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What recipe is your Unicorn?

PotatoHouse Nov 7, 2012 02:51 PM

Donny, " Eleanor’s Memphis's unicorn."
Freb, " What's a unicorn?"
Donny, "Fable creature you know the horse with the horn impossible to capture, it's the one car no matter how many times you try to boost something always happens."

So what recipe is your unicorn? What recipe is it that no matter how many times you try it, it never comes out right.?

I have made complicated birthday cakes for my wife's office mates, I have made Rum Cupcakes with Sabayonne frosting, just in the past month or so I made Lavender Creme Brulee and Baklava without fear or error. But (hanging my head in shame) this southern boy can not seem to properly fry a chicken. I believe it comes from the dual fears of burning the exterior and under cooking the interior.

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  1. meatn3 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 7, 2012 05:07 PM

    Fried chicken is mine too! Beautiful exterior, bloody interior.

    Now, I haven't attempted it in 30 years. I'm a more knowledgeable cook than I used to be so perhaps it could be conquered. I doubt I'll try - less messy to eat it out the few times each year I indulge!

    12 Replies
    1. re: meatn3
      Midknight RE: meatn3 Nov 8, 2012 07:43 AM

      Agreed, fried chicken, but for the opposite reason. Moist, perfect interior, bland, heavy coating.

      1. re: meatn3
        jvanderh RE: meatn3 Nov 15, 2012 08:46 PM

        I think the perfect fried chicken would be slow cooked somehow. Either slow cooked in oil, or, if that would yield a greasy result, slow cooked and then flash fried. I wonder how Popeyes does it.

        1. re: jvanderh
          cowboyardee RE: jvanderh Nov 15, 2012 09:02 PM

          I believe Popeyes uses a pressure fryer, like the Colonel.

          Incidentally, there are various recipes out there for slow cooking chicken sous vide, then battering and quickly frying. I've messed around with em - different kind of result usually, but that's because the batter is typically different than what you'd use traditionally.

          OTOH, It's not at all impossible to get fried chicken to be cooked all the way through, not overcooked, and with a nice crispy exterior frying traditionally. Slow cooking has a few upsides, but traditional frying can still lead to juicy chicken.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            jvanderh RE: cowboyardee Nov 16, 2012 01:05 AM

            Dang. Those seem to be terrifying and like 10 grand.

            1. re: jvanderh
              cowboyardee RE: jvanderh Nov 16, 2012 04:26 AM

              With a good thermometer and a stock pot, you can fudge it on the stovetop. Or you poach in oil kept at 150 deg F or so for a similar effect (though this would also require a good thermometer, and I don't know if it might make it harder for batter to adhere to the chicken later on).

              1. re: cowboyardee
                jvanderh RE: cowboyardee Nov 16, 2012 07:04 PM

                What advantage would that have over braising until tender and then breading and frying?

                1. re: jvanderh
                  cowboyardee RE: jvanderh Nov 16, 2012 09:00 PM

                  Not an advantage exactly - just different. Braised chicken is cooked at a higher temperature. Braised breast meat tends to be dry and grainy, whereas breast meat cooked slowly to lower temperature is extremely tender and moist. Braised dark meat is good and tender, but has a different texture than slow cooked dark meat - matter of preference. Slow cooking tends to increase the intensity of the chicken's own flavor while braising tends to use flavorful liquids to flavor the chicken.

                  1. re: jvanderh
                    Puffin3 RE: jvanderh Nov 19, 2012 05:57 AM

                    I've done that. It works great. Just be extra careful not to over braise. It's fine if the pieces are still a bit under cooked. The frying will finish the job. There again be careful not to over fry. If the oil is the correct temp by the time the outside is a nice golden brown the inside's done.

                    1. re: Puffin3
                      jvanderh RE: Puffin3 Nov 19, 2012 06:25 AM

                      Good to know. Thanks!

                2. re: jvanderh
                  dtremit RE: jvanderh Nov 18, 2012 05:14 PM

                  Fagor has a stovetop pressure fryer (with a serious-looking clamp mechanism) for about $300. Not sure that addresses "terrifying," though.

                  1. re: dtremit
                    jvanderh RE: dtremit Nov 18, 2012 09:57 PM

                    Someday :-)

            2. re: meatn3
              TheFormerVeg RE: meatn3 Nov 19, 2012 12:48 AM

              When I was vegan I would make fried chicken for my non veg friends, completely blind, unable to test it or anything, and they told me it came out great, I had at least one southerner telling me it was the best they ever had. I used Cook's Illustrated's recipe, the buttermilk brine one right here: http://whatsonmyplate.net/2009/07/29/... I've made it twice now, it's worked perfectly every time.

              If I as a vegan could do it on my first try, I'm sure it couldn't be too hard.

            3. j
              jujuthomas RE: PotatoHouse Nov 7, 2012 07:51 PM

              risotto. :(

              10 Replies
              1. re: jujuthomas
                cresyd RE: jujuthomas Nov 8, 2012 12:42 AM

                I second this one - have never managed to achieve something that was neither glue or crunchy.

                1. re: cresyd
                  ttoommyy RE: cresyd Nov 8, 2012 07:09 AM

                  It's so funny how we all differ in our strengths and weakness. Me, I can make risotto in my sleep and it would be delicious. But I just think of making any bread-related product and I fail miserably, but from reading a lot of post on CH, it seems like there are plenty of bread bakers among us,

                  1. re: ttoommyy
                    chefathome RE: ttoommyy Nov 8, 2012 08:03 AM

                    It is interesting because I, too, could make a beautiful risotto in my sleep. And I am a very good bread maker (but now I must make GF as I have celiac which is a tricky process). However, what I struggled with before my diagnosis was phyllo pastry. The stupid dumb dough kept tearing on me.

                    1. re: ttoommyy
                      jujuthomas RE: ttoommyy Nov 8, 2012 08:25 AM

                      I REALLY want to try again, my mother made a lovely sounding butternut risotto the other night.

                      1. re: jujuthomas
                        chefathome RE: jujuthomas Nov 8, 2012 08:30 AM

                        Yes, do. A great risotto can be such a sublime experience! :-)

                        1. re: chefathome
                          jujuthomas RE: chefathome Nov 8, 2012 08:41 AM

                          i love eating it... had a butternut squash risotto recently with grilled grouper. oh, divine. I wanted to lick the plate. I'll have to look up a simple recipe and start there - I think I tried to do something fancy the first few times and got it wrong. or impatient.... or some of each. LOL

                          1. re: jujuthomas
                            chefathome RE: jujuthomas Nov 8, 2012 08:49 AM

                            That sounds amazing. I make a delicious butternut squash risotto. I can do some snooping around for a few recipes to get you started if you wish. Maybe a nice mushroom risotto with thyme, using mushroom "stock" you make by reconstituting dried mushrooms.

                            1. re: jujuthomas
                              Perilagu Khan RE: jujuthomas Nov 8, 2012 09:30 AM

                              The Khantessa made a lemon risotto last night. I made mustard-roasted salmon with a lingonberry glaze. We had a bottle of sauvignon blanc. One of the better meals I've had in a while.

                        2. re: ttoommyy
                          Antilope RE: ttoommyy Nov 11, 2012 08:23 PM

                          I love to bake. Make sourdough bread in and out of the bread machine without added yeast. Can't make a decent pie pastry. I've tried various recipes and they are never as good as others make. The only partial success is using a food processor to make pie dough.

                      2. re: jujuthomas
                        sisterfunkhaus RE: jujuthomas Nov 8, 2012 07:46 PM

                        Risotto is hit and miss with me. I can't count on it for dinner. I love it, but about 50% of the time it just doesn't come out. I don't get why because I make it the same way every time.

                      3. jmcarthur8 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 7, 2012 08:13 PM

                        Umm. The hubster says mine is buttermilk biscuits.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jmcarthur8
                          pippimac RE: jmcarthur8 Nov 8, 2012 12:09 AM

                          Sourdough is my unicorn!

                          1. re: jmcarthur8
                            sunflwrsdh RE: jmcarthur8 Nov 18, 2012 05:37 PM

                            +1 on any kind of biscuits. I have tried them many times, and they never, ever come out light or fluffy.

                            1. re: sunflwrsdh
                              jmcarthur8 RE: sunflwrsdh Nov 19, 2012 11:37 AM

                              What stinks is that I can make scones just fine, but the biscuits are never quite up to Southern snuff.

                          2. hill food RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 12:31 AM

                            chicken is easy, soak it in saltwater to draw the blood, par boil, pat dry and then bread and fry it until it's the right color. I just don't do it cause of the f***ing mess it makes.

                            now tempura ANYTHING I screw up, I just. can. not. get that batter right. still working on figuring out bread that won't double as a doorstop. and flipping a Spanish tortilla, just not bold enough I guess

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hill food
                              sisterfunkhaus RE: hill food Nov 8, 2012 07:51 PM

                              I have never heard of parboiling fried chicken. I do agree with brining it. Sometimes I soak it in buttermilk instead. I have been cooking killer fried chicken for years. You have to use plenty of seasoning. Another trick is cooking it low a and slow and using a thermometer to gauge the oil temperature. When it is too crispy outside and raw inside, the heat was too high, or maybe the chicken was too thick. I also put a lid on the skillet for much of the frying process. It really is an art. It involves a lot of babysitting. Sometimes, I am not sure it is worth it.

                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                                hill food RE: sisterfunkhaus Nov 8, 2012 08:24 PM

                                I know it's cheating, but I was raised on endless undercooked, pink, bloody, chicken.

                                beef I like almost raw, duck and pork rare, sashimi? bring it on. but chicken I get really wound up about.

                            2. t
                              tacosandbeer RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 02:54 AM

                              Biscuits. I can not do biscuits. I WANT to, but I am lacking the magic.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tacosandbeer
                                Kelli2006 RE: tacosandbeer Nov 13, 2012 10:08 PM

                                If you like the layered biscuits you should try Peter Schneider's buttermilk biscuit recipe. They always work for me, but you need to follow the recipe, with the possible exception of 1/4 C more flour.

                                I cannot make a decent stir-fry or Indian curry to save my life.

                                1. re: Kelli2006
                                  Transplant_DK RE: Kelli2006 Nov 16, 2012 08:26 PM

                                  I make a pretty good biscuit, but always interested in seeing new ones. Do you have a link? I don't get anything when I google.

                                  1. re: Transplant_DK
                                    Kelli2006 RE: Transplant_DK Nov 16, 2012 11:56 PM

                                    I was wrong. It is Peter Reinhardt's buttermilk biscuit recipe that was printed in Fine Cooking.


                              2. tcamp RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:00 AM

                                Pie crust. Something is always slightly (or terribly) wrong with the end result.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: tcamp
                                  pinehurst RE: tcamp Nov 8, 2012 08:32 AM

                                  Me too.

                                  1. re: tcamp
                                    KaimukiMan RE: tcamp Nov 8, 2012 07:48 PM

                                    I can make wonderful pie crust, anywhere, any time. butter, oil, lard. doesn't matter. Mixed by hand, with a pastry blender, a food processor, forks. Using a rolling pin, wine bottle, once even a baseball bat - or just smash it into the pie pan by hand if necessary.

                                    But I can not make a decent pie crust in my own kitchen. it turns out sticky, it turns out gummy, and when it cooks it is dry and crumbly and hard as a rock, totally without texture and flavor. I no longer make pie at home.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                      tcamp RE: KaimukiMan Nov 9, 2012 06:31 AM

                                      That is very odd, I wonder why. Wierd microclimate in your kitchen? Alas, my crust disability is location-independent.

                                      1. re: tcamp
                                        KaimukiMan RE: tcamp Nov 9, 2012 11:33 AM

                                        I can only assume that I'm somehow not being as careful with measurements etc in my own kitchen as someplace else where I'm not doing anything 'automatically'. it is frustrating.

                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                          hill food RE: KaimukiMan Nov 9, 2012 07:14 PM

                                          K-man - it works in any other kitchen in HI? or any other kitchen somewhere far away? I understand HI can be humid. (but then so are lots of places)

                                          1. re: hill food
                                            KaimukiMan RE: hill food Nov 10, 2012 09:41 PM

                                            I used to do fine at my dad's house, but its quite a bit drier there. And yes, where I am is very humid. I've made it at a rental cottage at the beach, hard to be more humid than that.

                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                              hill food RE: KaimukiMan Nov 18, 2012 06:51 PM

                                              maybe there's something funky with your oven, or water supply.

                                          2. re: KaimukiMan
                                            meatn3 RE: KaimukiMan Nov 9, 2012 08:10 PM

                                            For scientific purposes I feel strongly that you should come to NC and test this. We have a great many CH kitchens in the area so the testing would be quite thorough!

                                            Plus we could introduce you to the finer points of the never ending NC BBQ debates...

                                            1. re: meatn3
                                              KaimukiMan RE: meatn3 Nov 10, 2012 09:43 PM

                                              oh, barbecue, when you cook hot dogs and hamburgers outside on a webber.
                                              or hawaii kine barbecue, you know, teriyaki or kalbi. yum.

                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                mamachef RE: KaimukiMan Nov 10, 2012 10:02 PM

                                                Kalbi is short ribs, right? Marinated and then grilled? Fantastico!!

                                              2. re: meatn3
                                                Tehama RE: meatn3 Nov 19, 2012 02:26 PM

                                                @meatn3 --- awesome! totally agree!

                                      2. Perilagu Khan RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:01 AM

                                        I never even attempt fried chicken. There's no way I can do it as well as Popeye's, Colonel Sanders or Golden Chick, let alone my grandma, whose yardbird was supernal.

                                        1. c
                                          cleobeach RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:02 AM

                                          Bread. After many, many, many attempts, I have given up.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: cleobeach
                                            ttoommyy RE: cleobeach Nov 8, 2012 07:06 AM

                                            Me too. Bread in all its forms: simple loaves, pizza dough, focaccia, dinner rolls, you name it. On the other hand, I can bake any kind of cake you name and have decorated cookies and cakes to rival those you see in the best bakeries.

                                            1. re: cleobeach
                                              Dcfoodblog RE: cleobeach Nov 12, 2012 11:34 AM

                                              ME TOO! My bread never seems to have that bready consistency. There's very little chew to it no matter how long I knead it.

                                              1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                cleobeach RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 13, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                I have even enlisted outside help from very good home bakers. They just end up shaking their heads and pitying me for being so incapable of doing such a simple task.

                                              2. re: cleobeach
                                                ZoeLouise RE: cleobeach Nov 15, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                I think bread does take many, many, many attempts. After about a year and half a dozen bread books I could finally promise to bring a loaf or two to a dinner party without fear.

                                                And to think of all those door stops I produced! The internet forums I searched, the flours I ordered from all corners of the world...

                                                Flour, water, salt and yeast (or sourdough) - and lots of patience.

                                                1. re: cleobeach
                                                  jvanderh RE: cleobeach Nov 15, 2012 08:50 PM

                                                  Mea culpa for going off topic, but if you're kneading by hand, you need a loose dough- it's practically impossible to sufficiently knead stiff dough by hand. And you have to really, really knead it. Along with expecting the dough to rise in the time given by the recipe (dough rises whenever the hell it feels like it) that probably accounts for 90% of new bakers who turn out flat loaves. It works best to give loose dough sides to push up against rather than making a freeshaped loaf, and it gives you a nice advantage if you refrigerate the dough at least overnight before using it. Old yeast colonies give good ovenspring, and good ovenspring covers a multitude of sins. Oh and buy a baking scale!!

                                                2. fldhkybnva RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:35 AM

                                                  Pancakes, darn pancakes! It's been a lifelong struggle, I think I gave up a few years ago.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                    mamachef RE: fldhkybnva Nov 8, 2012 07:41 AM

                                                    I had trouble making pancakes for years, which meant my "career" in short-order never ever materialized, (NOT to my chagrin, fortunately.) Always leathery; always browned way too much. Then, a seasoned short-order cook told me that the secret was almost zero oil on the griddle, and the problem was solved forevermore.

                                                    1. re: mamachef
                                                      fldhkybnva RE: mamachef Nov 8, 2012 07:48 AM

                                                      I think I'm afraid to try anything as it seems I've tried it all. I will have to settle for the local diner which is not really a settle at all. Interestingly, neither my mother or grandmother can do pancakes either, perhaps there's a pancake making gene

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                        mamachef RE: fldhkybnva Nov 8, 2012 07:53 AM

                                                        I love a good local diner! Oh, for a plate of canned corned-beef hash, and no, I'm not joking. Just! Like mom used to make.....

                                                        1. re: mamachef
                                                          fldhkybnva RE: mamachef Nov 8, 2012 07:59 AM

                                                          Blargh, why did you have to mention the all time favorite corned beef hash! I love it! In the summer, I would wake up every morning to a kitchen emanating smells of corned beef hash and fried potatoes grandma-style.

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                            mamachef RE: fldhkybnva Nov 8, 2012 08:11 AM

                                                            Now you can have a craving brain-itch that can't possibly be resolved until you eat this, but I'm sure you know the cure already.

                                                  2. mamachef RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:40 AM

                                                    As ridiculous as this is, I can make a perfect Opera torte - but for the life of me, I can't make pre-packaged jello. No need to troubleshoot this either....I make it according to directions and dissolve it properly. I think the Jello gods are just mad at me for one thing or another.

                                                    1. Chinon00 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:59 AM


                                                      1. mels RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 08:03 AM

                                                        Cheesecake without the giant fault line running through it.

                                                        No matter the recipe I use, no matter the method (bain marie, slowly cooling in the oven for hours, etc.), I always end up with anywhere from a minor to major crack. I have used "fool-proof will never crack!" recipes, family recipes, America's Test Kitchen, Barefoot Contessa, old school cookbooks, classic cookbooks...all roads lead the the San Andreas Fault Cheesecake. Luckily it always tastes good but the perfect looking cheesecake continues to elude me.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: mels
                                                          juliejulez RE: mels Nov 12, 2012 10:56 AM

                                                          mels, one of the blogs I read covered how to fix cracks the other day:


                                                          1. re: juliejulez
                                                            ttoommyy RE: juliejulez Nov 12, 2012 11:12 AM

                                                            Hey, that's cheating! lol But a neat idea. :)

                                                            I think the thing with cheesecakes is to be able to bake is so it does not crack in the first place. That seems like the "holy grail" of cheesecake baking.

                                                          2. re: mels
                                                            roxlet RE: mels Nov 17, 2012 08:04 AM

                                                            I find that the magic cake strips that you wet and then affix around the perimeter of the pan really help with the fault line crack. The magic cake strips prevent the exterior of the cake from baking faster than the interior.

                                                            1. re: mels
                                                              eviemichael RE: mels Nov 18, 2012 10:37 PM

                                                              You may have already tried this, but the best way I found to avoid cheesecake cracks is baking it for the first 10 minutes at 400F and then turning the oven down for the rest of the baking- I don't even use a water bath and...no cracks.

                                                              1. re: eviemichael
                                                                jvanderh RE: eviemichael Nov 19, 2012 12:19 AM

                                                                What do you turn it down to, and what recipe do you use, if you don't mind?

                                                                1. re: jvanderh
                                                                  eviemichael RE: jvanderh Nov 19, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                                  I turn the temp down to 200 for the rest of baking.

                                                                  I use the smitten kitchen recipe which is based on a gourmet recipe from the 90s I think...

                                                                  It's the absolute best recipe I've ever made, everyone goes nuts over it every. time.


                                                              2. re: mels
                                                                TheEnigmaFacade RE: mels Nov 19, 2012 11:16 AM

                                                                loosely tenting cheesecake will resolve this - fold heavy foil in half, and secure on two sides of the cheesecake, making a tent. As the moisture rises from the cheesecake, the tent forces it back down on top, so you get neither skin nor cracking. I use Chantal's NY cheesecake off Allrecipes. An hour of the oven on, at least four in the oven undisturbed.

                                                              3. h
                                                                Harters RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 08:32 AM


                                                                Try as I might, I simply cannot cook steak even to mediocrity. I have given up in recent years and leave it to my partner.

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: Harters
                                                                  nikkib99 RE: Harters Nov 12, 2012 06:18 PM

                                                                  Get a cast iron pan and open the windows. You'll never pay $40 for a steak again. Make sure you get your meat from a butcher not that grocery store one-step-from-horsemeat variety.

                                                                  1. re: nikkib99
                                                                    fldhkybnva RE: nikkib99 Nov 12, 2012 06:24 PM

                                                                    +1. I don't have much access to a butcher but even with the grocery store "horsemeat" (a bit harsh :). investing in a cast iron pan has greatly elevated my weekly Sunday night steaks and I rarely find a need to go to a steakhouse anymore.

                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                      nikkib99 RE: fldhkybnva Nov 12, 2012 07:39 PM

                                                                      Maybe I meant horsemeat was better. :)

                                                                      Once in a great while, I'll see a couple packages of meat 'reduced for quick sale' at my grocery store. This meat is packaged in the typical styrofoam base and cling film with a bright orange sticker. A quick look will show why it's on sale - green and really dark spots.

                                                                      Maybe I'm too much of a city/whole foods girl but I can only see myself spending the night in the bathroom after consuming greenish meat.

                                                                      And please don't say it could be dry-aged markings. Jewel does not dry age their meats.

                                                                      1. re: nikkib99
                                                                        fldhkybnva RE: nikkib99 Nov 14, 2012 08:10 AM

                                                                        I understood your reference that horsemeat was somehow better than grocery store meat. However, I think that the quality of meat places like Harris Teeter, Wegman's, Whole Foods etc should never be compared to anything close to horsemeat. I have never bought a piece of meat that was green or had spots and the quality has always been fantastic. Perhaps, we were on different wavelengths as I thought you were referring to all grocery stores but it seems that you might have only been referring to places such as WalMart and Target which don't have an actual meat counter. I assumed you meant a neighborhood butcher only shop and not just a store with an actual meat counter. If so, I do agree that I rarely/have never bought meat at a store without an actual meat counter which either I have to ask the butcher for the product or it has been cut at the counter and packed in the refrigerated case. I don't feel I need to go to a real-live old-time butcher shop when I can get supreme quality, even dry aged steak at local grocery stores like the ones listed above). In fact, I think we might be in agreement, with some clarification of your initial statement :)

                                                                        1. re: nikkib99
                                                                          escondido123 RE: nikkib99 Nov 14, 2012 01:34 PM

                                                                          My store has meat for quick sale and is always in really good shape. Just needs to be cooked or frozen within a day or two. But then, I have great stores with butchers.

                                                                          1. re: nikkib99
                                                                            juliejulez RE: nikkib99 Nov 14, 2012 04:26 PM

                                                                            I've never seen greenish meat in the discount section at the stores where I shop. In fact, the discount section at my local grocery stores (a Kroger-owned store and a Safeway) is the only way I can afford to do steak most of the time. It's never green, or brown, and it always cooks up beautifully. Is it the same as a $30/lb filet from a butcher shop? Not entirely, but it's close enough and cost 75% less. They're only reduced in price because the required sell by date is approaching. Buy them, take them home, and cook them up right away and they're just fine.

                                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                                              fldhkybnva RE: juliejulez Nov 14, 2012 05:10 PM

                                                                              While I have never picked up steak in the discount section (mostly because I've never seen any there), I routinely will buy chicken breasts and ground meat which is in the discount section only because it has reached it's sell-by date and have never noticed any difference from the same product in the regular section. Of course I usually cook it up that day or freeze.

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                dtremit RE: fldhkybnva Nov 18, 2012 05:23 PM

                                                                                I'm usually pretty picky, but I have started to keep an eye out for "manager's specials" on bone-in chicken. Often one of the most economical ways to make stock, and after hours of cooking you know it's safe...

                                                                            2. re: nikkib99
                                                                              Violatp RE: nikkib99 Nov 16, 2012 10:25 AM

                                                                              I was just complaining to a friend about how bad the meat is at Jewel! And so overpriced... For just a few more dollars, if I want good meat, I'll go to Whole Foods.

                                                                      2. biondanonima RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 09:27 AM

                                                                        Until recently, rice was my unicorn. Plain rice. Risotto, no problem. But tell me to make a side of plain white or brown rice and you'd end up with a gluey, nasty, half burned half raw mess every time. That is, until I learned the pasta method - boil rice in plentiful water until almost cooked, then drain and cover for 10 mins so the steam and remaining water gently finish the cooking process. Perfect rice every time. I also like the method I learned in 660 Curries for basmati, but for brown and white, it's the past method all the way.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: biondanonima
                                                                          sisterfunkhaus RE: biondanonima Nov 8, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                                          I sometimes had trouble too until I got a fuzzy logic rice cooker. Now brown rice, white rice, and quinoa come out perfectly.

                                                                          1. re: biondanonima
                                                                            jvanderh RE: biondanonima Nov 15, 2012 08:52 PM

                                                                            This was mine for a long time. I stick to a couple of brands of rice- a lot of them seem to need about five hours of cooking to become soft.

                                                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                                                              walker RE: biondanonima Nov 16, 2012 10:36 PM

                                                                              Re: white rice .. have you ever seen Barbara Tropp's China Moon cookbook? Her recipe always comes out perfectly for me. I use basmati rice. Here's the recipe BUT the rice/water part is NOT the way it's written in the book. Here's from the blog:

                                                                              I rinse the rice in cold water about 6 times (removes starch). For small amt:
                                                                              1 1/4 cups rice
                                                                              1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbl water

                                                                              big amt:
                                                                              2 1/2 cups rice
                                                                              2 3/4 cups water

                                                                              Afterl rinseing several times, put rice in pot with cold water. Bring quickly to a boil, reduce to simmer, put lid on for 15 minutes. Let sit off heat with lid on another 20 minutes.

                                                                            2. s
                                                                              sisterfunkhaus RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                              Meat Loaf. I can make anything I have a recipe almost without fail, and can make plenty of things with no recipe. I even make a mean Salisbury steak. But, no matter how many times I try meatloaf, I fail. It just never tastes any good. I've tried different dry binders, seasonings, sauces, etc... It's sad becasue my mom is not a very good cook but makes and awesome meatloaf.

                                                                              1. w
                                                                                wandajune6 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                                Popcorn on the stovetop. Sure, my hot air popper is great. But after trying popcorn popped with oil in a pot, it's hard to go back. Sadly, I always either end up burning it or leaving most of the kernels unpopped.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: wandajune6
                                                                                  fldhkybnva RE: wandajune6 Nov 8, 2012 12:08 PM

                                                                                  Love, love, love stovetop and airpopped popcorn for that matter. With the stove top, my method has always been to put in up to 3 tbsp oil and single layer of kernels in the bottom. Turn to medium high and let it go. I usually get great results . I know that some people like to just put in 3 kernels and wait until they pop to add more but my method has been successful so far. Perhaps it might work for you. Also with my air popper, I often end up with more unpopped kernels that fly out before they are popped. I have taken to the makeshift method of tilting the popper back until popping starts.

                                                                                  1. re: wandajune6
                                                                                    sisterfunkhaus RE: wandajune6 Nov 8, 2012 07:56 PM

                                                                                    You have to push and pull the pan over the burner to constantly move the popcorn kernels. It's another thing you really have to babysit, but it is totally worth it.

                                                                                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                                                                                      fldhkybnva RE: sisterfunkhaus Nov 8, 2012 07:56 PM

                                                                                      Oh yes, I forgot that critical step. I shimmy it on the stove while it's heating up and popping.

                                                                                    2. re: wandajune6
                                                                                      Tripeler RE: wandajune6 Nov 9, 2012 05:15 AM

                                                                                      I make popcorn in a cast-iron pot with a loose-fitting lid which lets steam escape. I have used the same pot for popcorn only for over 30 years, and it has become perfect. I shake intermittently while it is popping and all the kernals usually pop. Really wouldn't pop corn any other way.

                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                        biondanonima RE: Tripeler Nov 9, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                                                        I have a non-stick wok-shaped pan that is made of heavy aluminum. It is completely useless for cooking anything other than popcorn. The sloping sides ensure that the unpopped kernels slide right back down into the oil while the popped stuff builds up around the sides (and therefore doesn't burn). I cover it with a splatter screen that allows steam to escape while keeping the kernels inside. 2 tablespoons of bacon grease plus 1/3 cup of popcorn, medium heat and just a shake or two to keep things moving. Popcorn nirvana.

                                                                                        1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                          Tripeler RE: biondanonima Nov 17, 2012 12:23 AM

                                                                                          Wow, the wok-shaped pan you have sounds ideal.

                                                                                      2. re: wandajune6
                                                                                        nikkib99 RE: wandajune6 Nov 12, 2012 06:21 PM

                                                                                        Buy a whirly-pop. After I got mine about 3 years ago, I gave away every bag of microwave popcorn I had. I can't even microwave popcorn anymore because it tastes like chemicals.

                                                                                        1. re: nikkib99
                                                                                          wandajune6 RE: nikkib99 Nov 14, 2012 01:45 PM

                                                                                          I've been curious about those before- I just didn't think I could justify the storage space. They're that good?

                                                                                          1. re: wandajune6
                                                                                            nikkib99 RE: wandajune6 Nov 15, 2012 08:39 PM

                                                                                            I think they are that good, but you can probably make do with a large cheap pot. The whirly-pop has a handle you turn which helps moves the popped kernels above the unpopped ones. The pot is much lighter than most cooking pots, so if you were in the market for a popcorn pot that's safe enough to take a beating - think kettlecorn - a cheap pot will do. Forget stainless steel. Using a regular pot, you would just have to shake it around a few times to settle the unpopped kernels.

                                                                                            Mine is a little burnt at the bottom, but that's not biggie as it's only used for popcorn. I would be upset if I had burnt sugar in my regular pots. I see what you mean as far as storage, but I have mine tucked away in the pantry.

                                                                                      3. cowboyardee RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                                        I've done a lot of work on my home oven pizza (leaning toward Neapolitan style), and I'm not halfway as good as a lot of the guys on pizzamaking.com. Were it not for tiny, marginal improvements each time I try, I would've given up long ago.

                                                                                        1. j
                                                                                          JJS360 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 01:45 PM

                                                                                          Omelets/omelettes! I know egg cookery is supposed to be the true test of a skilled cook, and it looks like I still have much learning to do. While fluffy in the middle, I can't seem to avoid that leathery outer layer. But I will not give up!

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: JJS360
                                                                                            fldhkybnva RE: JJS360 Nov 8, 2012 01:54 PM

                                                                                            sign me up for omelettes. In my kitchen, omelette = scrambled eggs so I just go with that instead of face the disappointment. I think my issue is one of overstuffage. I love a ton of stuff in my eggs, but with an omelette the folding doesn't work well when it's stuffed with bacon, sausage, mushrooms, etc. I also have this overfilling issue with other foods - any type of sandwich wrap, tacos, burritos, you name, it if involves wrapping, mine will be busting at the seems and precarious to eat.

                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                              Perilagu Khan RE: fldhkybnva Nov 8, 2012 02:28 PM

                                                                                              The Khantessa is an incorrigible overstuffer. I'm going to have to get her a portable splashguard for burritos and suchlike.

                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                tcamp RE: fldhkybnva Nov 8, 2012 04:14 PM

                                                                                                I'm an overstuffer too. But I make great omelettes, of the flop-over school! A bit of hollandaise or sour cream on top camoflages unfortuate tears.

                                                                                              2. re: JJS360
                                                                                                sisterfunkhaus RE: JJS360 Nov 8, 2012 07:58 PM

                                                                                                I cooked omelettes for 24 years before I perfected them. The key was turning down the heat a little bit. Make sure you are pulling the cooked omelette inward towards the middle of the pan and tilting the pan so the liquid goes to the outer edge of the pan. Don't give up!! A good omelette is worth the years of trial and error.

                                                                                                1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                                                                                                  tcamp RE: sisterfunkhaus Nov 9, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                                                                  You are exactly right! I put the pan on extremely low heat, pour in the eggs, then stand there gently lifting the edges and tilting the pan to let the uncooked egg get to the bottom. Then I add filling before the middle is completely set. Always comes out perfectly! Spouse refuses to follow my instructions and then gripes when his omelets are dry and brown.

                                                                                                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                                                                                                    Perilagu Khan RE: sisterfunkhaus Nov 9, 2012 07:24 AM

                                                                                                    I make a killer omelette, but I only make them for my wife. I don't like 'em. Much prefer frittatas.

                                                                                                  2. re: JJS360
                                                                                                    dtremit RE: JJS360 Nov 18, 2012 05:27 PM

                                                                                                    The trick that always helps me is to cover the pan for a few seconds to help the top side set before the bottom browns.

                                                                                                  3. meatn3 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 8, 2012 07:41 PM

                                                                                                    I just realized I have another unicorn or perhaps I just cook in multiple realities?

                                                                                                    Hash browns. Never get brown enough. Always taste bland. Texture just seems mushy. Greasy spoons just whomp my feeble attempts.

                                                                                                    But I can make good home fries!

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: meatn3
                                                                                                      mamachef RE: meatn3 Nov 8, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                                                      meatn3, have you seen the thread about hash browns on home cooking? I never ever could make them until I followed the "frozen, par-cooked" method.

                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                        meatn3 RE: mamachef Nov 8, 2012 07:57 PM

                                                                                                        mamachef, you give me hope! I'll look it over again. I think I was weary of it all when the thread was active and went out for breakfast instead...

                                                                                                        1. re: meatn3
                                                                                                          mamachef RE: meatn3 Nov 9, 2012 05:09 AM

                                                                                                          It's one looooong thread, but what finally FINALLY worked was: parboil those potatoes until you can JUST get a skewer through, and then throw the little basstiges in the freezer for about 4-6 hours. Grate fast and get into your hot hot shortening. Crispy brown perfection outside; fluffy potatoey goodness within. And I'm here to tell ya, if you use a combo of bacon grease, butter and oil, the flavor is not to be believed. The other big thing is not to mess with them until that crust is fully formed, at which point you can give them a good flip and they'll stay whole for you, even. Then let the other side do the same while you make your eggs and bacon, or whatever you side them with that fills your heart with pure joy. :)

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                            Tripeler RE: mamachef Nov 9, 2012 05:18 AM

                                                                                                            Great post, mamachef. Your combo of bacon grease, butter and oil is my ideal combo for popping corn. Turns out little salt is needed, and the flavor is rich and complex. I'll try hashbrowns with that...

                                                                                                            1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                                              mamachef RE: Tripeler Nov 9, 2012 07:55 AM

                                                                                                              And I'll now be trying your way to pop corn!!

                                                                                                              1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                                                hill food RE: Tripeler Nov 9, 2012 07:15 PM

                                                                                                                and tell us what you get if you ever try duck fat instead of the bacon fat.

                                                                                                      2. Gio RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 06:45 AM

                                                                                                        Scones. Scones and Paella. I've made many, many loaves of bread, even made my own sourdough starter, braided many a challah, but I Cannot make a decent scone. Always too dry and somewhat tasteless no matter what recipe I try. And as for paella: Forget it. It always comes out too wet but practically burnt on the bottom with the middle undercooked.

                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                          fldhkybnva RE: Gio Nov 9, 2012 08:01 AM

                                                                                                          My scones look awful, but taste great! We enjoy them in the house, but I wouldn't dare bring them anywhere.

                                                                                                          1. re: Gio
                                                                                                            sparky403 RE: Gio Nov 16, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                                            Paella is a tough one.... the saying goes "you wait for Paella it doesn't wait for you". Try taking it off heat when there is stil visable liquid and covering it for 15 minutes or so.. I got this tip from watching throw down - Arroyo con pollo episode, which was my unicorn which (basically Paella without seafood- I finally mastered it).

                                                                                                            Also, Arroyo Con Pollo is a great way to master your Paella technique

                                                                                                            1. re: sparky403
                                                                                                              PotatoHouse RE: sparky403 Nov 16, 2012 05:43 PM

                                                                                                              I have to ask Sparky, do you have a true Paella pan? I haven't attempted to make it yet (it's just the wife and I and we can't eat that much Paella) but I have heard that you can't make real Paella without a Paella pan.

                                                                                                              1. re: PotatoHouse
                                                                                                                sparky403 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 16, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                I have an all clad braiser which is not exactly the same - a true Paella pan is much cheaper and carbon steel.

                                                                                                                A chef friend of mine always made it (and for paying customers) in a cast iron skillet.... I haven't heard this... but at once I don't disagree with the comment... I have been meaning to get one but haven't... my paella (and arrozo con pollo) turn out pretty well though. I don't get as much of the socrete (sp) that spanards love however.

                                                                                                              2. re: sparky403
                                                                                                                Gio RE: sparky403 Nov 17, 2012 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                Thank you for the paella tips, sparky. I do have a 12" paella pan from La Tienda which I used for my several attempts. perhaps I'll haul it out and try your ideas, especially the chicken paella. Although, one of my mis-attempts was a multi vegetable paella by Yotam Ottolenghi from his book "Plenty".

                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                  sparky403 RE: Gio Nov 17, 2012 03:26 PM

                                                                                                                  good luck - you'll get it - it took me five times or so... all ediable but not great until finally it was. I feel far more confident making paella now.

                                                                                                                  Also, the main benefit from using the paella pan is the Socrete... the toasty layer of carmelized rice on the bottom of the pan.

                                                                                                                  One other tip from Daisy Marteniz is to add liquid to the rice until it covers by an inch... you wanna do a bit less if clams and musseles are involved due to their nectar:;-)

                                                                                                                  Good luck

                                                                                                                  1. re: sparky403
                                                                                                                    Gio RE: sparky403 Nov 18, 2012 05:06 AM

                                                                                                                    Very good... thanks for your additional advice. Practice does make perfect after all.

                                                                                                                    I have the Daisy Eats! cookbook and love her recipes...

                                                                                                            2. mamachef RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 07:54 AM

                                                                                                              Looks like even the most-accomplished cooks have a unicorn. I'm so relieved. :)

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                meatn3 RE: mamachef Nov 9, 2012 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                This would be a fun question to add to interviews of famous chefs!

                                                                                                                I suspect everyone has had a unicorn. It is inspiring reading of the perseverance of 'hounds in trying and trying for years until they achieve mastery.

                                                                                                                1. re: meatn3
                                                                                                                  Perilagu Khan RE: meatn3 Nov 9, 2012 01:51 PM

                                                                                                                  I once made fricassee of unicorn. It cooked down to nothing.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                    mamachef RE: Perilagu Khan Nov 9, 2012 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                    How was the marrow? Sounds like it was a collagen-rich cut.....

                                                                                                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                                                                                      meatn3 RE: Perilagu Khan Nov 9, 2012 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                      Calorie count was?

                                                                                                                2. j
                                                                                                                  jayjaymom RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                  What a great question! I've been trying to make pumkin cookies that are flat and chewy, not cakey. I'm after the same texture as the classic Brer Rabbit molasses drop cookies that are rolled in sugar. Any ideas?

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: jayjaymom
                                                                                                                    mamachef RE: jayjaymom Nov 14, 2012 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                    Hiya jayjaymom, that recipe has gotten the better of me, too. If you're on a mission to re-work that exact one cut the leavening ingredients by 1/4 t. and up the molasses by 1 T. or, just google "Elevator Lady Spice Cookies." Those come out crackledy, moist and crispy-edged every last time.

                                                                                                                  2. c
                                                                                                                    chileheadmike RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                    Every year about this time (when the jalapenos have ripened and I've dried them in a smoker loaded with pecan), I try to make a special killer barbecue sauce. I think I've finally given up. I had it in my head to make a demi-glace, chipotle, tomatoey barbecue sauce and now I just don't think the flavors will work. I made a lot of batches though.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: chileheadmike
                                                                                                                      Floridagirl RE: chileheadmike Nov 9, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                      I have tried 1000 barbecue sauce recipes i think, and I don't like any of them, recipes, made up, etc. So now I buy a bottle of KC Masterpiece and put it in a saucepan and throw the bottle away. Everybody loves my BBQ sauce. Dirty little secret.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                                        chileheadmike RE: Floridagirl Nov 9, 2012 08:32 PM

                                                                                                                        FG, I'm from KC. Lived there for 50 years. KC Masterpiece, to me anyway, is the scourge of the universe. More power to you, but it is not representative of KC sauce. By all accounts Rich Davis is a great guy, but I wish his sauce was named after Peoria or Toledo or something.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                                          cleobeach RE: Floridagirl Nov 13, 2012 07:37 AM

                                                                                                                          Ha! There is a BBQ stand where we vacation and the line wraps around the street for take-out. More than once I have seen the cooks throwing away huge empty jugs of food service BBQ sauce in the dumpster.

                                                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                                                        escondido123 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 10:42 AM

                                                                                                                        Shrimp. Either too salty, dry or tasteless.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: escondido123
                                                                                                                          Chinon00 RE: escondido123 Nov 9, 2012 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                          You're afraid of undercooking. They only take a minute or so. Pink.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                                                            escondido123 RE: Chinon00 Nov 9, 2012 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                            I wish that was the problem. If anything I tend to undercook but they just never seem to have the taste I remember. Though maybe I just really don't like shrimp when they're hot and I just need to stick with cold shrimp and a good cocktail sauce..

                                                                                                                        2. foodieX2 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                          Plain old chicken noodle soup. It is always either bland, too salty and bland or just watery bland.

                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2
                                                                                                                            mamachef RE: foodieX2 Nov 9, 2012 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                            Bet we can help you troubleshoot that one, foodieX2. How do you make yours?

                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                              foodieX2 RE: mamachef Nov 9, 2012 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                              I swear I am hopeless. I haven't even tried in years! Leftover chicken/turkey goes into pot pies!

                                                                                                                              I do make my own stock. I save up roast chicken carcasses in the freezer and when I have enough I throw them in a pot with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, pepper corns and maybe a bay leaf or two. Cover with cold water plus a TBS of ACV (to help get all the gelatin out of the bones) and simmer for looog time, skimming as I go. Strain and then divide into containers to freeze. I do like my stock and use it for things like risotto, etc with success.

                                                                                                                              For the soup I tried two things for the meat, 1) leftover roasted chicken 2) poaching the chicken in the aforementioned stock, then removing, cooling, chopping and adding it back. Never really noticed a difference.

                                                                                                                              After that I add roughly chopped carrots and celery. to my broth. For herbs I use a fresh thyme, lots of S/P. Once the veggies are soft I add the noodles-usually egg but sometimes ditalini or other small pastas.

                                                                                                                              It is never like my moms and never like my friends which seem to be full of flavor. I wish my mom was still alive because I suspect she used bouillon in addition to making her own stock…

                                                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2
                                                                                                                                cowboyardee RE: foodieX2 Nov 9, 2012 03:09 PM

                                                                                                                                Ever try just reducing the stock more before starting?

                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                  mamachef RE: cowboyardee Nov 9, 2012 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                                  How much cold water do you cover that chicken with? Your water/veg/carcass ratio might be off.....and as cowboyardee states, reduction may be part of the issue as well. That, and salt, and a squeeze of lemon or few drops of other acid, may also correct it, but go easy on the salt. Even a shot of soy can provide a bit of depth, but just a shot.
                                                                                                                                  Also: did your mom employ the use of MSG or Ac'cent in her cooking, that you know of?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                    foodieX2 RE: mamachef Nov 9, 2012 03:35 PM

                                                                                                                                    No never that I am aware of but I became suspicious of the bouillon because my friend, who makes awesome soups in general, always adds a few cubes of the stuff to her stock. Made me go hmmmm.

                                                                                                                                    I use just enough cold water to cover and I do like my stock on its on for other dishes. But maybe for soup I do need to reduce it more. Good suggestions, thank you!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2
                                                                                                                                      Perilagu Khan RE: foodieX2 Nov 12, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                      Funny, but whenever I make chicken stock I only cook it for maybe 2 1/2 hours and it comes out fine. But I cook at something slightly more vigorous than a true simmer.

                                                                                                                                      Also, a bit of rosemary won't go amiss in chicken stock.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2
                                                                                                                                        Jay F RE: foodieX2 Nov 12, 2012 11:38 AM

                                                                                                                                        I wonder if you just need more salt in your chicken noodle soup; that, and don't overcook the meat. And I like the idea of reducing your stock.

                                                                                                                                        When I make stock, I do it the way Barbara Kafka does in her book SOUP. It's just chicken and water to cover. I add flavors when I make the soup.

                                                                                                                                        When I don't make stock, I use Penzey's chicken soup base, but not so much you can tell.

                                                                                                                                        I can't think of my "unicorn" dish. Most of the time when I fail to make something well, it's something I don't care about that much (rice, piecrust, bread). I just move on to something I *do* do well.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                          mamachef RE: Jay F Nov 14, 2012 06:19 AM

                                                                                                                                          "NO," she yelled. "I will NEVER stop trying! ;

                                                                                                                                  2. re: foodieX2
                                                                                                                                    downtownfoodie RE: foodieX2 Nov 15, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                    try roasting the carcasses (don't have to add a step, just throw it back in the oven for 20 mins after carving/cleaning the first time). you can also use a pressure cooker to cut the simmering time.

                                                                                                                              2. greygarious RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                                The unicorn is not difficult to catch, according to commonly understood mythology. It will lay its head in the lap of a virgin and remain there, allowing itself to be captured. It is a symbol of innocence and purity, so killing it is a horrific sin.

                                                                                                                                I'd be more inclined to use "Everest" in this context. Mine is spectacularly high popovers. My oven is old and may not be maintaining even temp all that well. Though I do have the proper pan, I don't want to use white flour and that seems to be the problem. So I content myself with the more modest ones I get with white whole wheat flour.

                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                  cowboyardee RE: greygarious Nov 9, 2012 04:25 PM

                                                                                                                                  and yet, if I thought unicorn sausage would make my pizza any better, I'd go there

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                    mamachef RE: cowboyardee Nov 9, 2012 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    Hee hee. Unicorn Jello. I'd do it. Maybe the collagen from the horn would help mine set.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                    Perilagu Khan RE: greygarious Nov 12, 2012 07:37 AM

                                                                                                                                    "It will lay its head in the lap of a virgin and remain there"

                                                                                                                                    No wonder they're extinct.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                                                                                      jvanderh RE: greygarious Nov 15, 2012 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                      I don't think we're killing the unicorn, just finding it. I have yet to bump into a unicorn, so it seems like a perfectly fine analogy to me. If you'd asked for my Everest, I'd have said candy canes. Something I tried to make in spite of multiple perils, expensive, and to no real point, except saying I did it.

                                                                                                                                    2. Marusik RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                                                                                                      Funny enough - grains. I have no to a little luck with rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa. I almost always end up with either undercooked or overcooked mess. The only one I am good with is old-fashioned oats, because I don't cook them, just add hot water:).

                                                                                                                                      1. f
                                                                                                                                        Floridagirl RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                                        I crave NY style pizza, foldy greasy, drippy, but is not available here in Florida. No matter what I do, the crust is just not right. Everybody loves it but it's not what I'm going for. And, to all of you who have failed at bread, trust me, don't follow the recipes. I have made all of my own bread since I was 21, and until I was 23, enjoyed many doorstops made of flour. #1, always proof the yeast. Just use the liquid in the recipe heated to 100-105, buy a thermometer, if there's sugar in the recipe add that too. Wait 10 mins. Add 1/3 of the flour. Wait 10 mins. Then add the rest of the ingredients but be judicious when adding the flour. Wet is better than too dry. Then just carry on. I know that lots of folks weigh things, etc. but that's too much work for me. My aha moment was when I remembered what my mom's bread dough looked like and it was so much looser than what the recipes called for.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                                                          hill food RE: Floridagirl Nov 9, 2012 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                          it can be over-worked I have come to believe

                                                                                                                                        2. Boudleaux RE: PotatoHouse Nov 9, 2012 08:57 PM

                                                                                                                                          Chicken & Dumplings. I guess it really isn't truly my unicorn because it turns out acceptable, good even, but it doesn't come out the way that I want it which is like my Grandmother's. Her dumplings were perfection and the whole thing was very stew-y with shredded chicken all the way through it. It was almost...creamy...I guess is the word I'm looking for. I try every winter though.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Boudleaux
                                                                                                                                            hill food RE: Boudleaux Nov 10, 2012 12:06 AM

                                                                                                                                            yeah it's like somebody's upstream worry over biscuits, they both look and seem so darn simple. and really OUGHT to be.

                                                                                                                                            but not. spaetzle or knudeln either.

                                                                                                                                            it must have something to do with recombinant DNA.

                                                                                                                                          2. r
                                                                                                                                            RosePearl RE: PotatoHouse Nov 10, 2012 12:52 AM

                                                                                                                                            I lived in Japan for 8 years. My tempura still sucks.

                                                                                                                                            1. MplsM ary RE: PotatoHouse Nov 11, 2012 10:52 PM

                                                                                                                                              Gravy. As a vegetarian I thought tasty non-meat "gravy" was in fact, a unicorn. Then I ate an Amy's veggie loaf dinner and Damn! Tasty, gravy-like (though perhaps a tad tomato-y for those who know better) sauce was sloshed atop a delightful legume packed, loaf slice. Since then, I keep trying and failing.

                                                                                                                                              In case anyone wants to take revenge on a unicorn... http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e5a7...

                                                                                                                                              1. d
                                                                                                                                                Dcfoodblog RE: PotatoHouse Nov 12, 2012 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                Grilled cheese sandwiches. I can never not burn them.

                                                                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                                                                                  fldhkybnva RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 12, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Low and slow. I usually heat up my cast iron a notch above the lowest setting of my stove (2/low-10), butter bread, 1st side 2-3 minutes, flip, 2nd side 2ish minutes and it's nice and golden brown.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                    Jay F RE: fldhkybnva Nov 12, 2012 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                    What s/he ^ said. Also, I put a lid on the pan while the first side cooks to help the cheese melt, so I don't need as much grilling time.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                      sparky403 RE: Jay F Nov 16, 2012 01:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I use mayo on my grill cheeses - it's far easier to spread and works just the same as butah - medium hot pan.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sparky403
                                                                                                                                                        Jay F RE: sparky403 Nov 16, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                        You're joking, right?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                          fldhkybnva RE: Jay F Nov 16, 2012 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I've heard similar - spread with mayo instead of butter and it gets nice and crispy. I have yet to try it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                            Jay F RE: fldhkybnva Nov 16, 2012 02:41 PM


                                                                                                                                                            How do you pronounce your name?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                              fldhkybnva RE: Jay F Nov 16, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Good question! :) It is a spin on field hockey in VA and a username I created literally 15 years ago but since it's so familiar I still use it for everything

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                            sparky403 RE: Jay F Nov 16, 2012 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I am absolutely not joking.Mayo spreads much easier and I belive you can get much more even browning on the grilled cheese (or tuna which I do most of the time)... fat after all is fat........ give it a try and if it doesn't work (which it will) you can tell me I am full of it...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sparky403
                                                                                                                                                              Jay F RE: sparky403 Nov 16, 2012 09:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Oh, I don't put mayo *inside* sandwiches. I'm not going to put it on the outside. I do fine with softened butter. Never had an issue.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                                sparky403 RE: Jay F Nov 17, 2012 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                as you will - Once I found myself without butter and tried mayo - i actually liked it better. If you find yourself in a pinch (cooking at a friends etc) give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                                  mamachef RE: Jay F Nov 19, 2012 09:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Jay, it's a good sub. You'd be suprised!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef
                                                                                                                                                                    Jay F RE: mamachef Nov 19, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Warm mayo is one of those things that just squicks me out.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                                      chefathome RE: Jay F Nov 19, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      "Squicks" - love it! :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jay F
                                                                                                                                                                        roxlet RE: Jay F Nov 19, 2012 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I would think that by the time the cheese has melted and the bread has browned, the residue of the mayo would be nothing more than the same oil slick you'd have from butter.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                                                                                          dct RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 12, 2012 12:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Me too. I always start slow, but then get impatient and whoops! burned to a crisp. I have many cooking skills--croissants from scratch, boning out a leg of lamb, a mean cheese fondue, but the simple grilled cheese is an iffy prospect.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dct
                                                                                                                                                            fldhkybnva RE: dct Nov 12, 2012 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I usually set the kitchen timer for 3 minutes so that I don't forget and then I feel comfortable walking away to wash a dish or run to another room to get something done to distract myself.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                                                                                            fldhkybnva RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 12, 2012 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Also when I flip I pat it lightly with the spatula, but I really hate squashed grilled cheese sandwiches so press just hard enough that the slices of cheese find each other and can melt together. I know that my mother loves to smash the crap out of grilled cheese sandwiches so I'm not sure how much that might affect the cooking time if you're a smashed fan.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                                                                                              escondido123 RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 12, 2012 05:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I use a bacon press to make sure there is good contact between bread and pan. And I put the oil on the bread, not in the pan. The other trick is the grate the cheese so it melts better.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                                                                                                                dtremit RE: Dcfoodblog Nov 18, 2012 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Diner trick: start the sandwich open-face, with half the cheese on each slice, and combine 'em when the cheese starts to melt. The warm air hitting the cheese will melt it before the bread's quite as well done.

                                                                                                                                                              2. n
                                                                                                                                                                nikkib99 RE: PotatoHouse Nov 12, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Fried chicken is mine as well. I can follow a very complicated recipe, but for some reason I can't fry chicken. I have this fear of spattering oil and even bought a deep fryer to reduce spattering and control temperature, but I always question the cooking time.

                                                                                                                                                                8 or 10 minutes for chicken... really? Even after looking at several recipes, youtube, google, I still think leaving anything in oil for more than 5 minutes can't be right.

                                                                                                                                                                1. p
                                                                                                                                                                  plasticanimal RE: PotatoHouse Nov 12, 2012 06:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I've made many tomato sauces over the years, ranging from good to lovely, but I've never found the exact taste I've been searching for.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: plasticanimal
                                                                                                                                                                    Kelli2006 RE: plasticanimal Nov 13, 2012 10:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I can help with your serach for the perfect red sauce, but I'll need to know what taste you are looking for.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kelli2006
                                                                                                                                                                      plasticanimal RE: Kelli2006 Nov 14, 2012 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks! I don't think I really know what's missing, though. But I'll take any suggestions you have for a great Bolognese!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: plasticanimal
                                                                                                                                                                        linguafood RE: plasticanimal Nov 16, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        That might work better, since it doesn't generally involve tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Shellhead RE: PotatoHouse Nov 14, 2012 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I have problems with any frosting that needs to be cooked at or near the soft ball stage. I just can't seem to get it right. Either it's too runny, or it ends up too hard and becomes impossible to spread.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. s
                                                                                                                                                                      SocksManly RE: PotatoHouse Nov 15, 2012 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      http://i.imgur.com/VPhCU.jpg relevant enough....

                                                                                                                                                                      1. j
                                                                                                                                                                        jvanderh RE: PotatoHouse Nov 15, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Gluten free baguette. No eggs, milk, or other weirdness if you please- flours, salt, yeast, and water. And it had d*mnwell better be cooked in an oven that's at least 400 degrees. The crust should threaten the delicate tissues inside my mouth, or it ain't a baguette. So help me, one day I'll figure it out.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                                                                          chefathome RE: jvanderh Nov 16, 2012 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with you! I made one the other day I was able to roll out nicely and it was actually quite good. It was crusty with a soft centre. But it is still not like gluten baguettes, sadly... :-(

                                                                                                                                                                          When you figure it out, LET ME KNOW!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. biggreenmatt RE: PotatoHouse Nov 16, 2012 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Smoked brisket, bless it. My smoked brisket comes out very, very tasty, but dryer than I'd like.

                                                                                                                                                                          I've tried tricks and tips (add a water pan... baste... use a mop... different rubs... blah blah blah) but I don't get the gorgeous, crusty, burnt-ends, fall-apart brisket I've seen done by masters.

                                                                                                                                                                          My current hypothesis: I'm overthinking it. Beautiful brisket is made by toothless inbred yokels (all respect to those toothless inbred yokels!) who have no "culinary training", no access to the internet and just learned by doing or from tradition. Next time, I'm going to throw away the thermometer, chuck any and all techniques or tricks and just smoke the damn thing very, very low until it's done. Whenever that is.

                                                                                                                                                                          A six-pack of beer will likely be involved.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: biggreenmatt
                                                                                                                                                                            chileheadmike RE: biggreenmatt Nov 16, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Wait a minute, I have all my teeth. And I went to culinary school.

                                                                                                                                                                            You sound like you're in need of a Texas Crutch. Wrap that sucker in foil after about 4 to 6 hours. Then remove from the foil for the last hour or so. Let it rest wrapped up.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chileheadmike
                                                                                                                                                                              biggreenmatt RE: chileheadmike Nov 16, 2012 11:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Heh. Believe me: I have nothing but respect for the Bubbas who're obviously more competent with brisket than I am.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm familiar with the crutch, understand the physics behind it and have used it before. The problem with the crutch is the same problem as putting a water pan in the smoker: the moist heat kills off any chance of getting a gorgeous, crispy, caramelized, blackened, get-your-filthy-hands-away-from-my burnt ends.

                                                                                                                                                                              No, I think I've been overthinking this particular unicorn. No crutch, no rub, no mop, no thermometer- just a very very very long time in the smoker and a six-pack or two while it works.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. q
                                                                                                                                                                            Querencia RE: PotatoHouse Nov 16, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            I can't cook rice. I can make a souffle' that rises and cream puffs that puff and popovers that pop and soups that stop traffic and I know I am a good cook but, damn it, I cannot cook rice. If it weren't for my electric rice cooker I would have to resort to boil-in-the-bag. Indian friends and Mexican friends and Persian friends have advised me. Forget it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                                                              fldhkybnva RE: Querencia Nov 16, 2012 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              +1 on the rice, can't and have given up on it. I always want to recreate that lovely Jasmine rice you get from takeout Chinese restaurants but alas, no!

                                                                                                                                                                            2. v
                                                                                                                                                                              Violatp RE: PotatoHouse Nov 16, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Add me to the pie crust hall of shame. And if it's a fruit pie to be made with that pie crust? Catastrophe.

                                                                                                                                                                              I make amazing cheesecakes (graham cracker crusts) or fruit & pastry cream tarts (short crust) but a plain old American pie crust... :-(

                                                                                                                                                                              And I even have made pierogi dough from scratch using, I kid you not, a combo of a wine bottle and tall, unopened salt container, to roll out the dough and they were fantastic!

                                                                                                                                                                              But, nope. Regular pie crust eludes me.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. MunchkinRedux RE: PotatoHouse Nov 16, 2012 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Homemade pasta. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                1. soypower RE: PotatoHouse Nov 17, 2012 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Arroz con pollo. Or any other one pot recipe that includes rice. I never get the proportions of liquid to rice correct and it either turns mushy or raw. Canned tomatoes with their juice are always part of my failed attempts.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For the record, I do fine with plain rice on the stovetop.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. loraxc RE: PotatoHouse Nov 18, 2012 01:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Rice for me, too. I suspect it's partly because 1. I have anelectric stove and 2.) I randomly buy rice of mysterious provenance out of bulk bins.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Scrambled eggs, too. And poached. I have finally mastered over easy. Only took me 40 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. ahappyhostessblog RE: PotatoHouse Nov 19, 2012 03:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mine is honeycomb - no matter how many times I try, I always end up with a sticky, stretchy, chewy mess!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. c
                                                                                                                                                                                        Christina D RE: PotatoHouse Nov 19, 2012 03:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Anything that is cooked in a crock pot. It doesn't matter the recipe, edible stuff goes in, schlock comes out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I only use the thing now as a warmer.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. s
                                                                                                                                                                                          Splendid Spatula RE: PotatoHouse Nov 19, 2012 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Gosh, me too on the crockpot! It's not schlock, it's just not . . . great. But I'm still persevering on that one, I keep thinking I'll get it one of these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Ditto on homemade pizza and chicken soup. Other soups, yes, chicken, apparently not.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. tiffeecanoe RE: PotatoHouse Nov 19, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Pot Roast. It's NEVER as good as everyone elses!

                                                                                                                                                                                            And add me to pie crust as well. Just can't seem to do it. A friend told me to roll it out between two pieces of wax paper... just might have to try that!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. alliegator RE: PotatoHouse Nov 19, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm going to exclude baking, because I'm very upfront about my lack of patience with it. So, it would be meatloaf. I'm not a big fan of it, but other people around me appreciate it. I've tried all sorts of recipes, and nothing ever gets a wow from me or anyone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I just went back and read more carefully, and I see another meatloaf up there, nice to not be alone on that one.

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