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What is the most interesting thing you cooked this summer?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ok so just for fun did you venture out into the unknown or stick with your tried and true cooking wise?

I find that usually each summer I try to tackle some skill or cuisine to improve. This summer was pretty quiet and I focused on the following:

  • Roasted one whole pig (last summer was my summer of roasting with 2 lambs, 4 pigs and a goat).
  • Bacon - continue to perfect my bacon
  • Yogurt - worked on my homeade yogurt but cheated mostly using a machine but it was consistent.


Believe it or not probably the one thing I did try to improve on this summer as my Greek Souvlakia and my Greek Coffee.
Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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post #2 of 22
I'd have to say grilling and experimenting with octopus.

Ridiculous as it sounds, I was never much into backyard grilling until about two years ago. So every fire has been a new culinary adventure, with even burgers (let alone things like lamb chops) becoming a whole new world.

I love octopus, but never had a local source. So any experience was based on somebody else preparing it. But I've found a local Asian grocery that has it frozen, in several configurations. Been mostly working with the baby octopi. We've probably had it once a week or so all summer, and haven't tired of it yet.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 22
I learned to make a good pho.
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 22
Octopus is the first seafood I ever tasted raw, back in '94 or so. I was a fan right away, and I've enjoyed a lot of raw seafood since then.

I'm sure this sounds pathetic, but this year is the first time in a long time that I grew tomatoes in a garden. I've made the best salsa ever (to my taste buds).
post #5 of 22
I made my first pickles a couple of weeks ago. Cinnamon Cucumber Spice Rings (like those spiced apple rings you see on salad bars occasionally)! I usually do not have enough cucumbers from the garden to attempt pickles but lucked out this year. They turned out well and I have 3 pints in the pantry after eating one and giving 2 to friends.

I also did some grilling. Usually Les does that but I did chicken a couple of times and burgers, too.
post #6 of 22
This year I also grew some veges I haven't grown before, and I'm glad I did, even though they weren't all successful. The yellow crookneck squash (which came from what was labeled as a cantaloupe plant) and the cucumbers were the best new ones. Oh, and the beets! Yum. I found out that beet greens are delicious, as well :D
post #7 of 22
They say that practice makes perfect. How many times ? Well , lets just say that I don't want to look at eggs for awhile....yes , chocolate souffle.
I don't know why I feel so great but I do.

I had the privilege of cooking a hindi meal for 250 guests at a party for the 3rd year in a row. Yes, I put my CD on from the movie Hum...Chuma ! All 31 items were a hit.

Petals

Petals
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Served Up
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Wine and Cheese
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #8 of 22
Right on!! I wish I could cook Indian food that well; I grew up in India.
post #9 of 22
I had some big clients, the Mehta family was one (he is a conductor) and just fell in love with the culture , the people, and especailly the food.

One day I decided it was time for a change in my life. So , I decided to become a vegan, no milk, no eggs as well.
I bought the dresses, the music and surrounded myself with cookbooks, learned how to speak Gujarati and for 4 years my love affair just soared.
It was a project that I am proud of today. It has been a very long time since I have worn a Sari but my life has been so enriched from that culinary experience.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(168 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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post #10 of 22
Not cooked anything truly interesting - well not on purpose anyway :D.

I have made a couple of breakthroughs though that I'm pleased about, mostly around baking.

Also I've now achieved the status of 'All the gear and no idea', whereas last year I didn't even have the gear. I know Ed says pans don't make the cook, but I'm going to cling on to the idea of thinking about this as a positive for just a little bit longer.
post #11 of 22
Andy, it's true. Pans do not make the cook. But the right pans (and other equipment) go a long way towards helping the cook achieve his or her vision.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 22
Hi KYH :),

I'm not quite at the vision stage yet - I'm more battling with myself to concentrate on the basics. I know what you mean though, and yes, it both gives me a little more confidence and also takes away any excuse to blame a poor outcome on my tools.
post #13 of 22
I learned how to cook a duck breast without burning it. I'm also loving the blackberry sauce I make to accompany it with and looking for more recipies for duck breast.

I've enjoyed the process of collecting tomatoes, roasting them in the oven, pulverizing them with my stick blender, and portioning them off in ziploc baggies in the freezer. I've roasted them with garlic, olive oil, basil, and just plain. I'm pulling out one to make the pasta bolognese that's on tonight's menu.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #14 of 22
I went to an Indian wedding and that was the first time I had ever experienced Indian food. Oh my God....Absolutely delicious. I've been wanting to try a bunch of Indian restaurants around the city to get my fix. So much flavor, so much uniqueness. Anyone know any good Indian places in Chicago (not too pricey)?
post #15 of 22
Nicko: That sounds like the title for a very interesting novel. :D :lol:

For me it was learning the first baby steps of working with rolled fondant. I got some new equipment this summer that makes me feel fearless, so I guess the next thing will be genoise cakes.

Beyond that, I want to improve on bread-baking. I've made a decent baguette but it was heavier than I like. I want that feather-light crumb you get in baguettes in France. I guess I'll have to import some flour and water! I'm stocked up with what I need to make bagels, too, so when the weather gets a bit cooler (and the Jewish holidays are over!), I'll move more into that. I'll need to pick a few brains when I get going with that! You know who you are out there! :D
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post #16 of 22
Wow funny about all the Indian cooking, the best dish I made this summer by a mile was Rajma Masala (Red Beans and Curry) and I made it with the help of this board and wow it came out amazing.

I am also lucky that there is a Indian/Pakistani grocery store right by work.
post #17 of 22
Pizza. Hardly an interesting item, but this summer I finally got around to working on homemade pizza. Mostly successful so far, and as the weather here in Salt Lake starts cooling down I'll be more likely to have a 500 degree oven going for an hour or so.

And one thing I am currently thinking of, never having done before, is growing some indoor container tomatoes. We are most likely hosting my wife's family for Christmas, and I think it would be a nice touch to have some fresh picked tomatoes on the plates in various guises. We'll see how THAT plan works out!

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #18 of 22

Larb Chicken (Thai)

One of my projects was to try my hand at chicken enchiladas.
They improved during the summer but were not perfected.
<Thanks to Tina, for being a willing guinea pig>

My most recent success was Larb Gai, a Thai chicken salad. Wow. Very tasty.
Can't wait to get back to Thailand for the real thing and see if I can tweak it a little more.
post #19 of 22
>I'm not quite at the vision stage yet - I'm more battling with myself to concentrate on the basics<

Beg to differ with you Andy, but there's always a vision involved. Say you want to just pan fry a chicken cutlet---a pretty basic step. There are decisions to be made (i.e., the type of breading, the method used, whether to sauce, etc.). All this time you are envisioning (there's that word again) a piece of chicken that has a beautiful crust, which is cooked through, but still moist and juicy.

If the chicken winds up on your plate the way you expected, then you have achived your vision.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 22
Spent a lot of these lazy days of summer experimenting wrather then actual cooking . Digging deeper and deeper into the why's of what makes foods do what they do and reactions of foods as applied to type of cooking, time, storage, shelf life, temperatures etc.. Now its time to get back to cooking and apply all this learning.
CHEFED
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post #21 of 22
Hehe, indeed... :chef:
post #22 of 22

Garlic Corn

I marinated corn in garlic, butter and crushed red pepper. It was amazing.
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