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.