At the time it made me wonder why she had to cook the same thing all the time. No doubt the reasons were financial but surely there were ways to mix it up a bit. Although the memory stayed with me, I never really thought about the impact that one episode has had on me until a few years ago.
Which leads me to my first kitchen adventure which I have given the cheesy working title- Around The World In 80 Plates. I have drawn up a list of the top 80 dishes and ingredients that I have wanted to work with but for one reason or another never have. The first 10 items to conquer:
1. DUCK - One of my favorite dishes to order at a restaurant but has never made an appearance in my kitchen. (SORTED! Please see In the Doghouse for details.)
2. QUINCE - If apples and pears made babies- it would look like this. Quince has been around since the Romans and is popular in Asia and the Mediterranean. In its raw form it has an astringent, tart flavour and tastes better when cooked. The most common version of this fruit is a membrillo, a firmish pelly eaten with Spanish Manchego cheese but goes well with other cheese too. (SORTED! Please see Get 51 on a Triple Word Score for details.)
3. RICOTTA - A key ingredient in Italian savoury and sweet dishes, this fresh cheese is a tad grainy with a slightly sweet taste.
4. SOUFFLE - Light and airy, savoury or sweet, this is definitely a dish for special occassions and even then it seems like one hell of an effort to make. However, it seems like a good laugh whatever the result. Watch this space...
5. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES - Not an actual artichoke but a tuber related to the sunflower. Sometimes called Sunchokes in the US, it can be eaten cooked or raw.
6. TUNA - Tuna is a member of the Mackerel family and can be found in canned and fresh forms. For this project, I am interested in cooking fresh tuna. (SORTED! Please see Tuna Steak Showdown for details)
7. BISCOTTI - Crunchy and twice baked Italian biscuits that can be dunked in coffee or dessert wine. It is first baked as a loaf and then sliced and baked again. (SORTED! Please see This One Goes Out To Jeri for details)
8. CHESTNUTS - Available fresh in the Autumn and Winter (bought from street vendors, they are a tasty treat to warm up), these nuts can also be found canned in sweetened and unsweetened forms. I usually buy them fresh and roast them but have never used them in a dish with other ingredients.
9. FRESH PASTA - There are plenty of places where you can get great fresh pasta but maybe I will have greater appreciation for my local pasta man if I give it a go myself.
10. WILD RICE - There is no particular reason why this is on my list other than I like to eat it and I have some in the cupboard that I have never made. (SORTED! Please see Wild Wild Rice for details)