A couple Saturdays ago I made the last recipe of the five I had selected. My husband’s best friend was in town and was joining us for dinner. It was nice to share the dish with someone outside of our family, though he wasn’t aware of the pasta’s significance.
Each of the five recipes created little opportunities to experiment and grow my cooking skills. There were slights cheats (I didn’t make the caper-garlic dip) and I ran over my five-week marker, but in the end I did make them all in some capacity. I was surprised at how much planning a completely new recipe requires. There are ingredients to buy, recipes to understand, and dishes or pots to unearth. It is so much easier to stick to the little repertoire of recipes that I know, but learning to cook with new ingredients introduced me to some new flavors and thinking about incorporating more plant-based dishes.
Looking at each recipe individually, here are some comments and thoughts. I’ll share them in the order I made them.
Curried socca with cilantro coconut chutney
Chickpea batter is extremely versatile. In the past, I’ve used a similar batter to make Pakistani pakoras, which are essentially fritters filled with various ingredients such as potato, onion, green chillies and coriander. Chickpea batter has a deeper and earthier taste than flour batter. I had something very similar to the socca I made this past weekend at a local restaurant, but there it was called faranita. They served it piled high with a beet salad and it was light and satisfying – something I could recreate at home. I probably wouldn’t have ordered it had I not made socca at home several weeks prior.
Almond butter brownies with sea salt
Brownies without white sugar and flour that taste really, really good. I was so surprised at how good they were I went down a little “healthy” sweet rabbit hole and realized there is a whole world out there of people making delicious baked treats with alternative products. A couple of examples are The Minimalist Baker and Deliciously Ella. I ate a brownie every night for a week thanks to this recipe and it was pretty heavenly. I need to make another tray.
Crispy smashed baby potatoes with caper garlic yogurt dip
This was a cheat. I didn’t make the dip, which was really the whole point, because trust me, I’ve made a whole lot of potatoes if nothing else in my adult life. The specific technique is one that I haven’t done in a while, which requires first boiling the potatoes, smashing them and then baking them to get loads of crispy bits. I ended up shredding cheddar cheese on it for my kids and drizzling it with a little olive oil for myself alongside a piece of salmon. Nothing major here.
Spicy black bean stew
I loved making this dish because it was so new to me. I’ve never made a vegetarian stew or cooked with black beans or squash. It took a couple hours to make, particularly because of the need to roast the butternut squash, but I enjoyed all the prepping. My husband and son loved this dish, my daughter on the other hand was not impressed. I’m definitely going to be making it again, probably in different and less time consuming variations.
Whole-wheat fettuccini with kale, caramelized onions, and marinated goat cheese
This recipe called for marinating the goat cheese for at least a week. I hadn’t accounted for this, which is why this recipe went into week six. I found the layering process really calming, adding thyme, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves atop each layer of goat cheese as I alternated between the two. The end product was a beautiful medley of caramelized onions, wilted kale, garlicky goat cheese and ribbons of pappardelle. So, so good. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the dish as I was too busy in the moment setting out the meal and catching up with our friend.
I enjoyed the momentum of this small project and have been playing around with what to do next. Perhaps five dishes that would work well for entertaining or five dishes that are kid friendly? Let’s see.