recipes

review of a 2018 resolution-win or lose?

A year ago, in the early ambitious hours of January 2018, I challenged myself with a commitment to cook every recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. Twelve months later, let me update you on how that resolution turned out….well, it wasn’t a Super Bowl season but I definitely batted a better than .500 average. (mixed sports metaphors ‘cause that’s just me)

By the numbers, I feel like a failure. I completed only 124 new recipes out of 215. Remember that I was trying to complete EVERY recipe, which mean I was 91 short. The individual issue stats were as follows:

  • Dec 2017/Jan 2018: 81%

  • Feb/Mar 2018: 68%

  • Apr/May 2018: 65%

  • June/July 2018: 56%

  • Aug/Sept 2018: 51%

  • Oct/Nov 2018: 21% - ouch!

As with many resolutions, one’s adherence to a goal drops off over time. I grew tired of trying to incorporate new recipes with difficult-to-find ingredients into my weekly menus. Publishing and executing a new menu almost every week of the year is challenging enough without including recipes that I’ve never attempted. In summary, I DID NOT COMPLETE THIS GOAL.

But on the flip side, I

  • learned a fool-proof technique for making frites (french fries) on the stove without a deep-fryer, thermometer, or any other fancy double-fry method

  • incorporated Indian-inspired dishes onto the BG menu, having never dared before

  • tried (and failed miserably) making three different “inside-out” roasts where the stuffing was rolled on the outside of the beef, pork and lamb cuts—a costly experiment to be sure but fun, nonetheless

  • made Chashu Ramen from scratch and discovered the multiple days required with many different steps really wasn’t worth the end result (we’ll be eating ramen at a noodle house for the foreseeable future, thank you)

  • fell in love with homemade gnocchi

  • experimented with four new takes on pot pie, one of which has been permanently added to the BG rotation

  • ordered lobster from Maine to bring authentic lobster rolls to my menu

  • tested several cream pie recipes, much to the delight of my DH, whom I love to please with culinary treats

So was the resolution a bust? I don’t think so. The positives I gleaned from the process far outweigh the actual numbers. And who’s to say I cannot continue the endeavor? Why can’t I keep cooking my way through the magazines until I’ve made each and every recipe? I won’t put it at the top of my goals list for 2019 but it can still be a goal, right?

I’m including my favorite recipe from the year, Cold-fry Frites, in case you want to give it a whirl. Always be trying something new—it’s an opportunity for growth, change and fun!

Yield: 6-8

cold-fry frites

prep time: 20 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 50 mins

Fries with a moist, creamy interior, an intense potato flavor, and a perfectly crisp, golden non oily exterior.

ingredients:

  • 3 lb. russet potatoes
  • 3 quarts sunflower, vegetable or canola oil
  • kosher salt
  • 3 quarts sunflower, vegetable or canola oil
  • kosher salt

instructions:

Rinse the potatoes, peel, and rinse again. Cut each potato lengthwise into disks about 3/8-inch-thick, then cut these disks lengthwise into sticks about 3/8-inch-thick. (Precision is not essential here: I love the tiny, crunchy, almost-burned bits that emerge from the fryer.)

Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes, changing the water when it becomes cloudy, until the water remains clear (at least three times). Drain the potatoes and put them in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and pat dry with additional paper towels.

Transfer the potatoes to a 7 qt. Dutch oven and set it on the stove. Pour the oil over the potatoes. Do not cover the pot. Set the heat to high, and stirring the potatoes gently with a metal spoon to distribute and prevent sticking, bring the oil to a boil. (The oil should move from a peppy simmer to a boil in 7 to 9 minutes.) When the oil starts to boil, set a timer for 17 minutes. Stir the potatoes very gently every 3 to 4 minutes and lower the heat to medium, if necessary to keep the oil from boiling over the pot.

After 17 minutes, the potatoes should be slightly golden. Continue to cook for 4 minutes, stirring gently. Resist the urge to remove them from the oil too soon. When the fries are a deep golden brown, taste one to make sure they are crisp and firm on the outside with a creamy interior. Transfer the fries with the wire skimmer or slotted spoon to a paper towel–lined tray to drain. Season with salt and serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator

A Taste of Paris

Ten years ago, my husband took me to Paris to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. It was an amazing trip, the adventure of a lifetime, a triumph on so many levels. Paris is truly a magical city and we ate, drank, toured, laughed, sat, strolled, and explored as much as possible. Since that year, we have taken other trips, exotic and foreign, but Paris still holds the power of unshakeable memories over us, always drawing us back into the "remember that time..."

One such remembrance is our actual anniversary dinner at the Michelin starred restaurant, Guy Savoy. The ambiance: elegant and reserved. The service: witty, attentive, and intelligent. The fare: delicious, rich, and artistic. The bill: exorbitant. That meal, that night, remains to this day in our top five food experiences of all time.

We were in love with each other, fell in love with the city and in turn, in love with all things France. Fast forward to this year when I have undertaken this crazy goal to cook my way through Fine Cooking magazine. I opened the April/May issue to find the "Moveable Feast" article highlighted a visit with none other than Guy Savoy (the chef and namesake of our beloved restaurant) and cookbook author, Patricia Wells, who resides in Paris! So I was quite excited to prepare the recipes from this particular issue. 

On a cold and windy evening in April, I invited friends to join us and they graciously agreed to suffer through this menu:

Spring Greens Salad with Fruit, Roquefort & Balsamic Dressing

Asparagus with Paprika Sabayon

Rib-eye Steak with Tarragon Chimichurri

Frites

Strawberry-Rhubarb Blitz Torte

The conversation was lively, the wine poured and though the steak was a bit underdone, I think the meal was a success. I'm definitely not Guy Savoy, but when I was crafting his sabayon (a cooked egg yolk sauce), I felt a renewed appreciation for the art that is Fine Dining. 

My experiment or goal or resolution, whatever you want to call it --to step out of my comfort zone and create recipes that I would not otherwise attempt--is succeeding. For the "numbers" people out there, I stand at 55 completed recipes out of 114 from 3 issues. Still a ways to go...hoping the June/July issue does not arrive for several more weeks!