It doesn't get any better than this...
I find that several times a month I whip up something at home and think to myself: "this is amazing, there is nothing, anywhere, I would rather be eating right now then this."
I have a feeling this phenomena is fairly common amongst chowhounds. Certainly other hounds I know in Boston have cooked so many different things that I have had the privilege to taste that were just plain delicious.
Anyhow, thought it would be fun to list a few of the dishes I have whipped up in recent memory that were just plain awesome. Please chime in with a few of your own...
Last night for Chanukah, perfect tasty latkes (potato pancakes) with homemade applesauce and tangy armenian yogurt. This was accompanied with veggy soup that my SO made with leeks, carrots, zuchini, celery, red and yellow peppers, san marzano tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Pork pozole topped with fresh squeezed lime and cilantro
Pizza (50-50 Durum and bread flour) the crust slathered with a light coating of sauce, spicy eggplant red pepper paste and olive paste, with Italian salami, Italian sausage, sharp cheddar, mozarella, and fresh plum tomatoes.
Tiny baby bok choi with delicate fresh baby mushrooms (I forgot the variety picked up at the local asian market, I had never seen them before) ginger, black beans, cilantro with soy and sesame oil served on short grain rice with a spicy marinated tofu.
Fresh thick Asian wheat noodles charred crispy with sweet bean paste, chili paste, and soy, served with spicy wheat gluten and watercress sauteed and dressed with sesame oil.
Anyhow, those are just a few, be great to hear a few of your own.
For me it is soups. I've long had a fear of making soup, since it seemed so mysterious.
Summer pea soup (didn't use bacon, but rather had a hint of mint in it) - very light, perfect for summer
Garlic leak: superb, delicious
Chicken vegetable: when my husband was home after surgery. Started by making the stock, and went from there. I don't know that it was great, but I enjoyed it b/c I made it from the 'ground up'.
I'm still surprised every time one turns out well, and enjoy it all the more for that!
I never used to have a fear of making soups, per se, I just never made them (don't know why) until about 6-7 years ago, I was working in a restaurant and I got the soup duty that day...after that, I was the one to make them all the time and got compliments from the customers & staff. I stopped buying canned soups after that and now it's one of my favorite things to make.
One of the things I've become good at is making sauces..last weekend I had a client for whom I cooked and they had Steak Pizziola with Cabernet sauce. I reduced three bottles of wine and the sauce (with additions) came out perfect. I got a standing ovation...what's better than that? Recently, I made a killer bacon & shallot cream sauce for pasta...so good!
Another thing I like to do is bake, used to work as a baker at one time. One of my specialties is roll dough like for sweet rolls, except savory, and stuffing with things like ham & cheese, steak & mushroom, bacon & eggs, etc. Cut & bake like sweet rolls but drizzle with a complimenting sauce. I also like to mix sweet & savory ingredients..I made 5 spice brownies for Halloween that were great..
I have to admit that, within the last 6 months, I have made major culinary breakthroughs in areas that I've been toiling for solutions for decades. For me, it's a mini food renaissance. As much as I love having some of the best meals of my life- it could get better in one aspect. From a lifestyle aspect, I wish it were sustainable from a health perspective. In other words, the food has been orgasmic, but if I don't get to the gym, I'm going to have issues down the line.
I guess, in theory, I could strive towards delicious food that isn't quite so rich, but, tbh, I've been down that path before and it's a lost cause. I think cold fusion would be an easier prospect. I've also thought long and hard about living a lifestyle that's more in accord with French philosophy, but, unfortunately, I can't see myself giving up the large portions, and, I'm really not much of a regular drinker. So, the gym is really the only option.
So, long story short, these last few months have been extremely good to my palate, but not so good to my waistline.
1. Well, I've finally cracked a large portion of the Chinese short order restaurant code with my brown sauce base (chicken w/ broccoli, etc.).
2. I've also, with the right materials and an understanding of thermodynamics, been able to markedly approve upon the brick oven pizza of my youth/of my dreams that, in recent years, has become increasingly unavailable commercially.
3. When the mozzarella/ricotta I buy is fresh/up to par, my lasagna is, imo, untouchable.
4. For the first time, I think, ever, I've actually come up with an easy recipe for a dish (all my recipes tend to labor intensive)- a chowder that not only can be made by opening a few cans but that doesn't taste like opening a few cans. It's not the best chowder on the planet, but it's by far the best for the amount of labor involved.
5. I swallowed my pride and started over on my buffalo wings and the results have been tremendous.
Brown sauce and pizza were quantum leaps- real eureka moments. Lasagna has been about being able to fine tune and make improvements over and over for years without any setbacks. The chowder and wings were not quite as major, but they still involved looking at issues from different perspectives and coming up with solutions.
I have a host of other dishes that I've been happy with for quite some time, but these particular recipes are the foundation for the massive growth (no pun intended) I've experienced culinarily over the last few months. Pizza and brown sauce alone are earth shattering realizations of life long dreams. If the next 6 months can give me a better glimpse into Indian short order cooking, it will truly be a historic year for me.
I feel like I really nailed Pizza this year myself. I used to do thick bready crusts and now I can do that (easier) and thin which is a smidge harder to get just right. Hot hot oven is always key. I use either a pizza stone or sometimes just a big cookie sheet. Both yield quite excellent results.
I also have been doing some basic Indian dishes and made two different Dals this year that were top rate. Key being using a decent amount of ghee (clarified butter) and grinding and toasting the spices myself on the spot.
I haven't done Lasagna in ages, mmmmm lasagna.