Monday, March 30, 2015

A Cooking Challenge

Today I've begun a journey. I have set a goal to cook my way through The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. My goals in doing this are to:

  • Add some new recipes to our menu. We make some good food, but sometimes it feels like we get stuck in a food rut.
  • Learn some practical/technical cooking skills.
  • Encourage myself to try foods that I normally wouldn't. I've always been a picky eater, and I'd like to try to change that.
I chose the ATKQ cookbook for several reasons. Firstly, quick is good for me. The hardest thing about cooking for me is staying focused and being patient. Hopefully quick recipes will keep me from getting too distracted.  Secondly, like all of the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, this cookbook includes a lot of instruction and explanation. It tells you how to do something as well as why to do it. So, I feel like this cookbook will (generally) provide explanations for techniques or ingredients that I'm unfamiliar with.

Today, Mike and I cooked up Lemony Chicken and Rice Soup (pg. 35). This recipe didn't appeal to me at first glance, but the final product was amazing!

Rating: 4 stars (we liked it a lot!)

What we liked: We liked how pretty the soup turned out to be! The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the last step of the recipe is to add an egg yolk/lemon juice mixture. It made the soup this lovely sunshine yellow. It also gave the soup a very smooth, velvety texture. According to the cookbook, this recipe is "loosely based on the Greek classic avgolemono," so that's fun.

What I learned: To start with, I had never cooked with a fennel bulb, which this recipe required. In fact, we had no idea what it looked like when we went to the grocery store. But, now we know, and it was a tasty element to the soup.

The other thing I learned is how to temper eggs. As I mentioned, you add an egg mixture to the soup in the final stages. If you were to add the eggs directly to the soup, they would just scramble. So, before you add the mixture to the soup... you add soup to the mixture! By adding a few tablespoons of broth, you adjust the temperature of the eggs so that they make the soup smooth and delicious!

So far, this has been a very productive experiment! It may be a little dorky, but I felt a genuine sense of accomplishment as we sat down to eat. I'm excited for the next recipe! My goal is to do a new recipe once a week.

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