Learn-to-Cook Project: Honey garlic vinaigrette
Making salad dressing is super easy and you can basically do whatever you want with it. Basically start with 1/2 cup olive oil and 3tbs vinegar (balsamic used here). Add salt and pepper and any non-solids (like honey). Then just blend for 30 seconds for it to emulsify. If you wanna add something solid (like minced garlic), throw it in now, blend to get it mixed in. Adjust to taste and you have a tasty dressing to your specifications to drizzle on healthy salad. Use your imagination!
Learn-to-cook Project: Kidney beans with apples and sherry
Hey. Guess what the ingredients in this were. You’re right! Well, those three as well as shallots and thyme. This one had an interesting taste. Lightly sweet because of the sherry and apples, but really earthy due to the beans. Which I guess is the idea. You cook off the sherry before adding the beans, so it doesn’t have a chance to absorb sweetness. It definitely grows on you, though. And it’s probably super good for you, too.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Sauerkraut Soup
Apologies for the lackluster nature of that photo, but a soup made of onions/sauerkraut/green apples/veggie broth doesn’t have a ton of color. It DOES have a surprisingly lovely flavor, however. I was expecting green apples and sauerkraut to be a tad overly-acidic. But you rinse off the sauerkraut so it loses some of the tang, and you cook the apples for a while so the sugars kind of get leached out. What you’re left with is sort of a hearty veggie stew with cabbage, onions, and apples that have taken on the mushy starchy properties of potatoes due to being cooked until really tender, and a pleasant mulled wine sweetness due to the apples and the inclusion of cloves. I got a whole mess of this in my fridge if you wanna come try it. It’s real nice. I’m sure all the Olsons, Pusches, and Gretsches in my family tree are high-fiving in German heaven.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Mushroom/beet borscht
I was avoiding this one because “borscht” isn’t something I grew up with, and sounded sort of…I dunno. Overly earthy? So I went with the mushroom-y variant, since roasted mushrooms are something I know I enjoy. This turned out (as far as I can tell, having never had—or even seen—borscht) fairly well. Though perhaps a tad bland. Added lemon juice and fresh dill and salt…still just an earthy mushroom stew, sorta. Maybe more dill? That’d give it a verdant freshness I think it currently lacks.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Japanese egg crêpes
These are usually made for egg sushi but I think they’re nice enough on their own. They’re lightly sweet due to a tsp of sugar with some taste from 2 tsp of soy sauce. The flavor here was nice and subtle, but I learned that I am garbage at flipping crêpes. They’re so thin that they either start to tear or clump up. That’s why these are rolled up. The ultimate disguise. Not that they suddenly became picturesque or anything.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Lemon orzo, risotto style
I am so incredibly happy with how this turned out. Added the perfect amount of lemon juice and zest to make this interesting but not clunky. So delicious. My one criticism of self is I have to better learn to taste more than follow recipes. I added about one more ladle of veggie stock than was needed, which made this a hair mushier than I think would be ideal. But it still tastes great. Good job, me. :)
Learn-to-Cook Project: Stir-fry tofu with bell peppers
Cooking ginger/onion/garlic together smells do good. Makes people think you know what you’re doing. And maybe I do know what I’m doing. Or I’m on my way anyway. This turned out pretty darn well. But I think if I did it again I’d add a spicy element. Tofu and bell pepper over rice is nice, but it would be better if it had some pop to it. Still an effort I’m fairly proud of. Not world class, but great for cooking at my parents’ house for Sunday lunch.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Parsley and herb salad
So, today I learned I don’t want to eat an all-parsley salad. Other than that, the simple dressing was nice (olive oil/lemon juice/honey/salt/pepper). And I think if I were to do this again (which I probably won’t, due to it being a salad comprised entirely of bitter greens and herbs), I’d use chives instead of shallots. Chives would be a bit more mellow. Bright onion tastes mixed with bitter greens was rough. Oh well. You can’t like everything.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Onion soup
When I hear “onion soup,” I think “French onion soup.” All cheesy and delicious. So straight-ahead chopped/broiled onions and garlic in veggie stock with some seasoning just seems so…bland. I was going to say “soupy,” but…you know. This just felt really weak. I seasoned it sufficiently, I think. I just think it’s kind of a bland soup. I dunno. Le sigh.
Learn-to-Cook Project: Garlicky Vermicelli
This smelled better than anything I’ve ever made, hands down. The initial stage was toasting the dry noodles and garlic in olive oil and that is basically the perfect storm of smelling delicious. I had never toasted dry noodles before and I think it added a really nice flavor to the dish. Then the noodles were cooked in vegetable broth, which imparted more flavor than just cooking in salt water. It doesn’t look amazing, but I’m super pleased with how it tastes. High five, self. (This has a little Parmesan on it, but I think it would have tasted nearly as good if you wanted to make this vegan).