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a
anakalia Sep 19, 2011 10:26 PM

I often see posts that reveal the poster is "scared" of cooking/ making a particular food item. I definitely have my own "fears" too. I'm not talking about unusual foods that most of us would be nervous about cooking (e.g. rack of camel, foraged mushroom stew (yum!), ant egg omelet, etc.), but rather about somewhat "normal" foods that we are, for some odd reason, frightened to try -- what are yours?

Mine are:

*Making my own yogurt (hoping my Indian mother-in-law will help me overcome this fear next time she visits

* Shellfish (I'm always so scared that I will undercook them, since I've just recently started cooking with them and, growing up in the Upper Midwest, I never watched my mother make them ,either). I've mastered the mussel, but just about anything else sends me into nervous fits that end up in hours of online recipe searches ;)

* Custards. They never turn out, and I'm always afraid I didn't bake them long enough to kill any possible bacteria, etc. Do I need some sort of thermometer for this?

  1. kubasd23 Nov 1, 2011 07:44 PM

    It sounds like such a simple thing, but a roasted chicken. Every time I've cooked one, it's been raw for the very inner inch. So frustrating!! Oddly enough my turkeys always end up fine... And grilling. Well, just grilling steak. I think it must be up too high, because it looks great on the outside, passes my doneness pressure test, and is still mostly raw!

    4 Replies
    1. re: kubasd23
      scubadoo97 Nov 2, 2011 12:35 AM

      Get an instant read thermometer.
      Also butterfly that chicken before roasting. It will cook faster and more evenly

      1. re: scubadoo97
        kubasd23 Nov 3, 2011 05:06 PM

        I've never tried spatch cooking chicken.... good idea! Yeah, I'm not sure the thermometer i'm using is the best... I'll have to try the temperature tricks, jvanderh. Ya know, LYB, I always read about moving the meat to the cooler part of the grill, but for some reason I always forget to do it!

      2. re: kubasd23
        j
        jvanderh Nov 2, 2011 04:10 AM

        Or start the bird at high heat and turn the oven down to 250. You can cook it for hours without it drying out, and it makes a far superior chicken, in my opinion.

        1. re: kubasd23
          l
          LovinYankeeBarbecue Nov 2, 2011 07:31 AM

          "... grilling steak. I think it must be up too high, because it looks great on the outside, passes my doneness pressure test, and is still mostly raw!"

          Once it gets to that point, just move the steak to a cooler part of the grill or turn the heat down and cook it for another five minutes. Be sure to rest the steak for 5-10 minutes after taking it off the grill. Then cut into it to check for doneness. If it's still not cooked enough, put it back on the low heat for a few minutes. If it's too done, there's not much you can do, but the meat will stay moist until it's way past well-done using this method. Either way, make a note of what happened and adjust the amount of time you keep the steak over the low heat next time.

        2. t
          tsl_saga Oct 3, 2011 05:31 PM

          I'm scared of Yorkshire Pudding. I am intrigued by it, but the whole really hot oils and lotsa smoke just push me away from trying it. I'm just scared that it would set the sprinkler off, and yes, one of the sprinkler is right above my stove.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tsl_saga
            s
            sandylc Oct 3, 2011 05:44 PM

            Try Beth Hensperger's cold oven popovers. They pop beautifully while contradicting all of the popover rules!

          2. peasantpalate Oct 3, 2011 09:31 AM

            I'm too nervous to make homemade jam and canned food, botulism scares me.

            1. s
              sandylc Oct 2, 2011 06:43 PM

              One thing I have finally figured out about cooking/baking at the great age of 50+ is that many things don't turn out perfectly the first time, and sometimes a few times after. What really works when things don't turn out perfectly is to make them frequently until you have it figured out. For example, make a pie once a week for a while. They will all be edible and will quickly become amazingly delicious.

              1. scubadoo97 Oct 2, 2011 06:13 PM

                I was going to say sea cucumber or jellyfish but since you are asking for normal then I don't have too many fears except baking because you have to measure which takes spontaneity and fun out of cooking for me.

                1. n
                  nsstampqueen Sep 22, 2011 11:51 AM

                  While I can't ever remember being to scared to try something - my fear is shopping in strange (as in not my usual place) markets or ethnic markets where they're crazy busy and I have no idea what things are (usually because of the language barrier on the labels). I have a couple of oriental markets I go to, but I have to push myself to do it, and then I usually wander around aimlessly for a long time trying to figure out if I want to try something or not. I know, I'm strange - I don't like big crowds either so that doesn't help.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nsstampqueen
                    r
                    Rella Sep 22, 2011 06:17 PM

                    Years ago we went to a market in Northern Virginia where Asian markets abound. The parking lot was sort of on a hill, so the first thing one had to tackle was holding the car door so it wouldn't double back in your face. The lot was full of activity. The entrance of the store was so full of people it took my breath away. Even though people were busy shopping, there was a loud ruckus going on about 20 feet away, in loud language arguing and sort of scuffing around like a fight might ensue.

                    We high-tailed it out of there. It was an experience.

                    Most time in the combination Asian/Hispanic markets, I find perhaps one person who can speak English to help me find anything, so we do seem to wander aimlessly around looking at cellophane packs of this, plastic containers by the hundreds on aisles and in coolers.

                    If you go to a large ethnic market, my unsolicited advice is to find a recipe you like, go in and concentrate on just the items you are going to buy; and surely you will be getting an education just looking for them.

                    Maybe wear a baseball cap with a big visor - those city lights blind me. :-)

                    1. re: nsstampqueen
                      chowser Sep 23, 2011 04:59 AM

                      I hate big crowds, too, so I look only at what's in front of me so I don't get overwhelmed. My BIL (parents born in the US, both are Asian) was at a Chinese store once and a couple of guys had some packages in their hands. They asked him what they were and what to do w/ them. My BIL read the package part that was written in English and said, "Well, it says it's xxxx." The guys laughed and said, "Figures we ask the one person in this place who only speaks English!" Generally, though, young(er) people almost always speak English and are willing to help (even if they can't like my BIL).

                    2. BananaBirkLarsen Sep 22, 2011 09:01 AM

                      For me, it's any sort of dumpling-like packet that should be dropped into boiling water to cook. I can never get the dough to seal properly and the fillings spill out into the water. Not that I don't continue to make ravioli and pirogi and all kinds of similarly stuffed things, I just find other ways to cook them, regardless of what the recipe says.

                      1. g
                        Goblin Sep 22, 2011 07:15 AM

                        I'm scared of deep frying, because I don't ever do it, and I don't ever do it because I'm scared of it! There must be a way out of this infinite loop! ;-)
                        Do those automatic electric deep-fryers actually work?

                        1. m
                          mandycat Sep 22, 2011 06:51 AM

                          Any recipe that that includes the words "roll up jellyroll fashion." From yule logs to stuffed flank steaks, nothing rolls up successfully for me. Either the stuff in the middle squirts out the ends or the outside stubbornly reverts to its original shape (except, of course, for the holes that have somehow appeared.)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mandycat
                            k
                            Kelli2006 Sep 22, 2011 08:11 AM

                            Its always easier to roll baked goods if you use a parchment liner because you're less likely to tear them because the rolling force is more spread out.

                            If the filling is coming out of rolled meats then you have likely used too much or you';re trying to roll it too tight. A little bit of butchers string is always helpful.

                            1. re: Kelli2006
                              m
                              mandycat Sep 27, 2011 08:09 AM

                              I'm encouraged to try the stuffed steak again. I have a recipe for matambre, flank steak that you stuff with vegetables and boiled eggs then braise in red wine and beef broth. It sounds delicious, especially served with chimichurri sauce. Maybe I'll be a big brave girl and try again. Nothing about the process was particularly daunting besides the rolling part.

                          2. e
                            emilyjh75 Sep 21, 2011 07:05 PM

                            I'm scared of seafood in general. Only because of unfamiliarity though... I grew up in a home of with no seafood whatsoever, so I just don't really have any idea in my mind what good seafood is. I don't know different types of fish, and have never tried many types of shellfish, so I don't even know what I would like. Also, I live inland, so the few small attempts I've made at seafood were pretty bad, because of the frozen, old nature of the stuff. Heck, I don't even know how to tell if a fish is even worth buying. Course, I could probably get fresh catfish or crawdads any day of the year, but I would really like to broaden my seafood horizons.

                            (I did once cook an ahi steak that turned out really nice, with a lemon aioli, two firsts for me! It was delicious, and gives me hope that I may find more seafood successes.)

                            I *should* be afraid of deep frying things, considering the injuries I have received over the years, including one trip to the ER, which resulted in a 8-week mitt and PT visits...but some things really are best fried.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: emilyjh75
                              p
                              pine time Sep 22, 2011 08:04 AM

                              +1 on the seafood (see upthread). Grew up in a household where the only fishy things were dad-caught-and-skinned (disgusting) or Mrs Paul's fish sticks (disgustinger).

                              1. re: pine time
                                e
                                emilyjh75 Sep 22, 2011 02:27 PM

                                Yep, same here. I spent many hours shelling crawfish that my dad and uncles would pull out of the gulf, but never cared much for it. And fish sticks...yeeechhh. I saw the response upthread about fish, but I don't really have any specific fear about it - more like I don't know where to start.

                              2. re: emilyjh75
                                j
                                jvanderh Sep 28, 2011 11:28 AM

                                With seafood, really you just sniff it. Fresh seafood will smell like nothing, or slightly like something delicious. Your nose knows.

                                1. re: jvanderh
                                  e
                                  emilyjh75 Oct 2, 2011 05:54 PM

                                  Yes, but what does one do when the only (mostly) fish available is frozen? Now that I'm typing this, I'm realizing that there may be more fresh fish options in my area that I'm not aware of simply because I've never looked for them before. Hmm this bears more research...

                                  But, for argument's sake, what if someone lived in an area where fresh fish, aside from pond & creek critters, were not easily available...do you (any responders) drive to find the fish, take your chances with the stuff at the stores, or avoid fish altogether? Or perhaps more to the point: is frozen fish worth bothering with at all?

                                  1. re: emilyjh75
                                    r
                                    Rella Oct 2, 2011 06:24 PM

                                    I probably would never drive for fresh fish. When I'm in an area that has fresh fish, I don't buy it except for Costco. The reason is: I shop weekly at Costco and they always have fresh fish. They also have frozen fish. The reason I like frozen fish from Costco is that I never haggle in my mind with the cost of the fish and I always buy 'Wild" or the best Cod or Scallops, or Salmon, etc that they have to offer.
                                    I know from experience how to cook these frozen fish and I don't desire anything else. When I go to other groceries and markets, I can smell fish upon entering the fish/meat domain of the market. I don't smell this at Costco.

                                    1. re: Rella
                                      l
                                      LovinYankeeBarbecue Nov 2, 2011 07:17 AM

                                      "When I go to other groceries and markets, I can smell fish upon entering the fish/meat domain of the market. I don't smell this at Costco."

                                      Interesting. The freshest fish I've ever seen was at the seafood market inside the gate of Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia, and that place stunk to high heaven day and night. I didn't have the guts to shop there, but my Croatian host mother sure did and so did everyone else's.

                                      My cooking phobia is baking. Even though it usually goes fine, I just hate when you can't poke at something and taste it as it cooks.

                                    2. re: emilyjh75
                                      j
                                      jvanderh Oct 3, 2011 07:13 PM

                                      It's true, frozen fish is hit or miss. I don't think it suffers much from the actual freezing process, but it makes a huge difference how quickly it was frozen. If it's just shrink wrapped at the store, you can give it a good sniff, but if it's prepackaged in a thick plastic bag, it's hard to tell. I haven't had much luck with that kind of stuff. Going to the grocery store on the first day of a fish sale might work, since it would have been recently defrosted rather than sitting around thawed for a week. Also, if you've got any Asian markets nearby that sell sushi fish, that's a great way to go. It's not that expensive at my local Hmart. Seafood at Whole Foods is consistently good but often really pricey.

                                2. perk Sep 21, 2011 10:20 AM

                                  My mother's cooking.

                                  1. c
                                    chefathome Sep 20, 2011 05:45 PM

                                    Cooking live lobster, crab and geoduck still kind of scares me. I must dispatch them quickly - if I think about it too long I get the heeby jeebies. Have never tried killing/skinning eel yet.

                                    Lighting our old propane BBQ with a match or lighter used to scare me - I didn't like the sudden big "poof" sound! Usually got my husband to do it.

                                    Other than that I have no fears when it comes to cooking and baking. I am very adventurous and creative and enjoy the process. Don't get me started on dentists, however...

                                    1. s
                                      sueatmo Sep 20, 2011 04:33 PM

                                      This is interesting. I am very wary of artichokes. I read instructions, and still have questions about cooking them. And, how do you eat them? And why?

                                      I am also leery of kale. I've eaten some pretty good kale at Whole Foods, but for some reason I just don't want to bring any home.

                                      I absolutely do not want to cook a whole lobster.

                                      I buy shrimp and micro cook them, but I don't feel like I know what I am doing. So far, so good though.

                                      The thing that intimidates me the most is the prospect of cooking really fine meat--say a crown beef roast that costs the earth. What if I mess it up?

                                      And I don't want to fiddle with a springform pan, but I can't say doing so scares me.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sueatmo
                                        mattstolz Sep 20, 2011 08:30 PM

                                        "i buy shrimp and micro cook them"

                                        like, as in you cook them in the microwave?? cuz i cant imagine that ending well.

                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          c
                                          Chowrin Sep 21, 2011 05:43 AM

                                          ... kale is cooked like collard greens, or any other tough green. Sautee it a bit (until wilted) and then throw it in some lemon or chicken broth, and let cook until it's no longer bright green. Kale is the hardest veggie ever to screw up -- you can cook it as long as you like -- can't kill kale, it's too tough fer that!

                                          1. re: sueatmo
                                            r
                                            Rella Sep 21, 2011 06:13 AM

                                            Springfrom pans? GONE! It worked the first time, and lulled me into thinking it would work.

                                            I lost two time-consuming, expensive cheesecakes by not having the aluminum foil wrapped tightly enough and the water seeped through.

                                          2. IoAstrobee Sep 20, 2011 04:22 PM

                                            Pickles and other things that have the potential to go bad due to the lengthy waiting time.

                                            Growing up, my mom would pickle daikon and carrots and cabbage, which I loved. Although she gave me the recipe, I am too afraid to try it, for fear of botulism or some other nasties. Same idea with kimchi; I don't trust that mine will ferment in the "right" way.

                                            1. c
                                              cleobeach Sep 20, 2011 12:23 PM

                                              Deep frying because I can't keep an even temp on my flat top stove.

                                              1. ROCKLES Sep 20, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                I have no fear of the cooking, or baking . I only have fear of the guests or families first bite. Once they take the bite and say its good, great etc I feel better. (of course they may try not to hurt my feelings, but we try to think of that).

                                                1. n
                                                  Novelli Sep 20, 2011 08:48 AM

                                                  I used to have certain fears in the kitchen, but I've found that whenever I realize the fear exists, I make it a point to specifically focus on what makes a process fearful, and make it fearless.

                                                  Fear of yeast recipes? Hell, lets make a ton of yeast recipes to understand and overcome the fears.

                                                  If I fear anything, it isn't for long.

                                                  1. viperlush Sep 20, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                    Threads like this make me wonder, why don't the cooking centric Chowhounds do meet ups where they test recipes/teach techniques? For it seems that for every "fear of _" person there is someone who has no problem with_. Or do they and I'm just not that observant.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: viperlush
                                                      bayoucook Sep 20, 2011 09:12 AM

                                                      I would love that, but I'm one of a bare few living this far South.

                                                      1. re: bayoucook
                                                        ChefJune Sep 20, 2011 01:16 PM

                                                        hmmmm I'd come down there and teach you to bake rolls. It would give me a good excuse to visit So. LA. ;)

                                                        1. re: ChefJune
                                                          bayoucook Sep 21, 2011 03:37 AM

                                                          All the way from New York? Wow!

                                                      2. re: viperlush
                                                        j
                                                        jvanderh Sep 28, 2011 11:26 AM

                                                        That would be so fun!!

                                                      3. alliegator Sep 20, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                        A cake to be served to anyone but myself. Baking is just not my thing, and if there is some special occasion that requires a nice cake, I'm afraid I'll put all sorts of effort into it, and it just won't be right somehow. Luckily, there is a wonderful bakery nearby that does lovely cakes ;)

                                                        1. g
                                                          gembellina Sep 20, 2011 07:31 AM

                                                          Big joints of meat served rare, like racks of lamb or fillets of beef. So expensive, such a small window of opportunity and so awful when overcooked. Too much pressure!

                                                          1. monavano Sep 20, 2011 05:13 AM

                                                            My pressure cooker sat on a shelf for a couple years before I got the guts to just use the darn thing. I'm not totally proficient using it yet, but I have the basics and it doesn't scare me anymore, and that was a big step.
                                                            Canning- scared to get poisoned or kill somebody else!
                                                            Cooking whole fish

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: monavano
                                                              Bada Bing Sep 20, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                              We agree on two points. Took me 2-3 months to work up the conviction to try my new pressure cooker. Canning is now the thing I currently worry about. Both are safety issues, I guess.

                                                              Whole fish doesn't worry me, but it is hard to get it done just right...

                                                              1. re: monavano
                                                                Jen76 Sep 22, 2011 07:15 AM

                                                                I've had a pressure cooker for years - more than a couple. I still haven't used it. It just freaks me out.

                                                                Canning, no problem. Cooking fish, hunky dory. Pressure cooker? Nope. I keep pulling it out, but then I read the instructions and then put it right back.

                                                                1. re: Jen76
                                                                  monavano Sep 22, 2011 08:16 AM

                                                                  I did the same thing for years!

                                                                  1. re: monavano
                                                                    Jen76 Sep 22, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                                    Ha! What did you first cook in it? I thought about making stock in it last time I pulled it out, but I love just tossing the bones into my rice/slowcooker and letting it go all day and then dealing with straining later. Pressure cooker seems like it would take more monitoring.

                                                                    1. re: monavano
                                                                      Bada Bing Sep 22, 2011 11:40 AM

                                                                      Wow. I'm glad to hear this, because I was feeling pretty lonely in being shy of using the thing. Not even reading the instructions really helped. I felt I needed to set aside some time when I could bring undivided concentration to the monumental task. It took me several months, and then I made chick peas for hummus, the clouds parted, sun peeked through, etc., etc.

                                                                      1. re: Bada Bing
                                                                        r
                                                                        Rella Sep 22, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                                        Good for you!
                                                                        When you do your beans next time, if you cook 1 cup, try doubling or tripling the amount (and of course your water will be adjusted).
                                                                        I then put the extra into a ball jar, cool it off on the table, then the refrigerator, and then into the freezer.

                                                                        Take it out of the freezer two days ahead of time to thaw. There'll be no problem with making hummus again without the effort - or any other Indian dish you wish to make with them.

                                                                        Just a tip - in case you aren't already doing this.

                                                                2. c
                                                                  cbauer Sep 20, 2011 05:06 AM

                                                                  Frying things, like making a really good fried chicken. Would love too, but 1) I don't want to deal with the grease splatters that will go all over the place 'cuz it's a pain to clean up. 2) I'm afraid I'll cook it too fast or too slow and I'll wind up with burnt parts on the outside and not done on the inside. It's just not something I grew up with.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: cbauer
                                                                    chowser Sep 20, 2011 05:43 AM

                                                                    Me, too. First batch isn't bad, second gets worst and then it all falls apart. Food can end up too dark or it sits there and doesn't fry and I can almost feel it absorbing the oil (which I know it is because of how little oil is left when I'm finished). And, I'm cleaning up for days, finding splots of oil everywhere. For how infrequently I have fried food, I've decided I'll eat out when I want it.

                                                                    1. re: cbauer
                                                                      pilotgirl210 Sep 20, 2011 02:35 PM

                                                                      Invest in a splatter screen to cover your pan. They are inexpensive and I couldn't be without one. You can see through them to see how things are cooking, and I never have to wipe up grease three feet away! There's just nothing like buttermilk soaked, Southern fried chicken. Especially during a picnic in the summer!

                                                                      1. re: pilotgirl210
                                                                        chowser Sep 20, 2011 03:08 PM

                                                                        I have one but it still doesn't stop oil from covering everything. It must be the step of putting in the food and removing it that causes it.

                                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                                          n
                                                                          Novelli Sep 20, 2011 03:46 PM

                                                                          You should try this! LOL!

                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: Novelli
                                                                            chowser Sep 20, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                                            That's funny! I'd need a whole roll of foil.

                                                                            1. re: Novelli
                                                                              r
                                                                              Rella Sep 21, 2011 06:09 AM

                                                                              Have roll of foil, which I use for lots of dirty work. I hadn't thought of this. Great illustration!

                                                                        2. re: cbauer
                                                                          j
                                                                          jvanderh Sep 28, 2011 11:24 AM

                                                                          I think the thing here is to look up what oil temperature you need for the kind of chicken parts you're frying and get a thermometer. I can fry little things just by instinct, but when they get big it's trickier to time the inside being done when the outside is nicely brown.

                                                                        3. c
                                                                          calliope_nh Sep 20, 2011 04:45 AM

                                                                          Not a food, but pressure cookers scare the beejeebers out of me.

                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                          1. re: calliope_nh
                                                                            l
                                                                            LaureltQ Sep 20, 2011 01:26 PM

                                                                            This! I don't foresee a big enough benefit to pressure cooking to justify using a pressure cooker.

                                                                            1. re: LaureltQ
                                                                              m
                                                                              Muchlove Sep 21, 2011 02:45 AM

                                                                              Perfect chickpeas in 20 minutes? That's an excellent reason IMO :)

                                                                            2. re: calliope_nh
                                                                              s
                                                                              sueatmo Sep 20, 2011 04:29 PM

                                                                              If my mother could use a pressure cooker, I can use a pressure cooker--and so can you. If you read Lorna Sass on the subject, you won't be scared. If you don't see the benefits of using one, then I wouldn't mess with it. Buy yourself another pretty kitchen toy.

                                                                              1. re: calliope_nh
                                                                                r
                                                                                Rella Sep 21, 2011 06:04 AM

                                                                                Pressure cookers used to scare me, too when we had the 'usual' brand that everyone had. DH bought a Fagor (it has two sizes of pots), and after watching him month after month using it, I have no qualms about recommending a pressure cooker to anyone who has the strength to pick one up :-))

                                                                                1. re: calliope_nh
                                                                                  Aabacus Sep 21, 2011 07:53 AM

                                                                                  YES! I still use one but I hate to do it...always afraid they will explode like a steel baloon.

                                                                                  1. re: Aabacus
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    sueatmo Sep 23, 2011 02:43 PM

                                                                                    It won't explode if you don't use high heat, except when bringing it up to pressure. But I used to use high heat all the time with my old pressure cooker. Now I like to use a cooker at med heat for most things. My mother was the most absent minded, haphazard cook I ever saw, and she successfully used a pressure cooker. I think paying attention is a good thing whenever you cook, but really a pc is a pretty good kitchen helper.

                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo
                                                                                      g
                                                                                      Goblin Sep 24, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                                                      I agree. The modern pressure-cookers are really fool (and explosion) proof, but they have a bad rep hanging on from decades ago. The stories of exploding pressure cookers were mostly apocryphal, anyway--I bet not too many people in the 1940s and 50s had actually seen the actual event, but everyone remembers hearing about "someone" who had such an experience.
                                                                                      I've used the new generation of PCs for several years with nary a problem.
                                                                                      But I'm still afraid to try deep-frying. ;-)

                                                                                      1. re: Goblin
                                                                                        Jay F Sep 24, 2011 04:41 PM

                                                                                        Goblin, my very own mother exploded a pressure cooker. It was something red that was cooking, and the gizmo on the top blew off, and there was a brown stain on our kitchen ceiling ever after. Not apocryphal *at all*.

                                                                                        I wouldn't touch one of those things.

                                                                                        1. re: Jay F
                                                                                          g
                                                                                          Goblin Sep 24, 2011 04:51 PM

                                                                                          Hi Jay,
                                                                                          I kind of knew that my autocratic statement would provoke some responses! In fact, I have to admit that there was actually an incident with my own aunt and grandmother, around 1945, when the spaghetti sauce in a PC blew up all over the ceiling of their house. It became a family legend.
                                                                                          My real point, which I couldn't resist embellishing, is that the modern generation of pressure cookers don't do this anymore. But the reputation lingers on.

                                                                                          1. re: Goblin
                                                                                            Jay F Sep 27, 2011 04:47 PM

                                                                                            Alright, then, other than cooking globe artichokes (which use I read about here), if I have a reasonably well-stocked kitchen, what does a pressure cooker do that everything else I have can't already do? My mother who hated to cook, made *everything* in the pressure cooker. She used it kind of like I use Le Creuset, or lots of people use slow cookers.

                                                                                            1. re: Jay F
                                                                                              g
                                                                                              Goblin Sep 27, 2011 05:09 PM

                                                                                              That's a very appropriate question. The answer, in one word, is "quick." Or at least, quicker. I use my pressure cooker for making various meat stocks, beans, apple sauce, stews of all sorts and ethnicities, and tomato sauce, in less than an hour. (Other people probably have many more recipes.) Pressure cookers have been popular in Europe and India for many years because they use less energy.

                                                                                              But a long simmering in Le Crueset is great--and using slow cookers is also fine. I'm not sure that any method is necessarily better than another. It's just what you feel comfortable with.

                                                                                              1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                r
                                                                                                Rella Sep 27, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                                                                I used my Fagor pressure cooker this way today. Beef stew:

                                                                                                First I PC'd Italian Kale 2 minutes, (froze 3/4 of it). Took the kale out and then browned the beef stew meat (grass-fed beef, so I didn't want to screw up). Then I added the homemade beef stock into the PC and PC'd it for 10 minutes. Then added back in the Kale and all of the vegetables (including fresh tomatoes for further broth taste) and PC'd it for 4 minutes.

                                                                                                Voila! Tender Beef stew, great taste as if it had been slow cooking.

                                                                                            2. re: Jay F
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              sueatmo Sep 25, 2011 09:08 PM

                                                                                              I imagine that the exploding PC made a big impression on the whole family. I'm curious. Did the lid blow off or the whole thing blow up? Was the cooker demolished? I hope no one was burned.

                                                                                              There are far, far fewer incidents reported about exploding PCs than there is for shattering or exploding Pyrex. Especially in the instances of the more modern PCs. Its too bad the bad experience has made you leery of them now. But if it had happened to me, I probably would feel the same way.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo
                                                                                                Jay F Sep 27, 2011 04:54 PM

                                                                                                As best as I can remember, Sue, the metal thing on the top blew off, then stuff squirted straight up out of the lid, hitting the ceiling. The cooker itself stayed intact, i.e., the lid stayed on top of the pot. I don't remember what happened to the food inside.

                                                                                                I think the only repair that needed to be made was to replace the thing that blew off, but I'm only guessing at that. I was a kid, and didn't pay much attention to cooking those days.

                                                                                                This would have been around 1961.

                                                                                            3. re: Goblin
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              sueatmo Sep 25, 2011 09:04 PM

                                                                                              My MIL, many years before I knew her or Mr. Sueatmo, is reported to have exploded a pc, but as I understood the story she took the lid off before it had cooled. How you could do that I have no idea.

                                                                                      2. agoodbite Sep 20, 2011 04:23 AM

                                                                                        My newest fear is baking gluten free bread. I had a small, but quite successful repertoire based on wheat flour, but I'm absolutely terrified of GF baking. It involves mixing strange and unfamiliar flours and their lack of elasticity and having to rely on xanthan gum and its ilk. I'm intimidated by the expense and relative scarcity of the ingredients and the sizable learning curve.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: agoodbite
                                                                                          c
                                                                                          chefathome Sep 20, 2011 05:43 PM

                                                                                          This scared me at first, too, but now it is just routine. Most cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins and quick breads are very easy to do successfully. Pizza crust is ok but not wonderful. What can be tougher are breads, English muffins, bagels and so on. They just are not the same. It is hard spreading bread "batter" into pans rather than kneading it. I find that very, very sad. :-(

                                                                                          It is pricey - I have 18 GF flours and starches that I am experimenting with. I will be receiving my Vita Mix in days so will be grinding my own.

                                                                                          1. re: agoodbite
                                                                                            Vetter Sep 25, 2011 09:21 PM

                                                                                            Hey, there's a lot of new work being done with recipes without gums. Check out Shauna Ahern's newest work, for instance. With a scale and chia and flax, you can make some really awesome goodies. I make fabulous pizza crust!

                                                                                            I agree with chefathome about the batter sadness. I miss getting my hands in there and working up a sweat.

                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                            CeeBee Sep 20, 2011 03:37 AM

                                                                                            pie crust
                                                                                            using my broiler
                                                                                            anything that uses yeast

                                                                                            21 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: CeeBee
                                                                                              bayoucook Sep 20, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                                                              second the yeast - with reason - it defies me again and again, and yes I use purified spring water and a thermometer for the warm water and calibrate my oven and put the dough in a warm, draft-free place!

                                                                                              1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                p
                                                                                                pine time Sep 20, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                                                                I bake yeast breads nearly every week, and I'm not nearly so fussy! Even make excellent flaky piecrust and biscuits. However, if it lives in water, I'm nervous. Can't swallow shellfish, salmon, other fish (except that not-really-fish-like-deep-fried-bits).

                                                                                                1. re: pine time
                                                                                                  bayoucook Sep 20, 2011 09:10 AM

                                                                                                  I wasn't fussy until I kept failing and failing. I use my KA with the dough hook, I guess it rises fine. I bake the rolls and they're hard and horrible, every time. Every Thanksgiving at my house, the family and guests have a yeast roll throwing contest off the upper deck, whoever is closest to the bayou wins a bottle of wine. But in my dreams, one year they will eat them and not toss them! Really!

                                                                                                  1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                    Chowrin Sep 20, 2011 09:40 AM

                                                                                                    "hard and horrible" -- okay, we can start with that!
                                                                                                    1) Is this too crusty on the outside? That indicates a milk or egg glaze, which will help to keep it soft.
                                                                                                    2) Is the crumb too dense on the inside?
                                                                                                    3) Have you let the rolls proof enough (till doubled) before you bake?
                                                                                                    4) Do they rise in the oven?

                                                                                                    ... disc: I don't make rolls, but I do know the basic problems with things.

                                                                                                    You also might want to consider butter&eggs in the dough -- they'll be richer and moister that way. I'd only recommend doing that after you've got the basic French Bread recipe right...

                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                      bayoucook Sep 21, 2011 03:36 AM

                                                                                                      Yes, they are hard and dense, kind of chewy for the couple of seconds anyone would bite into one. They're proofed and they rise well. They brown beautifully in the oven. They *look* good. That's it. They are inedible. I'm scared because I should be, but I haven't given up. Is there a tender roll recipe without yeast that still has that tangy taste? ......Thanksgiving is not far away.....

                                                                                                      1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                        Chowrin Sep 21, 2011 05:40 AM

                                                                                                        1) I'd suggest kneading more, and letting them rise more.
                                                                                                        Are they hard and dense like a good bread, or like a whole-wheat "crummy thing"?
                                                                                                        I'd suggest trying a Parker House recipe -- or challah. I think both of those should get you something more tender and rich.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                          bayoucook Sep 21, 2011 06:38 AM

                                                                                                          More dense, not crummy. I use my KA with dough hook and follow directions. Thanks for the advice, I'm looking for other recipes now.....

                                                                                                          1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                            chowser Sep 21, 2011 07:35 AM

                                                                                                            Have you tried the no knead breads, either Bittman's or Artisan Bread in 5 minutes? They're pretty fail proof, no kneading, no worrying about the window pane test, just let it sit.

                                                                                                            1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                              Chowrin Sep 21, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                                                                              okay, then if you're making a good bread, you're ready to try parker house, or something else more complicated. Making a good bread is the most essential thing to start with.

                                                                                                          2. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                            Leofric Sep 21, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                                                                            Bayoucook,

                                                                                                            I would recommend a bread class but if you can't take one get someone to teach you! All those rules about yeast temp, spring water, and draft free - are a joke I flaunt those rules all the time and my family fights over my bread - I would also recommend going to sour doughs - they are incredibly forgiving breads.....

                                                                                                            1. re: Leofric
                                                                                                              bayoucook Sep 22, 2011 04:58 AM

                                                                                                              They're also my favorites! Another misconception: thought sourdoughs were even harder to do. Okay, changing my tactics as of this weekend. Will report back. Or will when the starter is ready.....thanks for stretching my brain.

                                                                                                              1. re: Leofric
                                                                                                                bayoucook Sep 22, 2011 05:01 AM

                                                                                                                I also have two books on no-knead bread plus the CI version, none of which I've tried. I make my own pizza dough and flatbreads with no problem, just wanted to learn to make a soft roll for holidays.

                                                                                                                1. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                  Kelli2006 Sep 22, 2011 05:10 AM

                                                                                                                  You need a recipe that uses milk, butter and maybe a few eggs to make soft rolls because a lean dough like French bread will make baseballs if formed into rolls.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Kelli2006
                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                    Chowrin Sep 22, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                    not that baseballs are bad. they just want a burger on 'em, or somethin'

                                                                                                                  2. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                                    chowser Sep 22, 2011 05:23 AM

                                                                                                                    Longer rises are your best friend as yeast breads go. If you can make pizza dough, you can make rolls! For very easy ones, give these a try:

                                                                                                                    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/201...

                                                                                                                    Adding milk, eggs and butter is more forgiving because you're starting out w/ good flavor.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                      bayoucook Sep 22, 2011 06:03 AM

                                                                                                                      Will do that one Sunday - thanks so much!

                                                                                                            2. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                              jvanderh Sep 28, 2011 11:20 AM

                                                                                                              Try Artisan Bread in 5! I think about 99% of bread problems are not enough gluten development/rising.

                                                                                                          3. re: bayoucook
                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                            Chowrin Sep 20, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                                                                            is it not rising? How is your kneading? (sounds weird, but does it really feel like your earlobe before you let it rise?)

                                                                                                          4. re: CeeBee
                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                            Kelli2006 Sep 21, 2011 02:23 AM

                                                                                                            People are unnecessary afraid of baking with yeast and Ive never understood why. I never use water/milk over 95°F because there is no need to do so and I'm usually in the 85° range and seldom even use a thermometer because I can tell by touch when the liquid is correct. I know that a lot of recipes call for it but you NEVER EVER put salt in the liquid that contains the bloomed yeast. salt goes in the dry ingredients and then the yeast water is added to it because salted water will inhibit or even kill the yeast if added directly to it. Rising times are always approximate and if you can let it rise longer you will be rewarded with better bread.

                                                                                                            Ive never understood the fear of pie crust but Ive been baking pies since I have been able to see over the counter on a stepstool. You must measure everything carefully but I don't bother with grams or even a scale at home. Mix the dough as little as possible to it forms a mass and then refrigerate it for 1-2 hours before working with it. Don't overwork it and don't try to roll it too thin or you will create a mess. I like marble but working on a piece of parchment is almost as good.

                                                                                                            I'll happily teach anyone to bake if they could teach me to make edible Asian(Chinese, Thai and Cambodian food ) and Indian food at home.

                                                                                                            Chef June is correct about fish. if you can cook a chicken breast you can cook fish.

                                                                                                            1. re: Kelli2006
                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                              Tuls Sep 21, 2011 02:54 AM

                                                                                                              If you were in the Seattle area, I would happily take you up on your offer but since that isn't possible, here's a really good Indian cooking website that you can refer to: http://www.indiacurry.com/

                                                                                                              It's not a pretty website and there are no pictures. Also sometimes it feels like there is too much information crammed in there (history of the recipes, glossary, explanation of technique etc.) but everything I've tried so far has been really good. Also since the website is meant for a US target audience, most recipes are easy to follow with American names of spices and ingredients. And who knows, since you're new to Indian cooking, you might actually appreciate all the extra information about the technique & ingredients.. good luck!

                                                                                                              1. re: Kelli2006
                                                                                                                BananaBirkLarsen Sep 21, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                I'm still working on Chinese myself, and I have yet to attempt Cambodian, but this website ( www.thaitable.com ) helped me a lot with Thai. The recipes are simple and clearly laid out and helped me figure out a lot of the basic cooking techniques. I also love that you can search for recipes by ingredient.

                                                                                                            2. Aabacus Sep 20, 2011 03:25 AM

                                                                                                              Fish in general. Scary. Cook it wrong and die. Okay, not for real but real enough that I don't want to mess. Also, it's expensive (depending on the type and sales etc.) so if I over cook it I've wasted money. Some day I'll experiment but for right now fish is a no show.

                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Aabacus
                                                                                                                ChefJune Sep 20, 2011 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                You are not alone, Aabacus. 90% of Americans only eat fish in restaurants!

                                                                                                                It's really not much different from cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts, just doesn't take quite as long.

                                                                                                                As someone above mentioned in relation to pie crust making, taking a class would rid you of most if not all of those fears. I've been teaching fish cookery for close to 30 years, and I still love seeing the "AHA!" moment in folks' eyes when they realize it's not rocket science. I included a basic fish cooking section in my book, too, for those folks too scared to attempt fish.

                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                  g
                                                                                                                  gembellina Sep 20, 2011 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                  So true. I did a fish cookery course a few months ago and it's really not as mysterious as it seems!

                                                                                                                2. re: Aabacus
                                                                                                                  MVNYC Sep 21, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                  Cooking fish is actually easier than cooking meat. Try cooking fish in pouches with some lemon butter and vegetables. The fish steams with the other ingredients in the oven and prevents it from drying out. Look up the times online for the particular variety of fish you want to use. This is probably the easiest way of doing it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                                                    Aabacus Sep 22, 2011 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                    I really really really want to cook fish at home and I know I can get the technique down. I'm sure I can even get good fish at my local store. I'm just certain that I'm going to be the guy that get's the one kind of fish that you never cook with aluminum and end up in the hospital emergency room with half my face swolen. Or it'll be the one with just enough mercury to put me over my limit and I'll end up running down the street with my pants on my head singing Teenage Wasteland and drinking Zima from a Flintsones jelly jar through a Krazy Straw.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Aabacus
                                                                                                                      sbp Sep 27, 2011 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                      You stand a much better chance of choking to death on a Brussels sprout. Fish is easy - don't worry so much. Sushi is raw, and "hardly" anyone dies from it.

                                                                                                                3. Hank Hanover Sep 19, 2011 11:56 PM

                                                                                                                  I'm still scared of pie crusts. I'm sure I will get over as soon as I make a few. Even though I am trying to learn baking, I keep putting crusts off.

                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                    chowser Sep 20, 2011 04:56 AM

                                                                                                                    I was until I took a class. Night and day difference when you have someone right there showing you how it should look and feel and how yours is/isn't right. It did far more for me than reading and reading and watching videos and shows.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                      Chowrin Sep 20, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                      don't worry so much. pie crusts are easier than you think. If you screw it up, crumble it back to pea-size, and start over.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        sueatmo Sep 20, 2011 04:25 PM

                                                                                                                        I agree. And if the crust isn't as great as you'd like, no one will care. A homemade pie is very rare these days. If I can make pie crust, you can make pie crust. After about the 3rd or 4th crust, you'll feel much more confident.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                          Chowrin Sep 21, 2011 05:38 AM

                                                                                                                          to top a homemade pie, try one with fresh-frozen sour cherries.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo
                                                                                                                            r
                                                                                                                            Rella Sep 28, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                                                                                            "And if the crust isn't as great as you'd like, no one will care."

                                                                                                                            :-)) Yes, I will care.

                                                                                                                            What I want is a nice crisp bottom crust - working on it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rella
                                                                                                                              sbp Sep 28, 2011 01:10 PM

                                                                                                                              My pie crusts have bottom crusts that stay crispy for at least 3-4 days. No gummy white stuff. Trick is to coat the bottom (top of the bottom crust, actually) to shield it from the fruit juices. I generally use melted white chocolate - just brush on a very thin layer. Completely seals the crust. You can also use egg whites, but the seal is not as complete.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sbp
                                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                                Rella Sep 28, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                                                                                                Sounds perfect. I will be trying if I can find some white chocolate made without lecithin.

                                                                                                                                http://www.compassionatecooks.com/wor...

                                                                                                                                "The majority of lecithin used in chocolate manufacture is derived from soybeans..."

                                                                                                                                If not, I will be trying egg whites brushed on.
                                                                                                                                Thank you.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rella
                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                  Chowrin Oct 3, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                                                                                                  I just use tapioca.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Rella
                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                sandylc Oct 3, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                My grandmother baked her "pies" in a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan at 500 degrees. She also actually greased the pan before putting the pie dough in it. The bottom was very brown and crisp, but the inside of the bottom crust was gooey with fruit juices and sugar and the combination of brown crisp/soft fruity was delicious! I have not been able to replicate it yet, but I am trying.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                            pilotgirl210 Sep 20, 2011 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                            I would recommend, Hank, a recipe using both shortening and butter. The crust turns out soooo flaky, it is forgiving and comes together easily. If I can do it, anyone can !!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                              jvanderh Sep 28, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                                                                              I made many, many unsuccessful pie crusts until I got a food scale and used a recipe by weight. Also I just melt the butter and then chill the dough. I think flakiness is overrated.

                                                                                                                            2. twyst Sep 19, 2011 11:15 PM

                                                                                                                              "Shellfish (I'm always so scared that I will undercook them"

                                                                                                                              Its pretty hard to undercook shellfish. Its really easy to overcook them though!

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: twyst
                                                                                                                                Will Owen Sep 20, 2011 05:19 PM

                                                                                                                                Any kind of shellfish is cooked when the flesh is opaque, and most fish as well. The mussel is actually about the trickiest, since first you have to throw away the ones that are open, and the the ones that won't!

                                                                                                                              2. t
                                                                                                                                Transplant_DK Sep 19, 2011 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                                Recipes using gelatin scare me. Even though I've successfully made lots of fussy recipes and am a good cook, I have had a few bad experiences with it and avoid it like the plague now.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Transplant_DK
                                                                                                                                  mcel215 Sep 20, 2011 02:33 AM

                                                                                                                                  ditto here.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Transplant_DK
                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                    rasputina Sep 20, 2011 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                    I concur on the gelatin, I had an epic failure of panna cotta because of the gelatin. I don't have the same problem with agar agar though.

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