January 10, 2009

Resolutions, Resolutions

I've never been one for new year's resolutions, but I have made some food-related resolutions that I really hope I can keep. I'm off to a good start, so far, but it's been like, what, 9 days?

In terms of cooking, there are a number of things I'd like to do, most of which revolves around making more things from scratch. For example...

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Gnocci
  • Stocks

I've already made my own mayo, following the excellent instructions (and pretty pictures) of Michael Ruhlman, and used it to make lobster rolls with the leftover lobster meat from our New Year's Eve dinner (a post that, sadly, has passed its time, but the results were, after a shaky start trying to humanely end the lives of our lobsters, excellent; what else to expect from wild mushroom linguine with lobster in a saffron cream sauce -- freakin' yum, dude!).

A few days later also used said mayo to make some chicken salad (mayo, apples, golden raisins, cayenne, salt, pepper, lemon juice) sandwiches using the meat leftover from a Sunday Dinner of roasted chicken.

The ricotta is next, I think, hopefully to make some pork & ricotta meatballs.

Also per Mr. Ruhlman, I'd like to do some curing, particularly salmon, which, as he describes it, sounds remarkably easy.

Buy a side of salmon—no, buy a piece of salmon—pack it in an equal mixture of salt and sugar and some citrus zest or fennel, wrap it in foil for 24 hours, rinse it and taste a paper thin slice. A cooking miracle.

There also are specific dishes I'd like to make:

  • shrimp with romesco (from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook)
  • cochinata pibil (an incredible pork dish I had at a Yucatan restaurant in Los Angeles about 2 years ago!)
  • Gnocci (I know, a repeat from above)

And by the end of February I'd like to be composting. We throw away a lot food, most of it food scraps that from what I've read would be perfectly suitable for composting. It would be, IMO, cool, to take a bunch of food scraps, convert them into compost, and use it to fertilize my own garden.

That will be a challenge, though, because I don't want to buy a ready-to-go composting unit, I'd like to make it myself. And, plainly put, I'm not handy in the least. Once a project goes beyond putting some nails or screws in a wall, my involvement can only lead to bad things.

Wish me luck and happy 2009.


Julie Rotelli said...

You may have already run across this blog, but if not, it's a great read. She has a make-your-own ricotta recipe that I've been meaning to try for a couple months now. Her current post is make-your-own yogurt, which will hopefully replace (okay, reduce) our consumption of DayGlo gogurts:

Mmmm...gnocchi. I made it from scratch exactly once (potatoes, flour well, the whole bit...) Glad I did it, but it was a lot of effort! So for all but the most special of occasions, I stick with a Potato Bud and Wondra flour recipe. :> Does that still count as homemade?

Fillippelli the (Wannabe) Cook said...

I have come across that blog. I have seen at least 3 make-your-own ricotta recipes in the last year: F&W, the NY Times, and Saveur. I have been meaning to make it forever.

My mom's gnocci, which is pretty darned good, but not necessarily the lightest stuff in the world (my sister calls them "lead bullets," which is a bit of an exaggeration) are made with potato buds as well. She tried real potatoes several times, but they always came out like real lead bullets. Still counts as homemade in my book, though.

And, man, this new format I have chosen has weird quirks with block quotes. Need to do some fixin' up.

Farmer Troy said...

Good luck on the compost . . . my advice, buy a unit. I own two and they work well.

Fillippelli the (Wannabe) Cook said...

I've already fallen down on the job on this resolution. Hopefully this weekend I can do some research on it and see whether I have the fortitude to build one, or, as usual, will just break down and buy one.

If the latter, is there one you recommend?