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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Summer of Food

I don't have much going on this summer. I have no dance, no theater, no classes of any sort. I need something to do with my evenings.

I have decided to devote the Summer of 2007 to cooking. I am going to cook homemade food as much as I possibly can. I will be working to improve my cooking skills. I will take on more challenges. I will learn better techniques with my knife. I will challenge myself with the pastry skills more.

My cooking has become somewhat Rachael-Ray-like. I've been throwing things into a pan willy-nilly. I want to know I'm doing things the best way every time. I will invest in some books on technique and maybe even a DVD or two. I want to know that I've truly mastered the best of the basics, so I can move forward with confidence.

I hope to bake something once a week, even if it's just cookies. I do hope that I can attempt some more complex baking though. I like to make pie, so there will be a pie in the works at some point. I also want to do something with yeast as I haven't done that in ages. I am considering brioche. I will experiment more with pate a choux. Maybe I'll try scones too.

It's exciting and it's daunting and I'm hoping I come out of this summer with amazing skills. Maybe I'll throw a dinner party at the end of the summer where I'll create something completely different.

There is the fear that I might get fat of course, but then I figure if I'm cooking really beautiful food, I won't feel a need to overeat. I'll be cooking from fresh ingredients and summer is the time for the bountiful harvest of produce, so my food will be mostly good for me.

So what was my first homemade meal of the summer? Last night I made whole chicken breasts with a spicy tropical salsa. I browned whole bone-in breasts in a little olive oil for about 10 minutes. Then I popped them in the oven at 400 degrees for another 15 minutes. I put some chopped mango, cilantro, shallots, chili peppers, and orange juice (lime is traditional, but I wanted to go sweeter) in the food processer until it was all finely minced and then moved the chicken to a plate to keep warm, drained the fat from the pan, deglazed it with more juice, and warmed and softened the sauce in the pan. It was still quite spicy, but very good.

I served small Peruvian fingerling potatoes on the side. I cut them in half and coated them in roasted garlic, rosemary and olive oil. I roasted them for about 15 minutes, but they were hard and needed more time. Definitely will cook them longer or at a higher temperature next time.

I also served mixed butter lettuces in balsamic vinaigrette, but that's not that interesting.

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