Stepping in the kitchen takes confidence and guts, usually inspired by a grumbling stomach or a nagging sweet tooth. With some sort of sweet, salty, gooey, or melty craving in mind, we step into the kitchen with a recipe or an idea, with our fingers crossed, maybe a hope and a prayer.
I’ll be the first to admit that, as often as I bust out my stand mixer and preheat my oven, I still feel intimidated by certain recipes and dishes. I think it’s all part of being self-taught, but hungry and curious.
Tomorrow I’m launching another Baking Bootcamp series with King Arthur Flour! Last year we baked four recipes together, learned about different flours, and dang it… I think we became better bakers. This next Baking Bootcamp focuses on learning new techniques… totally exciting and a little intimidating. But! We’re in this together.
Here are a list of dishes I want to tackle. My belly says I must. It’s not that these recipes and dishes are overly complicated or even very hard, sometimes it’s just a mental block, or some way that I’ve told myself that I can’t accomplish something in the kitchen. Do you do this too?
• Homemade Croissants with Puff Pastry: Making puff pastry from scratch has always felt super intimidating. I’m supposed smash this butter, fold and roll, and fold and what? File under: Intimidating Kitchen Endeavors. Spoiler Alert! For our first Baking Bootcamp recipe we’re making a quick puff pastry (approachable, not intimidating) and making rolls filled with hazelnuts and chocolate! Baby steps to full-on croissants.
• Cassoulet: A rich and delicious French dish that involves two things that intimidate me in the kitchen… duck fat and confit, but cassoulet is so luscious, hearty, and actually rather humble in its elegance that I’ve got to find a way to make this happen in my kitchen. I’ve also already bought the white beans! Just need to buy the duck fat and start chopping the onions. The coming cooler months are sure to be inspiring.
• Braised Short Ribs: Help me out with something? Are short ribs actually simple to make? Do I just have a major mental block? There’s something about buying cuts of meat that I don’t normally buy or cook in the kitchen that proves intimidating to me. I think if we can roast a chicken, we can braise some short ribs. Red wine for braising for a glass to drink while cooking… for courage.
Let’s get at it!
• Tiramisu: Making a homemade tiramisu has always felt really intimidating to me. A well-made tiramisu is magic. What’s the magic? Mascarpone? Italian grandmother hands? Cocoa powder from heaven? I’ve tackled chocolate mousse. Let’s get to the bottom of tiramisu.
• Sushi Hand Rolls: The roadblocks in my mind to homemade sushi are, where to buy sushi grade fish, which is the right seaweed wrap, and I have a sneaking suspicious that making sushi rice is harder than it looks. Still though… handmade rolls at home!? This will be a game changer.
• Everything Bagels: Is there anything better than a fresh bagel? A fresh everything bagel? With waayyy too much cream cheese? Lord help me. There’s boiling and baking, I want these things fresh from our ovens. We can, we will!
• Leige Waffles: Yeasty, stretchy, sugary waffle success! These waffles are an undertaking but I think Deb from Smitten Kitchen made them as approachable as possible. Waffle maker and pearl sugar on order!
• Perfectly poached eggs: With an internet full of information, why is it still so hard to perfectly poach an egg? Something about vinegar, boiling water, swirled boiling water, a flick of the wrist, a prayer to the patron saint of poached eggs… I’ll get it right one day.
Now tell me, what’s on your Recipe Bucket List? Does it involved a blow torch, anything confit, or something that requires a waffle contraption? Let’s tackle them all together!
(Pictured above, the arms of Jon Melendez, a cat named Napoleon, and Brown Butter Brûlée Donuts.)
I like the items on your bucket list. In the last year, I did a few on mine: homemade pasta, homemade tamales, and Julia Child’s french bread. None were actually as hard as I thought. Just time consuming. Liege waffles are still on my list, and I agree that Smitten’s recipe looks awesome and easy to follow.
I’ve recently mastered tiramisu and in fact just made a chocolate one for family lunch tomorrow. Don’t know what I was afraid of!
Strangely enough I have a road block around Asian food – in part because I can’t eat chilli but also because I find the flavours of Asian food too delicate for my more…. enthusiastic cooking style which doesn’t work overly well with things like careful measurement.
You can totally do short ribs! My grandma (Nonna) gives me beef from her ranch so it has forced me to cook different cuts and this is one of the easiest and most rewarding! I brown the meat in olive oil and basil. Then add 2 onions, chopped followed by a can of tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce. Wine, salt, pepper and 2-3 hours of simmering and you have got yourself an amazing Italian meal!
Ooh yay! I loved your last baking bootcamp! And I’ve been wanting to experiment more in the kitchen lately, so this is going to be perfect!