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Ninja Neko in Borsbeek is doing 20 things including…

be a better cook

5 cheers


Ninja Neko has written 6 entries about this goal

Progress - 5 years after starting this goal

I had a big breakthrough this year. It may sound trivial to some but for me it was a reason to be a little proud: while cooking a new recipe, I decided to change the ingredients on the fly, adapting and figuring out what would taste better to me. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until afterwards. When I first started this goal the idea of diverting from a recipe would have terrified me. And now I’m confident to do this without even thinking about it. I guess I am a better cook than 5 years ago. Not completely there yet though!

I actually kept a list of the new recipes I tried throughout 2011, but then my laptop was stolen last month…
Some highlights that have stuck:

I can now also cook
Some new staples in my kitchen:
- Chili con carne (Smitten Kitchen recipe)
- Moroccan minced lamb pitas (Delicious magazine recipe)
- Sweet & sour pork noodles (Delicious magazine recipe)
And had some kitchen disasters:
- Potstickers (Jamie Oliver magazine recipe) >> the filling tasted spot on but making the wrappers myself was a big mistake. It was exhausting and they kept shrinking, ended up tasting like rubber :(
- Fried eggrolls (forgot the source) >> the filling tasted spot on again, but while (deep)frying the eggrolls they kept coming to the surface due to trapped airbubbels – the bottom half of the eggroll was fried, the top half ripped and oil got inside, one big mess.
Conclusion: I’ll leave these Asian cooking techniques to the skilled experts.

On my list for 2012
- Salads. Friends make it look so easy. Why can’t I do it then? I have that mandoline now, so no more excuses.
- Still want to try fried rice.
- And still want to get to know more vegetable recipes. I got Plenty from Ottolenghi from the local library, but it looks a bit too advanced for me still :/

Progress - 4 years after I've started this goal

Still going strong, I am enjoying cooking on the weekends a lot. Now that I’ve gotten better cooking is more relaxing than stressful :) I even took a cooking class on my vacation in China, I’m convinced I need a proper knife now! And a mandoline for making salads in the summer.

I can now also cook
- Cauliflower & caramelized onion tart (Smitten Kitchen recipe) -> one of the best things in my repertoire!
- Roasted Cauliflower (great way to use up those leftovers, Heidi Swanson recipe from 101 cookbooks)
- Linguine with courgettes & crayfish (La cucina d’Isabella cookbook)
- Zucchini ricotta galette (Smitten Kitchen recipe, another winner)
- Oven baked fish with a herbal crust (Delicious mag)
- Home made burgers (Jamie Oliver)
- Eggplant Yangshuo (Cooking class in China)
- Dim sum (Cooking class in China)
- Chicken cashew (Cooking class in China)
- (Eggplant) Involtini (Nigella Lawson cookbook)

On my list for this year
- Chili con carne! Not sure if it’s wise to cook something I’ve never ate before – don’t know how it’s supposed to taste…
- More vegetable dishes. I’m very much aware I don’t come close to my “5 a day”. I know it will make me feel physically better if I do eat more fruit and vegs. I’m thinking eating soup a couple of times a week as a starter (don’t normally have starters)
- Fried rice. I love it, but never tried cooking it, afraid I’d never get the taste right anyway.
- Try out even more recipes from my cookbook collection.

Progress - 3 years after I've started this goal

I feel I’ve come a long way last year, I tried a lot of new recipes and have gotten a bit more confident (sometimes I dare to even go without recipe and freewheel – not often though :) ). Plus having some holidays at home I had time on my hands to cook and used it well. I still haven’t got a decent freezer (there’s just not enough room in my apartment) so I often end up eating leftovers for days – so I have to make sure the food is good!

I can now also cook
- Curry’s! Thanks to a great new cookbook and some clippings I saved I found out they’re not so hard at all.
- Flemish stew (Clotilde Dusolier cross checked with family recipes)
- Boeuf Bourguignon (Clotilde Dusolier recipe)
- Home made pizzas (made my first one to eat while I was watching The Godfather for the first time :) )
- Caramelized shallots (Smitten Kitchen recipe)
- Chicken/cashew stir fry (cookbook)
- Oven baked chicken meatballs (Smitten Kitchen recipe)
- Mediterranean meatballs (clipping)
- Aubergine/bell pepper pasta sauce (Marie Claire cookbook)
- Roasted bell pepper soup (Marie Claire cookbook I think)
- Cauliflower/parmesan soup (Smitten kitchen)
- Hot Thai yellow pepper soup (cookbook)
- And I roasted an entire chicken with lemon & garlic (Jamie Oliver)
But some stuff I tried wasn’t that good…
- Spring rolls. I didn’t fry mine and they were really bland.
- Chick pea meatballs in tomato sauce. Awful mush.
- Oven roasted cauliflower soup. Would not come together. (These three recipes all came from the same cookbook, I think I need to throw it out)
- Hummus: I felt it was too dry, should probably add more oil next time.
- Aubergine caviar: I used way to much parsley, and I don’t like parsley… (Clotilde Dusolier recipe)

On my list for this year
- I’d like to tackle some of the recipes from my new Italian cookbook
- Home made burgers!
- Maybe try out some fish recipes, as I usually stick to safe salmon.

Progress - 2 years after I've started this goal

Again I bought more cookbooks this year. And used them!
I did not add many dishes to my list, but am getting good at the ones that are in my repertoire already.

I can now also cook
- Risotto! Several variations – plain, lemon, tomato, prawn (Marie Claire cookbooks mostly)
- Prawn, peas and beans stirfry (Jamie Oliver recipe)
- Chicken cacciatore (Martha Stewart recipe)
- Oven roasted ratatouille (Clotilde Dusolier recipe)
- Brocolli and apple quiche (Clotilde Dusolier recipe)
- Leek and salmon turnovers (Clotilde again)
- Oven roasted polenta (Clotilde again)

On my list for this year
- Spring rolls!
- a good stew
- Still want to make a good home made pizza

I need to start making my own soup again.
I’m thinking about getting a proper freezer (I now only have this teeny tiny box at the top of my fridge). This would stimulate me to cook more: I only have time to cook properly in the weekends, but if I cook too much I’m stuck with leftovers for days – which I could now freeze and eat later during the week. And it would help me with my goal of bringing home made lunches to work to replace the greasy cantina food.

Progress - A year after I've started this goal

I bought even more cookbooks… I just love reading them, they’re so inspiring. Anyhow, I can now add some more proper dishes to last year’s list:

I can now also cook
- Cauliflower and ham quiche (Weight Watchers recipe)
- Roastbeef (last year’s Christmas dinner failed miserably, this year’s was superb)
- Pork (tenderloin) and mushroom oven-packet (Ainsley Harriot recipe)
- Chicken-brocolli gratin (Ainsley Harriot recipe) (this contains bechamel-cheese sauce)
- Chicken-leek pasta sauce
- Smoked salmon – philadelphia pasta sauce

- And I’ve started to grill salmon, but that doesn’t really count as a dish :)

Still on my list
- that risotto from last year remains uncooked
- duck breast! I’m making this for New Year!

I should make a point of it when I have got the time to get out my cookbooks and make a decent shopping list. I usually get blackouts during grocery shopping and come home with a bunch of random ingredients. I’m not accomplished enought (yet) to make proper dishes out of random stuff…

But all in all, I can say I’ve improved this year :)


I can cook for myself – or maybe I should say I can prepare food for myself. But I’d like to be able to invite friends over for dinner (and yeah, maybe even impress them a little). Not just defrost some fish and smack a bunch of veggies next to it on a plate. Real proper meals. Even using herbs and spices and stuff.
2 years ago I started cooking. My mom never liked to cook, so I learned nothing at home and could only cook an egg and instant ramen noodles when I moved out. And mashed potatos but I hate those :/

I can cook
- great spaghetti sauce (my own recipe)
- chicken/leek pastry pie (Jamie Oliver’s)
- cod/tomato/onion oven dish (clipping from a woman’s magazine)
- all kinds of soup (some my own, some from cookbooks)

- all sorts of baked goods, but I guess that’s baking not cooking. I’m pretty good at baking.

I’d like to be able to cook
- a decent, light, quick pasta dish not involving the sauce from above
- risotto
- quiche (I think I should be able to do this as I’m good at baking)
- home made, non-greasy pizza (sounds easy too)

I own over 10 cookbooks already (I really like flipping through them), so I hope to make some progress this year.

Ninja Neko has gotten 5 cheers on this goal.


I want to:
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