Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's (Food) Resolutions

I tend to get a lot of new cookbooks for Christmas, and the period spent between Christmas Day and New Year's Day I spend many happy hours pouring over the new possibilities that lie within their fresh, unblemished pages. (I am a messy cook so have learned to accept the stained pages of my frequently used cookbooks, even though the spills and pencil markings conflict with my professional responsibilities.) Because this year I want to remember all of the things I am longing to make at some point in 2011, I record here my list of New Year's Food Resolutions: recipes or ingredients or tools or techniques I want to make use of at some point during the year. In no particular order.

1. A recipe that requires a mandoline (the cutting kind, not the musical instrument kind, which is a mandolin). Like Pommes Anna. Or this Turnip-Parsnip Gratin that I wanted to make at Thanksgiving, but was without a mandoline so made Parsnip Crumble instead. Luckily I gave myself a mandoline for Christmas.

2. Chinese Food. I love Chinese food, and we have a perfectly wonderful go-to takeout place (Lotus Gardens) that we frequent, but I have always wanted to try making Chinese dishes at home. So this year on Chinese New Year I'm going to try and make a Chinese menu, including Pork-Fried Rice with Pineapple that is in my new Best Simple Recipes cookbook.

3. Seafood. D. and I both like seafood but I don't make a lot of it at home, so the boys aren't exposed to it all that often. Except when I make tuna or salmon salad sandwiches, and then they complain bitterly about the fishy smell. So baby steps are likely warranted. I'd love to do something like bacon-wrapped scallops, but will probably opt for homemade fish fingers.

4. Avocado. Don't know why, but I've moved on from ginger and now become sort of obsessed with avocado. Not sure what I'm going to do with it. Just had to put that out there.

5. Pudding Chomeur. I am a wee bit embarrassed that the first time I had this quintessential Quebecois dessert was at a St. Hubert's in Quebec City. It is a divine way to consume maple syrup so when the season hits, I want to capitalize on the wonderful local syrup that will be available at our local sugar bush/market.

6. Mediterranean Olive Bread. Our local fresh food market makes artisinal style olive ciabatta buns that are a mainstay at our Sunday dinner table. I happened on an olive quick bread recipe over at and want to see how it compares. Strangely enough, no one in my family 'likes' olives but me, so this will have to be served under an assumed name, to be determined.

7. Cheddar Soup. I have been meaning to make this recipe ever since I bought a Walt Disney World cookbook on one our trips a year or so ago. This cheddar soup is served at Le Cellier, the restaurant in the Canadian Pavilion at Epcot. If I'm feeling inspired I may serve this soup with some homemade bread or buns. Which brings me to another resolution:

8. Try making more yeast breads, which tend to intimidate me. These Oatmeal-Molasses Rolls sound awfully good, so may be a perfect candidate.

9. Summer Berry Pie. I have a long history of not enjoying the pie making process. It's mostly the pastry that gets me down. But Cook's Illustrated has a Summer Berry Pie that is made with a graham cracker crust and filled with fresh blackberries, blueberries and raspberries that tempts me every Summer. With an excellent berry farm near by, I plan to finally give in and make this pie come 2011.

10. Cheesecake. No one in my immediate family likes cheesecake, so I never make it. Now that my SIL has suggested she would partake of a piece, were it to be on offer, I figure the next dinner involving extended family, I'm bringing a cheesecake. Not sure what flavour - oh, the possibilities! A search for 'cheesecake recipes' on Google would take me days to go through, and I haven't even started browsing through my cookbook collection or searching my most reliable online recipe sources.

So that's it. My food resolution list. It will be interesting (well, to me, at least) to see if I manage to follow through.

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