This is not part of New Year Resolutions, this list is not intended to put pressure on me, it’s simply a summary of  projects  I’d  like to tackle this year, but if I don’t get to some of them, 2013 will still be there, with open arms!

As you can see from the photo, this is something I’ve made in the past, but after cooking, the color completely faded away!   I intend to try that pasta again, adding a higher proportion of pureed beets to the dough.  Should be a fun project!

I’ve made croissants in the past, and even blogged about them, but my attempts have been a disaster. I would like to get better and make a batch that would come a little closer to the great croissants we enjoyed in Paris.   My hope is to follow the footsteps of the  amazing TxFarmer, a regular contributor at The Fresh Loaf Forum.  Check out her write up on croissants by clicking here.

I feel pretty comfortable making sourdough boules, but shaping a baguette is a skill that requires a lot of practice and patience, that virtue I lack.  This year I would like to master the baguette, following the authentic shaping instead of the improvised methods I’ve used in the past.    I have my favorite recipe to practice with, and will use this nice video to get the shaping right.

About a year ago, I got to know a food blogger through a comment she left on the Bewitching. Even though she blogs in Romanian, I haven’t missed a single of her new posts ever since (thank you, Google translate!).  She is an outstanding  baker and a while ago posted a recipe for a flatbread full of childhood memories. Imagine a bread re-created after 30 years of first tasting it!  I simply must make it!   Check out her article about it here (she has the translator tool right on the site, so pick your language and enjoy it).

I’ve seen them in cooking shows, I’ve had them in restaurants a couple of times.  Never attempted to make them at home, but always wanted to.  Of course, I’ll need to find the best possible quality fish, and a tried-and-true recipe.  Anne Burrell comes to mind…

I never thought much about them, until a dear friend served us a chocolate mousse decorated with her homemade candied orange peel.  I loved them so much, she brought me a small jar with the leftovers from the dessert, and I had to use all my self-control not to wolf down the whole thing.   I must make them soon, very soon…

When I was in graduate school in Brazil, Silvia, a student from Argentina worked in the same lab.  Once a year she would travel to Buenos Aires, and it never failed: when she arrived back, she would bring a couple of boxes of alfajores to the lab.  We would go absolutely crazy for them!  I’ve seen recipes in the net, and always wanted to make them.   Maybe this will be My Year of the Alfajor!

And, the “best” for last:

There. I said the dreadful words. Many years ago I suffered a public humiliation serving a strawberry genoise cake at a party. I never ever attempted to make it again.  You may wonder what made me change my mind.  Believe it or not, it was Tony Horton, the fitness guru, developer of the P90X.   I recently started his new P90X2 program, and the first routine has an exercise that Tony struggles with.  He is obviously a strong, ultra-fit guy, but his balance is not the greatest.  This particular exercise requires considerable balance and strength in legs and core.   Before demonstrating it, he literally screams:  “MY NEMESIS!  I WILL CONQUER THEE!” And, he goes for  it, hopping around, struggling, but following his own motto of “do your best”.

So, I will follow his example and “CONQUER THEE!”  Not sure who will be my genoise teacher, maybe  Tish Boyle?  She better be ready for this herculean task… 😉

So, these are some of the cooking projects I have in mind for the near, and not so near future.  What about you?  Any fun cooking plans for 2012?

ONE YEAR AGO: No-Fuss Coffee Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Swedish Limpa

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48 thoughts on “COOKING PROJECTS 2012

  1. So many things caught my eye about this post but I’ll try to keep it brief. 🙂 I’m Romanian so the cheesy flatbread looks tempting. My mother made hers a bit differently but otherwise, I think the recipe is similar. I’ll have to read it over though I probably won’t read the details of the story as I was only 7 yrs old when I left the former Yugoslavia and my grammar and vocabulary isn’t what it was.

    And the alfajores … I believe I ran across them some time back when I was researching another tasty dessert from that part of the world which also involved dulce de leche but it was made up of stacks of thin individually baked cakes, like millefeuilles. These are more like shortbreads assembled with the dulce de leche, I think?

    I applaud your ambitions. I hope to make french macarons in 2012. 🙂


    • I didn’t know you are Romenian! My first husband was born in Yugoslavia, and I visited the country in 1986. I will never forget Sarajevo (before the war destroyed so much of it), and the island of Krk. Absolutely magical place! I learned to say “nema problema” and repeated that over and over to his family members, who did not speak a word of English or Portuguese… it was a fantastic trip, we drove around many parts of the country with his Mom and Dad. Good luck with the macaroons! They seem a bit tricky to make, maybe they’ll go in my 2013 list 😉


      • I’ve never been back since I left Yugoslavia and now that most of our closest relatives are gone, I don’t have a real sense of “homesickness” calling me home. Especially as there’s no Yugoslavia any longer … it’s now Serbia. Or at least the part of the country where I was born is. 😦

        By the way, genoise cakes are the basis of madeleines aren’t they? Cause I’ve made madeleines successfully, though without the hump in the middle and I don’t want to use baking powder in my recipe. I DO want to make sponge cakes though so I can do a “jelly roll” type cake. Maybe with matcha powder. That was one of my 2011 accomplishments. Part of my “TO MAKE SOMEDAY” master list. 🙂


  2. Hi Sally, I was getting a 2012 list together as well and the first thing I am going to make is garganelli and gnocchi. As for the Genoise, my first attempt was quite successful and the recipe from The Cake Bible was easy for me to follow and I’m not an avid baker. I’ll be interested in your feedback on your project.


    • I definitely won’t face the genoise in the near future – I need intense psychological preparation for it, so I’m shooting for the Summer, when the sun is shinning and I am all happy with the 100 F outside. Will definitely report back. I have that book too, so maybe I’ll compare both recipes and see which one seems easier, or better explained.


  3. I like your attitude about the Génoise Cake and I can’t wait to see you post the luscious dessert. Like I always tell my boys – there is no shame in not succeeding; the shame is in not trying and trying again (I really say it to remind myself :)). What’s that great Japanese saying: fall seven times, get up eight. Love that.


    • Had never heard this Japanese saying, LOVED IT! So true, it doesn’t matter how many times we fall, the important is to get up, even if a little shaken from the experience… 😉


    • You know, I went straight to the book now that I read your comment, and checked my notes (I usually stick one sheet of paper on the first page, and write down the title and page number of all recipes I must make “soon”) – there it was, I had already flirted with that recipe, but of course, forgot all about it

      thanks for the reminder!


  4. Your list has me thinking about creating a list of my own this year that is more than a few mentally kept possibilities that change with the wind. Love the idea of fish wrapped in potato slices! As far as perseverance goes, I need to apply that to a few things myself! Like my overall diet : |


    • It’s nice to make a list, but I am definitely taking it easy – no sense doing something that will only end in added stress. This should all be fun. Period. 😉

      Nice to “see’ you here!


    • Well, falafel we will be making together, and of course, if you don’t mind I’ll blog about it later… 😉

      the quiche – I’ve made it successfully in the past, but don’t think I blogged about it – did you try the tip from Boleyn below? I don’t remember which recipe I used, but I think it was David Rosengarten’s from his Taste show.


  5. You’ve inspired me to make a list as well – and a sourdough starter is definitely high up there! I think the fish wrapped in potato slices sounds ah-may-zing – every time I see it on TV (I think I saw it on Top Chef a few seasons ago) I think about how good that would taste, with the perfectly crispy potatoes. Another thing on my list – I need to branch out with the root veggies. Celery root, rutabagas and parsnips need to make an appearance at our house soon.


    • Root veggies are great, my only problem with them is the time it takes to cook most of them. A little more organization and maybe advance prep would be helpful, right? 😉


  6. Well I have full faith and confidence in your ability to kick out an amazing baguette. If anyone can pull it off – it will be you and you’ll do it in spades. And I’ve also wanted to try the candied orange peel, but for some reason I keep putting it off. Perhaps I’ll wait for your inspirational post. 🙂


    • I made candied orange peel a while back. Three blanchings in boiling water, drain and then simmer in the syrup… from memory. It wasn’t hard to do but then I couldn’t think of what to do with the peel. Totally forgot that I could have coated them in dark chocolate and munched away. 🙂


    • Kristy, if you knew the stress level every time I tried to shape the baguettes correctly… Normally, when I bake bread, the kitchen stays clean and organized – with baguettes, it is similar to cake baking, in that there’s flour EVERYWHERE. Kitchen, me, dogs… (sigh)


  7. Sally, I’ll start by thanking you for giving me such an important place on your short list. You should have seen my face (big eyes, big smile, happy as a child) yesterday morning when I read your post!
    Txfarmer’s croissants are on my list, too. I tried to make them, twice, without noticeable results. I got scared and I gave up. I’ll wait to see how it will work for you, before I’ll try again.
    Ciril Hitz is one of my favorite too, when it comes to shaping and scoring. Have you seen Hamelman’s video for shaping baguettes? It’s a great video, too.
    Good luck with your genoise cake. I hope you’ll conquer it!
    On my to-do list, the 3 things I can think of now are to bake a perfect miche (like the ones David Snyder makes), 100% rye bread and pasta dough for lasagna (am I heading for an epic fail whitout a pasta maker?!).
    thanks again, Sally. Take care and have a nice weekend.


    • So glad to see you here! Now you are scaring me with the croissants, if you had trouble, I’m doomed. Doomed.

      By the way, just saw your new post, oh, Bread Goddess! Another great masterpiece…

      I am too afraid of 100% rye, but I am sure you will have no trouble. And pasta dough is so much fun to make… I hope you blog about your adventures when you get to them

      Have a nice weekend!


      • Sally, when I tried to make croissants it was late summer but still very hot in my kitchen. Maybe the butter I used was not the best for this difficult task, or maybe it was my lack of experience with laminated dough, I don’t know… but the croissants were far from what we saw on txfarmer’s blog. You can see the 2 tentatives of making croissant on my blog. I promised then I’ll made them again in winter, but all that huge amount of butter going to waste if I fail, plus my boyfriend gave up smoking and started to gain weight… all that altogether made me postpone it.
        I’ll take my time and try them again, when I’ll feel ready.


  8. These are such fun projects to undertake! I really want to try to make croissants, genoise and alfajores as well…someday…maybe this will be the year. I can’t wait to follow along as you attempt these!


    • Hi, Joanne!

      Alfajores might be trickier than they seem, and probably will never match those from my former lab, but… it doesn’t hurt to try, I guess….

      HOpe you are having a nice weekend!


  9. This is great Sally! Food plans for 2012!! I guess I too have a mental list of food ideas I want to challenge myself and tackle. Your putting it down in writing – and announcing to all of us – will be more effective in actually getting it done! Can’t wait to see the genoise cake – that is one I tried and failed at!!!


  10. I really love all of your projects for the new year. I’ve never tried Candied orange peel so I can’t wait to see you blog about that of course. And the fish wrapper in potato slices sounds amazing as well. Loved this post


    • The candied orange peel was an eye opener for me! I think I’ve had it in the past, store bought versions, but that one my friend made was soooo much better! It seems like a lot of trouble to go through for the skin of a fruit, but…. it’s not!

      nice to see you here!


    • Yeap… once I hit “publish”, I knew I was setting myself to trouble, but if there’s one thing I love is a challenge, especially if it means no competition with other people, just me and Sally



  11. Pingback: No Knead Bread si cateva confesiuni | Apa. Faina. Sare.

  12. I love these goals – have you seen the new pasta machine at Williams Sonoma.. when I saw your red beet pasta it made me think of it. It’s crazy priced, but does all shapes (like ziti etc). Anyway, go for the alfajores – they are like any butter cookie and you can buy the dulce de leche to save time. No shame in that 🙂


  13. Sally, I just made a batch of alfajores today and oh my goodness! they were so good. I posted a really easy recipe I found online which I can’t recommend enough. It only made a dozen sandwiches which is great cause I’d be eating them until I burst. Luckily I gave away a half dozen to my neighbour and have plans to give away the other 5. 🙂


    • Oh, my…. you are making me feel so guilty! I cannot believe how many of my projects for 2012 were left to the side… but, what can I say? It was the busiest year of my life!

      I will check your alfajores for sure and use your recipe when I finally get to them! hopefully still in 2013! 😉


      • 2012 was busy for me as well … and mostly NOT in good ways due to family/health issues. Cooking wise though, it was pretty good. 🙂

        I made dulce de leche last year and was going to use it to fill the alfajores but then used it all up for something else. So it took me over a year from when I read this post to finally make the cookies. I hope you get a chance to try the recipe.

        I’m thinking of making some kind of a mil hojas next. It’s difficult though because there are so many versions out there with puff pastry, home made pastry, cake layers etc. I don’t know what the authentic version should be like.


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