Food and Cooking Resolutions for the New Year
We rang the New Year in with Hun’s delicious sautéed salmon and my big pot of black-eyed peas and collard greens, followed by a lemon curd trifle with almond cake. Since then, we’ve relished in baked spaghetti squash with sausage ragout, some of Mark Bittman’s famous “no-knead bread,” and a big pot of cassoulet. We’re definitely off to a yummy start, though not necessarily as “light” as many of my other food bloggers’.
A lot of food blog-a-zine editors are asking their readers if they have any food- and cooking-related New Year’s resolutions. I always have a few swimming around in the back of my brain, but the ones I want to focus on most include:
Broadening my palate. I want to taste new flavors and learn new flavor combinations. I get the basic salt and pepper, and understand the whys of mirepoix and sofrito, and I’ve gotten to touch on tadkas from Indian cuisine (though I may have used the term incorrectly in that context—basically, I mean a basic series of spices and how to handle them, mostly by heating them or frying them in oil before grinding them down), and all the combinations I learned from last semester’s Pacific Rim’s class, playing with different spices, curries, vinegars, spices, chilis, and on and on and on. I’d like to learn more about the chemistry of taste—how to combine flavors so that they “make sense” to the tongue, not necessarily to shock and surprise the tongue (I’m not that avant garde). (To read: A Platter of Figs by David Tanis)
Cooking with more produce. I want to introduce both a greater quantity and a greater variety of produce into my cooking. If I learned anything from last semester’s nutrition class, it’s that a diet high in produce is a diet high in good nutrition. The Downtown Phoenix Public Market played a big role, and I’d like to start going to local farmers’ markets again every week, both for the variety, but because it was nice to once again have vegetables that tasted like what they are. I also want to make use of Hun's love for fruit and incorporate it more as dessert options, since it can't all be baked and bready goodness! I learned a wonderful lesson, eating the Chinese pears, kiwi fruit, and oranges that his mom would slice up and serve to us after dinner--what a treat! (To read: The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)
Learning new techniques. I’m comfortable with the old-school stuff—if someone tells me to brown some meat, then braise it, I can hack it without a recipe. Thicken with a roux? No problem. But my resolution is broader than that. How, for example, would I cook game so that it didn’t taste gamy? What’s the best way to flambé? How does my mom keep her arroz caldo so white? Stuff like that! (To read: The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman)
Learning more classical recipes. I love knowing about those tried-and-tested dishes, from the Philippines’ adobo recipes to French coq au vin, and I want to know more—schnitzel, salmon lomi, jerk chicken, etc. I've already started, cooking the traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day! Tasty! (To read: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
Reading more in general. All of those things above will come from my pursuit of knowledge. Luckily, my library is filled with cooking DVDs and books on food.
Overall, I’m looking forward to a more healthful, creative, and educational year in the kitchen!