Monthly Archives: December 2011

Kitchen Resolutions 2011: The Roundup

I had a great time with my cooking resolutions this year. It definitely took me outside of my comfort zone and was a good way to motivate me in the kitchen. Here’s the roundup of what I did!

1. Prepare rabbit. The recipe i used was a little labor intensive, but I enjoyed attempting the new meat. Never ended up making it into our dinner rotation though. (February)

2. Make candy with a recipe that requires a candy thermometer. My friend Jamie, who’s great at making candy, did her best to help me out with this one, but candy did not come easily to me. First I attempted and failed at making strawberry marshmallows. Then I made an entire mess of the kitchen (we’re still finding caramel everywhere) attempting salted caramels. I made two batches, and while one came out a little melty, the other was the perfect texture and had a nice complex flavor. They looked messy, but I’m ok with it. (December)

3. Bake bread. I was really proud of how this turned out. Really nice flavor. My friend Rachel provided the recipe. I never got around to attempting No-Knead bread, though, which I’d meant to experiment with. Next year. (January)

4. Prepare homemade pasta. I made spinach lasagna noodles. I was really glad that John happened to be around to help (and my friend Priya was also there for moral support). If not, I may have given up on the rolling process, which I found challenging. (December).

5. Debone a chicken or fish. Turns out what I really meant was spatchcocking (I researched deboning a chicken, but the old school French technique isn’t really something I need to use in my kitchen, and the alternative had been what I was picturing when I wrote this goal). This was rather easy to do and translated into my favorite way to prepare a whole chicken on the grill – cooks much more evenly. Also learned deboning a fish isn’t really a big deal when John made salt-encrusted fish for Valentine’s Day. You basically can just lift it away when the fish is cooked. (June)

6. Put together Vietamese summer rolls. These were easier than I expected, and I really should make them more often because they’re tasty and healthy. (April)

7. Can a batch of jelly/jam. Actually, I did three. We’re still eating jam from this summer. I think raspberry peach was my favorite. Didn’t love the hot pepper jelly I made but my parents took a bunch off our hands. (August)

8. Kill and cook lobster at home. Ridiculously easy, it turns out. And really not too expensive, at least from the Asian market. (December)

9. Make mole poblano. Another labor-intensive one, but it paid off. Plus, the leftover sauce was great as a marinade. I also achieved the goal-by-extension, which was to cook more out of my Rick Bayless Cookbook – most of my birthday party recipes came from there. (June)

10. Homemade cheese. Ok, this one got down to the wire, given I made it New Year’s Eve, but hey! I did it! It actually was still draining as of this writing; hopefully it’s pretty solid. (December)

11. Make bacon from our pig’s belly. Another one that turned out great. I made three different recipes and really enjoyed them all.

Other cooking adventures this year: I was particularly exciting about pulling off sushi, two types of Pho, Mostly Meatless March, stuffed cabbage without a recipe, my giant fresh ham, thai papaya salad and mulligatawny soup. Also, the fact we exclusively cooked with “good meat” following MMM.

Favorite recipes included: red chile rice, tortilla soup, chickpea masala, Mexican panzanella, Thai basil chicken, better Spanish tortilla, pink eyed peas, caramelized fish and escarole soup with buffalo meatballs.

Ingredients of the year: Swordfish, soba noodles, radishes, pork (of course), feta cheese, and white fish (thanks to Bittman’s chart of 12 that I still haven’t made it all the way through). In general, we ate a lot of fish and salad, which I plan to continue next year.

Also, John made awesome gumbo.


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Kitchen Resolutions 2012

It’s that time of year again. I actually managed to at least attempt all of last year’s kitchen resolutions (I’ll post on that later this week), so it’s time for some more! These should be a lot of fun.

1. Make a souffle.

2. Cook goat in some form (roast? tacos?).

3. Use the tagine we got for our wedding to make a tagine.

4. Make either a pate or a terrine.

5. Learn how to cook squid or octopus.

6. Attempt sourdough bread.

7. Instead of Mostly Meatless March (though we may revisit that this year), attempt Almost-All Natural August (avoiding processed food in August).

8. My cookbook project: cook at least one recipe out of all of my cookbooks.

9. Experiment with grains I’ve never tried before (buckwheat?) or barely use (quinoa, barley).

10. Make my own bitters.

11. Cook more with root vegetables I tend to avoid, like turnips and parsnips, during the winter.

12. Make homemade pierogis


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Salted Caramels

I made candy! This did not go without hassle, and caramel is still kind of everywhere in our house. BUT I MADE CANDY. Recipe courtesy of Jamie Liu.

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Recipe Variation: Lentil and Sausage Slow Cooker Stew

So apparently I made this recipe two years ago but didn’t remember it. Anyway, some notes.

*I used chicken sausage rather than duck sausage this time, and prefer it.

*My main issue with this recipe is the broccoli rabe, which gets overcooked in the crockpot, and tastes a little funky as a result. Next time, I’d substitute spinach or something for the rabe.

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Stir-Fried Chicken with Peanuts and Basil

Also from Thai Cooking: Step By Step. This dish is easy, fragrant and delicious.

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Chicken and Galangal Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

This is one of two recipes I made tonight from my Thai Cooking: Step-By-Step cookbook for the project.

The soup is okay. Tasty, subtle flavor. Is it worth 7 WW points for a cup? I’m not entirely convinced. But it was a nice change of pace. It’s a meaty soup, so I might recommend for a light dinner instead of as an appetizer, as we had it.

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My 2012 Cookbook Project

A note to my three readers: For 2012, I’ve decided to cook at least one recipe out of each of my cookbooks. I’m going to chronicle those adventures separately here, if you’re curious, but I’ll still cross-post any new recipes on both blogs.

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Green Beans Almondine

Since we were having lobster (and champagne) for early Christmas dinner, we decided to go light on the sides. We just had lobster, broccoli and this semi-decadent green beans dish.

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Recipe Variation: Lobster Cobb Salad

I’m not a huge fan of The Palm, but I do remember really liking a lobster Cobb salad there once for lunch. So when we had leftover lobster meat from our giant lobster dinner, this was my natural thought.

Just sub leftover cooked lobster for chicken in your traditional Cobb salad recipe. We also used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon this evening.

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Mushroom Lasagna

I thought two vegetarians were coming for potluck so I made this as a backup for potluck. Turns out neither came, but we still had bonus lasagna for yay! This kind of paled in comparison to epic lasagna, but still was solid. I used Batali’s bechamel instead because I’d already made it once today and it uses like half the butter.

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