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January 9th, 2013

Kitchen Goals For 2013?

I've been thinking about this for a few days, how there are things I've always wanted to try making/develop a recipe for/learn to prepare. I'm not big on making New Year's resolutions, but since it IS a new year and all, I figured, I should plan to make this happen over the course of 2013.

One thing I've always wanted to make is a roast duck. Just the thought of the whole process of preparing it and enjoying it, and then using the bones for duck stock and saving the duck fat for little touches of deliciousness in everyday cooking is really something to look forward to.

I'd also like to experiment with variations on a Beef Wellington, maybe using a pork tenderloin instead of a filet and creating some kind of substitute filling because fois gras and truffles are a little outside my budget, but the idea of a pastry filled with meat and tasties really appeals to me.

Does anyone else do this, set cooking goals for the new year? Even if you don't, what are some things you've always wanted to try but haven't gotten around to? I'm curious!
Back before Christmas, I came up with an idea that could've gone one of two ways - it could either be the greatest idea I'd ever had, or the craziest. Luckily for me, it turned out to be pretty darn good. I made a shortbread cracker with pepper jack cheese, cut into 2" circles. I used my melon baller to put a "thumbprint" in each one then made a pepper jelly to fill the thumbprint. Since these were a gift and I didn't want the crackers to get soggy, I just put the jelly in a jar for my sister to add as she wanted. I want to share the recipe with you, but unfortunately, I don't have pictures (my phone was stolen right before Christmas). So here it is...

Cheese Shortbread Crackers

1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp red pepper
2 cups shredded cheese

Combine flour, butter salt & pepper until dough forms. Add cheese and mix well. Shape into disk and wrap with plastic. Chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll dough to ¼” thickness. Cut into desired shape. Bake on ungreased pan for 14-16 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Pepper Jelly

Dice 1 medium bell pepper, 3 jalapenos (with or without seeds, depending on the level of heat you like), and 2-3 Anaheim chiles, poblano peppers or any other type pepper you like to equal roughly 1 cup of chopped vegetables.

Place in a medium saucepan with ½ cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the mixture starts bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes - 1 hour or until desired thickness.

*You can use canned green chiles in place of the other peppers if you don't have access to fresh peppers. Just drain the juice off them and measure out 3/4 - 1 cup of them. I simmered mine for about 45 minutes. It does thicken up just a little as it cools down.

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