Ao Nuevo. Silvestr. La Saint-Sylvestre. Gleilegt ntt r. New Year's Day around the world is a time for celebration, making promises, celebrating the old and hoping for a positive new year. New Year's is when we celebrate our past triumphs and plan for our successes. It also is the time many of us promise to be better, nicer, eat right, sleep more, exercise regularly and just plain try harder. For New Year's, I have always tried to dispense with the negative "giving something up." I want my new year to include a plan for "doing." Last year, I wrote resolutions of restaurants I wanted to try, events I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do.
As I look back at them, I can say I did OK. I didn't get to California to eat at the French Laundry, the purported best restaurant in the world, but I did cook during a crazy long day with my granddaughter and we did have Grandpa clean it up. I didn't go to Little Anita's in Albuquerque, but I did get to Albuquerque and eat in some zesty Mexican restaurants. I didn't have turkey at the Plimoth plantation, but I did have a picnic with my many cousins and I did go to the Y'ld West YMCA Dinner and have a great time.
For me, resolutions should be just the beginning of some vision or plan, nothing to dread but things to look forward to eating, seeing or doing. This year my resolutions are going to take place entirely in the kitchen. This year, my resolutions will include taking the time to prepare those dishes I have always wanted to try, but have never had the time (or energy) to do right. You all know the ones I'm talking about. You eat them at a restaurant, see them in a cookbook, have them at a party and say, "Oh, Boulibase, I always wanted to try making that!" or "Make your own mayonnaise, what fun!"
To be honest I probably have hundreds of food items in this category, but there are some "biggies." I selected five foods that I can't wait to prepare - remember it is important to look forward to the resolution.
Items I want to make that I have never tried:
Baklava - I don't really like this but I have always wanted to try it. It intrigues me, the delicate layers of pastry brushed generously with creamery butter and oozing with a syrup of sugar, cinnamon and lots and lots of walnuts and pecans, ground fine then drowned with a honey lemon sauce. Slicing the layers into triangles looks challenging but fun.
Tandoori Chicken - I actually have had a tandoor for many years and just use it for baking casseroles. I have never made Tandori chicken. I have tried it at Indian restaurants and love it. I just need to make some time to douse a whole chicken in a myriad of spices - garlic, gingerroot, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper - mixed with plain yogurt and marinated for 24 hours then baked in a tan door for an hour or so until tender. Yum!
Sauerkraut - Oh busboy, I really have to follow through with his one. My husband and I have some German ancestors. My mother in law gave us her wooden, well-loved cabbage slicer made by her father. Last summer, we bought the perfect sized crock while antiquing in Virginia. We have consulted with friends who are kraut-masters. No more excuses. (But will the house smell like a hot dog's friend forever?)
Items I have made but want to master:
Crme Brulee - I love it. Period. I have made it many ways but have yet to master it the way I love. My sister said that to truly judge a good restaurant order their crme brulee, and I must agree. I don't like it with chocolate, mango or pumpkin. I want it laced with a hint of true vanilla extract. I want it soft, not runny or stiff. I want a light crust of browned sugar, delicately resting on the top of this perfectly coagulated egg cream. I don't want any lumps not even pin-sized ones. I love it. I like it plain, but perfect. Period. And, I'm still trying.
Babas au Rhum Classique - I actually bought Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" just to get the directions for the perfect Babas and the technique for the Rhum Classic. I have never actually made babas, but frequently make a similar yeast cake so I know I can master this. I wanted to make this for Christmas but, alas, my timing did not allow it. There is always 2012!
I also hope you find some fun things to list for your New Year's resolutions. Have a very happy 2012!