Here is where I admit to something that I should rightfully be slightly ashamed of: there are only a select few dishes I have managed to “master” in my lifetime. There are millions more that I have either (a) yet to have made or (b) have tried once and failed miserably or even (c) have tried a few times, making them to the point where they are eatable. How dare I consider myself even remotely adept in the kitchen after such an admission…? Well, the few that I do make well I really do make them to perfection. Trust me – come over for dinner sometime and I’ll make you one or two of them.
Pizza. I make amazing homemade, entirely from scratch pizza. I make the dough. I make the tomato sauce. I roast the vegetables and pan-fry the sausages and pick out the delicious cheeses. I brush the crust with olive oil that has been steeping for at least a month in sun dried tomatoes or other herbs and spices. I carefully knead and proof and rise my dough in a loving, almost motherly manner. I love making pizza and I make it flawlessly.
Risotto is another dish I have mastered. I can make it with any kind of rice and a few grains and it turns out delicious and silky smooth every time. Everyone always thinks that risotto is difficult to make, but I find it easier than plain rice. It just takes patience, a little bit of attention and really good Parmesan cheese.
Pancakes are my sure-fire impress-people-early-in-the-morning dish. I make them with any kind of fruit or berry inside and I usually also serve a simple fruit compote along with them. Warm maple syrup and some whipped butter and I can get just about anyone to do anything I want if I ask them while they chow down on my pancakes.
Panini sandwiches, in all their many variations are as simple as you could possibly imagine…simpler, actually. And the great thing is you can make them with just about any ingredients you have at hand and they will be delicious. It is a dressed up version of the plain old, boring sandwich and it is impressive enough to serve at a dinner party (of course most of my dinner parties of late have taken place with basketball or football on the television in the background, but whatever!).
Scotch Graham Scones are the “thank-you cards” of my culinary world. Any time I have to say a quick thanks to someone (my dad for looking at our electrical wiring when we bought the house, my dad when he helped us move a huge table from his house to ours, my dad when he helped us tear out a wall in our tiny cramped but now spacious kitchen…I guess they are more the “thank-you dad cards” of my culinary world) they are what I make. Incidentally, I have made them A LOT over the past few years…there has been quite a lot to be thankful for.
And last but certainly not least are my now infamous Truffles – or as I have referred to them: the little black dresses of the dessert world. They are the perfect ending to any meal, the greatest little gift to present to anyone for any occasion and the best tasting chocolate morsels you are ever going to have. I have tried truffles from various chocolate shops around town and I have to say mine rank up near the top of the list. I made them for part of the dessert table at my own wedding and saw guests snagging more than a few to take home at the end of the night.
There is now also a huge list on my refrigerator of dishes I intend to master over the next few years; things like French Onion Soup, Pound Cake, Curry and Croissants. For now however I will take these few recipes I have mastered and tweak them into new dishes – like using my celebrated pizza dough to make Stromboli once in a while (which was a huge hit for two men watching basketball in my living room recently).