Skip to content

Frame: To Do List- 10 to Cook

April 23, 2011

In case you thought I forgot – I know I still have two of four lists to complete in my 40 by 40 series. Today’s list:  10 to Cook. It’s not just that I want to make these ten dishes before I turn 40, it’s that I want to master them.

To put this list together I thought about two things: what I really like to eat, and what I really like to serve. Eating alone is often just necessity, but feeding your friends or your family, watching them enjoy what you make, or teaching them how to cook it themselves is when food becomes fun. To that end, if anyone would like to teach me how to make any of the following, I’ll be over in an hour, and I’ll bring wine.

1) Birthday cake: When someone had a birthday in my house, my mother would make us anything we wanted for dinner and dessert. As a bit of an eccentric kid (not to mention adult), I would paw through her cookbooks and pick the most labor intensive cake I could find, usually including ingredients found only in far-flung specialty shops or grown on a lily pad in Istanbul. While gifted with none of my mother’s baking talent, I still feel like I should know how to make at least one type of cake really well.
2) A turkey: Or a chicken. As a child I was never that excited about white meat, but I’ve learned that a moist, well-seasoned bird can make any day memorable, not just Thanksgiving.
3) Bread: Often, my favorite dinner is bread, antipasto (cheese, olives, meat) and wine. If I could learn how to make my own baguette, this combination could reach the level of sublime.
4) Coq au Vin: Coq au Vin is a French chicken stew that usually includes bacon and a bottle of wine in the recipe. I feel like the name probably makes it sound harder to make than it really is – all the more reason to have it in my repertoire.
5) Homemade pasta: I’m sure this isn’t a surprise. Since the percentage of my meals that include pasta is probably higher than most of the US population, and since I often find fresh pasta too gluey, I feel like I should master my own noodles. 

roast chicken at Prune

6) Osso Bucco: This is one of those crowd friendly Italian meals that you can make for a holiday, a casual dinner party, or just a rainy evening, but you need the right proportion of different ingredients to get the sauce to the perfect silky consistency. Of course, I’ll have to figure out where I can get bone-in veal shanks first. 
7) Pork Belly:  I love any iteration of bacon, and pork belly is particularly enticing. This month’s Food & Wine has a recipe for Crispy Pork Belly Sandwiches with Meyer Lemon Relish – I think that’s a good place to start on a quest for perfect pork.
8 ) Grilled cheese: There’s just something about a really good sandwich, and I want to have a “signature” grilled cheese. Maybe it has bacon, maybe it has mustard, maybe it has arugula. Whatever it has, I want it to be the kind of sandwich you can make in ten minutes to put a smile on someone’s face.
9) Chilies Rellenos: There are different versions of Chiles Rellenos, and I want to make the kind stuffed with pulled pork and raisins, not just fried and filled with cheese (though there’s nothing wrong with those).  If I could make them myself I wouldn’t have to suffer through bad Sangria at Ole, though I would miss out on their guacamole.
10) Pancakes: When I do make time for breakfast, I’m usually not quite awake enough to cook it for myself. I can do one thing with a fair amount of proficiency – over easy eggs on an English Muffin with prosciutto, arugula, and truffled cream cheese – but that’s it. So I’m going to end this list with pancakes. I want to be able to make them, flip them, and optimally not burn them.


One Comment leave one →
  1. April 23, 2011 1:17 pm

    I can help you with three of these things! AND from your other lists, we can get Chicago-Style pizza (which I don’t like, so will watch you eat while drinking beer – the Midwest is great at beer) and hopefully get in at Alinea. Forget packing – I have in-unit laundry.

    For your grilled cheese, I think you should incorporate some sort of unconventional cheese. I saw on the TV using goat cheese; this intrigued me and I would be eager to try it. To date, I am too forgetful to actually make it.

    If consider chocolate cake an acceptable birthday cake, I’d recommend Cook’s Illustrated’s. I made it at work yesterday – with “help” from a 2yo. It is amazing and fantastic, simple yet elegant. We topped it with a basic buttercream for a 32T of butter treat. The first step is like brownies (double boiler chocolate time) which you already excel at making, so I think this would be a natural progression for you.

    I can also help you with the bread! I even have bread rising right now (a Sally Lunn batter bread, an easy place to start) and we could eat that while making your bread! I started baking ALL of my bread a couple of weeks ago because we don’t have grocery stores in the desolate tundra and I was missing bread too much. Confession: I have not tried my own baguettes yet because buying a baguette pan would contradict my “don’t buy anything unnecessary until I move” rule. Promise: I will try baguettes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: