I’m a list girl. This is true. I just love the make them (preferably using a brand new, fresh, pretty pad and pen – are you with me?) and I love the pleasure that comes with ticking things off. Or crossing them off….either way. But let’s go with ticking. I find ticking to be that little bit more satisfying. Tick! Done. See?
Ok, so do you remember my post from the start of the year – the one where I ever so loudly proclaimed, without too much trepidation, that 2011 would be the year that I conquered some of my food fears? Here is the link, if you need a refresher.
Who would have thought that cupcakes and pastry were scary? Well, they were to me. And, my friends, I can proudly say that I did it. It has been done. Tick!
As I looked back on my little list last month, I found that all of the items (except one) had I ticked off quite naturally, without a lot of planning nor reference to said list. Well how do you like that? I had actually used these ingredients or made these dishes that for so long eluded my dining table. Marvellous.
Pastry was made early in the year, when I made a Rhubarb and Ricotta Tart – tick! And then it was made again. And again and again, during my pie phase. I am still a little obsessed with pies. Blueberry, blackberry, apple and chocolate cream, with spelt crusts or sour cream dough – it’s an incredibly romantic notion to me. And in all honesty I don’t see myself falling out of love with pies any time soon. And I’m fine with that. Give me a pretty apron and a rolling pin and I’m a happy lady.
Valentines Day was the perfect occasion for a romantic meal involving Clams and Mussels – tick! Spaghetti Vongole is truly one of my favourite meals, Ben’s too, so I thought it would be the perfect Valentines surprise. And it was. Although I did learn that next time I would purchase pre-cleaned mussels (gah). We’ve cooked with clams and mussels in this similar, rustic Italian style quite a few times this year, and I’m getting better with each go. However I am yet to make that bouillabaisse. Maybe next year…
Come Easter I put my serious, big girl apron on and used Yeast for the first time – tick! I made Cinnamon Buns, and it was one of the happiest kitchen experiences I can recall. I feel slightly perturbed by the fact that I have not used yeast since, as I truly adored this baking process. I do wish to become even more acquainted with yeast in the future. I’m sure we’ll be great pals.
Roast Chicken – tick! One of my main issues with roasting foods was that previously, my oven was….shit. Yet since moving apartments I have been blessed with a beautiful new oven, one that cooks roast potatoes to perfection. And chickens too, it would seem. I took Maggie Beer‘s tip of ensuring that you have a room temperature bird, so that it cooks more evenly, and it worked so well. And yes, it seems that every roast chicken I shall make will be showered with garlic. What?
I do recognise that I need to experiment more with cooking whole birds and large pieces of meat, and I shall endeavour to do so in the future. I must say though, Valli Little’s Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic still rocks my socks as the most delicious, moist and (importantly) easy Roast Chicken recipe. I’ve made it numerous times again this year.
So what does that leave?…..Oh yes, Cupcakes. Sweet, dear little cupcakes. Who ever would have thought that out of the above foods, cupcakes would be the one that I leave off my list and never once think to bake this past year. In all honesty I have never been much fussed with cupcakes. I appreciate mini ones from quality stores, yet I never yearned to bake them myself. I prefered canelés or macarons for my sweet treat (neither of which I have made myself, either, but let’s move on…).
If I’m honest, I believe I thought I was above the cupcake craze of late. How elitist of me. Yet to ensure I completed my list I realised that even if I never made cupcakes again, I would have to make them at least once this year. And so I did – tick! Gingerbread Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream.
And then something amazing happened…
I fell in love with cupcakes. Or maybe it was the buttercream? Either way, I’m now completely in love with the idea of these darling, little cakes – deciding on a flavour, combining the ingredients, popping them in the oven, creaming the butter and then having fun decorating. Oh, and the eating part too, of course.
Who would have thought it? I was certainly shocked. I suppose it’s a little similar to way we can feel about children. They’re all very lovely, but until you bake your own (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) you don’t fully appreciate them. And then you think that yours are simply divine, clearly better than anyone else’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, but it’s not until you have your own that you really understand that beautiful parent-child (baker-cupcake) connection. Well, I imagine this is the case, anyway. It certainly resonates with me and my newfound feelings towards cupcakes. But maybe we’ll just leave it at that…
*note: for this recipe I added 1.5 times the amount of nutmeg and doubled the quantity of ginger. I recommend doing so if you enjoy a prominent spiced cake.
And there you have it. My List. All ticked off. Done.
What does next year hold? Perhaps another list…I’ll see. I find comfort in the fact that I completed most of my list rather naturally, without much fuss at all. This may mean that I am quite driven and ambitious in my cooking desires, or perhaps that I pick my aspirations wisely so as to not set myself up for failure. Or maybe both. Either way, I’m happy. I made pastry and pies and cinnamon buns and spaghetti vongole. And I surprised myself by falling in love with cupcakes. And Buttercream – less of a surprise there.
Life has been particularly delicious this past year. I’m quite certain that next year will be scrumptious also.