Cooking milestones

I made this recipe again over the long weekend, and that’s when I suddenly realized that when I originally made the pasta dish I had also made my first roux. I had also cooked with wine and clam juice for the first time.

I never really thought about or cared about roux before, but after reading The Making of a Chef I’ve started obessing over some of the things that Ruhlman talked about, like roux. His section on the bread baking class enchanted me and I can’t stop thinking about no-knead bread recipes and bread makers. I really do not need another appliance in my kitchen right now.

Who knew this “learning to cook” thing would give me so many new things to obsess about.

Another successful test

I made my second Cook’s Illustrated test recipe on the weekend – Garlicky Shrimp Pasta. This recipe involved cooking with wine and infusing olive oil by cooking it with the shrimp shells before actually cooking the shrimp. This is the first time I’ve ever done either, and I think I did a fairly good job of it. I did have issues with thickening the sauce enough and cooking down the wine, so the recipe took a bit longer to cook than expected. I think if I make it next time I’ll reduce the amount of wine I put in it; I like the taste of dishes cooked with wine but I don’t enjoy a strong wine aftertaste.

This recipe also included the addition of clam juice! I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I went to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients and found a can of “clam nectar.” They just had to make the name fancier. Maybe “clam juice” would turn off customers? Although… nectar isn’t that much better in my opinion.

I think they need to make some tweaks to this recipe to make the cooking process smoother, so I have a feeling I will be buying this magazine issue whenever it comes out. I’m curious to see what they might change.

Testing recipes

I recently signed up to be a tester for the Friends of Cook’s Illustrated, and last night tried making my first recipe, Steak Tacos. I didn’t have time to stop for photos unfortunately, but a couple of the items from there were spectacular, namely the marinade (which is also used as a sauce) and a side recipe for sweet and spicy pickled onions. I’m dying to share these, but I can’t (copyright, etc.). The message said the recipes may appear in the magazine in about 6 months, so keep your fingers crossed.

I ended up using leftover pieces of steak, marinade and some of the sweet and spicy pickled onions as toppings and dressing for my lunch-time salad today. Mmmmmm….

I still have some of the pickled onions left. I need to think up some ideas to use up the rest. Maybe as a hot dog condiment? 🙂