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10 recipes all home cooks should make at least once

As we move into the New Year, one of my resolutions is to change up my cooking habits. I cook about 4 times a week, including full 5-6 course meals on the weekends. Although I am pretty adventurous, I tend to stay away from some of the more difficult recipes, like rack of lamb – (not the kind mom makes, but the kind that would be served in a 3 Star joint). So I am looking for suggestions on the top 10 recipes a home cook has to make at least once.

Suggestions?

Cheers

BD

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  1. Interesting post. Can you elaborate a little more on what you are looking for? Are you just thinking of degree of difficulty, like souffles? Or are you looking for classics that we don't make at home so much, like coq au vin? You mention rack of lamb, but that isn't really that difficult, so I'm just wondering what kinds of things you are looking for.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Shane Greenwood

      A bit of both. I generally steer away from the difficult for obvious reasons, but I am also looking for some classics. My brother is a professional chef, so I have some decent culinary skills, but just get caught in a rut. I had already thought that coq au vin would be a good one to add.

      1. re: gr8spawn

        Yeah, coq au vin is a good one. Just make sure you don't use a regular store bought chicken, get yourself a good capon. Or you can use a recipe that has been adjusted for the young, tender chickens they sell in more markets in America. Cooks Illustrated has such a recipe. An authentic coq au vin should take about 24 hours. So worth it.

        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          SG: so true. I did an experiment a couple of years ago -- I made both a traditional coq au vin out of a French cookbook with no shortcuts and also the Cooks Illustrated version and had a side by side tasting with good friends. The CI version was very good but the traditional version was sublime! And very time-consuming. Buit I think I am reving up to do it again....

    2. Xiao Long Bao - Soup Dumplings...Arduous, small, but totally worth it...You may even want to try to do a dim sum night...

      Here's a link to get you started:

      http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/04...

      1 Reply
      1. re: soypower

        Good call. I will add it to the list. Reminds me of some of the dim sum i had in China

        Thanks

        BD

      2. I think making your own stuffed pasta from scratch is something everyone should make at least once. You'll appreciate your Italian restaurants so much more afterward! Try making a tortellini.

        Oh, and gnocci is a good one to make too. Seems so simple. But it takes some practice. The good part is, you can still eat the ones that don't look right.

        1. OK. Here are my 10 entries on this:

          General Tso's Chicken
          Chinese Turnip Cake (traditionally served for Chinese New Year - this year on Jan. 26)
          Chicken Tikka Masala
          Slow roasted pork picnic shoulder
          Meatloaf, gravy & mashed potatoes
          Quiche Lorraine (or any other tasty variety of quiche)
          Beet-Apple-Walnut Salad
          Caponata (A great appetizer or snack for picnics, boating, etc. or while watching a ball game.)
          Standing Rib Roast
          Tarte Tatin

          I chose these based on enjoyment and satisfaction with the results, balanced against the time and effort required.

          I would also encourage everyone who enjoys home cooking to try their hand at making yeast breads. It can be very rewarding.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sam D.

            Chicken Tikka Masala interests me. It varies wildly and the best I've had was in a restaurant in So of England. It was not at all creamy but had a clear tomato taste, most recipes I find call for addition of cream. What is your version?

            1. re: serious

              Here is the recipe I have used. This one calls for equal amounts of cream and tomato sauce.

              http://www.recipezaar.com/Chicken-Tik...

              This recipe got over 100 reviews and was top rated on Recipezaar. This is a fairly easy dish to make, despite the long ingredient list. The prep time given includes marinating time. This is a spicy recipe so if you're not into hot & spicy, cut back on the jalapeno and red pepper.

              1. re: Sam D.

                Thank you, I'll make it just as indicated.

              2. re: serious

                Try a Murgh Makhani--also known as butter chicken in GB. Awesome version is in Fearnly Whittingstales book Meat.

            2. Here is my list

              1.A traditional Cassoulet
              2. A homemade Mole
              3.A whole roasted pig
              4.Spanakopita
              5.Braised Lamb Shanks
              6.Braised Short Ribs
              7.Crepes
              8.Souffle
              9.A Stuffed pork loin
              10. Baklava

              These are all really big crowd pleasers.

              1. some repeats from other lists:

                1. coq au vin
                2. mole
                3. cioppino
                4. roast suckling pig
                5. homemade ravioli
                6. salt crusted whole fish
                7. any soufle
                8. chocolate truffles
                9. your favorite Indian dish from scratch
                10. paella

                1. 1. paella
                  2. crown roast of pork
                  3. souffle
                  4. pheasant consomme
                  5. risotto
                  6. bread
                  7. turkey mole
                  8. rack of lamb
                  9. beef daube (just had it a restaurant in Paris and was to die for)
                  10. pissaladierre with homemade puff pastry

                  1. I think if you're looking to broaden your culinary skills you should be looking at things that you generally don't make and that can improve your skills as well.

                    I'll go in a bit of a different direction. I'll suggest a Lemon Meringue Pie. From scratch. Shell and all.

                    Making a pie shell is a bit of a challenge. It also lets you make a custard and a meringue.

                    I like the idea above about a mole. As I understand it, it's one of the toughest things to make really, really well.

                    I would add that all cooks should at sometime or another make bread at home. And not in a bread machine.

                    DT

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Davwud

                      Interesting. I make yeast bread every week and I've been making lemon meringue pie from scratch since I was about 13, but there are lots of things on people's lists here that seem daunting to me. Suckling pig??? Would my oven be big enough?

                    2. Here's my list. Nothing difficult but some of the dishes take some time:

                      1. Homemade stock - it's so much better than canned that you might start making it on a regular basis!
                      2. Homemade pasta
                      3. A good, long simmered ragu
                      4. A proper braise, such as short ribs or osso bucco
                      5. Risotto
                      6. Bread made from scratch and hand kneaded
                      7. Pastry, as a building block to pies, quiches, etc.
                      8. A roast chicken
                      9. Homemade vinaigrettes - you can experiment with endless combinations and come up with your own signature 'house' dressing
                      10. Any dish you absolutely love and would like to know how to make. Find a good recipe and go for it!

                      If you do a search on this board you will find excellent recipes and suggestions for the above including classics such as Zuni Roast Chicken, Marcella's ragu and Lucques Short Ribs.

                      1. Love the topic!
                        I'm a baker, and will do anything once, so my favorite project so far has been croissants. I suppose if you have ready access to phenomenal, real croissants it may not be worth it, but I found them to be surprisingly easy, just somewhat time-consuming. However, the dough can sit in the fridge for a while, and you can shape and freeze to bake at a later date.
                        Related, puff pastry is another good one to have in the freezer, and even easier, as long as you're willing to obey the process.

                        Also would echo the suggestions of cassoulet and quiche. I made the bacon and onion tart from CI a while ago - really wonderful for a weekend lunch!

                        It's easy to get stuck in a rut, even if my DH or others don't see it as such - this is a great resolution! Have fun!

                        1. Braised Short Ribs are a must. Any recipe you can find is worth trying. Personally I prefer using the one in the Babbo Cookbook or Think Like a Chef by Tom Coliccio.

                          1. You know what most people don't get -- or create -- a chance to make: Full-blown, Fred Flintstone, super meaty beef ribs. If they find beef ribs, whole, in the market, they are trimmed so close that the only meat is between the bones, not on top of them.

                            A real treat -- expensive, but worth it (not wasted) -- is to go to the Costco or Sams or (if you want to spend more for the same meat) your specialty butcher, and buy a whole 7-rib rib roast, bone in... and ask him to cut off the rack of ribs, BUT leave a good half or 3/4-in. of meat on the bones. I did this once. Cooked the rib roast for one event. Then did a slow-smoke on the rack of ribs, with just S&P and garlic powder and a little cayenne, with hickory and mesquite in the smoker at about 250 for I think about 6 hours, till the meat became tender. I find that beef ribs need very low temp, very long time, to get tender without drying out. Nothing like holding that Flintstone rib in your hand, BBQ sauce on the side for dipping. Yabba Dabba Doo!!

                             
                            2 Replies
                            1. re: woodburner

                              Those ribs sound awesome, and can you just imagine the happy smiles on your guest faces.

                              1. re: Analisas mom

                                You are right about the smiles! I made them for a group and they couldn't believe it.

                            2. 1. Eggs Benedict
                              2. Tenderloin with Bordelaise
                              3. Chicken noodle soup from scratch.
                              4. Spaghetti
                              5. Short ribs braised in wine
                              6. Risotto
                              7. Chocolate cake
                              8. Thanksgiving Dinner (I know it's not a single recipe, but many)
                              9. Alfredo Sauce
                              10. Cheese cake.

                              Let me just add an 11th category of fried chicken.

                              1. What a great topic. Echoing some of the others below (and betraying some of my Southern/Midwestern bias a little):

                                1. Fried chicken
                                2. Cream biscuits
                                3. Bread and butter pickles
                                4. Braised cabbage
                                5. Full-time, all-out cassoulet (bonus points for making your own sausage)
                                6. Scratch falafel
                                7. Peking duck
                                8. French fries
                                9. Argentine-style chicken empanadas
                                10. Buche de Noel

                                1. like classics, but you seem like you cook alot.

                                  I like to add some unique dishes which I already saw like
                                  Oso Busco
                                  Braised short ribs are a must
                                  Rack of lamb is so easy at home just like a 5 star restaurant
                                  Same with Prime Rib ultra easy to make
                                  Crown Pork Roast, again not difficult
                                  Crepes, easy and can be alot of fun to try different fillings
                                  Eggs benedict made many different ways ... fun for breakfast or lunch and you can use
                                  many different variations not just the traditional ingredients
                                  Roast cornish hens
                                  Duck
                                  Sushi made at home

                                  Just my thoughts, I actually make these. They aren't hard and a fun adventure. I make cornish hens once a month, also try buffalo, you can get it at some specialty shops and especially out west compared to the south. It is amazing.

                                  1. Well, here is my list:
                                    1.) Macaroni and cheese- using various cheeses, bacon/pancetta/some type of meat, etc, etc...basically making a gourmet mac n cheese
                                    2.) Meatloaf and mashed potatoes- basic old fashioned recipes
                                    3.) Spaghetti and meatballs (with homemade spaghetti noodles, homemade meatballs, and homemade sauce)
                                    4.) Sushi
                                    5.) Homemade pizza
                                    6.) Homemade from scratch chocolate cake
                                    7.) Homemade ice cream
                                    8.) Indian curry
                                    9.) Quiche
                                    10.) Lasagna

                                    1. Here's my Top Ten in no particular order:

                                      Pad Thai
                                      Duck a l'orange
                                      Crown Roast of Lamb
                                      Paella with all fresh foods (fresh squid, shrimp, scallops, of course clams and mussels)
                                      Beef Wellington - whole of individuals
                                      Chiles Rellano
                                      Tamales
                                      Lemoncello
                                      Handmade and stuffed Sausage
                                      Handmade ice cream/granita/gelato

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: KiltedCook

                                        I like the Duck al'orange and the Paella!!!

                                      2. This is interesting. I really had to think about it. Since I never follow instructions well I'm not going to give ten dishes. Instead I'm thinking about how you said you wanted to change your habits and try more difficult dishes. A lot of the suggestions are good - certainly roasting a whole pig would qualify as a non-habitual and difficult dish! But maybe the dishes other people suggest are things you've done or things you don't really want to do.

                                        So - I would suggest you look at techniques you've never tried. That might lead to one dish or many. Kshrimp's idea of croissants is a good one, a whole new type of pastry to experiment with. Once you master it you can try several different things in that family. Similarly Shane Greenwood's suggestion of stuffed pasta - there are lots of dishes to make in that family.

                                        Also it's good to try an ingredient you've never cooked with - something that's quite unusual or a real challenge to work with.

                                        1. Mine are pretty basic, aside from Peking Duck (which I haven't made yet):
                                          Peking Duck
                                          Biscotti
                                          Meringue
                                          BBQ (slow roasted) pork shoulder
                                          Stock
                                          Christmas Yule Log
                                          Bread
                                          Pate
                                          Pie dough & Pate a choux
                                          Candied violets, cranberries...