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Home Cooking Goals for the New Year

Here are some of my goals for the New Year:

speed up my prepping/chopping

improve my frying skills

improve my pizza

improve my brioche/Challah/Easter bread breadmaking skills

continue working on my roast chicken

make a Malakov Torte

make a Russian Charlotte

make a lasagna with a Bechamel

bake a decent King Cake. My attempt at King Cake last Mardi Gras was my biggest baking fail last year.

make more cookies and crackers from scratch in the New Year, to cut down on the amount of processed cookies and crackers in the house.

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  1. My main goal is to reduce/do away with as much processed foods as I can. Guess I'll be making lots of my own chicken broth. And, like you, crackers from scratch. Gotta give up my cola habit! Already learned a lot this morning just from making black-eyed peas and cornbread. There will be a huge learning curve...

    2 Replies
    1. re: mommystar

      If you have a slow cooker/ crockpot you'll do great making stock- it's why I have a slow cooker, I just couldn't do without homemade stock. It has so many health benefits.

      Don't doubt yourself, you'll do great!

      1. re: weezieduzzit

        "If you have a slow cooker/ crockpot you'll do great making stock"

        Or you can go the other route and start making it in a pressure cooker. Better stocks in half the time! Stockmaking in a pressure cooker is something I picked up last year and will never stop doing, it seems to do a much better job at flavor extraction.

        Im not sure its ideal for southeast asian cooking where you need want weakish broths a good portion of the time, but if you want big bold stocks, load up the pressure cooker and get ready for some REALLY rich and layered stocks.

      1. re: foodieX2

        Sorry that I started another thread when you already had started a similar one, foodieX2. I scanned the Board for similar themed posts from today and yesterday, but didn't see your post from the 28th. Thanks for adding your link. ;-)

        1. re: prima

          No problem! Just thought I shared in case some of the other didn't post.

      2. I too would like to rely less on processed foods. For example, I use way too much jarred pasta sauce when there's no real reason to (other than laziness), it's so easy to make in bulk and freeze.

        I would also like to learn sausage making. I have the grinder and just need the filler attachment.

        Lastly, I would like to be better about making vegetables. Right now I keep it simple, either use those frozen steamer bags, or just roast them. It gets a bit boring.

        4 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          I came up with another one. I'd like to utilize my cookbooks more. So my goal is to make at least one recipe from a cookbook I have every week. I usually just use recipes I find online and meal plan while I'm at work so this will require a bit more effort on my part. But, it's a shame I have some really nice books that just sit there.

          1. re: juliejulez

            Eat Your Books would let you still do meal planning from work or away from home, since it makes your own cookbooks available to you via the net.

            It's transformed my use of existing cookbooks (as well as inspiring the purchase of a few new ones).

            1. re: ellabee

              Yeah I've been thinking about that. I'll have to look more into it because I'm not sure how it works.

              1. re: ellabee

                Actually I just joined, I didn't realize how cheap and easy it was :)

          2. Hey, making a béchamel lasagna is easy peasy (if a bit of a PITA, what with all the pots it uses). Try this recipe my man made yesterday:

            http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/1...

            It was absolutely delicious.

            Having perfected the consistency of my pork shoulder, I will now experiment with bbq sauces, or different rubs/flavors.

            Maybe this year I will do what I had resolved for last -- to try at least one new recipe a week. Did not work out too well in 2012, I like our reg'lars.... but really should probably expand my repertory.

            I'd also like to try my hand at loempia/spring rolls/homemade wontons.

            My man will (hopefully) continue his quest for perfect Neapolitan-style pizza, his tarte flambée is pretty awesome already.

            5 Replies
            1. re: linguafood

              Tarte flambee is on my to-do list for 2013! Could your man share some tips?

              1. re: nofunlatte

                Yo. This is what he found on the interwebs (sorry, the measurements are metric). We've upped the creme fraiche from the original 200 to 300g which I believe I changed in the ingredients list. You really want it to be creamy and not too dry. We also added shredded Swiss cheese on top, because.... well, because melted cheese makes everything better :-)

                Ingredients (yields 2 Flammkuchen):
                *250 g bread flour (type 550) plus more for handling
                *50 g rye flour (type 1150)
                *1/2 tsp fine sea salt
                *175 ml lukewarm water
                *~15g fresh yeast
                *1 tbsp olive oil
                *300 g Crème fraîche or Schmand
                *50 g heavy cream
                *fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and
                nutmeg to taste
                *50-75 g Pancetta (or other bacon)
                *3 red onions, finely sliced

                1 Start with the dough: Add both flours and salt to
                a large bowl, mix briefly and make a well in the
                center. Dissolve the fresh yeast in lukewarm
                water, pour into the well and add the olive oil.

                2 Knead well, either by hand or with a machine. I
                only use my Kitchen Aid for this job and it takes
                roughly 3 to 5 minutes (medium speed). The dough
                should come together nicely and clean the sides of
                the bowl all by itself. If it is too sticky, you can
                add more bread flour by the tablespoon. Shape into
                a ball, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for
                about 45 minutes at a warm and sheltered place.
                After the dough has risen, punch it down, divide it
                into 2 equally sized portions, shape them into
                neat balls and let them rise again under a kitchen
                towel for 20 to 30 minutes.

                3 Preheat the oven to 250°C (~480°F) or as hot as
                your oven permits and place a baking tray on the
                bottom level, so it gets preheated, too.

                4 Prepare the topping by mixing the Crème fraîche
                and heavy cream with spices (salt, pepper and
                nutmeg) to taste, cutting the red onions into thin
                semi- rings and finely chopping the chives.
                5 Line an extra baking tray with parchment paper.
                Flatten one dough ball with your hands and either
                roll it out thinly (similar to pizza dough) with a
                rolling pin or by stretching and pulling the dough
                with the back of your hands (be careful, since this
                dough contains rye flour, it is not as easy to
                handle as regular pizza dough!). Apply a nice deal
                of the Crème fraîche mix on top and decorate with
                some Pancetta and a generous amount of sliced
                onions on top. Transfer to or slide onto the
                preheated tray and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes
                or until it has gained a nice golden- brown color.
                I usually discard the parchment paper after 5
                minutes of baking (just pull it out very fast), to
                ensure the bottom develops a nice crust.

                6 Take out and sprinkle with fresh chives and
                enjoy hot, lukewarm or even cold, the next day.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Thank you so much! And I appreciate that the measurements are metric! I actually know the metric system :)

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Yum! I think we would like that!

                2. re: linguafood

                  Thanks linguafood. Glad that mushroom lasagna turned out well. Thanks for including the link in this thread.

                  I'd also like to work on my wontons, as well as my dumplings and perogies.

                  I tend to cook new recipes several times a week, which has been eating into my time for the gym and other often neglected chores, so I'm trying to work on streamlining my weeknight recipes, rather than experimenting with new ones so frequently. I've also been doing more improv cooking, which saves time since I measure more freely, and which saves paper, since I'm not printing out as many recipes.

                  I don't like cooking in batches, and don't have much fridge/freezer space, so cooking a whack of food on Sundays to last the whole week won't work for me.

                  While I'm drawn to relatively complex recipes, I'm realizing I don't get other things done if I'm spending 60-90 minutes preparing dinner each night.

                3. I'd like to continue my goal of being organized in my pantry/fridge/freezer & reduce my food waste....

                  Keep the trend of not going out & cooking at home instead....

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: jenscats5

                      Me, too. I've been good about cooking lots on weekends and portioning/freezing meals, but I still toss too many items I freeze. And I still eat out for lunch too often. I've been afraid to get a freeze-vac thingie based on CH input, but I need a better way to prevent freezer burn!