I've seen a number of wise people on this forum and elsewhere recommend that novice cooks pick a number (usually 10 - 20) of dishes to really work on mastering as a way to become more proficient in the kitchen. I'm a decent cook, but I think I have an awful lot to learn. I can follow a recipe okay, know a few of the "principles" behind cooking, but I don't have that easy facility that the cooks I really admire do. I thought picking ten dishes to really work on might be a good way to improve my skill.
So, Chowhounders: what recipes do you think would be particularly useful to this end? And, if you have some in mind, where should I start in learning how to master them (ie particular books or websites etc)?
I don't have any dietary restrictions, per se, but I do mind my calorie intake (allowing myself the odd treat of course) and don't have an extravagant budget-- I am a student. I'm less interested in desserts at the moment than I am in producing great entrees and/or sides.