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I never eat _______ out because nobody makes it right but me.

Just curious, what do you never eat out because nobody makes it right but you? I never eat meatloaf out. I only like mine. Also, I never get meal salads out (dinner salads, side salads yes) or linguini with white clam sauce. What things just don't taste right when anyone makes it except you?


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    1. re: Analisas mom

      It'd be really great if we could get recipes or tips on all of these suggestions. If your version is definitive, perhaps you'd all share with the rest of us?

      1. re: Jacquilynne

        I have posted my mother's recipe for spaghetti (or linguine) alle vongole below. I notice that this dish was mentioned several times as something people hesitate to order out. I agree that it would be very useful to have people's tried and true recipes for dishes that they find are less enjoyable in restaurants.

      2. re: Analisas mom

        Wouldn't have thought of this but Nicoise Salad. What is with the seared tuna nonsense?! When did people lose the taste for dense, flavorful olive oil packed tuna?

          1. re: Analisas mom

            I can only think of one place that I've liked the crab cakes as well as mine and that is Ann Sather's on Clark street in Chicago. At least while Debbie Tunney was there, haven't tried them since.

            1. re: twodales

              I love a great crab cake but can never find one out and I have not made a stellar one (at least not the traditional style) would you share your recipe twodales???

              1. re: lexpatti

                Just saw this. I will try and post one for you soon as I have some time B )

                1. re: lexpatti

                  Robert Duvall's Mother's Crab Cake recipe

                  Serves/Makes: 6

                  1 pound crab meat, jumbo, lump or back-fin
                  2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
                  2 eggs, lightly beaten
                  1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
                  1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                  1/4 teaspoon salt
                  1/2 small onion, grated
                  1/2 tablespoon mustard powder
                  18 Ritz crackers, crumbled


                  Combine all ingredients except the crackers. Add crackers crumbs in as close to sautéing as possible so that they crab cakes don't get too moist from the other ingredients. Form into patties the size of hamburger patties.

                  Sauté in frying pan over medium-to-high heat in butter, 10 minutes per side. Make sure that it's crispy outside but moist and juicy inside.

                  Rosti Crab Cakes

                  As a great lover of any type of fish cake I have always adored American crab cakes, but somehow the small English crabs seem too rich for them. After some serious tasting comparisons with my husband, scoring out of ten, the following recipe gets top marks. The potato counteracts the richness of the crab more effectively than the usual breadcrumbs, and served with Pickled Limes you complete a marriage made in heaven!

                  Rosti Crab Cakes
                  Serves 2 as main course or 4 as starter
                  8 oz (225 g) mixed prepared crabmeat
                  5 oz (150 g) firm waxy potatoes
                  1 slightly rounded tablespoon capers, drained and chopped (or, if they're very small, left whole)
                  1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
                  1 teaspoon grated lime zest
                  2 spring onions, finely chopped (including the green parts)
                  2 pinches cayenne pepper
                  1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or parsley
                  groundnut oil for frying
                  salt and freshly milled black pepper
                  To garnish:
                  lime quarters
                  sprigs of fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley

                  This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection

                  First put the unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan with boiling water and salt, and simmer them for exactly 10 minutes. Meanwhile measure out the rest of the ingredients, except the groundnut oil, into a mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly.

                  When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and grate the flesh on the coarse blade of the grater, pushing the potatoes all the way down the length of the grater so that the strips are as long as possible. Now carefully combine the grated potato with the crab mixture, trying not to break up the pieces of potato. Have a flat tray or baking sheet handy, then take rough tablespoons of the mixture and form them into eight little cakes, squeezing and pressing them evenly together – don't worry about any ragged edges: this is precisely what gives the crab cakes their charm when cooked. When the cakes are made, cover them with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill and become firm.

                  To cook, heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, making sure it is very hot, then gently slide in the crab cakes using a spatula. Cook them for 3 minutes on each side, turning the heat down to medium. Don't turn them over until the 3 minutes are up or they will not be firm enough. Remove them to a plate lined with kitchen paper, then transfer them to a warmed serving plate and garnish with lime quarters and coriander or flat-leaf parsley. Serve with Pickled Limes or with Toasted Sweetcorn Salsa.

                  Serves 2

                  Crabby and crusty is what a true crab cake should be, and this one hits the spot perfectly.

                  * 43g tin John West dressed crab, plus 170g jumbo crab meat (Asda Extra Special) or other white crab meat, drained
                  * 2 spring onions
                  * 1 pack (about 25g) fresh coriander
                  * 1 piece jalapeño pepper, from a jar
                  * grated zest of ½ lemon
                  * 1 medium egg, beaten
                  * 3 rounded tablespoons dried breadcrumbs (Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients) or dried ciabatta breadcrumbs (Tesco Ingredients)
                  * a good pinch of cayenne pepper
                  * 1 heaped tablespoon semolina
                  * 1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil

                  For the red pepper mayonnaise

                  * the equivalent of ½ fresh red pepper (from a jar of roasted peppers)
                  * 1 fat clove garlic, peeled
                  * 2 rounded tablespoons Delouis Fils fresh mayonnaise
                  * a good pinch of cayenne pepper

                  First of all, chop the spring onions, half the coriander (minus any very thick stalks) and the jalapeño in a mini-chopper. Combine these with the rest of the ingredients (except the semolina and oil), season and mix well. After that, divide the mixture into 6 and form it into round patties, squeezing the mixture together firmly. Spoon the semolina on to a plate and coat the crab cakes on all sides.

                  For the mayonnaise, whiz the ingredients together in a mini-chopper and empty it into a dish.

                  To cook the crab cakes, heat the oil in a medium frying-pan till very hot and shimmering, then cook them for about 2 minutes on each side. Serve with the remaining coriander to garnish and a good helping of the mayonnaise.

                  A simple tartar sauce to accompany the crab cakes can be made by mixing mayonnaise, grated onion and lemon juice.

              1. Poached eggs, very hard to fine done well, although I guess there are a COUPLE of places where I live...:)

                1. Steak - I marinate it in soy & garlic powder. Restaurants don't.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: amymsmom

                    I love my own steak too -- i marinade in teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, pepper or sliced fresh chilis, and sliced onions. This is how my mom always made it and nothing compares!

                    1. re: kavikat

                      I don't understand why restaurants think they have to put butter or heavy seasonings or cheese, fer god's sake, on a steak. I enjoy a steak, potato and salad dinner at home much more than most restaurants. I get a steak cooked just the way I like it, I taste the meat and if I want to put ketchup on it, no ones stares. It seem to be very hard to find a decent hamburger out anymore either.

                      1. re: EmJayC

                        I'm with you. I prefer naked steak. If it's properly cooked on a grill and has a good sear, there's no need for saucy stuff.

                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                          Steak is one thing I'd rather have in a steakhouse...they have more heat and can put a good char on it without overcooking it inside....something I can't do. But the exception is skirt steak. I've never enjoyed skirt steak in a restaurant. In large part, I prefer my marinade (orange/grapefruit/pineapple juice, lime juice, minced garlic, Tabasco chipotle sauce, fish sauce, and some sugar. No oil..the steak has enough fat). The other reason is that, unlike other steaks, I prefer my skirt steak medium well. Its too fatty for me to have even medium. At home, I can cook it exactly the way I want it, rather than getting it too rare in a restaurant and having to send it back. Plus, no restaurant has ever had a taste as good as my marinade.

                  2. fried rice
                    udon noodle soup
                    pot stickers

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: soypower

                      I would love a blow-by-blow on how you make your fried rice! What kind of rice do you use? Is it freshly steamed, or leftover and refrigerated? Do you use any kind of special seasoning besides soy sauce? I feel like my homemade fried rice is always lacking in one way or another...

                      Can you tell I'm curious? Thanks in advance!

                      1. re: soypower

                        YES. i have yet to have fried rice in a restaurant that is as good as my mom taught me how to make.

                        i don't think i've ever ordered udon out so i can't compare...oh, wait...i did once...it sucked.

                      2. Awesome post! Any pasta in red meat sauce -- nothing beats my family's recipe, in my opinion.

                        1. fun topic.

                          black bean dip

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Gotta say, your black bean dip, GHG, is awesome.....To answer the original question: salads, egg sandwiches, crepes. But that's probably because I spend way too much time making salads, egg sandwiches and crepes....

                            1. re: jeni1002

                              Okay I'll bite. What do you put in your black bean dip GHG and even better, can you post the recipe?

                              1. re: millygirl

                                The recipe was posted on one of the Super Bowl threads - here's the link:

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Thanks so much.... I will definitely try it. Sounds perfect to go with drinks out on the patio!

                                2. re: jeni1002

                                  I'll second this...it really is delicious and healthy...gotta make it again soon... maybe tonight! I made it for Super Bowl day also.

                                3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Could you share your oatmeal and ratatouille recipes?

                                  1. re: jeni1002

                                    i'm flattered you would even ask!

                                    the oatmeal is just an issue of consistency - i don't have a secret recipe or anything, it's just always either too chewy or too mushy when someone else cooks it. i call it the goldilocks syndrome...except that no one gets it "just right." :)

                                    as for the ratatouille, it's sort of one of those haphazard "i just know when it's right" things. again, no formal recipe, but if you give me a day or so i'll be happy to try & paraphrase the general ingredients & estimate the amounts for you.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      (smiling while reading your post) I've had the same chewy/mushy issues with oatmeal for quite a while now and I am relieved to know I'm not the only one.....

                                      I have still yet to find a ratatouille recipe to my liking so by all means, when you get the chance, please post yours. Thanks much!

                                      1. re: jeni1002

                                        Yes, oatmeal is never very good outside of one's own kitchen, in my opinion...maybe it is because it doesn't hold well? For mine, I always use part milk, part water, and add the raisins, cinnamon, and little pieces of green apple to the water before bringing it all to a boil - this makes the fruit nice and soft and allows it to sweeten the cereal naturally. For health reasons, I don't like to add extra sweetener, and with my method, I never need to!

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet


                                        I just made ratatouille this weekend and I'm curious about how you do yours. I base mine on the Moosewood Original recipe -- first onions with bay leaf, then I add mushrooms (not in recipe, but I'm SUCH a fan of mushrooms), then eggplant and oregano and basil and salt(fresh--yum), then cook for a while, then some tomatoes, zucchini, red pepper, black pepper. I very much enjoy it for hearty summer or autumnal meals.

                                        *How do you do yours???

                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      oatmeal just always seemed like such a strange thing to order out.

                                      1. re: dani_k

                                        Oatmeal is not only strange to order it, but because I make it with milk it is nearly always made with water, which to me tastes thin and like it's missing something.

                                    3. Chicken liver.

                                      Such a delicate but easily-ruined meat, and I don't trust anyone but me to get it just the way I like it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                                        Care to share your recipe/technique? I've scene chicken livers at a new vendor at our farmers market recently and would like to try them but I have no idea how to handle them.

                                        1. re: eLizard

                                          Meatballs HANDS DOWN! Thanks eLizard, I was trying to think of one that is true. As a general rule if I can make it at home I don't usually order it out. There are a few exceptions, usually red sauce or chicken parmesan, that I have found I like at other places. Meatballs, I refuse to eat out though.

                                        2. Cinnamon rolls. Mine are tender, on the edge of gooey without tripping over that fine line, flavorful, and have no need for icing of any ilk. I've never tasted a cinnamon roll that came close, no matter how lauded the chef (including the cinnamon rolls from the current reigning national pastry champions).

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: modthyrth

                                            Modthyrth, would you be so kind as to share your recipe? It sounds wonderful.

                                            1. re: GSDlove

                                              My pleasure.

                                              Place 9 cups flour in a tupperware fix n mix bowl (They don't call it that any more. It's huge. The biggest one they have. It might now be called a "Thatsa Bowl" but it's hard to tell online. Anyway, get a BIG bowl, preferably one that you can cover easily. The tupperware is fabulously handy). make a well in the flour.

                                              Scald: 1 1/2 cups milk and cool with 1 1/2 cups cold water (you're aiming for 115 degrees)
                                              Add: 2/3 c sugar, 2 t salt, 2 pkg yeast, 4 beaten eggs

                                              Pour liquid mixture into well. DO NOT MIX.

                                              Put lid on and wait until it pops off (about 25-30 minutes)
                                              While waiting, melt and cool two sticks of butter.

                                              When lid pops off, add melted butter and mix all together. It will be wet and kind of lumpy, but don't worry.

                                              Put lid back on and wait until it pops once again. (another 25-30 minutes)

                                              Take half the dough out of the bowl and roll into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. (You can sprinkle on some butterscotch pudding powder if you'd like. Makes it extra gooey and adds good flavor. Especially good if you add chopped pecans.) Roll up the rectangle from the short end of the rectangle (to get the maximum swirls in each roll).

                                              I use a length of button thread to cut my cinnamon rolls. Slide the thread under the tube of cinnamon roll, cross the string over the top and pull...kind of garrote it. You get a perfect, unsmooshed cut. Trim off the ends of the tube and make 8 even cinnamon rolls from the remainder.

                                              Repeat with the remaining dough.

                                              Place rolls in 2 9x13 pans. Put the ends in an 8x8 scrap pan. When you put the rolls in their pans, coat the outside of each roll with melted butter. This will make them easy to separate. I like to sprinkle some extra cinnamon sugar on the top of each roll.

                                              Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. I like 22 minutes, but it will vary from oven to oven. Caution--when you pull these out at the appropriate time they won't look all golden brown like you might expect. If you let them go until they're golden brown on top, they'll taste dry and unremarkable. That's one of the reasons I sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the top, so that people see some of the brown color they expect.

                                              1. re: modthyrth

                                                thank you, modthryth, this recipe sounds wonderful (and fun!).

                                                1. re: modthyrth

                                                  Thanks, I can't wait to try it! Once the rolls are in the pans, do they need to rise before going into the oven?

                                                  1. re: GSDlove

                                                    You can give them another 20 minutes or so, but it's actually pretty forgiving and not necessary. It usually takes long enough to make the second roll of rolls that the first set is ready to pop into the oven by the time the second roll is cut. And then the second set of rolls has had rise-time while the first set was baking. It works out nicely.

                                                  2. re: modthyrth

                                                    I made your cinnamon rolls for a breakfast at church last weekend. My only modifications were 6 cups of all-purpose flour and 3 cups of cake flour (I was low on regular flour) and 3 heaping tablespoons of Bird's Custard Mix. I use the custard mix in almost all my sweet breads. It gives the bread a nice pale yellow color and a good custardy flavor.

                                                    They were really great cinnamon rolls. Completely cooked but still gooey.

                                                    1. re: Pampatz

                                                      Mmm, I'll have to try using the custard mix in the bread. Intriguing. I'm delighted that you liked the recipe!

                                                    2. re: modthyrth

                                                      These sound great - will have to try. Thanks for sharing!

                                                2. Lots of things... but:

                                                  Steak. I really have a problem understanding the whole high end steak house concept. Hmm- pay $40+ for a hunk o' meat (never great, usually good, often poorly done). And $5 for some creamed spinach, or a $7 potato.

                                                  You come to my house, and your steak will be a sizzling rare, you potato will fluff, and your creamed spinach will be creamy, not gummy.

                                                  And ditto the crab cake. They are never as good as at home, where I want to showcase the crab, not save money by adding fillers.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                                    I'm late on this, but I AGREE!! I HATE going to a steakhouse and getting hit with a $00 bill. I can make a better one at home in a cast iron pan. I can have more veggies and better wine for the money!

                                                    1. re: SparkleKristy

                                                      A bit off-topic but you reminded me of this: I once went to a famous steakhouse in Dallas with 4 people from work. After we placed our steak orders the waiter asked if we would like to share a lobster as an appetizer; he said that the kitchen would cut it up for us. It seemed like a good idea, so we agreed to it. He then asked if we wanted the small or the large lobster, the small being $105, and the large being $125. We decided to forego the lobster.

                                                  2. Steak for me too, and also scrambled eggs.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      oh i am with you greedy, i need me some fluffy eggs. not flat browned ones.

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Those two. Together. Mostly because you can never find it, but also because my 1st experience was so good:
                                                        Last summer there was a spare filet mingon leftover after Father's Day, and having gotten up very late and not having anything to do, I grilled it. Far an away the best piece of meat I've grilled to date and served up with moist eggs scrambled with sweet red peppers and cajun seasoning and a cup of black coffee. Title: Nirvana Medium: Protien

                                                      2. Anything grilled--steak, fish, etc. What is the added value of ordering that in a restaurant when I can do it at home?

                                                        Pasta--I think it is amazing how much restaurants charge for a plate of pasta. Mine is always al dente and the sauce to pasta ratio is perfect. This is especially true of oil & garlic sauces & cream sauces. I love simple oil and garlic pasta dishes but they are inevitably always too oily when I have it out.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: mielimato

                                                          That's true apart from in Italy, where the pasta is to die for.

                                                          1. re: mielimato

                                                            I'm the same, hate paying $12 for a pastas that taste better at home. I love making arrabiata sauce with a can of diced tomatoes, lots of garlic and chili flakes. Also broccoli rabe with garlic and chili, which you can't find many places, even in the Italian food mecca of New Haven.

                                                            1. re: mielimato

                                                              Totally agree. There are definitely some places here in New York that make incredible pasta, but unless I'm in a place I am confident is going to serve properly done pasta, I avoid it because I can do better at home.

                                                              1. re: mielimato

                                                                Same here about the pasta, I can't get myself to order a pasta dish in a restaurant because it always shows up too mushy or even if it's good the fact that it's simple to whip up and really cheap (pasta itself) I can't dish out the asking price when I could make it at home.

                                                                If I ever go to Italy though, I will definitely order lots of pasta there!!

                                                                Mashed potato and gravy
                                                                Chicken, I think I've mastered chicken very well so unless it's a tender juicy kebob, fried chicken or piri piri chicken I don't bother, mine is always tender and juicy regardless of how I make it.

                                                                Pie, I don't advertise that my pies are the best mostly because I'm not even much of a pie person but I like my apples chunky yet tender with good crispy yet tender and flaky crust and I like my recipe/way of making it.

                                                              2. steak, pizza of late, marinara, indian food except for nan which i cant make like them at home since i dont have a tandoor oven.

                                                                1. - chicken pot pie. it's always under seasoned and uninventive when i order it out.
                                                                  - cookies, particularly chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or peanut butter.
                                                                  - chicken parmigniana. uniformly greasy and not crisp when i've eaten it out.
                                                                  - barbecued chicken. tyler florence's recipe is easy and makes better bbq chicken than any restaurant in which i've eaten.

                                                                  and i'm starting to feel the same way about pizza in this area. the problem seems to be that they don't crisp it enough on a stone. any pizza i've eaten at restaurants or from takeout is ten times better once i heat up my oven and put it on the pizza stone for 5-8 minutes--the bottom gets that crisp crunch that indicates the cook knew what they were doing, and the middle stays soft and moist. i'll always take my own homemade over anything i order out, but it's a lot of work to make some good homemade pizzas, so sometimes i compromise.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: beelzebozo

                                                                    That's what I used to think, but now I make the dough in my breadmaker making pizzas is a piece of, er, cake! I always sprinkle semolina on my pizza stone too for a more authentic flavour. But you're never going to get a domestic oven which is as hot as a wood-fired one, sadly.

                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                      actually the local pizza joint sells me their dough for 99 cents a ball. it's just prepping all the toppings, herbs, tossing the dough, etc. that creates all the work. i make my own homemade sauce, and anytime i make homemade pizza i'm making at least one pisaladierre, and one goat cheese and wild mushroom pizza. you can imagine all that onion caramelizing, mushroom browning, and so on and so forth amounts to a couple of hours of work at least.

                                                                      but hey, it's always worth it.

                                                                  2. Risotto. It sounds good on menus, but when I've ordered it in the past it's always a crunchy, undercooked, gloppy mess. Even the most upscale restaurants can't get risotto right.
                                                                    I've always had perfect results with Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe.

                                                                    1. STEAK at any place other than a steakhouse that I KNOW will cook it right....which is few and far between.

                                                                      Even here in NJ, I medium rare and get medium well most of the time, I just gave up and now only order a steak at a steakhouse I actually KNOW will cook medium rare.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: RPMcMurphy

                                                                        don't know if you have a fleming's in central jersey, but the one in edgewater gladly obliges my request for RARE.

                                                                      2. macaroni gravy
                                                                        mango chutney
                                                                        roasted garlic

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: yankeefan

                                                                              *grinning* I was thinking that was what you meant, but then my imagination kicked in and I was envisioning some sort of creamy sausage gravy with pasta (like biscuits and gravy, substituting pasta for the biscuits).

                                                                              Hmmmm - maybe polenta and gravy?

                                                                              1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                Elsie, I do a dish where you serve your basic spaghetti sauce with sausages over squares of fried polenta and top with mozz and parmesan reg cheese. A million calories but oh so comforting on days where you need some comfort food!

                                                                              2. re: yankeefan

                                                                                My Aunt Ruyh in Philadelphia called it tomato gravy; and pizzas she called tomato pie

                                                                          1. chicken parmesan, I learned no one can make it like I do.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bakerboyz

                                                                                a variation of the chicken cutlet recipe in Joy of Cooking, Pounding out the chicken breasts, I also use Reggiano parmesan in the bread crumb mixture, and use a deep fryer with peanut oil.

                                                                                I use the traditional flour, egg, breadcrumb(parmesan,parsley) coating. Then deep fry the pounded out chicken breasts. I use homemade marinara, and more reggiano, and either shredded mozzeralla,or fresh mozz. Top breasts with reggiano, mozzarella, and sauce, and then another layer of reggiano, and mozzerella. Throw under the broiler until melted.

                                                                                I find the chicken parmesan when I used to order it out to either not have enough cheese, or the chicken is either dry, or is a full breast, not pounded out.

                                                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                  Your comment made me think of a chicken piccata I had last week. They didn't pound out or flatten the chicken at all. It was very strange because it was a big thick breast and though it tasted good, it just wasn't "right". I wondered how a chef could make it that way? Maybe he just didn't know better - but that's odd too.

                                                                            1. Egg salad and tuna salad - I just like it the way I like it - you know what I mean?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                Same here, plus I have no idea how long it's been in their fridge!

                                                                                1. re: starlady

                                                                                  Me too. Stuff out always has too much mayo.

                                                                                  1. re: firecooked

                                                                                    too much mayo or too much vinegar!

                                                                              2. Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
                                                                                Brined Smoked Whole Turkey
                                                                                Homemade Barbecue Sauce

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                  My Homemade BBQ Sauce

                                                                                  1 cup Heinz ketchup
                                                                                  6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
                                                                                  4 tablespoons butter
                                                                                  3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
                                                                                  1 tablespoon plain prepared yellow mustard
                                                                                  3 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion
                                                                                  2 to 4 teaspoons bottled liquid smoke flavor (hickory) I use Wright's brand
                                                                                  1/4 teaspoon Louisiana-style red pepper sauce
                                                                                  1/2 cup brown sugar
                                                                                  1 tablespoon granulated sugar
                                                                                  1 teaspoon salt

                                                                                  Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Mix well. Simmer over low
                                                                                  heat for 30-minutes, stirring occasionally.

                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                    just curious, why do you need liquid smoke in the sauce? Are you ribs not cooked on a smoker?

                                                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                      I use the sauce on other things that are not smoked. It's optional.

                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                        ok, thanks for the reply. looks like a good sauce.

                                                                                      2. re: swsidejim

                                                                                        Might try Pimenton from Extremadura instead of liquid smoke. Smoked paprika , done over wood, the dulce is not at all hot and has better smoke flavor, besides being non-chemical, tha the liquid smoke. Comes in 4-8 oz containers, relatively inexpensive and last a while

                                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                          Actually some brands of liquid smoke are based on real smoke. They capture the smoke from burning wood and bubble it through a liquid, which is what they end up selling.

                                                                                  2. Oh WOW! Not to sound snobby - but there's a few things don't like to order out! The exceptions are in very high end restaurants where I'll usually enjoy most anything:

                                                                                    cheese plates
                                                                                    dessert (always too sweet and yucky)
                                                                                    pasta - usually the sauce is gloppy or not spiced right
                                                                                    And now the biggy - anything "closed" like an enchilada where the chef can hide all sorts of nasty leftover pieces of whatever!

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: joschus

                                                                                        Interesting comment about the 'closed' food item. Once I happened to open my bun when I ordered a beef dip. I was disgusted at the crap they put in it - fatty and grisly meat. It took me a long time before I ordered it again and only in very good restaurants.

                                                                                        1. re: joschus

                                                                                          yikes you just changed me love of an enchilada. sad.

                                                                                          1. re: joschus

                                                                                            I'll order "closed" foods, but I always open them when I eat them. Burritos, sandwiches, whatever...however this usually ends up being a 'dining alone' or take-out experience cause most people don't like eating out with someone playing Operation with their food.

                                                                                            After working in coffee shops, I have never ordered anything with steamed milk again. It's a consistency thing that I find varies too much from person to person, and the way I like it is the way I make it.

                                                                                            1. re: joschus

                                                                                              About the "closed food", I so agree! In the 80's I worked at a chinese buffet. The next day, everything that was left over from the day before was ground up and put into Szechuan wantons. And I mean everything except bones--egg rolls, fried rice, entrees, fried shrimp--everything! And then the hot sauce was piled on. Customers loved them and would always ask what was in them and we'd say, "um, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, fish and crab..."

                                                                                                1. re: runwestierun

                                                                                                  Is this necessarily a bad thing? Innovative, and apparently delicious results, have often been the frugal chef's brainchild. I had a friend who worked at a restaurant who was shocked to find they made croutons out of their stale bread (he obviously isn't much to speak of in a kitchen-he was waitstaff). If grinding up all the edible leftovers creates a tasty and consistent flavor, I'm game!

                                                                                              1. Spaghetti. I make my own pasta and my own homemade sauce. There is no comparison with anybody else's recipe. I am picky about my sauce. I also agree about the meatloaf.

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Smileelisa

                                                                                                  agreed sauce is a non-negotiable, although olive garden does a great job with theirs (notice that comment laden with sarcasm)

                                                                                                  I think it would be good idea to share some of the ones we had mentioned given others interest. I dont want to throw out my mango chutney, for example, if noone cares but I for one would like to hear about the homemade bbq sauce above as well as the black bean dip.

                                                                                                  1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                    I'm guessing there's somebody interested in absolutely everything that's mentioned. I'd probably never make mango chutney, but I'm curious what goes into it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                      I just made mango chutney. It's great - diced onions, lots of spices like cinnamon, cumin, cloves, allspice. Other things like raisins, cilantro. But when it is all done, it bears no resemblance to mangoes whatsoever.

                                                                                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                                                        yes, and I also use a ton of garlic with the raisins. dont forget the red pepper flakes.

                                                                                                    2. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                      yankeefan, your baseball allegiance almost makes me want to withhold my bean dip recipe from you...

                                                                                                      but i won't :)

                                                                                                      actually, just scroll up to the near-top of the thread. jeni1002 posted the link in her second reply.

                                                                                                      but if you're a jets fan i'm taking it back...

                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                        please dont ever accuse me of that, ever. ever!

                                                                                                        Im a dolphin fan, guess I shouldnt admit that either. good call down below on the stuffing- completely agree.
                                                                                                        Im going to try the black bean dip out.

                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                          I made this dip yesterday - really good, thanks!

                                                                                                    3. Sweet things - cake, cookies. Because I find others always make them too sweet. That, and I like to know what goes into my baked goods. This is especially true of chocolate baked goods; where people are baking for profit, they use the crappiest chocolate they can find.

                                                                                                      I also don't like egg mayo or chicken mayo out - my partner is the only one who makes them just right!

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                                                        I totally agree. I hate it when I go out and have an excellent dinner, only to have the experience tainted by a "chocolate" cake that resembles chocolate only in color. On the other hand, if a restaurant can wow me with dessert I'm theirs forever.

                                                                                                      2. linguine with clams (white. no one does it like my mother, and i'm not the only one who thinks so)
                                                                                                        chicken or veal scallopine with lemon, white wine and butter (the meat is never pounded thin enough, or there's too much flour, or whatever)
                                                                                                        shrimp cocktail (i like my cocktail sauce to be red with a lot of horseradish and some lemon and little else)
                                                                                                        pasta e fagioli (i only like my grandmother's)
                                                                                                        believe it or not, basic chicken soup (doesn't this always taste best when it's homemade?)
                                                                                                        meatballs (unless they're Swedish-style and from somewhere that I trust)

                                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                          I'm the same about vongole, though the place around the corner from us makes it quite well. I actually sometimes like to try restaurant dishes that are similar to some of the things I make, to try to see if I can improve on mine.

                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                            I will occasionally do the same thing, when it is a dish that I make. but when it comes to dishes that someone in my family makes, which even i don't dare to dream of improving on, i simply pass when i see it at a restaurant. vongole is just one of those things for me, but i am glad you found a place where you can order it and enjoy it. where on the UES is that, by the way?
                                                                                                            i just happened to accompany my dad in choosing new terrace furniture for their house... i am looking forward to summer evenings outdoors enjoying my mom's vongole with a nice white wine. the season is upon us!

                                                                                                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                              It's actually Vico ... on Madison & 92nd.

                                                                                                          2. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                            would love the recipes for clam sauce and pasta e fagioli if you care to post them!

                                                                                                            1. re: crosby_p

                                                                                                              i would post exact recipes if i had them, crosby, but they aren't dishes that i make often, myself. they are my mother's and grandmother's specialties and i'm sure they do it from memory each time.
                                                                                                              off the top of my head, i can tell you that my grandmother uses cannellini beans (usually canned and rinsed), del monte tomato sauce (which is what my great-grandmother used, and while there are many more and better options available today, they wouldn't taste the same), lard and peperoncino for her initial soup base, as well as some salt and pepper. she simmers this mixture for long time (hours) then boils her pasta (ditalini). when the pasta is ready (slightly undercooked), she adds some of the pasta water, along with a lot of plain tap water, to the sauce, until it reaches the "right" consistency: thinner than tomato soup, thicker than tomato broth. she stirs in the pasta, and lets it sit for a while before serving. both the beans and the pasta should retain a little bit of bite. serve with grated pecorino romano.
                                                                                                              i may be leaving something out, i'm not sure. give me some time and i will ask her.

                                                                                                              as for the vongole, i have no idea what my mother does. i think she sprinkles fairy dust into it :)

                                                                                                              1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                I use the vongole recipe from Hazan, and just love it. I can't remember whether she calls for chopped plum tomatoes or not, but I do like to add them sometimes, and if she does call for them, I usually add a little more.

                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                  i am curious to see how Marcella does it. my mother does not use tomatoes in hers, but i have tasted it that way and i like it. i tend to like mine with plenty of parsley and little else- aside from the "magic" oil my mother dresses it with. i think she once got a tip from a cousin in Rome regarding a certain flavoring for this dish, and that is part of what makes it so different. i've tried to make this dish exactly twice, following a different recipe each time, and was disappointed with the results. i'm going to have to ask mom what she does!

                                                                                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                    Yes - please do ask her. I don't have the book in front of me, but I think it is olive oil, garlic, red chili flakes, parsley, tomatoes, white wine, and at the end, when you toss in the pasta and clams, you add the strained clam juice and reduce just a little further. I also always use more clams than Marcella calls for.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                      sounds good to me! i will follow up.

                                                                                                                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                        Oh - and I use my truffle shaver to shave the garlic paper thin.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                          my mom typically uses the garlic mincer and allows the minced garlic to sit in the oil for a while before heating it. here is what she told me: garlic and peperoncino (dried) in the oil, then heat it up slowly while heating the pasta water. when the pasta water reaches the boil, begin to mix the clams into the oil and saute just until they open (sometimes she adds salt, sometimes not). meanwhile, pour the pasta into the (salted) water. remove the clams to a large bowl as they open, reserving whatever liquid collects. when the pasta is ready, add it to the oil with a little bit of pasta water, add the clams and their juice, and stir in freshly- chopped parsley. that's it. i can hardly believe it.
                                                                                                                          she said that our cousin does indeed add some special spice to hers, but that she couldn't find it here and forgot the name...

                                                                                                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                            Thanks - it sounds pretty similar to Marcella, though no wine, and in Marcella's you cook the parsley in the oil.

                                                                                                                            One thing confused me though - does she cook the clams in the oil? Or separately? I'd worry that the oil would get some of the grit from the clams.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                              yes, she always cooks the clams right in the oil, and i've never encountered any grit (wish i could say the same for when i've made them). i'm not sure what method she uses for washing/preparing the clams beforehand.

                                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                  My mom decided that we should make the dish together, once and for all. So we bought the clams (true vongole from Arthur Ave.) and gave them a good rinse in a colander: under cold running water, sifting through them with our hands, rubbing lightly. Afterwards, they went in a large stainless steel bowl, covered with ice, and set in the fridge until we were ready to cook.
                                                                                                                                  A few hours later, we poured about 3/4 cup of oil into a very large skillet and added four cloves of minced garlic and several generous pinches of dried peperoncino. We let that sit for about 20 minutes, while we put a pot of water on to boil, dumped the ice from the bowl, and rinsed the clams once again, being sure to remove any clam that did not close shut upon being tapped. My mother then rubbed the shells together gently, in order to remove whatever grit there might be.
                                                                                                                                  We set the oil to simmer and placed 1.5 lbs. of spaghetti into the salted water. We then emptied the bowl of clams into the bubbling oil, just as soon as the garlic was ready, covered the skillet, and left them to cook for about 3 minutes. When we uncovered them, we found that a few had already begun to open. We removed the clams one by one with tongs, just as they opened, setting them into a bowl on the side. The oil looked thick and slightly opaque from the clam juices. By the time we had finished this, the pasta was ready. We emptied the pasta- first into a colander, and then straight into the oil, incorporating the clams and a handful of chopped parsley. Once lightly tossed, more parsley was sprinkled on top. We served it with prosecco, which is always my favorite accompaniment to oil-based sauces. The clams were perfectly cooked and just salty enough to eliminate the need for any added salt or pasta water. Not a trace of grit, and not one strand of spaghetti left over :)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                                    I've never had a white clam sauce in a restaurant that I liked as much as mine. Usually too oily, with burnt garlic, and not enough clams or clam flavor. Here's the way I do it-
                                                                                                                                    Clams, cherrystone or preferably chowder size. I shuck them, and collect all the juice, letting the sand settle on the bottom. I coarsely chop the clams, leaving some good sized chunks, and set them aside. Then I saute lots of minced garlic, a little minced shallot, and a small dry hot pepper in a decent amount of olive oil. When ready, I pour in a little white wine and then the clam juice, leaving behind the bottom gritty part. I simmer uncovered until the sauce is seriously reduced. Then I add a large amount of chopped flatleaf parsley...after a few more minutes I add the clams. No more than another minute or 2, and its done. The clams have enough time to cook but not get tough. I can eat it by the ton!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: EricMM

                                                                                                                                      i totally agree - good white clam sauce in a restaurant is rare...it's always lacking in clam flavor and far too greasy for my taste.

                                                                                                            2. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                              I want to amend my list to include lentil soup. Not once have I enjoyed it as much in a restaurant as at home!

                                                                                                              1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                                I am looking for a good lentil soup recipe. All the ones I have tried have just been lacking that "Je ne Sais Quoi" ya know??

                                                                                                                What kind of lentils do you use?

                                                                                                            3. most asian desserts I make myself. for instance, sticky rice with mango. portions are never big enough and not enough coconut cream sauce usually.

                                                                                                              also, pancakes. I make whole wheat/oat flour buttermilk pancakes that are fluffy, light and oh so good. i hate white flour.

                                                                                                              vegan chocolate almond butter "ice cream" omg this stuff is so dangerous. so very dangerous.

                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                can you please share the sticky mango rice recipe? Ive wanted to try that.

                                                                                                                1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                                  I use the one on epicurious which is from the book "hot sour salty sweet". One serving at the restaurant is $5 a pop and it's no better than this one. I actually add more palm sugar and salt for my taste.


                                                                                                                  1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                    choctastic, how do you steam your rice?

                                                                                                                    1. re: bear

                                                                                                                      actually i don't have one of those steamer thingys so I just put a sieve over a saucepan and steam the rice in the sieve. I cover the saucepan with its cover while it's steaming. You should probably line the sieve with cheesecloth but I never have any so I don't. It's not ideal but it works alright for my purposes. Oh and it costs me 50 cents to a dollar for a huge serving including the mango in season. At a restaurant it's like $6-8.

                                                                                                                      I actually have gotten to the point where I make up a huge jar of the coconut cream sauce which I keep in the freezer and chip off when I need it. Thus when I have a craving for sweet coconut sticky rice, I just have to steam the rice and voila, instant dessert.

                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, that sweet coconut cream used to flavor the rice also tastes really good as is, so I often eat it in its by itself...like ice cream. Very bad.

                                                                                                                      1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the reassurance that i can steam it without the special utensil. I have a bamboo steamer that I can try. I bought mangoes yesterday at Whole Foods for $.99 apiece, and have coconut milk. I didn' t buy their "coconut sugar" because I didn't realize that it is basically interchangeable with palm sugar. Anyway, I'm off to our Asian supermarket tomorrow, and will get the sugar there.

                                                                                                                        One more question...I'm assuming that "sticky rice" is short or medium-grained rice. Am I correct?

                                                                                                                        Thanks for your help, and for the tip about freezing the coconut mixture!

                                                                                                                        1. re: bear

                                                                                                                          Sticky rice is a special type of rice unto itself, it is not a term for a way of cooking rice, nor does it refer to a specific grain size. You will not be making a true "mango with ssticky rice" if you just use some random short or medium grained rice. You need to use "sticky rice" also called "glutinous rice," "sweet rice," and a few other names. It is a specific variety of rice.

                                                                                                                          1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                            Heck bear, I think you can even use white sugar if you don't have palm but palm sugar seems to have this special unctuousness that I like.

                                                                                                                            gordeaux is right. Sticky rice comes in short, medium and long grain. The Thai sticky rice for this recipe is long grain. I have never tried it with short grain sticky rice. I wonder how that would taste. I don't think it would be terrible but the cooking style might be different.

                                                                                                                            Part of the fun of cooking is trying out new and dangerous combinations. If you do this recipe with short/med grain sticky rice, be sure to report back. I would definitely stick with the sticky (aka glutinous rice) because regular rice is starchier and won't hold together the same way.

                                                                                                                        2. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                          bahahah. i love it! guilty pleasures rock.

                                                                                                                  2. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                    Just finished making (and eating) the epicurious recipe that chocotastic posted. I used Thai long-grained sticky rice and palm sugar, both of which I found at our local Asian supermarket. I'm glad I didn't substitute. It was so simple, delicious and satisfying, and really easy. I added extra coconut milk mixture to the rice after steaming, which I would recommend. Thanks so much, chocotastic!

                                                                                                                    1. re: bear

                                                                                                                      Oh man, glad to spread the love. Checked on this post after reading the thai sticky rice thread. Yeah, I love this recipe and yes on the extra sauce. And it's way cheaper than eating out not to mention tastes better than 99% of the sticky rice w/ mango that I've had out there!

                                                                                                                      If I have them around for other recipes, I like to put toasted split mung beans on top, for crunchiness. I've seen restaurants do this.

                                                                                                                      1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                        Hey! Thanks for posting that recipe. Lao Thai over on Solano makes my fav mango sticky rice and they are the only ones I've seen that put those little sweet toasted split mung beans on top, but they don't always have it on the menu. Where can I find those toasted mung beans in the Bay? I'm assuming Ranch 99 or some place like that, but in what section?

                                                                                                                        1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                          Yeah, you can get a packet at 99 Ranch (I think $1 a small packet) and toast them before you put them on. Sorry about the late reply, not online lately.

                                                                                                                  3. Chicken salad - Having worked in several, I know exactly how its made in restaurants and I'm not taking any chances.

                                                                                                                    Bloody Marys - I use low sodium V8. It makes for a much tastier Bloody. You can actually taste the tomato, not just salt and that nasty garlic flavor the commercial mixes have.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. nehari

                                                                                                                      green thai curry (have one place that can hook it up right, but it's too far away from me for simple take out)

                                                                                                                      Smoked spares

                                                                                                                      Cole slaw and potato salad (since when does everybody like these things with so much SUGAR in them???? GROSS!!)

                                                                                                                      Chicken breast (any way)

                                                                                                                      hush puppies (Again with the sugar. Gross!!)

                                                                                                                      Hard to order fish in a restaurant unless I know they won't cook it to death. Overcooked fish is just horrendous.


                                                                                                                      Good carne asada is so rare in Chicago, yet there are HUNDREDS of taquerias.

                                                                                                                      Tamales. Penty of places to get them, but only a few are any good.

                                                                                                                      Chicken in a mexican restaurant. Why boil it in a flavorless (except for salt) red sauce??

                                                                                                                      Fried rice (since when do frozen peas and carrots count as "vegetables" in chinese cuisine?)

                                                                                                                      Gravy. I NEVER get gravy unless it's on the side.

                                                                                                                      Pecan Pie

                                                                                                                      I've resorted to bringing my own salsa to my favorite taqueria.

                                                                                                                      There are more just can't think of any right now.

                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                        good call on the gravy, I have not found one yet that lives up to mom's.

                                                                                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                          ooh, that reminds me of another one. thanksgiving stuffing!

                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                            I also refuse to eat any stuffing but my own. I won't even eat my mom's! :)

                                                                                                                        2. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                          the comment about bringing your own salsa made me crack up. never settle for less than delicious! agree on fried rice and slaw/potato salad...

                                                                                                                          1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                            Gordeaux, you crack me up. I take my own coffee to my favorite breakfast joint. What they serve is just plain wrong. I shudder thinking about it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                              Thai curries...I always prefer my own. Much thicker and more flavorful. Besides, I grow my own hot peppers, lemon grass, and kaffir lime.

                                                                                                                            2. enchiladas. my husband makes chile paste, from actual chiles, with nary a tomato in sight. i'm not 100% sure what is in that orange goo you get at most middle american mexican places (actually, i have an idea, i just try not to think about it). and the cheese is just white velveeta (out, not at my house ;). the only thing restaurant enchiladas are good for are a hangover!

                                                                                                                              so i guess that also goes for anything requiring the use of actual chiles.

                                                                                                                              don't really enjoy pizza out either. my husband has discovered the perfect recipe for pizza dough. so i'm sure there's good pizza out there, just haven't found one that beats homemade!

                                                                                                                              1. these are not absolute, i make a few exceptions but the bar is pretty high.

                                                                                                                                hollandaise sauce
                                                                                                                                and soup.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                  Hollandaise was one for me, but I know two places in my city where they do it right. NOTHING worse, however, when ordering a hollandaise, and finding out it's "cheese laced" or has no lemon, or even WORSE - fake lemon flavoring - YUCK!!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: gordeaux

                                                                                                                                    and that is why I never order Eggs Benedict - I have yet to have a well executed Hollandaise sauce of the right consistency and with its lovely and delicate buttery lovely flavor.

                                                                                                                                2. Brownies. I have a long, joyless list of requirements re: ingredients, textures, etc., which is soooo unlike me, but I'm like the Soup Nazi when it comes to brownies.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheGloaming

                                                                                                                                    egg white omelette. Mine are fluffy, nonfat and filled with veggies and cheese. Restaurants make them flat, or greasy and the veggies taste like they have been soaked in butter even if you ask them to make it dry.

                                                                                                                                  2. In america, spaghetti al'amatriciana and spaghetti carbonara. Nobody knows how to make them properly, so I've taken to making them at home and have never found a restaurant's version that can compete with my own - not to sound TOO conceited :)

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Al_Pal

                                                                                                                                      Don't know if you've tried the Amatriciana at Lupa in NYC, but it's pretty damn good. That said, I make both of those dishes at home quite frequently.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                        oooh what is this "spaghetti al'amatriciana" you speak of?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                          Ah, this reminds me of another sauce that I love and have been missing ever since a great place in Glendale, CA closed years ago...Mauro's. The chef opened another place in downtown L.A. called Il Rex, which was tres elegant and fabulous. He made a simple pasta arrabbiata that was fabulous. All others I've had have been borrrrrring.

                                                                                                                                          Actually, I don't make it myself so this post doesn't belong in this thread....well I DON'T CARE! I'm leaving it in.

                                                                                                                                          Anybody have a wonderful pasta arrabbiata recipe?

                                                                                                                                      2. Pasta dishes, chicken cutlets or egg salad.

                                                                                                                                        1. Shrimp Scampi
                                                                                                                                          1 lb. ex. large shrimp per person, peeled and deviened with tails left on
                                                                                                                                          6 large cloves garlic, minced
                                                                                                                                          2 Tbs olive oil
                                                                                                                                          1/2 stick butter
                                                                                                                                          1/2 cup dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
                                                                                                                                          1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
                                                                                                                                          1/2 lemon, juiced
                                                                                                                                          Feta cheese
                                                                                                                                          Fresh parsley
                                                                                                                                          S & P to taste

                                                                                                                                          Heat pan on med. high. Add olive oil and 1Tbs. butter. Add garlic when hot. Throw in red pepper. Saute about 1 min. Add shrimp. Saute about 1 min. Add wine. Saute about 1 min. Add lemon juice. Add rest of butter one Tbs. at a time, swirling pan. Add about 1/4 cup feta. Sprinkle in parsley and shake the pan around for about 15 seconds. Taste and add S & P as you prefer. Serve in a warmed bowl with nice bread for dipping. And a spoon if you are a glutton such as myself. Add some feta and parsley as a garnish if you like.

                                                                                                                                          Potato Salad.
                                                                                                                                          I always use pickle juice instead of vinegar. No one in Jersey (where I currently live) does this. I learned it when I lived in Baltimore. If I'm not in the South, I never order potato salad because they always make it too sweet---and no pickle juice, either. Ancient Southern secret, yall...

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: diablo

                                                                                                                                            This is a deeply cool idea, which I'm trying this weekend. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: diablo

                                                                                                                                              I'm in Jersey too and I add pickle juice to potato salad, and to macaroni salad. I'm with you--most such salads out (mostly out of big plastic tubs) are too sweet.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: diablo

                                                                                                                                                we always used pickle juice in my house growing up in washington. granted, my mom spent her teen years in texas, so...

                                                                                                                                                but i find most potato salads to be mushy, over-vinegared, sweet pickled, or bland. never right, unless home made!

                                                                                                                                              2. steak - non one cooks it right (really rare) or seasons it properly.

                                                                                                                                                1. Most soups, Egg/Tuna/Chicken/Potato Salad, and unless in an incredible/authentic place, Mexican and Italian food. I might include "not as good as my mom makes" as part of the title- there are certainly things that I don't order because it will just never measure up to my mother's culinary talents! :)

                                                                                                                                                  1. General rule: anything I can make at home, I won't order when I'm out... restaurants to me are about food I would never otherwise see.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: oryza

                                                                                                                                                      This is also my philosophy when dining out...I order something I don't ever prepare at home.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                                                                                                        I absolutely agree. Why pay good money for something that you could make yourself, and often better? That's a recipe for frustration!

                                                                                                                                                    2. It depends on how far I am willing to drive and how much I am willing to spend. Locally, it is risky to order:

                                                                                                                                                      scrambled eggs
                                                                                                                                                      stir-fry, especially squid
                                                                                                                                                      soup (with some ethnic exceptions)
                                                                                                                                                      most sauce (on pasta, for example)
                                                                                                                                                      quesadillas (what they have against chihuahua cheese I'll never guess)
                                                                                                                                                      baked potatoes
                                                                                                                                                      any family type favorite (chicken pot pie, stroganoff)

                                                                                                                                                      Safer items include:


                                                                                                                                                      I really don't understand about the eggs, soup, and sauce. Those are very easy to do well at home, and the latter two hold well. I can only figure the problem is I don't like "Pan and Grill" or whatever it is they squirt on a grill before they dump the eggs on, that good soup isn't cheap enough to suit them, and pasta sauce is fastest dumped out of a can.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm not fundamentally opposed to ordered steak in a restaurant, but not on my dollar - if someone else is paying and they're known for it, why not?

                                                                                                                                                        I generally won't rule anything out, but I prefer to eat my own eggs benedict. I like my hollandaise with a lot of lemon, and it's rare to find it like this beyond my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I laughed when I saw the title of your post. For me, it's definitely any kind of pasta with red sauce. I make my own, and I only eat my own (or my family's, which is the same).

                                                                                                                                                          Also, eggplant parmesan. My grandmother's was the Platonic ideal, and I've been trying to replicate it my whole life, with more or less success. Any other is not to be contemplated.

                                                                                                                                                          Like others, I also avoid dishes I can make very easily. Like almost any kind of chicken. But that's not because nobody makes it right but me. It's because when I eat out, I like to have things I can't get every day.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Liver and onions . . . mine is so good, with lovely sauteed onions and thyme and a bit of wine, and sometimes some mushrooms, and the liver barely cooked, all over rice. (I only do this when my husband is eating elsewhere.)

                                                                                                                                                            1. Risotto. Spaghetti and meatballs. Steak. Vegetable Soup.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I have found this thread interesting, especially 2 of the answers that keep popping up, I am not questioning any reponses, I just found these interesting from where I live, and my viewpoint.

                                                                                                                                                                # 1 BBQ. I own a smoker, and have been using it to prepare bbq for years & am pretty good at ribs, brisket, and pork butt, , but I am always interested in trying out a recommended, or new place that is said to have good bbq prepared in a smoker, or a pit. I can understand if those people who never order bbq when they go out to eat are either pit masters, or only options for bbq are boiled ribs(aka meat jello), or oven baked ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                #2 Steaks, I have access to Prime, and dry aged beef, and prepare these at home, but I enjoy going out to a few of Chicago's top steak houses for a steak many times better than I can prepare. A home cook, typically does not have the equiptment to cook a steak @ over 1000 degrees. Also unless you are buying Allen Brothers or another top notch prime beef supllier I can't see how a home cook can compete.

                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                  Wildly interesting thread. I agree about the meatloaf --I'm very particular about the meats used and in what proportion, the spicing, etc. Nobody gets "my" particular taste right. Rarely do I order marinara sauce unless I know I'm in an authentic Italian restaurant. And finallly, the one thing I would NEVER order is potato pancakes --they take a lot of fussing and only Joan Nathan adds the potato starch back in for a heavenly texture. They're here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SSqwerty

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm with you on the potato pancakes, however I have found 1 place that measures up & I must get them when there (in Philly).

                                                                                                                                                                    I cannot find as good a Penne A La Vodka- I think mine is better than great Italian restaurants, I stopped ordering it a long time ago after a few tries. Crabcakes anywhere outside of MD!

                                                                                                                                                                    not sure why this is double

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                    i don't hesitate to eat bbq at restaurants as i don't own a smoker, and certainly having a steak in a great steakhouse is an experience. agree on both these points.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                      I have made this point many times - it's impossible to duplicate the sear of a salamander @ 1800 degrees - even a searing hot cast iron pan does not duplicate the results.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                        I bought a TEc grill with infra red heat, it was more than a regular grill but so worth it, it heats to 1200 degrees and it the same grill they use in Morton and other high end steak places.

                                                                                                                                                                        I get prime steaks at Wegmans, only place around me that I know of and the steaks are the BEST! only take minutes and i grill some asparagus with olive oil and a little salt and it is way better than a steak house and well under 50.00

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LowerGwyneddGirl

                                                                                                                                                                          in my original post(look at point # 2) I stated that unless you are buying your meat prime, and from a top notch meat supplier you cannot compete with the top steakhouses. You are doing that(though I have never heard of Wegmans, are they a local/regional beef supplier?), and you have similar equiptment as well. So your results are not a surprise.

                                                                                                                                                                          I buy prime and dry aged beef locally @ my butcher, and get Kobe/Waygu beef from Allen Brothers, so I get great results at home, but there is something about a 40 oz Porterhouse from top steakhouse I still enjoy, big $$$ or not.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LowerGwyneddGirl

                                                                                                                                                                            Remember to figure in the cost of the $3-7K grill! Grill envy!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                                                                              Ouch, you can buy a BlueStar salamander for about $1600 which goes to 1850 degrees.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Muffins and various other baked goods. Most that I have tasted while eating out are either dry, tasteless or much too sweet, thus not appealing at all.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Muffin Lady

                                                                                                                                                                            Agree... muffins are so easy, not sure why you can get a decent one out.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Oatmeal, I make mine 1/2 water and 1/2 milk and top w/ brown sugar and dried cherries or cranberries
                                                                                                                                                                            Stuffed cabbage & stuffed peppers - have never had this taste like my Hungarian grandma's recipe, which is only one I use
                                                                                                                                                                            Potato kugel or pancakes - family tradition is to grind potatoes in blender (not food processor) strain mixture and add back eggs & matzo meal for superlative taste
                                                                                                                                                                            Tuna fish - very picky, NO MIRACLE WHIP, only Hellman's mayo, celery, chopped hard boiled eggs, dill weed, chopped dill pickle, seasoning
                                                                                                                                                                            Potato Salad - another poster mentioned special secret (pickle juice), must use BaTempte half sours chopped, chopped hard boiled eggs, only Hellman's mayo, seasoning
                                                                                                                                                                            Egg Salad - only Hellman's mayo, celery, chopped hard boiled eggs, dill weed, seasoning, dijon mustard
                                                                                                                                                                            Devilled eggs - only Hellman's mayo, dill weed, seasoning, paprika, dijon mustard
                                                                                                                                                                            Matzo ball soup - have put my chix soup w. matzo balls recipe elsewhere on board

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                                                                              Regarding the potato salad comments...so true that so many places glop on the sugar and mayo, really gross, even delicatessens that you would expect better from...you use pickle juice and I use vinegar sprinkled over the still-hot cut up potatoes...gotta have it!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                                                                                I, too, have much respect for Hellman's real mayo. Guess you're not west of the Rockies where it is Best Foods. Somehow the name is off-putting, tho' I am assured it is manufactured by the same company to a very similar recipe. I add finely chopped onions to the salads you mention for an old style Lower East Side NYC taste.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Italian Wedding Soup. Nobody makes it like my MIL.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Generally I don't order anything I could make with ease at home, but I would NEVER order chili or meatloaf in a restaurant. I grew up with very specific versions of these two dishes and they are made much much differently outside of my family. I can't get used to the other versions.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Tea.

                                                                                                                                                                                    So few places make a decent cup of hot, strong tea. And apparently I'm incredibly gauche for wanting milk alongside as well, so I just don't bother ordering it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: corgette

                                                                                                                                                                                      Same here!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                      I never order tea at a resto!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: corgette

                                                                                                                                                                                        When I travel. I bring my own tea bags. I can't stand Lipton's, which is what most restaurants offer. Also...a pet peeve is when they ask me if I want more hot water when the tea bag is obviously depleted. So, if you are offering me more than a top-up on the hot water, please bring me a new bag, even if I have to pay for it...

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. RICE! For the most part, it's always fresh out of the rice cooker meaning it's too moist, goopey, and tasteless. I eat it when I'm at Chinese places, but only cause you sort of have to...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Macaroni and Cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's either too greasy and heavy or it's some designer version. I like my way, thank you very much.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Boca_Raton

                                                                                                                                                                                              Mac & Cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                              Cabbage meat soup
                                                                                                                                                                                              Eggplant gratin
                                                                                                                                                                                              Pizza, if l lived in New Haven, would not have to
                                                                                                                                                                                              Turkey neck and sausage gumbo

                                                                                                                                                                                              Think comfort food that one likes is set at early age, 8-10, and while mine may be great for me, if it is not what you had then, it will be lacking
                                                                                                                                                                                              carrot cake

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Boca_Raton

                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree. I make sure to put buttered panko crumbs on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Marinated Steak Tips !! My secret recipe is top notch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. lasagna or italian meatballs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. For me: Spaghetti and desserts - *especially* cheesecake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to agree with everyone on the steaks. Though I am not master of the grill at my house, by dear boss (who is a CH lurker, thanks to me) is in complete agreement on the steak issue (no one seasons/grills them right but him... no restaurant knows their head from a hole in the ground, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Meatloaf, yea, and matza balls. Oh, and lamb. And I do agree with the poster who said they hate paying $12 for a plate of pasta! So what's up with that new promotion, I think it's Pizza Hut, 3 lbs. of pasta for what, ten or 12 bucks? How's $1.00 a pound from the supermarket? What else I hate paying restaurant mark-up for, that's way cheaper made at home (and never overcooked, either, btw) is seafood, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JewishMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                        i'm with you on the matzo balls, if anyone other than my mom or me made them, they're not worth eating [imho].

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                          funny, true story from my sedar this year: my son (as he always does) raved about my matzoh balls...I confessed that, as usual, I just used the mix (but make my own soup)...he told me he knew that, but that when he and his girlfriend tried the same mix on more than one occaison, they weren't nearly as good as mine! (must be the soup! :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                                            which mix? in our family it's always croyden house. you wouldn't believe what went on last year trying to track it down - had to mail-order it by the case from some random deli halfway across the country because none of the stores carry it anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My matzoh balls (using the boxed matzoh meal, also) always come out as sinkers! I've heard not to handle them much and also to use seltzer water instead of flat

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. matzoh brei
                                                                                                                                                                                                          french toast
                                                                                                                                                                                                          scrambled eggs
                                                                                                                                                                                                          (I guess I find breakfast out to be less necessary than I did as a young bohemian)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I never eat chicken out because I always find it overcooked
                                                                                                                                                                                                          matzoh ball soup
                                                                                                                                                                                                          and I'll wait til I'm sure of the place's bonafides before I'll order their pie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Pasta with any sauce (gravy).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I note that many people have an aversion to ordering pasta with red sauce because homemade is way better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My gripe is not the sauce (maybe because I rarely get a chance to taste how mediocre they may be), but the limp noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have gone nose to nose with chefs over their insistence of cooking the pasta earlier in the shift, and then when an order comes in, re-heating the noodles and then saucing. I have sent back so many plates of pasta that She Who Must Be obeyed won't let me order it any more. I do check with the server if the pasta is cook to order and that it is al dente and the lying SOB's (or just plain clueless, you pick the least offensive) always gets it wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can order a steak the way I like it and send it back, but try that with a plate of spaghetti. So what is it with chefs who don't understand that I can wait 9 minutes for them to cook my noodles?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even owners who are Italians throw up their hands and proclaim that because Americans don't taste the difference why should they educate us. I still can't get a plate of al dente pasta, so I don't order it anymore outside. I wish I could say that lack shows up in my waistline, but that's not the way life works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Food Tyrant

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Broccoli rabe. Always seems to be way to crunchy, not cooked through nearly enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A lot of things mentioned in this thread are certainly worthy of being very selective about (particularly a poorly made linguini with white or red clam sauce, which is one of my mortal enemies ;) ) but I wouldn't make the blanket statement that I would never order them in a restaurant. Heck- there are some places that I go to specifically for these things. If it's done properly, bring it on, I say!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Rack of lamb
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I can't take credit for it, my husband makes the most amazing BBQ'd rack of lamb. I always get excited when I see it since on a menu, I just LOVE lamb, but it's just always a let down compared to home. Even when the flavors are good it is often overcooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Steak and bbq. The restaurants never get it right, or as well as I do it. I do have a great smoker for ribs, brisket and butts. For steaks I just use my Weber with charcoal about 1" from the grill, I leave the Costco rib-eye on for about a minute, turn 45 degrees and do another minute, flip, do the same to other side. I then pull the steak to part of grill where there are no briquets, drop the lid and cook to 119 internal, let the steak rest after pulling for 5 minutes or so and then dig in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Lemon bars. I've never bought one that didn't taste primarily of raw flour and/or powdered sugar, begging the question "Where's the LEMON?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: susiek11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bakery lemon bars are invariably much too sweet for me. Ditto brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ditto(2) brownies. The only place I'll buy them it from Zingermans. Otherwise, mine are the only ones I want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. mashed potatoes (the secret ingredient is cream cheese)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      channa masala
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chicken fingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Fried eggs...I like them over easy, and most places don't et it right...if the yolk is runny, their whites are too. I don't understand why it's so difficult to get this right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also pancakes. I have nothing against white flour, but most places where I would order breakfast foods out obviously use a mix for their pancakes. Bisquick just doesn't do it for me. I use the basic recipe from How To Cook Everything, whichever version fits what I have on hand that day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Crab cakes. It's funny, because my recipe is extremely simple, but I think most places overdo it. Simple is good. I'm always disappointed if I order crab cakes out, so I don't do it anymore (neither does DH).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I'll eat anything but Mrs H won't touch chicken outside the house. And she's not too keen even if I've cooked it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Key lime pie. Actually the problem is that i DON'T make it right; I add some cream cheese, but I guess I just don't like the "authentic" version of it with only keylime juice, egg yolks, and condensed milk. It's too sweet and tastes a bit gritty to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also lobster. I refuse to pay an arm and a leg for overcooked shellfish when I can get fresh ones (my mom lives in Florida) and cook them myself just the way I like them. I don't even like shrimp in many restaurants. Somehow many Chinese places seem to get them right, but that's about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frappuccinos and other expensive coffee drinks. I can make a better one at home for about a tenth of the cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: musicalchef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi MusicalChef: you might also get some ideas from http://keylimejuice.com/recipes.html I do like the "authentic" recipe myself, but I did notice some variations in the 'desserts' section on here that might be more to your palate. Nellie & Joe's is my favorite KL juice brand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Chicken and dumplings. My Mom spoiled me with these spoon-dropped, light and airy dumplings that floated on the broth and were well-seasoned with salt and pepper.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meatloaf, as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steamed okra.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Key lime cheesecake. (My take on key lime pie) No pudding. Graham cracker crust with secret ingredients.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Usually chili (but there are exceptions).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Would love to know the key lime cheesecake recipe (with secret ingredients!) That sounds divine!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Nothing. I'll eat pretty anything out, including stuff I take pride in making as well as anyone else. Many things that I don't eat out are because they aren't served in restaurants--dishes with organs and the like. Some things like carpaccio and sashimi, I'm more likely to eat at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. meatballs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Potato soup and French onion soup. The potato soup is always bland and gummy. French onion is usually too salty and not enough cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I won't say NEVER, but for me it's steak. I'm not a giant fan of steak to begin with so to pay $30 or more for something I can make at home in 15 minutes for far less money just isn't my thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Taking about average places: Bacon. I don't know how a diner could mess it up, but it's never quite right. Same goes for scrambled eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Sesame noodles. The Cooks Illustrated version is one of our go-to regular dishes now, and the results from the local restaurants has been terrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I can't even think about pumpkin pie if it isn't mine, my mother's or grandmother's (and yes, it's all the same recipe!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. This is an easy one - Gnocchi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The crazy thing is that I keep ordering them while I am out to try to find some good ones, but no one even comes close to homemade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. cannelloni (crab) and most Italian pasta dishes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Steak- rib eye
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                French onion soup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                egg salad sandwich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tuna salad sandwich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Milk shakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Risotto. I always want to but it's invariably disappointing. My wife loves it and orders it every now and again then stares at her plate and sighs that it's not as good as mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't do anything special to mine - I don't think - but I think getting the timing between switching off the heat, adding the last ladle of stock and stirring in the parmesan prior to covering before serving might be the key. Leave it two minutes too long and it goes goey rather than creamy. Skip this step - as I imagine many professional kitchens do - and it ends up as a splodge on a plate (and in the worst cases a crunchy rice splodge). It's not rocket science. In fact it's the precise time it takes me to go to the cupboard to get the plates, get a couple of pairs of hands washed and pour a couple of glasses of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Breakfast - I like to make my own eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, pancakes, etc. Everywhere I have gone the breakfasts seem really greasy and just rushed through.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If I am at a diner or restaurant in the early morning w/ friends or family I will most likely order a sandwich instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Seafood salad: shrimp, crabmeat and lobster on Bosten Bibb lettuce w/ white asperagus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. beef stew its the only one my family will eat and steak its hard to have steak cooked just the way you like with just saying rare med rare or med everyone has a different degree of doneness for those

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Oatmeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mexican rice and beans (except what gets served on the side at restaurants)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And tomato-based Pasta sauce (unless it's at a 'real' Italian restaurant). I got my basic instructions from an Italian girl so I'm pretty sure mine is usually better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I will also never order garlic bread, roasted or mashed potatoes or anything with Yorkshire pudding in a restaurant, because I know my husband will always make these better. Noone, myself included, can make potatoes quite like he can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with you on the oatmeal, especially since it costs about $8 in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also generally don't order sandwiches unless there's something special about them - artisanal bread, some hard-to-find ingredients, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. sausage gravy - you never know what you are going to get. IF I have a hankering I will sometimes ask the waitress for a sample first. But the very best is to make your own using the white sauce recipe on the box of kentucky Kernel seasoned flour mix (in the grocery aisle with the Drake's mix, in a red and white checked box) and then add your favorite browned sausage (we use Old Folks which I can only find at Meijer stores in Michigan) We use butter or margarine to make the white sauce rather than the sausage grease in order to keep the gravy from being too greasy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            laughed at the comments re hidden items in burritos or enchiladas.. when my son was small he asked where the road kill disappeared to .. I asked if he'd ever had a burrito.. at 28 we still chuckle about that one

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. hummus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                most cookies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                lemon curd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                also because these sorts of things just aren't worth paying the mark-up for, when it's not that difficult to make on my own. i like to order things that would require a little more effort (for myself to make) - you know, bang for my buck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. This is an interesting thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Basmati rice (though I was born in the region I'm not south east asian, my mom taught me how to cook rice, and in my opinion it's perfect)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Stuffed grape leaves (I'm middle eastern, and it varies from region to region, while I don't hate how other people make it I prefer my own way/ethnic style)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Stir-fries (I like them fresh, not too crunchy, and not overcooked or with gooey starchy sauces/coatings)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Pasta (like it al-dante - harder, it always arrives softer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Any tomato sauce (I'm picky about skins so I always make my own, anything with tomato, even ketchup *yes ketchup most of the time has little ground up skins* Makes it hard to eat out)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Couscous (I don't like how it's added to other recipes, makes it soggy, like it plain with stews)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Eggs (I just can't get myself to)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fruit (any chopped fruit, I must cut my own fruit fresh) fruit salads are out and fruit platters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Falafel - because my mother makes the best and everyone we've ever known who tasted it can confirm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Any ethnic recipes (middle eastern/egyptian/lebanese/iraqi food) I don't even bother eating/ordering them out. Feels like a rip off.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Funny how I don't even bother eating indian food out, because it's just not the same, I've learned to make it well and it's a pleasure to eat it from my south-east-asian friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You never order pizza in a restaurant? How do you make yours?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not really, I have yet to discover a nice gourmet pizzaria :) For now I'm perfectly content with mine, I buy a prepared pizza dough and turn my oven on super hot (my BF's oven is great, it's old but for some reason it's better than any oven I had) and then I start throwing toppings on the pizza.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I make yummy zatar and cheese breads like this too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I stopped buying the prepared dough and now make my own using a recipe from chowhounds. Sooooooooo much better!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree about the grape leaves, no one makes 'em like my Mom. Or me. They're always too soggy and oil laden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Lasagna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tuna Salad/Egg Salad/Chicken Salad Sandwiches
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Turkey stuffing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Pesto. I make gallons in the summer during basil season, thne freeze it in small containers and eat it all year long. The only time I'll eat it out is as a spread on a sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Eggs, any preparation. I just hate everyone else's. Broccoli usually overcooked. Meatloaf. Chili, brownies, muffins and quiche. I hate most people's quiche.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: anreader

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            funny i can't stand broccoli al dente... don't care for the taste, so i don't often eat others' because it's not cooked *enough* for me. what are your brownie and muffin preferences?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Veal sweetbreads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chocolate cake. Taste aside, most restaurants serve chocolate cake at the wrong temperature - cold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pasta Putanesca and Tripe .........unless a eatery has it as one of their signature dishes there just a token addition this also goes for local pizzaria Lasagna which I would never serve to company

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Pecan Pie. I've never found a decent version at any restaurant or store. Their first mistake is using cheap/old/stale pecans, or pecans that have a low oil content. The second error is storage--it just doesn't store for very long. The pecans are nice and crispy when they come out of the oven, but they can very quickly become soft or soggy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Potato Soup, bacon, steak, chocolate chip cookies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Any German recipe since my mother's was always the best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Cornbread! What is up with restaurant cornbread? Nasty!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I agree with everyone about steak. Overpriced and overcooked, most of the time. Also, chicken, cookies, cheesecake, and scrambled eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Pie, about 90% of the time. I can tell just by looking at it, usually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. steak au'poivre - sooo many diff versions out there and I fell in love with it many moons ago at La Provence in Lousianna. I worked as a bus girl for George and spent many years trying to do it "his way" and can, but can't find a good one when I'm out. (back in 1975)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I meant Chris - where in the heck did I get George!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I tried making steak au poivre about a month ago and it ended up too salty. Do you have a favored recipe to share?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tehama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                my kitchen is mostly packed up waiting for a renovation project that's start date keeps getting pushed out but I promise - when I put my finger on it, I'll send it along. It's simple and fast, I remember that much - everythign else must be ready! I could guess but there is a thread about that going around - wouldn't want to steer you wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Risotto, chicken and dumplings (canned biscuts or tortillas for dumplings?? Yikes!!!), Alfredo-always tasteless; I go against the grain and add a bit of white wine to mine, Brussels sprouts (boiling gives them a bad name), mac and cheese (those white sauces with cheese are either tasteless or get dried out. I find that the best base comes from Velvetta, cream cheese, heavy cream, Worchestershire sauce, garlic, and some good shredded sharp cheddar. It has to be topped with bacon and some sort of crumbs mixed with butter with more cheddar sprinkled on top. It is actually still saucy when you reheat it later. It's devine and is the only reason I'll touch Velvetta.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Scones. When I was a teenager on special occasions I would always peruse allrecipes for a few days, make a special trip to the grocery store, then wake up very early and bake three scones for breakfast with my parents. It was always sort of a massive undertaking and the scones were never perfect, but they were hot and had amazing flavor. I just can't enjoy scones without the accompanying labor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fried rice. My family makes it healthily, just with frozen peas, eggs, and salt + pepper. Aside from a tiny bit to scramble the egg we add NO oil to the dish, so the rice remains perfectly white. Yummy and healthy with sriracha.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: clacidic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree about scones. When I make them they are round and thick and fluffy. I am always amazed at the flat, triangular rocks that pass for scones in most coffee shops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Risotto – virtually every restaurant in America par-cooks and then to cover up the piss-poor results they dump in cream or lots of butter or both into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steak – I can cook one at home, better and cheaper over real wood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pasta – I order it, but except in very rare occasions am usually disappointed, ironically the best pasta dishes I have had are usually in non-Italian restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Breakfast – As a general rule it is so over-priced that I get disgusted paying for such a simple meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bread – Most restaurants bread is sorely lacking, those who attempt to cook it in-house usually fail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Crab Cakes – Are virtually a failure at every restaurant, however there are some places that are good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ANY BBQ – Where the restaurant thinks putting BBQ sauce on something is Q.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. pecan pie. I've spoiled myself to my own. And, no, I don't share the recipe. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cheffrank

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What's the secret? How do you grill lobster so that it is not tough and overcooked? I never order grilled (or broiled) lobster and I never make it for that very reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not for the squeamish. We grilled lobster (oiled, on a very hot grill, for just a minute or two)--once. But it required killing the live lobster with a sharp knife inserted at the base of the head and then hacking it in half. It was rough; my husband couldn't even help me, he was so freaked out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was served with a spicy butter (orange zest, chipotle, parsley), and it was delicious. But I wouldn't do it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Pasta - unless it's ravioli, I don't make that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. There's nothing I woudn't try in a restaurant just because I like my own version. My taste habits aren't that strong, and I wouldn't mind learning that someone else in the world can actually make it better, whatever "it" is. Wouldn't eat meatloaf out, but that's because I don't go out to eat just meatloaf. <grin>

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: armagnac

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great attitude! I even eat meatloaf out if I'm in need of comfort food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I refuse to eat eggs or grits in any restaurant, but I'll eat them at home. I'm also picky about cheese in restaurants. It has to be good, quality cheese, not American slices and not the pre-shredded in a bag junk. Same for restaurant mashed potatoes - they have to be real mashed potatoes and not loaded up with fake butter for "flavor."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. At the top of my list, I would put mussels. I am always a little wary of the freshness and cleaning methods used. Nobody makes them like mom taught me to make them. The shells are scrubbed and beards removed... the shells are opened... the mussel meat scraped from its attachment. Slice potatoes. Begin layering rows of mussels & potato, topping each layer with a bread crumb mixture which includes garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese. Drizzle each layer with evoo. The top layer should be the potatoes topped with the crumb mixture and more evoo. Bake them in the oven until potatoes are done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This can also be done "senza patate" (without potatoes) in a single layer like we did this past Christmas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I don't ever go out to eat unless there's something on the menu I can't make better (to my mind, at least).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Lamb. Any kind of lamb. No one can match my family's recipes, and no one in the states seems to "get" what it's supposed to taste like. I'm part Turkish so we eat lamb a lot. Even in fancy places they've never managed to taste right. Some of the middle eastern restaurants in the area do it pretty well, but they can't beat my kebabs. And the fancy places can't beat my leg of lamb or my rack of lamb or chops. I've known people who hate lamb yet have been known to fight over my chops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, my shish kebab recipe is cub leg of lamb that I put into a yogurt, olive oil, allspice, s & p, and garlic marinade over night, or for a few hours. Then grill or put into the broiler.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And allspice is magical with lamb. Even just a pinch or two. Lets the delicate flavor out but counter acts any muttony taste the lamb may have.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok... I cave... what is your secret for leg of lamb and lamb chops?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Andria

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lamb chops get a pinch of allspice too. Just a pinch. Then maybe a little garlic and olive oil smeared over them, or some fresh rosemary. For leg of lamb also a bit of allspice all over it, then whatever takes yr fancy; a mustard smear, rosemary in the roasting pan, etc. It's just that pinch of allspice that makes the difference. Then again my lamb follows a more middle eastern trend, but I have successfully made many of the Julia Child recipes for leg o' lamb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just made and ate for the first time in my life lamb chops. I thot they were great (on the grill for brief minutes w/ S&P) but yea! I can see / taste some rosemary and allspice and some mustard! Thank you CosmoGirl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Chicken Marsala. It is never the same in any restaurant and my family and I like mine best!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I *hate* when restaurants make this dish too sweet. Ugh. Homemade is truly best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Hot chocolate. Most places use syrup or cocoa (which to me is chocolate with all of the good stuff taken out), with water or "fake milk" (skim or 2%). I use whole milk with at least 2 oz of high quality chocolate per cup, and of course top it off with whipped cream.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Come to Germany; wonderful hot chocolates *everywhere* here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Funny you should say that. I had friends visiting from Germany a few years ago, and they loved my hot chocolate. I got the impression that it was the best they had ever had. After they returned to Germany they told me that they were still thinking about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. RICE AND BEANS. I have no idea why Mexican restaurants think I'd be interested in eating totally unseasoned beans in a clear watery sauce that had to come straight from the can. And there's no point in trying to make up for it with rice covered in a dusty reddish spice mix that makes it harder to eat but still manages to be totally flavorless. Or if they do something with the beans, they mush them up with cream, obliterating the texture but still managing to leave them TOTALLY FLAVORLESS! Beans have got to be cooked with bay leaf from the beginning, then once they soften up a bit you add onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, along with salt and pepper. Some bits of smoked pork or a few parsley sprigs are nice but not essential. Also, never presoak: there`s no need for it (just cook them when you're home for a couple of hours at a stretch) , and it makes them mushy. Near the end of cooking time, smoosh up some of the beans to thicken the sauce. I didn't grow up eating them with hot sauce, but now as an adult I like a shake or two. The rice can be white or brown; the important thing is to saute it a bit before steaming, with minced onion or garlic if desired--it should not stick together like Asian steamed rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              SALADS. I hate iceberg lettuce--gag on it--and even the ribs in romaine are too much for me. I haven't found a restaurant (in my usual price range) that doesn't use at least some proportion of watery white ribs in its salad mix. Plus, I'm a little squeamish about someone else touching my raw produce and I can't stand even a hint of an off-flavor like fruits and vegetables get from being stored improperly in the fridge. That's why I never ever eat fruit salad in restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              COOKIES. Cookies are simple treats, best made at home. Storebought cookies always taste stale, they're usually way too sweet and they tend to be full of stale chunks of nuts or chocolate. My only exception is Pepperidge Farms Bordeaux cookies--always crisp, with their elusive caramel flavor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: csdiego

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PF Bordeaux's love em! ...Linzers ain't bad either!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Tea, unless I am in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pork chops (or any similar grilled porky item)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My aforementioned Nicoise salad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Roast chicken


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It isn't a food item but bourbon and soda...you think that one would be a snap!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Almost any pasta unless I have the good fortune to be at Lupa, which serves the best pasta dishes I've ever eaten in the US (with the possible exception of pappardelle w/rabbit sugo at Union Square Cafe two or three years ago, which I allowed myself to order--and have thanked myself for, ever since.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My husband orders it often, almost always confirming for me my preference for my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. French Toast
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Creamed Spinach
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Roasted Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dessert / Bakery Items - very few exceptions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I used to be that way about chicken in the US, because I really don't want to eat "battery chicken." Thankfully, many places now serve free range chicken, and say so on their menus, so I can choose it if I like. That said, I like my roast chicken better than anyone elses..... ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I agree about tea in restaurants; for the most part they don't boil the water and so the tea is bitter and flavourless. However, I have had some great tea in Indian restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've never ordered a hot dog in a restaurant. Not because I make the best ones, it just seems like a weird thing to go out for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I will only eat collard greens if my mother makes them. The others I've tried are either laced with hot sauce, taste too fresh (b/c they're cooked w/o ham-hock or turkey) or they're too bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Tortilla Espanola

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No one cuts the potatoes for the tortilla properly. It's always cut into cubes instead of irregular but similar sized pieces. And the potato must be fried first! I'd rather do it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, paella is always too much. I realize it's time intensive, but its always overpriced.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: graffitipassion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Can you share the recipe for Tortilla Espanola as you make it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Alan N

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unfortunantly, I can't find the exact recipe that my Dad wrote down, but it's so simple that I can explain it here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 russet potatoes, peeled, and cut irregularly into 1.5 inch peices *
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 eggs (or enough to barely cover potatoes when finished cooking)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1/2 large onion, large dice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lots of vegetable oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Combine the potatoes and onions into a bowl to prep for cooking. Heat large skillet with a few cups of vegetable oil. SLOWLY fry the potato and onion. You don't really want them to even get very brown around the edges. Just soft and cooked through. Pull them out and drain on paper towel. THis may take a couple batches. Let cool. Salt potatoes and eggs lightly. Put in potatoes in bowl and cover with beaten eggs. Pour back into a skillet that will form a pie about 1 and a half inches thick. Let cook on med low until the edges start to brown and when you shake the pan, the tortilla moves around smoothly. Place a plate over the pan, flip the entire tortilla onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan (uncooked side down). Continue to cook the other side until tortilla is cooked in the center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Serve at room temp with tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * for the potatoes, my Dad always held it in his hand and carved off chunks with a small knife. They looked like little mounds or little irregular pyramids, if that makes sense. He also rinsed the starch off before frying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: graffitipassion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the recipe. Simple and sounds very good. Tomato sauce not salsa? What type? When I make this I'm going to need to explore condiments.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. No one in my family eats italian spagetti sauce, marinara or ragu (gravy) out. It must be made at home from scratch. Plus it must go thru a food mill to rid it of tomato seeds or else it will be slightly bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. brownies and apple pie. there's nothing exotic in mine. i just haven't been able to find any versions of them "out" that taste like homemade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: katydid13

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I second apple pie. I don't know if I'm making it right of not but give me an award winning pie and I probably won't like it. Love my pie just the way I make it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Off the top of my head:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pesto. I blanch the basil, lightly toast the pinenuts--and add plenty, use very good olive oil, don't overdo the garlic. I swear by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Boeuf Bourguignonne, because I use the Cook's Illustrated recipe, and it's so insanely good I can't imagine any restaurant version could compare.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rustic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm gonna try your pesto ideas. Mine usually sucks, and I don't like store bought versions too much either. But I've had some wonderful restaurant versions in the past, so I know pesto can be delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Mac and cheese. If you don't use sharp cheddar, chipotle pepper powder (to cut the greasy blunt taste of fat and carbs) and a little garlic powder, I can't eat it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Isoldamay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Any particular reason you use garlic powder and not actual garlic? I'm all about lots of minced garlic in the pan before i build my roux.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LukesBride

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I actually tried it with real garlic (my preference in most other recipes), but found the taste didn't balance well. My version recreates the taste of Beecher's Mac and Cheese (Seattle) as closely as possible. Rather than adding the powder to the roux, as you'd do with fresh garlic, I just stir in the garlic powder and chipotle pepper powder when I add the warm milk to the roux, but before beginning the addition of the cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Mashed potatoes. It seems many Americans see nothing wrong with using powdered mashed potatoes and that's all i'll be thinking if I ordered them in a restaurant!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lorry13

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Until I learned to cook for myself, I hated mashed potatoes because all my mother used was the boxed kind. She didn't like potatoes, so didn't think they were worth the effort to boil and mash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I only eat "liver and Onions" out because my wife won't allow it in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Salmon teriyaki. no one does it right and teriyaki sauce is one of the easiest sauce to make. it's always this overly sweetened gelatinous goop. if i go out for japanese i rarely eat cooked items not unless i was at an izakaya or eating yakitori but i started to order it recently for my toddler when we went out. he refused to eat it so i tasted it and i figured out why. otherwise, he loves teriyaki salmon made at home.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oysters/clams on the 1/2 shell-i'm not paying a 500% markup for someone to put an unadorned raw item on a plate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                shrimp cocktail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cheese plate- same principle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                anything with "statler" in the name
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                boneless skinless chx sandwiches- almost always wicked dry & boring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                chili can be very risky, i usually need some endorsments before i'll try it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                entree salads are usually lame and i make mine very lovingly at home

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Would you be willing to share your recipe, trolley? My husband recently started eating salmon again, and I made a throw-together teriyaki that was decent (although I burned it under the broiler) but not memorable. It's one of those things that is so simple that it needs to be done right...balanced and not cloyingly sweet. I'd love to have a good tried-and-true recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bear

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    bear, it's so simple and the challenge can be getting the right ingredients depending on where you live. I live in LA so I have no problem. The following is my recipe for the sauce. you can adjust the amount of the ingredients to your taste. This should be enough for 1/2lb of fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1tbsp sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2Tbsp Mirin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1tsp of sake (optional i make it without for my toddler and it's fine)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In a small saucepan add all the ingredients until it comes to a rolling boil. Let sauce sit for about 10 min to thicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's it! all i do is place the salmon (i get wild alaskan) in the oven for 10-12 min at 425. then i coat the fish with the sauce and put it under the broiler for a minute or so to get a glaze. The last step has to be done vigilantly as the salmon can burn pretty quickly. drizzle some on top before you serve the fish with hot rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I use the same recipe, although sometimes I add a bit of sesame oil and some fresh ginger or garlic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks so much, trolley and cg. I know what we're having for dinner this week! Can't wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Shortbread. Always disappoints. *Everyone* kneads it too much/overbakes it/uses too much sugar/rolls it too thin/bakes it at too high a heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. crab cakes I'm from louisiana so I get fresh crabs(live) cook em and pick em and make cakes with more crab than cake (usually use claw meat) and an awsome dip for them - shrimp fritters also made with fresh caught shrimp more shrimp than fritter. I'm totally spoiled with seafood and I hope BP does'nt get it ruined forever! and fried green tomatoes , usually to greasy when ordered out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Polenta. It needs to cook for five hours to get it right.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How do you make ? I'm very interesting in learning an authentic or good recipe. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Salmon. I don't like it dry and I don't like it underdone. Just right. Only me and my mom can do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Cornbread. It's always too sweet and/or too dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Spaghetti and meatballs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fried Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pulled pork/ribs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (DH makes those better than any others I've ever had)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most pastas unless in Italy or in a fine Italian resto
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Veal Milanese

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Blackened salmon. Chicken tortilla soup. Cookies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: marneybrown

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Blackened salmon? How do you do yours that you find it so superior?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, how do you do your Chx Tort Soup?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Eggs are not good out. I am spoiled by my creamy scrambled eggs and poached eggs with liquid yolks. And I'm getting better at a French omelet. I never knew eggs could taste so good! And grits. Always runny and bland when eaten out. I like my cooked cereals dense and with butter or even cheese on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Greek food. Just NO. Too Americanized, or too often it's fooled around with. Spanikopita, for example, doesn't need a lemon caper dipping sauce! (I saw this at a restaurant three years ago and took a picture of the menu to show my grandmother. She almost hit the roof.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also think that 99.9999% of restaurant waffles are garbage, mine are way better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I cant believe no one has mentioned risotto yet!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Chawanmushi - Japanese Egg Custard. Making them myself is the only way I'll get my golden ratio of goodies inside this delicacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Bread pudding! I do order it from time to time, but find that restaurants usually want to make it "decadent," with loads and loads of sugar. My version is more spartan, I guess--a reasonably healthy weeknight dessert. Truth to tell, we sometimes eat it for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chicken piccata. Kind of an odd one, but I hate anyone else's. Usually because it's all soggy or oversalted.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sorry, meant to re thread

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Smoked Fish Dip. Gets dumbed down with fillers, little if any smoked fish, fish you should not smoke if it is done over any smoke at all. When I was working in Miami it was served with jalapeños and salsa because it needed it for taste!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eddmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    eddmo, pretty please share your recipe for the smoked fish dip? ♥♥ smoked fish and eat smoked kippers about twice a week...thanks if you can share your method!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Eggs. I like scrambled eggs not runny or raw at all, not over done and brown, and cooked in butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. omelets (i like them wet/creamy /baveuse in french.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      scrambled eggs . i want them creamy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't care to eat just about anything out anymore. I am very experimental at home in my cooking and love to try different dishes from different cultures. The two exceptions are steaks and sushi. Some restaurants just can get a better grade of meat than I can. I will not make sushi at home because I am afraid I won't be able to get the proper fresh sushi grade fish. And the local sushi place does such a nice job and it is all you can eat! I have been on a quest for the perfect hamburger, but so far I am totally disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: EmJayC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with you on the sushi EmJayC. I go to the experts for sushi. I never eat halibut out because most restaurant cooks can't seem to understand that halibut cooks very fast and there is a fine line between perfectly done and ruined. I make my own at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Eggs. I don't trust anyone to get eggs right except myself, my dad and my daughters (because they've been taught well!) Gumbo and Jambalaya, because it is downright offensive what some people call by those names. You can't just add tomato sauce, cayenne and okra and call it cajun, ugh. Same for Key Lime Pie. That's a very specific thing, and that thing is NOT lime flavored pudding topped with Cool Whip. I never get seafood unless I am very near the coast, and even then only if I can tell by the smell of the restaurant (usually I can) whether or not it's fresh or frozen. Does anybody else get kind of upset when their native dishes are butchered?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I like meatloaf, but I never order it out because I don't know of what ingredients it is made.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ChiliDude, I saw something very interesting on TV and found it to be so true that I NEVER order meatloaf out either. One of the big reasons meatloaf is almost always on "special" at restaurants, is because so much of it is made using bread crumbs as a filler. Stale bread (Lord tell me it's not the uneaten bread from the bread baskets) is ground and put into the meatloaf to give it bulk and save on using more meat. Try putting leftover restaurant meatloaf in your microwave oven and see what happens. It runs!! There is so much crumb mixture that when it gets moistened and heated it runs all over the plate. I've always wondered why this happens. Acccckkkk!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. As the Muffin Lady, I never eat Muffins out because they are usually dried out, a day old, reheated in an attempt to taste fresh or just horridly bland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Fried eggs......I like my yolks so that I can still dip my toast into it, but all the whites have to be cooked. I can't eat runny whites.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KitchenKraic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been noticing that lately and wondering if its just bad luck on my part!! To me, serving a fried or sunny-side up egg with an incompletely cooked white is inexcusable; not only is it disgusting, but its not that difficult to avoid! Aren't eggs supposed to be the province and specialty of greasy-spoon, diner style restaurants? What's going on if they can't even manage to churn out a decent fried egg?!?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Anything with white sauce/cheese sauce. Mine is nothing special. I just like it this way. Tea. And of course, curry or any other Indian/sub-continental food. Nothing beats my home cooked deshi food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I just can't abide the pink and white and limp bacon that comes with any restaurant breakfast. Cook it 'til it's brown and crispy! Also, I never order grilled cheese sandwich or tuna sandwich when dining out. (Lunching out?) Grilled cheese wants sharp cheddar and real butter, and tuna must not be soiled with that thing in a jar they call "pickle relish."

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must live in different parts of the country, RosePearl. The version of tuna salad that I was raised on contains pickle relish, and I never order it out because restaurant/deli versions here in the northeast don't ever seem to make it that way.