Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gastronomic Resolutions

I started thinking of this post the week after Christmas and planned on having it all ready to post for the New Year.  I don't really make resolutions, but I came up with a few this year that I am really excited about.  Of course, they all have to do with food and, since I came down with the stomach flu on New Year's Day, I have been avoiding the discussion of food these past two weeks.  But my mouth and stomach are now back in unison and I am ready to discuss my plan for the year.  (Except for Chinese food--can't quite do Chinese yet.)

I love to cook, but never seem to have the time.  This year I decided I would make a resolution to guarantee I would do some of the things I have been wanting to try my hand at.

First on my list is to make sourdough bread.  It is one of my favorite breads and I have wanted to try my hand at it for a few years now.  I think of sourdough like cheese (a good strong cheese).  There is a certain acquired taste involved.  As you get used to it, you want it stronger and stronger.  I still remember the first time Grandma S. served me sourdough French toast.  I was probably around eleven years old, and you have to understand that French toast is probably my favorite breakfast food.  So of course I was excited when it was suggested that we have it for breakfast.  I was not, however, warned about this new variety.  My poor little taste buds.  They went into shock as I politely finished what was on my plate. (Although knowing me it was probably a crinkled nose followed by a death glare from Mom if I made any comments or faces about what was on my plate.)  Well, it's been a few years and now I think the idea of making French toast out of sourdough is ingenious.  I love it.  I am really hoping I can make a good strong sourdough, like the kind they make in San Fransico.

I made the mistake of looking through a bread cookbook while feeling nauseated with the flu, and subsequently had a nightmare about bread the same night.  There's nothing like trying to escape people shoving loaves of ciabatta and other varieties of gourmet breads at you.  Needless to say, I think this first resolution will take a few months to come to fruition.

Tempering Chocolate.  I've heard of it before, but this Christmas I found three different recipes that called for the process.  It made me do a little research and I really want to try and perfect this technique.  I'm hoping it will do wonders for my truffles this year.

And finally my blow torch.  Technically it's called a kitchen torch, but I think blow torch has a much nicer ring to it.  I own one of these.  It was a Christmas present from Grandma S. a few years back and it has done nothing but sit in its box.  I occasionally take it out and ponder all the creations I could make with it, but then I place it back for another year of abandonment.  But not this year!  I am going to fire that bad boy up and make something wonderful.  Crème brûlée is the most obvious choice, but there will be more.  Alternate solutions are lighting candles, or, with this cold weather we are having, I could keep it handy in case my car door freezes shut.  Oooh...the plotting begins.....

So those are my resolutions thus far.  Now all I need to do is find taste-testers.


A. Joy said...

Hmmmm... you are related to my dad aren't you. Do you watch the food network? Iron Chef? I have a recipe for eggplant that calls for a blow torch and roasted red pepper pasta too ... now I'm hungry...

KathyB. said...

Ashley, before I read A.Joy's comment I was ARE related to your Uncle Jim! You and he could probably pass a whole day and then some discussing food, recipes, and kitchen gadgets....and it seems like you two have pretty similar taste buds too!Good for your Grandma S. to give you gifts that sound as if she does know you! I am excited to see what you create in the kitchen, in fact, I think you should do a LOT of food blogging. One thing for sure, if you do, your Uncle Jim will check in EVERY DAY ! You know, he blogs vicariously through me!