavor from the ingredients within the pot. But I have a quick stock recipe that works when you're short on time.
Don't confuse stock with broth, they are not the same things. Stock is an ingredient that contains no salt, and is generally made by slowly simmering leftover veggies, meat, or bones together to extract their flavor. Some stocks don't have much flavor while others are more robust depending on the ingredients added (I love a good roasted vegetable stock). Broth is something that can be eaten by itself as it's more flavorful and does contain salt. Think back to those times when you had the flu as a kid, and the only thing you could stomach were bowls of chicken broth.

Dried mushrooms are the jam. They lend a woodsy aroma and deep flavor to a stock in a short amount of time, plus they're full of healthful properties. Make sure to stock your pantry with these gems, so that next time you need a stock for risotto, you're ready. Buy a couple of mushroom varieties to find the flavor you like best. I think porcini is perfect for polenta.

Easy shiitake stock
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms
3-4 cups of water

Add mushrooms and water to a soup pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain stock through a coffee filter or fine mesh sieve. Allow to cool before refrigerating. Freeze for later use, if you'd like.

For porcini stock: No cooking needed. Soak the mushrooms overnight, then pour the stock through a filter. Bring to a gentle boil, when ready to use.