During my gaps in exams and projects the last semester, I had some time to cook and hone in on my culinary skills, either by myself or with friends. Some of my friends from university gather monthly for our cooking nights, and some of my friends that I know from running and training also do the same.
Without further ado, here are some of the various things I’ve learned about:
Fondue: Had no idea how to make savoury or sweet fondue. Last couple of weeks, my friends from university and I met over fondue. The dipping foods were easy: cheese and chocolate fondue with granny smith apples, French baguette bread and various vegetables for cheese and then fruits for the chocolate.
I didn’t know that cheese needed to be melted in some sort of alcohol (we did Pabst Blue Ribbon and Captain Morgan rum) and spices, nor did I know that the chocolate had to be melted in whipping cream. That was news to me.
Tacos – basic and quick and yummy ingredients on our own.
Cannoli – This go, I did not blend the mascaprone and ricotta cheese the way I should have. I went with a 1/3 to 2/3 masc to ricotta ratio; instead I should have gotten a 1-1 ratio for a thicker formula (as mascaprone is much thicker than ricotta). But I blended a light touch of cinnamon and cocoa powder for a snazzy taste.
Red velvet cupcakes – We did a low-fat recipe using baking soda, white vinegar, cocoa powder and a few other things to substitute for the normal added butter and flour.
Strawberry shortcake – This was a bit more of a challenge, as our crust base took longer than usual to settle. But it worked!
Macaroons – Hardest thing we’ve made. My French running partner, who lives in the same condo building I do, is VERY elaborate with her baking, uses exceptionally unique or fine ingredients, which made this a bit steep for me to roll with. But that I did. We didn’t have “fine enough” of sugar and the almond meal wasn’t fine enough which apparently dampened our wafer mix. But to me, it still worked out.
And it was the first time I’ve used an ACTUAL VANILLA BEAN. Yeah.
Some of the things I’ve made on my own:
Baby bella mushrooms, spinach, corn sauteed with goat cheese –
Baked eggs in avocados (kudos to my friend Jolene for teaching me!)
Apple cinnamon crisp – This was easy and hard at the same time, getting the starchy part of it to settle without sticking to the pan. I’ll have to get better at that, even though I followed the recipe strictly. Ironically the guests LOVED the taste.
And made a quick stir fry with baby bella mushrooms and brussels sprouts in a ginger sesame sauce.
I’ll be following up with food that I’ve eaten whilst on the food in DC. It’s been a variety of things over the years during my time in DC and Boston. I’ve spent the last two years consulting on a project in DC and it will wrap up soon. But in the meanwhile, off the clock, I’ve been hitting up some awesome venues in the nation’s capital.