I enjoy cooking. It’s definitely been an on and off love, but even when I was young, I loved going through a cook book and trying to whip up something new in the kitchen. I go through phases where I’m just too tired, or spending too much time on the road to cook. But luckily, now I’m working back in London-town, I have more time in my evenings to whip up dinner in the kitchen.
But when I do get in the kitchen, I tend to cook the things that I know. I have a few staple meals, from pasta, to soups to stews that I tend to do in rotation. Last year, I came across the subreddit of 52 weeks of cooking. The premise is simple, each week you get a new theme and the idea is that you cook something new to you to fit that theme.
Well, last year it was a bit of a fail. I was travelling too much so I only managed about 4 weeks before falling off the wagon. But this year, I’ve been doing way better! It’s been 11 weeks now, and though I’m not going to share every week, I thought I’d share the highlights and things I’ve learnt every now and again.
Now, I’m not a food photographer, and my kitchen has TERRIBLE light along with the fact that it gets dark at 5. So hopefully the photos in these posts will improve as the year goes along!
Week 4: Poaching – Lebanese poached chicken
The first challenge I came across with poaching. What do you poach other than an egg?! I decided to try and poach some chicken instead. It was weird. I don’t think I recommend it but it is a nice way of cooking chicken if you want to shred it. I thought by poaching it would keep the chicken really moist but it still tasted quite dry. I think if I tried it again then I’d poach it in a super flavourful broth rather than just a stock.
The rest of the meal was deeeelish though. This is a staple of mine, meat (or haloumi), pita breads and then some kind of vege, topped with tzatziki and occasionally a bit of hummus. Aaaaall of the best components for a yummy dinner.
Week 5: Olympics – Greek moussaka
When the theme of Olympics came along, I definitely knew that I’d be doing moussaka! It’s one of my total fave dishes, this was a particularly good one. It’s easy to make by just roasting off some aubergines, making a meaty sauce and then I usually use ricotta instead of a cheese sauce – much easier! Plus topped with loads of gooey melty cheese on top.
Week 8: Stocks and broths – Bacon and leek risotto
I’ve always been scared of risotto. I dunno why, I’ve never really had that many good ones at restaurants and whenever they make it on a cooking show, it ALWAYS goes wrong. But when this theme came up, I wanted to do something different as I always make soup.
It was surprisingly not too difficult. Well, it’s one of those dishes which needs looooads of attention, but then turns out okay! I used this recipe from the BBC which was fab, using arborio rice and then a whole lot of stirring in hot broth. It probably took about 25 minutes of stirring, which I hear is slightly too long, so I’d whack up the heat a bit more next time. But I’m so happy I tried it and now if I fancy a risotto, I’m all over it!
Week 10: Citrus – Moroccan meatballs with orange couscous
I love a meatball and make them on the reg, so that wasn’t anything new. But I decided to try something a bit different with the couscous. I never make couscous but we got some in a Hello Fresh and it was pretty good – so I decided to give it a go. And OMG I am now a couscous convert. I want it all the time. Plus it’s so easy, some couscous and then a nice stock, pop it together with a lid on the bowl and in 5 minutes, it’s done!
For this one I added in coriander, pomegranate seeds and some orange juice which worked really well. But I’ve made it a heap of different ways since, it’s now a firm staple in my kitchen!
The themes come out every few weeks so I’m looking forward to the meals ahead – I need to plan for arctic week, rainbow week and marinating week! If you’re interested in cooking along then this thread has each of the themes. The idea is that you post an image of the dish you make each week but you don’t need to. It does give you lots of inspo though!
How often do you rotate new dishes into your range?