"We have one chance to impress people," says Landau. Very often, this chance begins with his base. "Stock is one of the most crucial elements of good cooking because you make sauces and soups out of it. If you don't have a good stock, you can't make good food." This is Landau's recipe for an all-purpose, all-season stock, which can keep for five days in the refrigerator. Vegetables don't need to be peeled; just wash them carefully. "By browning the vegetables first, you build a layer. The flavors start to unfold as you're eating the dish. That little char appeals to the caveman and cavewoman side of all of us."

Vegetable Stock
(Makes 5 quarts)

• 2 tsp canola oil
• 6 carrots, chopped
• 3 stalks celery, chopped, preferably with leaves
• 2 leeks, rinsed well and chopped
• 2 onions, with skins, chopped
• 1 turnip, with skins, chopped
• 1 tbsp salt
• 3 to 4 outer leaves of green cabbage
• 2 cups broccoli stems
• 2 cups kale stems

Step One
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat until it starts to ripple. Add the carrots, celery, leeks, onions, and turnip. Cook, stirring, until brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Step Two
Add 6 quarts water and the salt, and bring to a boil.

Step Three
Reduce the heat to low, add the cabbage leaves, broccoli stems, and kale stems, and simmer for 25 minutes. Strain, cool, and store for use as needed.