Monday, January 18, 2010

15 Things to Make Before You Die - Installment #1

I came across an article the other day on my favorite recipe website titled, "15 Things to make before you Die". Although I found the title a little morbid, I was instantly intrigued. The article laid out 15 classics you should know how to make before you can consider yourself an accomplished cook. Before I even began to read the numbered list I was overly confident that I was going to be familiar with all the "classics". I have prepared close to 300 recipes in the last two years and would readily consider myself an accomplished cook. Sometimes when preparing my weekly menu/grocery list I have trouble finding things I haven't made!

My cockiness was quickly deflated when I only made it as far as number 2 on the list before I hit a classic that I haven't prepared. In fact, there were a ton I haven't tried my hand at yet. I was amazed at how many recipes in this ever important list have never made their way into my kitchen. Only being able to check 5 of the 15 recipes got me motivated. I would heed the warning of the title and cook all 15 recipes before I die. And since that deadline is an unknown, I plan to cook all 15 in the next couple of weeks. Procrastination isn't really my thing. I will work my way through this list and let you know of any hurdles associated with these classics.

1. Yeast Bread - Check, I have worked with yeast before and although I wouldn't consider myself an expert I feel familiar enough to take credit.
2. Beef Tenderloin Steaks - no grill required, stovetop only - this one will be fun, we love red meat!
3. Cream Pie - three essential recipes in this one - pastry crust, custard filling and meringue.
4. Creme Brulee - will need to purchase the torch before I attempt this one.
5. Fudge - I made white chocolate fudge before, but I think taking credit for that would be cheating. I will make the classic chocolate fudge recipe before I check this one off the list.
6. Cream Puffs - I think this one will be easy. I have made pâte á choux type dough before and I am pretty sure that is where the author thinks this challenge lies.
7. Crown Roast - I will find a special occasion for this one, but am super excited about this recipe.
8. Fried Chicken - This one is something I have always wanted to try, but was too afraid of a sub par result. Growing up a Popeye's fanatic, I know the comparison will be ever present.
9. Roux - Check, I have done this a bunch and it isn't easy, but I am getting better.
10. Pasta and Cream Sauce - Check, I think I have this one down pat.
11. Roasted Turkey and Gravy - Check, I did this two Thanksgivings ago and it was a huge success. I am happy I can claim credit here since roasting a whole turkey for two seems wasteful.
12. Chocolate Pudding - Check, I did this one this weekend and it was fun, delicious and rewarding to check the first new one off the list.
13. Layer Cake - Check, I haven't done it often, but I can definitely claim credit here.
14. Souffle - I have been wanting to make a souffle for quite some time and this is a great reason to finally add it to my weekly menu.
15. Chicken Stock - never attempted it because the boxed stocks are so convenient, but alas it is on the list.

So how many of the recipes above have you made?

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Cottage Living January 2005

Yield: Makes 4 servings

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 9 ounces (2 cups) chopped Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (not chocolate chips)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl

until blended.

2. Combine milk and 1 cup cream in medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until hot. Gradually pour hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to saucepan,

and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats the spatula or until candy thermometer reads 180°.

3. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate, and let stand 10 seconds;

whisk vigorously

until smooth

and all chocolate has melted

and been incorporated.

Transfer chocolate cream to a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours.

4. Combine remaining 1/2 cup cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. (Do not overbeat.)

Dollop onto each serving of pudding.

My Adapted Printable Recipe


Jennifer said...

I totally love this challenge! Im think I may try to list something similar for my own giggles and cooking fun! This pudding looks SOO rich and yummy! great job!

Tienne said...

My goodness, this makes me want chocolate pudding very badly. :)

It's funny which numbers on the list I've made vs what I consider to be difficult. Chicken stock is a breeze, and I make it all the time. Same with souffles and yeast breads. I've done a cream pie and layer cake before (badly, though, does it count if it didn't work out that well?) and roasted a turkey once but didn't get any drippings for gravy (musta done something wrong there.)

The idea of choux pastry though, has me in fits. YIKES! Do you think one of those butane lighters that you use to light a gas grill could work to caramelize the sugar on the top of a creme brule? I'd really HATE to buy a torch just to check something off a list! :)

Great post, thanks for the ideas and the challenge!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a challenge. I have done several things on the list, but my no means all of them. I may have to adopt this challenge myself. What site did you get it from?

Deborah said...

I have made quite a few of these, but I've never made chocolate pudding!

Memória said...

I've made 10 out of the 15. What a great list!!

Your pudding looks fantastic!! I just bought some Callebaut chocolate today and have been looking for a recipe where good chocolate is the star. This recipe looks promising!

The Chef In My Head said...

Be sure to spend your money on a full size blow torch (you can let your husband borrow it). I was going to buy of of the smaller ones for the kitchen, too small and the cartridges are too expensive. I let my husband keep it in the garage so he can pretend like it's his. :) I love the list idea! Thank you for stopping by my blog! - LeslieMichele

Handy said...

seems good love to try it

Woody said...

The pudding was so rich and smooth, I was very impressed with the taste and texture. Great job, wife.

Looking forward to the blow torch.

Renee said...

5 here as well - chicken stock, yeast bread, roux, pasta with cream sauce, and turkey with gravy. As you can see from which ones I've made, I'm not big on making desserts, so I do see this list as a little unfairly skewed toward desserts. Six or seven (depending on whether you make a dessert souffle) out of 15 are desserts? Still, my husband does like desserts, so I'm sure I will pick up more of these over time. It would be fun to make my own list of cooking challenges to try - maybe I will do that this week!

Stephanie said...

Great idea! I have made only 5 on the list. I need to get cracking!

Jennifer said...

I left you something on my blog :)

teresa said...

oh my goodness, this looks way better then the stuff in the box! i love it. i'm really intrigued with that list, i feel i need to conquer it now!

What A Dish! said...

I love the idea of that list! I might use it myself. ;) Great looking pudding.

What's next said...

ohhh, I've done a lot of them!!! Haven't done chocolate pudding though! Think this will be on the agenda for the weekend...

Kathleen said...

Yum! I adore chocolate pudding! Especially homemade!

Krista said...

Yummy! We love homemade chocolate pudding in this house. My 5 year old likes to help with the stirring and SO enjoys the finished product. I was pretty proud of myself after reading the 15 things list. I've made 13! I guess the only things that I need to tackle are a crown roast and souffle. All of those years teaching high school home ec have paid off!

Elizabeth said...


I found the article on

Good Luck on the challenge!


I think if you made it before you get credit despite the results.

I will have to look in to alternatives for the torch and will post any good ideas I find.

tamilyn said...

I've done 9 on the list. The crown pork makes me nervous since I would have to special order it where I live and I know it is spendy and the thought of it not turning out perfect makes me cautious. I have never made pudding from scratch, so that will be easy to do with all the ingredients on hand :)

Oh and the torch is fun! I used oned daily in a job I had for three years-I'll say it, I was good!

Elizabeth a.k.a. Type A Mommy said...

Wow, I thought myself to be a pretty good cook, but I've never attempted several of the things on that list! I am so going to join you on this quest!!

Anonymous said...

The only one I've never made (because I really don't like it!) is the creme brulee. Your chocolate pudding looks absolutely delicious, will make it this weekend for The Official Honey.


MamaFeelgood said...

1. Yeast Bread-not very good at it but I've tried.
2. Beef Tenderloin Steaks
3. Fudge
4. Fried Chicken - Used to make it a lot more before I married a non-Southerner
5. Roux
6. Pasta and Cream Sauce
7. Roasted Turkey and Gravy -
8. Chocolate Pudding - not yet but I'm totally going to b/c it looks good
9. Chicken Stock - all the time