I Wish I Could....
- al b. darned Mar 18, 2012 12:14 AM
In general I am pretty good in the kitchen. My knife skills are better than average, and I can put together a pretty good meal utilizing a variety of cooking methods. But try as I might, there are some things I can't do that "all good cooks" can do.
First, I can't flip food in a fry pan. Other people can flip food in my pans, and have tried to show me how, but I still only flip food out, not over.
Second, dough. Especially dough that has to be rolled, stretched, or otherwise spread out as part of its usage. It always ends up with holes in it.
Third, gravy. Sure, I can get lump-free gravy when I "cheat" and use Wondra, but using regular flour instead results in a 50/50 chance of it being lumpy. Mom always had smooth gravy using regular flour in her slurry, but not me.
So, just between you and me, what "kitchen skills" do you wish you could master, what "lack of skill" are you cursed with, or what did you try to do, only to fail spectacularly?
Note: This is NOT a, "Help Al with these three things" post. Others have torn out their hair trying to teach me these skills. I am untrainable. Besides, there are more, lurking just beneath the surface. This is just a chance for you to come clean without the whole world knowing about it.
More a need for speed than lack of skill but I don't have tips on either thumb and that is all I will say. But it's from a long time ago. :)
My formative years were in Europe. Hence pastry and baking are a complete mystery, and a skill I have never developed. Why waste time in the kitchen when you can buy perfection at the Konditorei walking home for a dollar or two? It is also an indicator that I rarely have dessert when eating out and almost never at home these days.
We Britons are heavily into baking which makes me think I must have a large dose of "foreign" genes in me, because it doesnt come at all naturally to me. Of course, other Europeans adopt a more sensible attitude toward it - knowing that it makes sense to buy stuff at the bakery or patisserie.
Now, if it's confession time, then it's eggs. I can lovingly scramble them, taking many minutes over the task. I can quickly fry one, so the whites are cooked through and the yolks suitably runny for dunking the breakfast balck pudding into. But can I poach or soft-boil one ? Not a chance - and, believe me, I have tried all the tricks.
Eggs are my nemesis, except for perfectly done scrambleds. When doing b'fast for guests, I politely ask how they want their eggs cooked, but them 'fess up and say they'll come out however they come out. I'm very strict about no guests in my kitchen, only exception is if they want to cook their own frigging eggs.
I have the perfect answer for your soft-cooked egg problem, if you have a microwave. I don't remember where I picked up this way to cook eggs, but it works great.
Take an egg, wrap it in regular aluminum foil (not heavy duty), Put the aluminum wrapped egg in a large coffee mug, cover with water, and microwave on high for 6 minutes. You will end up with about a 3 minute egg without having to watch the kettle of water. At the end of 6 minutes gently pour the egg and water into the sink and rinse with cold water for about a minute (or less) just long enough so the egg can be handled with your bare hands. We have one of those egg toppers and egg cups so we cut toast into 'soldiers' and dunk the toast into the egg. Our microwave is 1,000 watts output so you might have to experiment with the time.
The reason you can put the aluminum foil into the microwave without a problem is because it is immersed in water. By the way, I love the way Brits pronounce 'aluminum'.
I wish I was good enough with roti that my chapattis would rotate themselves as I roll like they do for my Mum! And I wish my stuffed paratha rolled out perfectly with no splits. And that my bhakri were thinner and yet still round, and also still in one piece! And that my ghadichi poli turned out round in the end...
Can you see a theme?! I am not the roti queen.
I cannot make chocolate mousse. It doesn't matter what recipe I use, how I combine the ingredients, how stiff my egg whites are and how beautifully it folds together and tastes. It goes into the fridge and separates. Even my sister's fail safe recipe is useless in my hands. I make great cheese souffles, cakes with no recipes, pastry crust, mayonnaise, anything else but mousse.
I am confident I can make almost everything except for hash browns. Just can't figure this one out. Seems so simple like anyone can make those except for me. Always comes out an oily, crumbly mess.