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Jan 12, 2009 08:42 PM

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.




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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:

      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



      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.


              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
              5.Braised Lamb Shanks
              6.Braised Short Ribs
              9.A Stuffed pork loin
              10. Baklava

              These are all really big crowd pleasers.