Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Food Adventure : 30 Dishes in 30 Days

Back in November I started a "30 Dishes in 30 Days" cooking challenge.
It was a challenge that I had set myself - I needed to cook 30 dishes in a month....
the only rule really being that they all had to be something that I hadn't cooked before.

I created the challenge because whilst I love food, I lack confidence in the kitchen.
Over the last year or so, I have taken some cookery courses which I loved....
French, Italian & Thai.

The courses got me out of my cooking rut a little but not enough - they did however make me realise that I can cook & was in fact much better than I thought I was.

I made a plan of what I thought I might cook.
Before November began I went through some of our many cookery books & ear-marked some recipes....I selected about 15 dishes to start with.

I then did a large online food shop, literally working through each recipe & ordering every ingredient I needed.

And so the month began.

I got off to a flying start and by day 7 I'd already cooked around 11 dishes.
Everything went smoothly partly because I was at home all week so able to fit it into my day & partly because I had all the ingredients that I needed ready.
Organisation was key!
However, I then had a week where I was hardly home & didn't even cook 1 dish!

Overall, during the month, I cooked 26 dishes. I did then cook the remaining 4 in early December.
30 dishes. Check!

I have to say that I enjoyed the month enormously, even more than I expected to.
I cooked recipes from cookery books that I had never actually opened.
I cooked the most delicious Indian food - something I'd never even attempted before.
Half the spices now in my cupboard are spices that I'd never used or bought before.
Only 1 dish was a disappointment.
If I need a loaf of bread now, I will almost always make it myself - it's quick, easy & delicious. 
I have cooked nearly all of November's dishes again since.
Spending the day cooking on a Saturday is a very lovely thing to do.
Discovering how much fun cooking can be was truly a revelation. 

I feel confident about attempting just about anything in the kitchen now....
and with a cupboard full of certain basic ingredients, it's so easy to put a dish together.  
It was a great adventure & so much fun!

Below are all the dishes that I cooked :

Fish pie
Balsamic Onion & Goats Cheese Tart
Courgette Ribbon & Roasted Pepper Tart
Bolognese Sauce
Chicken Tikka Masala
Aloo Gobhi
Peanut Butter Cookies
Pasta e Cece (chickpeas)
Tuscan Bread Soup
Diplomat Pudding
Leek & Potato Soup
Maple Syrup & Vanilla Ice Cream
Broccoli & Pesto Tagliatelle
Garden Pea Soup
Cinnamon Rolls
Lemongrass & Coconut Cake
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Autumn Minestrone
Farro & Borlotti Bean Soup
Lemon & Rosemary Cake
Brown Bread & Butter Ice Cream
Wholewheat Quinoa Banana Pancakes
Wholewheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Vegetable Bhajis
Chicken fajitas
PanFried Chips with Rosemary & Sage
Yorkshire Puddings
Crab Cakes

Some books I really enjoyed using during the cooking challenge were : 
Jamie Oliver's "Ministry of Food" and "Jamie's Italy"
"Apples for Jam" by Tessa Kiros
"Cake" by Rachel Allen - her lemon & rosemary cake above is one the best cakes I've ever tasted.

The Ambitious Kitchen blog has the most fantastic selection of recipes and is very easy to follow.
(Both of the amazing cookie recipes above came from there)

For the ice cream I used my Cuisinart ice cream maker.

Throughout the month I also used the Vitamix blender which does so many things - soups, ice cream, hummus, it's fantastic.     

I enjoyed the whole challenge & got so much out of it that I am planning to do it again next month.

Next week I will put together a month of suggested ingredients/dishes as I did for November and share it on my blog. 
I'd LOVE it if anyone wants to join me....do let me know if you want to.



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