Wednesday, January 2, 2008

For 2008: Eight Kitchen Resolutions

What are your resolutions for 2008?

I have never been one for resolutions. Some years I spend a few days writing a list of resolutions and then alternate between ignoring them or feeling guilty about ignoring them.

I thought I'd try something different and have produced a list of Kitchen Resolutions for 2008. Some of these items are challenging recipes or techniques. One is an area of skill improvement. One is more housekeeping than anything else. The final one is probably the most challenging, as you'll see ...

Resolution 1: Chinese Soup Dumplings
Soup dumplings are a marvel: a thin dumpling skin (similar to a wonton skin) encasing a hot, flavorful broth. Each is a rich, warming mouthful.

I have read a number of techniques and they don't seem hard to make, just fussy. However, the whole idea of them is fascinating and I can't wait to try to make them. I am also curious to see if I can use the same method with different types of soup and stew. Potato and leek soup dumplings anyone?

Resolution 2: Nancy Silverton's Sourdough Starter
Have you seen this method? Chef Silverton's starter is legendary. It's local: produced in your kitchen, using your local yeasts and the yeasts found on a bunch of grapes (okay, so that part may not be local). It's flavorful: breads made with it are supposed to have a depth of flavor not found in most breads. And, it's insanely fussy: it takes over 10 days to get the starter going and then you have to care and feed for your starter forever after.

I have tried to get this starter going before and haven't ever succeeded. Back up the hill this year ...

Resolution 3: Roast Beef
Cut me a little slack, but after those first two I needed something a little easier. Fact of the matter is I have never prepared a roast beef before. This is mostly because I don't tend to entertain large groups very often. When we do, a good old fashioned roast beef just never seems to fit the bill. However, I feel like this is a major gap in my culinary repertoire and I am looking forward to getting it right: beefy, juicy and delicious.

Resolution 4: Produce an Aged Cheddar
I love cheesemaking. I have limited my cheesemaking to fresh cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, feta and chevre. I'd like to take this to the next level by aging a cheese. I have selected a cheddar as my first effort. I'll be able to source my cultures from the New England Cheesemaking Company (a great source - try their 30-minute Mozzarella Kit).

Resolution 5: Brew a Batch of Root Beer

Ever since I read an article in Saveur about craft root beers I have been thinking about brewing a batch. I love ginger beer and root beer and birch beer and am looking forward to producing a homebrewed version of my own.

Resolution 6: Improve My Knife Skills
Like most self-taught cooks, I pretty much do what feels logical in the kitchen. My knife skills are pretty much built on what I've learned on my own. I can get done what needs be done while I'm cooking, but I know that I could be better, faster and more accurate in my technique.

Resolution 7: Freezer Management
'Nuff said.

Resolution 8: The Cookbook Challenge
I am going to make one recipe from each cookbook in my library. Woof. I have a lot of cookbooks (this is about half of my collection, not including magazines and "clippings" from the internet). I figure I'll rediscover some old favorites and stretch my boundaries a little. I should also end up with a catalog of just what I have on the bookshelf. Hopefully I'll make it through them all.


Stefan Jones said...

"I am going to make one recipe from each cookbook in my library."

So, if you get a gift copy of The Roadkill Cookbook . . .

Sunday Cook said...

Try me. :-)

Julia said...

Oh, man.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we don't share, kids.

Mine is to learn to fry. Saute, I'm golden. Fry, not so much.

Sunday Cook said...

A fear of frying is fairly common (I admit to a marginal case at times). Don't try to treat it like fear of flying tho - a drink at the airport bar and a vat of boiling oil are a bad combo.

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