What new techniques, skills and even new recipes (or dishes / baked goods, etc.) are you looking forward to mastering in the year ahead?

Links to recipes / other relevant materials, as well as traditional references to offline sources, would be helpful. Thank you, and Happy New Year, everyone. ;o)



nancy E. January 16, 2018
I want to lose my fear of puff pastry. I shall make it this year.
ChefJune January 16, 2018
Still haven't gotten around to making Arun Sampanthavivat's Thai Red Curry. I'm determined to make it SOON! (Actually have never made any Thai curry so far...)
Liz B. January 14, 2018
I want to learn how to de-bone a whole roasted fish so that it is easier to eat. I don't want to filet the fish before roasting. I like to roast it whole (insides cleaned out) wrapped in foil in a hot oven (475.) The fish comes out juicy and delicious but the bones are a pain!
louisez January 6, 2018
One more thought: vegan yoghurt that tastes like yoghurt and is neither soupy nor jelled
louisez January 6, 2018
Sorry I missed your comment about sheet pan dinners. I don't see to be receiving notifications as I should. You may be right about timing and clean-up issues. I suppose I'll find out. Still in the aspirational phase.
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Well, I have a new project in the works, sort of related to this . . . I’ve decided to create my own blog. The format will be quite different from any other food blog I’ve ever seen. I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time, but won’t be able to get it up and running until I “semi-retire”, i.e., reduce my client workload systematically, to allow me to pursue more non-client projects during the day.

I’ll post a link in my Food52 profile when that happens, which I have planned for Q3 or Q4 2018. ;o)
ktr January 5, 2018
Early congratulations on your semi-retirement! It sounds like you will be staying very busy though which is wonderful. I hope you have a long, healthy retirement.
louisez January 6, 2018
I'll look forward your blog. Congratulations!
Nancy January 6, 2018
AJ - wishing you enjoyment in your CO adventure and success with the blog. Looking forward to reading it, once it's launched. Nancy
ChefJune January 16, 2018
Good for you!
pierino January 5, 2018
Its the fad thing that bugs me. I use parsley and celery leaves in my own cooking and it drives me crazy when supermarkets cut the tops off. Fear of food and flavor seems to be endemic to our culture unless it's disguised as something else.
scruz January 6, 2018
most of the markets around here cut the big beautiful stems off of the broccoli to. there is one store that leaves them on. i peel it, chop it and add it to so many dishes and it is not as strong as the flowerets. i love the taste of parsley and celery leaves.
Greenstuff January 6, 2018
Scruz, when I was in college I lived with some Chinese and Chinese-American students who would cut the florets off, toss them, and just use the stems.
pierino January 5, 2018
I do need to improve my pastry skills. I have all the tools. There is no excuse.

Guessing what this year's fad ingredient will be. We are so over kale and kambocha! Kimchi has come and gone too. Why do people eat this BS up?
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Hear, hear, pierino.
To answer your question: because there is a multi-billion industry that depends on it and invests heavily in encouraging sheep-like behavior.
Here's a somewhat-related tip (you already know this, pierino): Ignore any article or other distributed communication that uses "internet" as anything other than an adjective or direct object (and especially not as a subject with an active verb, or with a passive verb + adjective). ;o)
Stephanie B. January 5, 2018
Personally, I love kale (even though it's so 2012 or whatever) and kimchi.

I get a chuckle out of light-hearted ribbing of food trends, but I think there's some benefits as well. They can expose people to new ingredients they wouldn't have tried otherwise, and maybe they'll even like some of them after the fad has faded. If people try a new food they genuinely like because of a passing trend I don't think that's a bad thing.
ChefJune January 16, 2018
...And I don't love kale (altho I adore almost every other dark green leafy vegetable) and am so glad folks have stopped asking me why I don't serve it more often!
louisez January 5, 2018
Sheet-pan dinners --especially vegan ones.
Tofu -- all kinds of recipes, savory and sweet.
Vegan candy.
Yeast baking with whole grains -- possibly raisin pumpernickel.
I don't have any links yet. Some things I'm in the process of just making up.
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
louisez, I'd love to hear more about the vegan sheet pan dinners . . . . I've made a few sheet pan dinners but wasn't that impressed. It's hard to coordinate everything being cooked properly, when you have so little control once the ingredients go on the pan. Also, if not washing a pan or two is the reason for using the sheet pan (which, by the way, isn't that easy to clean), I might respectfully note that most pans / non-stick or cast iron skillets take less than a minute to wash, usually much less. For me, I'd rather have everything cooked the right length of time, and take the extra minute or two to wash the pans, if necessary. ;o)
mstv January 7, 2018
This is one of the absolute easiest tofu recipes I have found and even folks who haven't loved tofu in the past really liked it.

louisez January 7, 2018
Thanks MSTV -- sounds good.
Antonia James -- my reply is below. Thanks!
AntoniaJames January 8, 2018
louisez, these are not strictly candy, but they are wonderful and so satisfying when you want something sweet: https://food52.com/recipes/30743-apricot-date-and-cashew-snack-balls I should add however that as drafted, they're a touch "meh." I always substitute by weight dried tart cherries (Montmorency, from Trader Joe's) for half the dates and that brightens them up quite a bit. Also, I recommend using unsulfured apricots, which have a much better flavor than and are not as sweet as sulfured ones. These balls are great for hikes and long bike rides, and also for breakfast. One, plus a cup of tea, is all the breakfast I need or want after working out in the morning before heading to the office. ;o)
AntoniaJames January 8, 2018
Susan, that's so appealing! Thanks for sharing the link. Must try. ;o)
louisez January 8, 2018
AntoniaJames-- in the great minds think alike department, I have made the same adjustments to the fruit all's -- and made similar ones with/without cocoa. Future plans include chocolates and candies of various types -- far less good for you, but fun
Miss_Karen January 4, 2018
I would like a successful flourless chocolate cake... I just received some hopeful info on this & I am going to sidestep the oxymoron of altitude adjustment and try it this weekend! Cross your fingers😇
AntoniaJames January 3, 2018
I’m so inspired by all of your answers! My look-back, look-forward is still a work in progress, so I’ll post several answers, as I formulate my plans.

First up, baking.

I’ve wanted to start making more crackers (other than these, my standbys: https://food52.com/recipes/30539-dukkah-dusted-lavash-crackers ) since coming across these recipes by Stella Parks:

Homemade Carr's-Style Whole Wheat Crackers


Homemade Wheat Thins http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2017/03/homemade-wheat-thins-recipe.html

Crispy Whole Wheat Graham Crackers


I bought Parks’ “BraveTart” cookbook shortly after it was released (went to a book signing on the Peninsula co-hosted with Kenji J. L-A), and have been looking forward to digging in, but haven’t had the time, yet. I did use Parks’ technique for apple pie filling when making a pear pie the other night. The pie was sensational.

Croissants and similar pastries: I’ve never made croissant or any other laminated dough. One of my sons is an avid and increasingly skilled baker; he wants to learn this, too. We enjoy working together in the kitchen, so we’ll embark on this adventure most likely when he’s home next.
Stephanie B. January 5, 2018
First off, thanks for this great question and the time you put into regularly trying to help people on the hotline.

I'd love to hear what you think of Bravetart, if you remember please put a post up. I'm so jealous you went to an event with both Parks and Lopez-Alt!
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Thanks, Stephanie, I will let you know (about my Bravetart adventures). I've done so much baking over the past two months, and have so many other projects to knock off, I expect that I'll be enjoying the prose for awhile and not trying too many recipes, at least for now.
About that event, it was delightfully low key. They served four treats from the book, which were all superb - especially the Oreos, which taste much better than the commercial product. Both hosts were interesting and seem like such nice people. ;o)
Greenstuff January 3, 2018
Gluten-free crackers. I have so many friends eating gluten-free now that I have a freezer filled with interesting flours. Starting with the (super!) recipes in Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours, I'm determined to master them. While not difficult, there's always a possibility for thinner, crisper, and even more remarkable!
BerryBaby January 3, 2018
The older we get, the less we eat, however still want to eat well. Will continue to experiment and adjust my skills to making smaller, healthy, meals for two.
Stephanie G. January 3, 2018
Fermentation is my new interest. I've had Chad Robertson's book since the first day it was published years ago but never made time to make the starter. Also, I read Sandor Katz's the Art of Fermentation last summer and I've been wanting to get started on some fermented veggies.
Matilda L. January 3, 2018
I love the Tartine book--Robertson's method totally changed the bread my family eats. I've made 2 loaves every weekend for more than a year now. The starter is well worth the small time investment, and once it gets started, is very forgiving and resilient. Good luck!
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Robertson's "Tartine Bread" altogether changed my bread making, forever. My son also makes great breads using the recipes and methods in that book. We've had a lot of fun over the past few years sharing the learning, the successes and of course, the bread! Stephanie, the starter is so easy. It's worth the effort! Contact me privately, or post here, if you have any questions. Interestingly, the first Tartine bread I ever tasted was a boule brought to a Food52 potluck -- were we making cheese? or was it jam? I cannot remember -- and a lovely member who lives in SF (Mary S) brought me Tartine country bread from Robertson's bakery. Sensational, and not that hard to make at home. ;o)
Chris D. January 3, 2018
Baking, specifically more long fermented bread and puff pastries (croissants and Kouign-amann).
foofaraw January 3, 2018
- Peking duck, or anything duck recipe that would results in non-oily, non-gamey, and still moist meat.
- Cantonese-style roast pork belly with a very crackly skin, want to know how to make a very crackly skin one. I can't give recipe because I don't know yet which one I should follow, but google would give lots of webpages of good-looking ones.
- Pattiserie that have mousse. I have been wanting to do that but each take would be a project and I haven't got time to try it.
scruz January 3, 2018
look on you tube. i wish you good luck because it looks really good.
Niknud January 3, 2018
I am probably the last person on the face of this planet to receive one, but I am now the proud owner of an Instant Pot! Woohoo! Would love to learn how to use it better and in a greater variety of ways. I've done oatmeal and slow cooked ribs already but I don't find myself reaching for it in the way some folks do. I want to make this part of my regular weeknight rotation so I'm looking for inspiration!
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Actually, Niknud, you're not the last . . . . but I plan to get one later this year. Who knows, maybe I'll get one sooner! I'm moving to CO (well, that's the plan), so I've thought I might wait to start the learning curve in that different, high altitude environment. ;o)
Niknud January 8, 2018
COLORADO?!?! We're gonna be NEIGHBORS!!! That's awesome - where in Colorado (if I may be so bold as to ask)?
AntoniaJames January 8, 2018
Rachael, we haven't decided exactly where -- need to sell our house here in Piedmont and then will rent in Louisville or somewhere nearby in Boulder County, and will be looking in that area. I must say, as much as I have loved living here, I cannot wait. I am so looking forward to everything that the Denver / Boulder area has offer. And I look forward to meeting as many Food52'ers within 2 hours of wherever we end up as I can (and hope that includes you) ;o)
Niknud January 8, 2018
Oh, I'm totally in! The Denver/Boulder area is fantastic - and you're totally within reasonable driving distance. Food52 Colorado Cooking Club!
cookinginvictoria January 16, 2018
Congratulations, AJ! I was actually born and raised in Colorado and get back there regularly to see family and friends. I think that you will really love it there. If you all ever do any Colorado Food52 meetups, please add me to the list. I am usually only there once or twice a year, but if anything is ever scheduled when I am in the area, I would definitely love to take part!
ktr January 3, 2018
I don't have any specific recipes, but I want to find some low carb breakfast dishes that my kids will readily eat and can change up my current routine of eggs on the weekends and just coffee during the week.
ktr January 3, 2018
And before I get asked, my kids do NOT eat low carb and I do NOT plan on having them eat low carb, I'm just looking for some dishes we can all eat together as a family because I feel best on a lower carb diet.
scruz January 3, 2018
we started eating steel cut oats a couple of years ago and now like them so much that i just automatically make them every other day or so when i make coffee. i throw some dried fruit in them (cherries or blueberries) and cut up an apple and throw in with some salt and a splash of maple syrup. i buy in bulk and they are just wonderful. banana on top sometimes two. depending on how much water and how long you cook, they can be really soft or be slightly al dente.
ktr January 3, 2018
My kids love oatmeal. My 6 year old ate “oats and yogurt” (oatmeal with dates and yogurt) almost every day for 4 years - he likes routine :)
Matilda L. January 3, 2018
I was very intrigued by the Modernist Bread technique of "baking" brioche in a pressure cooker. They claim the bread is shelf-stable for 3 months!

Voted the Best Reply!

Matilda L. January 3, 2018
Online article and recipe here: https://explorepartsunknown.com/seattle/recipe-pressure-canned-brioche/

Happy new year, AntoniaJames! Thanks again for all the great advice you give here on Food52--I love reading your comments.
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
Thanks so much, Mathilda. That's so kind of you. ;o)
Nancy January 3, 2018
Mostly refining or going back to some old techniques not used in a while, like:
* baking some RETRO CAKES that have one batter, but which separate during the baking into a baked crumb and some kind of automatic filling or sauce (fruit, chocolate, whatever).
* baking protein in SALT CRUST, which is then cracked and remove to serve. I think this is also done with chicken, but I've done it mostly with whole fish.
And using the SHEET-PAN-for-one-meal technqiue, which involves some care and refinement as it roasts several (different temp-needing) foods together.
Miss_Karen January 4, 2018
Try Meyer lemon budino. It's one cake batter that separates into pudding on the bottom & cake on top. It's crazy good and easy to prepare. I think the recipe I use is on Epicurious.
Nancy January 5, 2018
Miss Karen - thanks for the tip ..found it. Nancy
AntoniaJames January 5, 2018
That Meyer lemon budino sounds great, Miss Karen. The Meyer lemons on my little tree are just starting to turn yellow . . . . Thank you for the tip! ;o)
scruz January 3, 2018
that is a good question. i haven't decided yet. but, within the last two days i mastered two things that i have been working on: one is asian spareribs marinated in soy, garlic, mirin, honey, sesame oil and plum sauce. baked and turned until there are nice charred bits. second is my persian rice. finally, decided i needed to add more oil and use my steel lined copper pot for the heavy bottom to get the crust on the bottom rice and wonderfully pillowy soft and fluffy steamed rice above. i'm really into chinese and japanese and mexican cuisines so maybe something along those lines. i love tamales but am terrified of trying to make them even with some great videos on youtube.
Stephanie B. January 3, 2018
On second thought I realize "cake" could mean everything from tea cakes to sheet cake - I mean more American classic kind of stuff - chocolate cake or devil's food, white cake, yellow cake. The kind of of stuff I normally think of as boring, but now I realize they might just be a challenge because there's nothing to mask imperfections when the flavors are simple.
Stephanie B. January 3, 2018
Oh no I replied to the wrong comment, sorry scruz!
mstv January 7, 2018
I was surprised when I first started making tamales that they were actually not hard at all! I would recommend not starting with too big a batch. They are really hard to overcook and anyway, you reheat them to serve. I recommend trying them!
Stephanie B. January 3, 2018
After baking through some Bravetart recipes in the baking club, I made my very first real, layered cake. While cakes are not my favorite desserts (which is why I never bothered to make them until the baking club), I really enjoyed baking it. I'd like to get better at cakes. There's a really yummy sounding one I didn't get a chance to make sometime this year: red(wine) velvet cake. Though to be perfectly honest I could close my eyes, point to random page in Bravetart, and be happy to make whatever I landed on.

I'd also like to get better and making things look nice! I can bake and cook a lot of things, but I always seem to fall short on the decorating. I can't pipe for the life of me and I'd like to change that!
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