Friday Challenge / Musings & Contemplations

Friday Challenge 2012: A look back at what I’ve learnt

I’m afraid to say that I’m finished with my Friday Challenge feature for 2012! When I first set out doing it, it was mainly because I had started reading a lot more food blogs/ food magazines and I realised that there were loads of things in the food world which I had never cooked before!! I found myself leaving comments over and over again all saying the same thing “I’ve never tried that before but it looks nice”, so I thought well why not just get off my bum and try it instead of bookmarking it for the future. I’m the sort of person who likes a bit of structure in my life so Scott had suggested that I use my new-found desire to learn to set myself more of a cooking routine and create interesting blog posts along the way, which hopefully I did over the last 10 months 🙂

Some of the ingredients such as tofu, polenta, gnocchi and artichokes were all things that I had simply never cooked before. Tofu was my first choice because it seemed an obvious vegetarian ingredient. I quickly learnt after a few failed attempts at the Wagamama’s tofu soup that you need to press tofu otherwise it all falls apart. This challenge for me was as much about learning the balance of Asian flavours as it was about actual cooking techniques for tofu.

Sweet Marinated Tofu and Noodle Salad. My first ever Tofu recipe

Unlike tofu, which I had at least eaten in restaurants before, polenta was something I had no idea how to make or what it even tasted or felt like! Now I cook it all the time and I feel I have the confidence to be a bit more creative with it. My favourite polenta own recipe is still the first one I created because I felt it was when I began to get confident with flavours!

Spanish inspired black olive polenta with a smokey tomato sauce

Tomato soup with Basil Gnocchi Dumplings

I really enjoyed the artichoke challenge but I think I could have learnt a lot more. In the end it was more about the flavour rather than using a whole fresh artichoke in different ways!

Baked Artichoke and Quinoa Salad with Watercress

Others topicss I chose for my Friday Challenges were techniques or recipes which I had cooked a handful of times but I really wasn’t sure if I had done it correctly, such as risotto, cakes and bread. I know I still haven’t quite mastered the art of baking bread yet but that has become like my own personal Everest, and I’m still tackling it so I promise I will get my own recipe out there soon! Cakes on the other hand were given two months because I just had so much fun!

Coconut, Cherry and Dark Chocolate Cake with a Flaked Almond and Brown Sugar topping

I found risotto interesting because I discovered Delia’s Baked risotto which meant there was no boring standing and stirring bit. But in the end I stuck with tradition and veganised it which worked really nicely. I always avoid risotto in restaurants because it’s too rich with lots of cream and cheese so it was nice to have a fresher taste.

Many Herbs and Peas Risotto

Finally the other topics I chose were chocolate and spices, both chosen because although I use them all the time I had not developed a proper understanding of how to use them in the best possible way. Chocolate was fun because I have eaten ALOT of it before but not really cooked with it, other than melting it to drizzle on things. In the end I kind of used lots of techniques I’d learnt all in one dish –

White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse in edible chocolate cups

Curried Coconut Quinoa with Tofu and Green Beans

I’m stopping for the year now not because I think I’ve learnt everything there is to learn – far from it!! – but because I just want to focus on a few other things going on and it has become more of a hassle than a fun experience. I have another big feature planned for next year sort of along the same lines which I am really excited about!! But you’ll find out about that nearer the time mwahaha.

Thank you to everyone who let me cook their recipes and helped me learn all these new techniques! 🙂 x

5 thoughts on “Friday Challenge 2012: A look back at what I’ve learnt

  1. This has got to be my favourite post. Everything looks delicious. Seriously, you can have a great dinner party with all these dishes. Like a Come Dine With Me special

    • Haha! Yes I know I remember at the beginning of the year I said I’d change it but I can’t bring myself too now because it’s almost like my branding hehe. You know its a veghotpot recipe when you see the pink tablecloth! 🙂

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