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What Recipe or Dish or Technique Gives You Grief?

I find that I can make most anything I'd want to eat as with many of the chowhounds here.

But . . . I have a heck of a time with pie crusts. My main problem is crimping the edges. My crusts taste fine, but the edges look like I've had a couple or more bottles of wine beforehand. My Mom has shown me over and over how to do a nice crimp, but . . . it's not happening.

Anything that you find that you can't seem to master?

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  1. This is not a dish or technique, but I really dislike sifting, but it's a necessary step for me, especially when using powdered sugar. There's no way to go around it!

    1. I can not make Mee krop...probably can't spell it either. Enjoy eating it out. Have tried a few recipes and I can not get the texture rt. its just too chewy...is not crisp and then quickly dissolving. Close but just not there. Can't remember the last time I set out to make something and couldn't make it after a few tries . Annoying!!!

      1. As much as I love eating Thai food, when I read a recipe for a Thai dish, my mind just goes blank. I can't imagine the recipe somehow.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sueatmo

          I think you have to look at 'Thai' food and think of the ingredients and elements that make up their cuisine. When you start remembering that Basil, Chiles, Curry, Fish Sauce, and peanuts are all key components it makes it a lot easier to compose a dish.

        2. Preparing and cleaning raw chicken is my kryptonite (sigh).

          7 Replies
          1. re: lilgi

            Making dumplings that float and don't sink is difficult for me. I made them properly once, but now they seem to elude me. My grandma Mimi made the best chicken and dumplings ever. She probably turns over in her grave seeing my feeble attempts now.

            1. re: dratlover

              I hate rolling out cookie dough. I can do it fairly well, but what a PITA. And the thinner it needs to be rolled, the bigger the nuisance factor. The good news is that many times you can form the dough into a log, refrigerate, then slice and bake.

              1. re: soccermom13

                I'm not big on rolled cookies either, a shame really, because I have so many lovely cookie recipes based on rolled doughs. I also resort to the log technique, much less of a PITA. Ah well...pie crust and pasta are ok, though.

                I have egg shell egg issues. No matter what technique I use to crack, one handed, two hands, counter rap, rim of bowl rap, spoon smack, I always get eggshell in the product and egg white on the counter surface. I use the so called "egg magnetism" trick CHOW has on video right now, to remove wandering shell, been using that technique for years. Maybe it's just the nature of the egg beast, but there's always a bit of shell in my bowl.

                When I worked professionally, we just let the shell stand where it lay; when the eggs were beaten, the shell bits sank to the bottom of the container and were ultimately strained out. That's great for 8 dozen, not so for 2 singles.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  What's the egg magnatism trick? I use the shell to retrieve pieces of shell. Is that it?

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Use part of the eggshell to scoop out the fragment. For some reason, that eggshell is the only thing that will catch and hold onto the fragment (unlike a spoon which seems to make that little fragment run away!)

                    1. re: anova

                      I've noticed I have a harder time with egg shells getting in the eggs than I did 20 years ago. I blame the eggs.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        "I blame the eggs."

                        You have a point, blaming the eggs has occured to me also.

          2. i'm having heck of a time right now trying to make vietnamese Banh Bo Nuong.
            tried many a times and threw out many. i keep getting a chemical-flour-y smell that permeates the cake and i can't get much of a bottom crust. the top isn't right, nor does it taste as nice as the ones that can be bought. don't know who i can bother my woes with and i'm starting to think internet recipes are killing me...

            1. Biscuits. I try and try but always end up with hockey pucks. Very frustrating!

              3 Replies
              1. re: baseballfan

                Same here. I'm sure it's because I'm overworking the dough. And my few attempts at gnocchi have produced gruel. I'll eat a hockey puck biscuit, but I can't choke down potato/flour porridge.

                1. re: baseballfan

                  I made hockey pucks for years until I watched Nathalie Dupree do it back in the 80's when she had a show on Public TV. They must be wet and of course, White Lily flour. That worked well and then I discovered angel biscuits, Nathalie's recipe as well, which is on Epicurious.

                  But, I do have a problem with any oriental type of food. Really, that's why we have restaurants but most of the oriental restaurant food around here is worse than what I make, it's just not as good as what we had up North.

                  1. re: baseballfan

                    As small h said, it is probably overworking the dough on biscuits. Mix just barely and have it pretty wet. Use a light touch pat.

                  2. I have found that things that frustrate me are things I am overly intense about. Like bushwick, heck she cracked millons of eggs I bet, working. But to make single serving eggs, Oh no. (tried the knife technique?)
                    For me I see it as a learning curve. As intensely as I want it, I have perfection in my head, I fail. Heck, no. Did I honestly fail in the recipe or technique? i cannot judge that, I am way too close to it and my view of perfect. Mind you, years of experience as well as marrying my Philosophy degree with real life. l I have figured I sometime do set myself up.
                    Cooking is. It is from the heart and therefore close to it and how we imagine what we are creating will turn out.

                    1. Pastry. I cannot make pastry to save my life. I've tried and tried so many different methods and I just can't master it. I should be able to make pastry well as my hands are always freezing cold, but no, I suck at pastry.

                      Like OP my mother has tried to show me how to make pastry over and over, but I seem to emit pastry destroying molecules from my hands. I have accepted this now and either buy or get someone else to make pastry for me.

                      1. For the first time EVER, 1 month ago, I made a pie crust that didn't shrink beyond belief.

                        The trick:
                        CI vodka crust
                        put in pan, dock with fork
                        freeze
                        line with foil
                        fill with dry beans
                        hollow out center of beans and place similar or slightly smaller pie dish inside
                        blind bake
                        leave pan and everything inside as it cools or else there will massive contraction and you'll cry

                        1. It's not so much that I can master the technique, as that it seems to get away from me on a regular basis: I scorch pea soup about 50% of the time. Problematic, as we eat a lot of it. (Also amplified, I know, by eating a lot of it.) I have a knack for burning it. Yeah, yeah...I know. I have a lot of shoulds in this department, but it seems that every time I even *blink* it's at the moment the pea soup scorches. We laugh about it here. The last pea soup turned out fine, but upon reheating it for weekend lunch, I scorched it. I'm hopeless.

                          1. I gave up on pot roast years ago -- dunno why, but it's always come out tough and dry...so I make bourgignonne instead. That comes out great every time.

                            My current bugaboo is brownies. I'm known far and wide for my cookies, but so far I can't make homemade brownies worth a damn (Duncan Hines is fine. Yike)

                            I'm currently facing my frustration, and am practicing with the Green & Black's chocolate recipe (that my friend produces effortlessly and perfectly every time, which drives me crazy) -- the Nick Malgiano Supernatural recipe (which is very similar to the G&B) -- and a recipe I found that supposedly is the same as the Roselyn Bakeries brownies that used to be made in Indianapolis.

                            So far I've thrown out hard, inedible chocolate rocks, and pans full of chocolate sludge, so I think I'm honing in on the baking times...

                            I have an excellent reputation as a cook...ain't it funny how something so simple could be so stupidly difficult?!

                            (to the OP -- I was making pies for Thanksgiving with my non-cooking former mother-in-law -- she basically cooked enough to keep herself alive -- and I crimped my piecrust as I have since my grandmother taught me how as a little girl. "Hmph!" she stormed "you didn't need to make yours all fancy and show off!" And with that, she threw her piecrust on the cabinet and stormed off to her bedroom, leaving me to finish the dinner. Yeah, THAT was a fun Thanksgiving)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Bummer on that Thanksgiving. If there is a good crimper around when I'm making pies, I gladly let them do that step (-: No need to sweat the small stuff I figure.

                            2. I used to make pork chops for my growing family and I remember them being tough a lot.

                              So, I stopped making pork chops. I either make pork tenderloin or pork roast now. At least those I can do decently.

                              I suck at pork chops. And I have been cooking for over 40 years.

                              When I go out to dinner at Italian restaurants and see friends order pork chops, I wonder why? Are pork chops really good? Then it must be me.

                              1. Breads. And also and cakes and cupcakes and cookies.

                                I can usually (not always) get them to come out, but they almost always taste... un-special. Ironically, I can make a good pie crust in my sleep, which is really all I've got going for me on the dessert front. It's the leavening part that gets me.

                                Similarly, I've been trying to make a pizza crust that holds up to my expectations for freakin years, with no major success.