I’m a pretty good cook, but there’s always room for improvement and always room to learn some new things. I’ve gotten comfortable with tackling new recipes regularly, but I there are some cooking techniques — certain skills that I do not possess — that I want to tackle in the kitchen this year. I’d love your thoughts on the following.


Pizza crust. I make a decent pizza crust, but I can’t get it thin to save my life. I want to learn how the pros take a ball of dough and shape it into the right-size crust that doesn’t shrink.

Poached eggs. I can poach an egg in the special egg poaching pan that I inherited from my husband’s grandmother, but I want to learn how to poach an egg in boiling water like it’s suppose to be done. The few times I’ve tried, I’ve not been successful.

Risotto. I’ve attempted risotto exactly once. I can’t tell you if it turned out well or not. Just as I finished the risotto, there was a cry from the basement, and we were off to the emergency room to get staples in my son’s head. I came home to cold, hard, risotto that ended up in the garbage disposal.  

Gravy. I’m awful at making gravy. I have never made good gravy from the juices of a chicken, turkey or roast. My mom makes fabulous gravy. She always swoops in on Thanksgiving Day and makes the gravy right before dinner is served. Although I’ll still allow her to swoop in even if I learn how to make good gravy, it would be nice to know I could do it if I had to.

Beer pairing. (Yes, I know this isn’t technically a cooking technique.) I’m fairly confident in my wine-pairing abilities at this point. No one is going to hire me as a sommelier anytime soon, but I can look at the wines I have on hand and know which bottle to grab with whatever I’ve cooked that evening. I don’t know how to do that with beer, though. When we have guests over, I’d like to know that the beers I’m offering will complement the food like the wine does.

I’d like to ask you, do you have any advice for me in any of these areas? First-hand expertise or knowledge? A website that you think will help? A video that will take me step-by-step though some of these challenges? I’m open to suggestions. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

5 cooking techniques I want to learn in 2011
A handful of things I want to by skilled in by the time the ball drops next New Year’s Eve.