Saturday, January 2, 2010

Kitchen Resolutions

I don't like to make New Year Resolutions - I think that if you want to make changes to your life, start now! Don't wait until the 1st of January! But I suppose it's symbolic - a new year, a fresh start; wipe the slate clean and start all over. I don't have any 'personal' resolutions to share - not because I feel particularly private, but I don't have any (I make them year round, eh?). The trips to the gym continue as planned, mental self-improvement is always on the agenda, the quest to find the perfect fork plods on - but I do have a few "Kitchen Resolutions":

1) No dirty dishes in the sink overnight and start unloading/drying more consistently.
I know I'll make exceptions for this - who wants to clean up after a party?

2) Continue daily sweep.
After the 'Infestation 2009', I brush my small kitchen tile space religiously.

3) Push the boundaries of my baking - let's try a stretch of 12 new recipes. No past repeats.

4) Buy what you will eat. Don't buy for what you might eat.

5) Unless something breaks, no new kitchen gadgets.
Exception: Kitchen Aid Food Processor...Daisy's getting a sibling!

I think that's a pretty good start. I should print this out and tape it on my fridge. Tomorrow. Heh.
I should note that as an amendment to Resolution #5 - I will still accept kitchen gadget gifts! I was gifted a lovely and heavy-duty non-stick mini Madeleine pan for Christmas! Lovely! It's definitely something I have hesitated to buy for myself in the past, but have always wanted. So hooray! Thanks to Maple Pecan for the gift, and J for the suggestion!

Instead of typical sponge Madeleines, I made hazelnut shortbread.
And it was deeelicious.

Hazelnuts are something I always have in the freezer. Unfortunately, they are unpeeled so I have to plan long in advance before using them in a recipe. They must be toasted and peeled, something that can take quite a while - not to mention potentially disastrous!
My method: pour hazelnuts in a shallow frying pan and gently toast over LOW HEAT. Shake the pan/stir nuts often to avoid spot burning. You can toss out burnt nuts, but the smell will linger for-e-ver. Once the skins have started to crack and peel, pour the nuts in a small bowl lined with a kitchen towel and start peelin' by kneading the hazelnuts in the towel. The friction caused by the hazelnuts and towel fibre should be able to take off a significant amount of peel. I like to do some by hand once they have cooled or return them to the pan for a second round of toasting.

I'm not sure if you can tell the colour difference in the two pictures. If you can - the colour difference can be attributed to two extra minutes in the oven. Granted, these little guys are small and two minutes do make quite a difference. No discernible difference in taste, though!
Once cooled, the 'top' sides were dipped in chocolate. The recipe called for 1/2 cup of ground hazelnuts and it really made an impact! Highly recommend this simple and easy recipe.

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