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What favorite food is such a labor of love, time, technique or even money that rarely make it but when you do…

You swoon as do those who you deign to share it. The don't to be classical french or fussy or involve things like sous vide but meals that you that you love making but don't often get the time and attention to make.

The top ones that come to mind are my homemade, hand rolled meat or cheese stuffed tortellini.

Lasagne Bolognese

Peking Duck with all the fixings

Beef Wellington

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  1. Devilled eggs w/ fancy toppings....the labor of love is getting the eggs peeled in one piece!

    20 Replies
      1. re: grangie angie

        It's been mentioned on these boards before, but try steaming them next time. I always used to have trouble peeling hard boiled eggs, but not since I started steaming instead of boiling.

        1. re: grangie angie

          Use week-old eggs. Makes a huge difference. I always do that for Easter and when making massive quantities of homemade potato salad for our Elks Lodge summer family picnic at the lake. They peel without effort.

          1. re: pilotgirl210

            How often would you know you have week-old eggs? Even the farmer's market folks I buy 'good/great' eggs from in season won't tell me how old the eggs actually are.... they are very to pretty fresh, but I don't know the age.

            Nice idea, but impractical unless you have a hen house.

            1. re: gingershelley

              If I know I'll need hard boiled eggs I buy them a week a head of time. Normally I tend to buy a new carton when the old is down to 3-4 eggs. Then I keep the few old ones to hard boil as needed.

              Another trick is to let your newer eggs sit at room temperature for a few hours before cooking. IIRC I once read that each hour at room temp "ages" the eggs a day.

              1. re: meatn3

                They age 1 week for every 24 hours at room temp.

                1. re: Candy

                  Source for this, please? I never refrigerate my fresh eggs (of course, they hardly ever last a week), and find this to be rather.... surprising.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion Herbst

              2. re: gingershelley

                I merely buy the eggs a week before I plan to hard-boil them. Then I know they're at least a week old -- or older. Works for me.

                1. re: gingershelley

                  I think they meant "at least a week old". We had a backyard flock, and those eggs weren't ready for boiling-and-peeling for a good month. And they rarely lasted that long, because they were so great fried or poached.

                  1. re: gingershelley

                    I've read to use older eggs in many different articles about hard boiling eggs and while they may peel more easily than fresh eggs, I think it's far from foolproof. I get my eggs from a regular old grocery store which I feel pretty confident are at least a week old from the get go. I can boil up a dozen from the same carton and have 2/3 peel just fine and the others come out a mangled mess. I first came across the tip for steaming them on a blog about raising chickens, and they say steaming them works even on extremely fresh eggs.

                  2. re: pilotgirl210

                    To tell the freshness of eggs, drop one (lightly) into a mixing bowl 3/4 full of cold water:

                    If it sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it's fresh.
                    If it sinks and sits at a 45° angle, it's 3 to 5 days old.
                    If it goes to the bottom and sits vertically, it's 10 to 14 days old.
                    If it floats, throw it away.

                    Consume hard-cooked eggs within 1 week

                    Using week-old eggs and steaming them does indeed make them much easier to peel. A couple of other things help too:

                    1) Roll them after cooking to crack the shells slightly, then straight into ice water (and then even into the fridge for fifteen minutes if you have the time and the space).

                    2) The right tool for the occasional one that still resists: a teaspoon.

                  3. re: grangie angie

                    I keep 3-4 cartons of eggs, in my Big Girl porch refrigerator - with the bought date on the outside in marker/big size and make deviled eggs every week. Use oldest 1st. Eggs last fine for several weeks if chilled. I use the simmer 2 minutes, off heat and sit for 9 minutes - use a timer. Crack all and let sit in cool water till ready to peel. Crack means lightly tap egg all around.
                    Cool water gets between membrane and shell. Sometimes I hard-boil, crack and refrigerate, mark 1 egg in the carton w/a dot of food color to let me know this batch is boiled, refrig after fully cool. Shell and prepare next day. Never fails. (maybe 1 egg out of a dzn).

                    Extra work - for pretty. Hard boil, cool, shell, then cover eggs w/beet juice - NOT pickled unless you like that - or deep red dye if you're OK w/that. for a few hours. Cut eggs and stuff as usual, sprinkle w/minced green herbs: parsley, basil, thyme etc = Rosy pink and white eggs w/yellow stuffing and green garnish on an old-fashioned pressed glass deviled egg dish. People swoon, eat like crazy. Then you bring out the extra plate you had hidden. People cheer! you are hero.

                    Everyone should have 2 deviled egg plates, everywhere.

                    1. re: kariin

                      I think I would hesitate before putting cooked eggs back into the raw egg carton - ? I don't think the cartons can be considered free of salmonella.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        I do it all the time. Haven't died yet.

                        1. re: Firegoat

                          I have had salmonella poisoning once in my life. That was WAY MORE than enough times. Took months to get back to normal and I was young and healthy. Weighed 80 pounds when the worst of it finally ended.

                          So, I like to be careful for a very real reason.

                          1. re: sandylc

                            Did you get it from putting hard boiled eggs in an egg carton?

                    2. re: grangie angie

                      If your shells are sticking to the egg they are too fresh. You need to plan ahead or, you can age the eggs by keeping them at room temperature. They will age 1 week per day at room temp, and no they won't go bad.

                      1. re: grangie angie

                        OK, so it's pricier, and I don't know i you live near one, but when I want to make devilled eggs I just get the bag of already cooked and peeled eggs from TJ. It may be cheating but devilled eggs are a cinch!

                        1. re: cheesemonger

                          Me, too I have made it twice for family, and we all loved it, but what a lot of work!

                        2. I've done Julia's Wellington recipe a couple times so I get where you're coming from, but something I do more often is stuffed cabbage. It doesn't seem like much, but preparing the leaves from 3 heads to make enough of the tight little rolls my family enjoys to fill the very large pot I use...well it takes a lot of time.
                          My 93 year old mother always used to say that chicken/turkey croquettes didn't get enough respect considering how much time she spent making them.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: grampart

                            Try the jumpy man's beef willington 's recipe . It's pretty simple. I omit the chestnuts.


                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              As OP I can say that I am not looking for shortcuts. I love my end results as do my friends and family. The "labor of love" is worth it anc probably what makes it so good is that special-ness.

                              I could buy fresh pasta, take short cuts with my beef Wellington or go out for Peking Duck. Sometimes I do but it's just not the same.

                          2. stuffed cabbage
                            mole sauce

                            Maybe once a year if that on all four. Always make enough to freeze for 3-4 more dinners.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Panini Guy

                              +1 on the enchiladas, but they're so good I have to make them fairly often.

                              1. Almond croissants, with homemade almond paste. Mostly because I love them way too much and would eat a dozen a week if I could.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    Croissants are something I've wanted to make for the longest time, but I can never justify spending all that time on them!

                                  2. Baklava
                                    Chocolate covered/dipped cherries

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: CocoaChanel

                                      yes, anything involving puff pastry. I am always in a panicked rush trying to get everything assembled before it dries out.

                                      1. re: rudysmom

                                        Baklava is made with phyllo, not puff pastry. To keep your phyllo from drying, cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Baklava really is not difficult. It is not so much cooking, rather more like assembling something

                                        1. re: Candy

                                          I agree. I made Baklava a few months ago. It is more time consuming than difficult. It just takes patience.

                                      2. re: CocoaChanel

                                        I was shown a technique that really simplified baklaw(v)a from a member at Egullet

                                        Lay down half the filo on melted butter add the filling and the other half of the filo. Then cut into diamonds and pour the rest of the melted butter over the top and bake.

                                        The butter seeps into the layers of filo and you don't have to butter each sheet.

                                        1. re: CocoaChanel

                                          First thing that came to mind was b'steeya. Lord it's tricky to get right to make sure the filling is neither too wet or too dry, but man, is it good when it comes out. Perfect savoury-sweet Moroccan chicken pie.

                                          Lord it's good.

                                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                                            I love that so much...do you have a favorite recipe?

                                            1. re: girlwonder88

                                              I do love it so much. I use kitty Morse's recipe from cooking at the Kasbah. I don't want to violate copyright rules, so I won't post the recipe, but here is a very very very very very reasonable facsimile of the original that found by googling. :).


                                              1. re: girlwonder88

                                                Mine's close enough to cc's to make no odds, with the only noticeable difference being that I use a full chicken and not just breasts. Make sure to taste the liquid and adjust.

                                          2. Cassoulet. Happens pretty much once a year.

                                            1. Tamales, definitely.
                                              Enchiladas with real deal red chile sauce (pure gold.)
                                              Smoked brisket.

                                              1. lasineciai- bacon-stuffed mini buns
                                                krustai- chruschiki
                                                koldunai- pierogi
                                                desra- lithuanian sausage

                                                everything made from scratch. kneading, rolling out, and cutting the dough. grinding, mixing and filling the casings for the sausages

                                                i'm looking to get a raguolis oven. for ragoulis, you pour the batter layer by layer over a revolving dowel creating a dense cake with "horn". in lithuania the cake has always been associated with holidays and celebrations. i've made the cake in a springform pan by pouring thin layers of batter and letting each layer bake before pouring on the next one. although it tastes, ok, it's not the same as the "horned" one.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Vidute

                                                  That is indeed a labour of love.

                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                    The ragoulis reminds me of kürtös kalács (chimney cake) which is made in the Transylvania section of Romania. Street stand and bakery vendors use an electric oven but in the villages, they use a wooden dowel slowly rotated over a wood fire. No cute horns, though.


                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                      you need the dripping batter for the horns. the chimney cake looks good. it seems to be from a danish-type dough. yum!

                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          WOW! I kept watching to see how many people it takes to get that puppy off the mold, but alas... Some mysteries remain mysteries!

                                                    2. Thanksgiving dinner. The whole thing, turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing and everything else. Feeds 20. One person. One day. From scratch.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: fabian3dg

                                                        I don't know what part of the usual menu I could do without- I've thought and thought about it. But I agree with you. Other times, if I can find a turkey, we cook it on the grill and it's much more casual. But Thanksgiving? Gotta do the sides, too, and that takes a lot of time but it's pretty awesome when it's done.

                                                        1. re: fabian3dg

                                                          ditto here, too. i also make ice cream and pies. and two turkeys, brined. it takes 3 days to make that meal..... but i love it.

                                                        2. My grandma's "honey" rolls. They're potato based cinnamon rolls with a gooey topping made from brown sugar and maple syrup. They take about 2 days to make but they are oh so good, they're usually reserved for the holidays. But, great memories attached to those rolls.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                            If you make 'em again, I'll give you my address and FedEx account number.

                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                              Would you please share your g'ma's recipe? Those sound unreal!

                                                            2. Cioppino. I go to wharf to get my fish frames to make my fish stock.I also get some crab,clams, fish and squid,whatever looks good. Stop at the market to get the vegtables and red wine. And then you make it. Best made in the winter time when the crab are good.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: emglow101

                                                                I haven't had the pleasure in 35 years, but wow- I remember the cioppino in Sausalito in the '70s, it was so memorable.

                                                              2. My husband's grandmother's sugar cookies. They're so thin that you can see through them and they are the biggest PITA to make. The dough is mostly butter, so it and everything that touches it has to be kept cold. You can only work in small batches which have to be rolled and cut quickly, or it warms up and sticks to everything. When Gram gave these as gifts, people literally went straight to their cars to keep them safe. They're delicious, but every year I celebrate once I'm finished baking them (usually takes 8-10 hours for a triple batch).

                                                                14 Replies
                                                                1. re: Christina D

                                                                  Oh my! I've never seen a cookie that thin! Hopefully you have a few of the next generation in training?

                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                    Actually, my husband participated for the first time this year and rolled out a few batches. He gave it a good shot and with some practice, he'll make a suitable assistant. ;o)

                                                                    One of these days I'm hoping my daughter (13) shows some interest. It'll be a hard sell, though, since she's seen me covered in flour and cussing like a sailor for hours on end. Probably doesn't look like a good time.

                                                                    1. re: Christina D

                                                                      At that age the cussing might hold a certain illicit appeal!

                                                                  2. re: Christina D

                                                                    Those look beautiful and sound delicious - would you be willing to share the recipe?

                                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                                      Here you go. Don't say I didn't warn you. ;o)

                                                                      Granny Muse’s Christmas Sugar Cookies

                                                                      1 cup butter
                                                                      1 cup sugar
                                                                      1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
                                                                      1 tablespoon cream or milk
                                                                      ½ teaspoon vanilla
                                                                      ½ teaspoon salt
                                                                      1 teaspoon baking powder
                                                                      1 ½ cups flour plus more for rolling

                                                                      Special equipment: Silpat baking mat, pastry cloth, rolling pin sleeve, marble rolling pin (optional)

                                                                      Let butter stand at room temperature until soft. Beat in sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla. Add other ingredients, mixed and sifted together. Mix well. If needed, add enough flour to make mixture stiff enough to roll out (about ¼ cup). Dough will be very soft.

                                                                      Chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

                                                                      Roll part of the dough at a time, keeping the rest in the refrigerator. Roll 1/8” thick* on lightly floured cloth. Also, flour the rolling pin cover or the dough will stick.

                                                                      Cut out with cookie cutters and arrange, with spatula, on silpat. Decorate with colored sugar. You can gather the scraps of dough, chill for at least 30 minutes and re-roll once.

                                                                      Bake in moderately hot over (350 degrees) about 5 minutes. Remove from sheet and let cool on wire rack.

                                                                      Store in tightly covered tin with wax paper between layers.

                                                                      * I roll mine much thinner than 1/8”. They’re likely 1/16” or less. Experimentation is recommended.

                                                                      Keys to success:

                                                                      1. Once you’re ready to roll the dough, keep everything cold. I put the rolling pin in the freezer and ice packs on the counter. My kitchen has a southern exposure, so I go so far as to plan to bake on cloudy days. Otherwise, the sunshine makes everything too warm.
                                                                      2. You must use a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover, both of which need to be well floured between each batch.
                                                                      a. If a piece of dough sticks to the rolling pin cover, it can wreak havoc and will tear the dough on the board. Put the rolling pin in the freezer for a minute. You should be able to remove the dough from the cover. If not, turn it inside out and reflour.
                                                                      3. Use small amounts of dough. I probably work with ¼ of the dough at a time.
                                                                      4. Work quickly. Once the dough starts to come up to temp, you’re doomed.
                                                                      5. Use simple cookie cutters. The dough is too delicate to support complicated shapes.
                                                                      6. I’ve found the best tool for moving the cut dough to the cookie sheet is an offset spatula.
                                                                      7. Have a bottle of wine handy. I guarantee these cookies will have you drinking before the batch is finished. 

                                                                      Good luck!!

                                                                      1. re: Christina D

                                                                        I love the wine warning!

                                                                        A very special ingredient : )

                                                                        1. re: Christina D

                                                                          Thank you! Oh, and number 7 is a GIVEN! :)

                                                                      2. re: Christina D

                                                                        Christina: Here is a wafer-thin cookie that is NO work, GINGER COOKIES: In a saucepan put 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup dark Karo syrup, 1 tablespoon ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons cloves. Bring to boil to melt all. Remove from stove. Drop in 1 cup (real) butter. Stir until butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm. Stir in 4 cups flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Form into 4 rolls, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate from 2 hours to a month. When you want a few cookies let some dough come toward room temperature and work with hands like PlayDough until pliable. Roll directly on ungreased cookie sheet---as thin as you want. Cut with cookie cutters directly on cookie sheet and remove excess dough (which you recycle at next rolling)---a pointy paring knife works for this. Bake 7 or 8 minutes at 375*. Remove promptly with spatula. Even details like antlers come out OK no matter if you roll as thin as potato chips. Note that you don't have to do the whole exhausting batch at once and that there is no flour mess falling on the floor. This is the only rolled-out cookie recipe I know of that makes me feel that I am still in control of my life.

                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                          "This is the only rolled-out cookie recipe I know of that makes me feel that I am still in control of my life."

                                                                          I am still laughing at this - I have so been there.

                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                            That sounds awesome! I'll definitely give these a shot. Thanks!!!

                                                                          2. re: Christina D

                                                                            Have you tried using a marble slab for rolling?

                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                              My counter is granite, so I chill that down with ice packs before starting.

                                                                              1. re: Christina D

                                                                                You're gonna immediately know whether this applies to you or not, but "overchilling" the granite with ice may cause water to condense on it, increasing the sticky factor.

                                                                                Or not. Depends on the kitchen, so you'll know best, but I'm adding for future readers.

                                                                                1. re: enhF94

                                                                                  True, it depends upon the humidity in the kitchen.

                                                                          3. Pretty much anything deep fried. It's just too messy and fatty, once I've started frying I just go crazy considering the amount of oil and the fact I'm too lazy to strain it out to use again... So I just fry for lunch and dinner. Tempura, lumpia, shrimp, etc...

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: youareabunny

                                                                              If ever there was an excuse/reason for a dinner party - that would be it!

                                                                              1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                i almost NEVER fry things, just because the stuff i love fried i can't eat anymore, and frankly, i don't need to be eating fried stuff. but old-fashioned donuts, and more guilefully, fried oreos (dipped in funnel cake batter)... and i guess while i'm at it, funnel cake... those are the few i very seldom make. mostly because the smell of fry hangs on to the house for eons... i walk in and smell fry for what seems like a couple of weeks... but man... when i do.

                                                                                1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                  lumpia, you can never make enough and it's eaten faster than you can make it.

                                                                                  Rainbow cookies

                                                                                2. Homemade cheese blintzes. Yow what a lot of work. But for a few special people, once in a while...

                                                                                  And not as much intense work but still not a no-brainer - my grandmothers challah.

                                                                                  Talking to a dear neighbor who was going to be turning 87, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said "Your challah!" She then went to to say "I know it's a lot of work, but I'm old and you offered..."

                                                                                  Isn't it completely understandable why I adore her?!

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                                    I never find it a chore to make an involved dish for someone who appreciates the work that goes into it. Just as you adore your neighbor, I, too get the warm fuzzies. :)

                                                                                    1. re: Vidute

                                                                                      Isn't it awesome that with some time in the kitchen we can get those warm fuzzies? And spread them?

                                                                                      Pretty magical.

                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                        I totally agree! Just the look on the person's face when you serve or give them one of their very favorites is worth all the effort.

                                                                                    2. I'd say stuffed cabbage. It's not difficult but it takes a bit of time to prepare the cabbage leaves. And I always end up with a lot of water to mop up!

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                        Just core the head of cabbage, nuke for 5 minutes and tear off the softened leaves. Then nuke it again to soften the rest. No water, no mess.

                                                                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                          You know, I always, always forget that option...thanks for the reminder! I think it's because I had a very small sized microwave for so many years which couldn't hold much more than a small bowl.

                                                                                        2. re: meatn3

                                                                                          So please share,I never heard of using the microwave I'll give it a try next time,so how does this work???? just put the cabbage on a plate?? do you have to cover the cabbage with anything????.
                                                                                          thank you ahead of time.

                                                                                            1. re: mutti

                                                                                              I don't cover it, or even use a plate. I cut out the core and set the cabbage right side up on the glass plate that's in the microwave.
                                                                                              Cook on high for 5 minutes. Careful, the leaves are hot when you pull them off the head.

                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                Thank's for the replies.Has anyone ever heard of freezing the cabbage????

                                                                                                1. re: mutti

                                                                                                  Before cooking? Or after?

                                                                                                  My mom used to freeze the stuffed cabbage in it's sauce and it thawed well.

                                                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                    before cooking. put the whole head in the freezer. after it's frozen, thaw and the leaves should be pliable.

                                                                                          1. Croissant, and puff pastry.

                                                                                            1. i don't know if it's a labor of love or a labor of hate. a labor of love because i LOVE mayo (or aioli) SO VERY MUCH. a labor of hate because i have only been able to make it properly 3 times. ever. i've tried everything. i used the 2 minute method described here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20... - all three times that i had success. i've made it twice since those successes, using the same method, only to reach failure.

                                                                                              i know this is a simple thing. but it eludes me. yet i love it. so much as i hate failing at something i love so much, i will try it again.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                Funny, I just made this exact mayo from the exact website this morning!
                                                                                                I tried many times and failed. Then for some reason I made it perfectly for about a year (not this way exactly but close) and the last three times it was a failure which made go back to the 'old way'. I got too self assured and started getting sloppy. What I have learned is: ALL the ingredients MUST be the same room temp. You MUST let the egg yolks 'rest for a few minutes before you add anything. Whatever you're making the mayo in MUST be a bit warmer than the ingredients. NEVER put any salt into the egg yolk/s at first. Adjust the salt/sugar after the mayo is made. Maybe it's something about the salt. I was using vinegar then I went to lemon juice then back to vinegar. This morning I used only lemon juice and I got a lovely mayo finally. Go figure.

                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                  Secret: only put in 1 tsp. of the water at first. Put in only 1/2 the oil, and 1/2 the lemon juice. Add a bit more than the tsp. of dijon (emulsifier). You need the egg to activate the acid/egg, but not at one time!

                                                                                                  Don't get wound about that 'wait 15 seconds" thing (what IS that?)

                                                                                                  Begin to blend.. The sound of your stick blender will be POWERFUL, and be sucking at your not-very-moist mixture (which will be stronger since you have less oil, a bit more emulsifier, and less acid), and let that quise (my patent word for Cuisinart + ing) anything into a pureé :).

                                                                                                  As it stiffens - quickly - add in the addt'l oil ( dribbling down the side after starting to get the emulsion) followed by the lemon, and finally, as it is so stiff you can hardly stir it, warm water to thin if needed.

                                                                                                  Works like a charm.

                                                                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                    i did it EXACTLY the way described in the video 3 times, to perfect success! and then after that, it failed. i was at my sister's, though, the times it failed, using a different stick blender and cup... i blame that!

                                                                                                2. Turkey Meat ball soup - using the turkey I make during the holidays... labor intensive - make cool and skim the stock day 1,

                                                                                                  Roll the meat balls day 2 - I make 3 gallons or so of it... try to freeze it for later when nothing else fits the bill.

                                                                                                  1. Empanadas (homemade dough) stuffed with picadillo.
                                                                                                    Roulade from the Greens cookbook (herbs, cream cheese, tomatoes, rolled up in a flattened souffle).

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Felila

                                                                                                      Nearly sixty years ago our next-door neighbor in Argentina had her maid carry the kitchen table outdoors under the grape arbor where it was cooler to work---she gave me an all-day lesson in making empanadas with dough made with fresh beef suet. I remember that the pomegranate tree was in blossom and the chickens were strolling around. Once in my life I made empanadas her way. It took me 12 hours. Forget that. Now I go to the Hispanic supermarket (Chicago is blessed that way) and buy packages of a dozen pre-made pre-rolled-out circles of empanada dough.

                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                        Beautiful image/memory. Thank you for sharing that.

                                                                                                    2. My mother's lasagna with bechamel.
                                                                                                      Emeril's moussaka.
                                                                                                      Cut out cookies.
                                                                                                      Seafood gumbo.

                                                                                                      1. Zongzi or sticky rice dumplings. Glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. They are a lot of work, but so delicious.

                                                                                                        Dragon Boat Festival is on June 12 this year so it's nearly time to make them again.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                          Oh yeah. And it doesn't help that the Dragon Boat Festival is after it gets stupid hot here, so I'm steaming and sauteeing and braising at 35 C.

                                                                                                          1. A real Caesar salad with tender romain bits and the works. It`s something that I make very well but not often.

                                                                                                            1. Duck terrine from James Peterson's Glorious French Food. Amazing stuff but a full day's work, starting with making rich duck stock.

                                                                                                              Stuffed cabbage rolls. I always think they can't possibly take as long as they did the last time...

                                                                                                              Spanakopita with fresh full-sized (eg needing to be washed and picked over and de-stemmed) spinach.

                                                                                                              Probably never again: the full on coq au vin with a large boiling fowl from Glorious French Food. I made this side by side with the Cooks Illustrated weekday coq au vin, and it was so much better but a ton more work and the CI one is still very good....

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                                Sounds like "Glorious French Food' is full of awesome French food that is labor intensive...

                                                                                                                From my 'look' on Amazon, it is full of classics, and many that are challenging with time, and product procurment, but worth the making.

                                                                                                                Agreed, GS, that there are easier ways to make coq au vin.... etc.

                                                                                                              2. Ramen a la Momufuku. The broth and noodles from scratch, pork two ways, poor man's sous vide eggs, 2-3 veggie sides. Three days in total.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: mmmcqueen

                                                                                                                  Oh, I'll second that one. We've done this to.the.letter before, and while the results are amazing, it's truly the most time consuming thing I've ever cooked.

                                                                                                                  The downside: Your house smells so porky that it takes days to air- you're almost sick to death of it before you even get to eat the dish.

                                                                                                                  The upside: That broth freezes beautifully, so when you're in the mood again, it's a (comparative) breeze.

                                                                                                                2. Well, barbecue takes eight to twelve hours to do proper. You gotta get up before the sun to start. Plus, then there's the time it takes me to split the wood. And, then, you gotta rub the meat a day or two before . . . .

                                                                                                                  I do it a few times a year, and if I ever haveta stop, I'm not sure if I wanna keep breathin'. I mean, stuff that's tough is usually the best stuff, no?

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                    ......and there's all the beers you have to put down while you're waiting for it to get done.

                                                                                                                    1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                      True. That can get to be difficult. Especially, when you open the first one when you're startin' the chimney. I just don't know how else to measure the time of the cook than by the empty cans.

                                                                                                                      But, I stand by what I said. If I'm ever too feeble to make barbecue, I don't wanna stick around for long.

                                                                                                                    2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                      I've got to agree with the barbecue, particularly brisket and pulled pork. Anything that takes maybe 12 hours to cook must be a labor of love. My smoker has nice capacity, larger than a WSM or some such, but the trade-off is it is not as consistent or fuel efficient. Therefore it can require attention, and usually another split or two, every 45 minutes or so. But I love it!

                                                                                                                    3. Casadetti, which a friend of mine once described as cannoli ravioli. It is a Sicilian pastry that consists of a short pastry filled with cannoli cream, fried, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. My father used to make them for Christmas, and I try to make them then too, although I'm often to busy to make them then. I think it's been a couple of years...

                                                                                                                      1. I'm already seeing a good amount of stuffed cabbage responses, and I agree. I'm much more efficient at it now, but it used to feel more involved. I think that it's probably the epitome of a dish that's made out of love and memories, for me.
                                                                                                                        Labor of love foods are usually dishes that make the kitchen look like a bomb went off. When suddenly I look ar ound and think, "omg, I think I've used every pot and pan I own!".
                                                                                                                        Lasagna can feel that way to me.
                                                                                                                        Beef stock, demi glace.

                                                                                                                        *I remember my mom making chrusciki for Christmas, and that took all afternoon and was her labor of love. Good memories.

                                                                                                                        1. Lasagna Bolognese from Smitten Kitchen with super thin lasagna noodles made from scratch.

                                                                                                                          Anne Burrell's slow braised short ribs

                                                                                                                          And sourdough bread

                                                                                                                          1. Eggs Benedict. It's only my wife and me, so the fact that it takes a total of 8 eggs between the Hollandaise and the poached eggs it is something we don't have very often.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. Fresh lumpia with homemade crepes and julienned vegetables

                                                                                                                              Chicken galantina

                                                                                                                              Calabrian lasagna

                                                                                                                              Curry paste

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                Fresh lumpia! So laborious I probably haven't had it in ten years.... Ok time to call mom.

                                                                                                                                1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                  My aunt makes the best lumpiang sariwa I have ever had. I was lucky that she felt in a generous mood at Christmastime because she made two catering trays full of lumpia allowing me to enjoy fresh lumpia for days. Unfortunately I didn't get home in time for Noche Buena to prepare my rellenong manok, so that is a labor of love that will have to wait until next Fall. This summer I would really like to try a picadillo-stuffed trout modeled after the rellenong bangus I haven't been able to get for 9 years now. I think that could be a huge hit, if not for my Western guests, at least for me!

                                                                                                                                2. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                  Do you have a favorite Calabrian lasagna recipe, JM?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                    I only know the recipe I got from my friend's mother, who was born there. Her lasagna requires four major components to be prepared before assembling the final dish: tiny marble-sized meatballs; hard-boiled eggs; a light, but chunky basil tomato sauce; and the ricotta, herb and pea filling.

                                                                                                                                    To prepare the sauce, saute half a minced onion and a couple cloves of garlic in olive oil, add a 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, a handful of chopped basil, some chopped parsley, chilli flakes, salt and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, breaking the tomatoes into chunks. Correct the seasoning with more basil and lemon zest as needed. Next, prepare the ricotta by mixing it with grated parmesan, oregano, basil and parsley. To prepare the lasagna, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish and then cover completely with lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of ricotta atop the pasta along with a handful of fresh peas, sliced mozzarella, sliced hard-boiled eggs, meatballs and sauce. Repeat until only one layer of pasta remains. Top this layer with sauce, grated parmesan and mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes more, or until top is melted and beginning to brown.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                      Thank you, JM! The recipe sounds great. The version that I have had was made with a Bolognese, instead of the tomato sauce and meatballs, which seem more authentic given the geography.

                                                                                                                                3. Fried catfish. When someone brings them home fresh caught from the lake. The cooking is easy. The cleanup is a huge pain.

                                                                                                                                  1. Beef braciole (what we called it) or involtini, stuffed with fresh chopped herbs, cheese, garlic and a little ground pork sausage, and secured with a wooden toothpick.

                                                                                                                                    My dad could pound these out (literally, with the tenderizing mallet) and fasten them with the toothpicks MUCH more deftly than I can.

                                                                                                                                    It's labor intensive with the pounding, chopping, stuffing, browning, deglazing, but once you get to the simmering part, you're glad you put in the time.

                                                                                                                                    They look easy and humble, but they're hard to do, for me, anyway.

                                                                                                                                    1. Dolmades -- my man and I make these together, and it takes FOREVAH until all those little suckers are rolled. They come out amazing, but are a massive PITA, so we only make them for dinner parties/potlucks.

                                                                                                                                      In the same vein.... caponata. It involves quite some time, deep-frying, and planning ahead. Again -- awesome results, but also just something I make for a crowd.

                                                                                                                                      Schnitzel Wiener Art -- LOVE it so very much, but can't be bothered more than a few times a year. The amount of plates/bowls used before those cutlets even hit the pan annoys the shit outta me. Really delish, tho.

                                                                                                                                      I guess many fried foods (calamari, chicken, fries, etc.) as it involves either stinking up our house with that wonderful hot oil smell for days, or setting up the deep-fryer on the patio (hassle). So as much as I like to eat those things, it's just not gonna happen often.

                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                        I've evolved into making dolmades as a layered casserole thing. Not authentic, but the same tastes and a whole lot less hassle.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                          Sorta like a grape leaf & rice lasagna? Hmmmm. I like that it's finger food, tho :-)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                            Can you say more Pine Time? I like the idea of a cassarole dolmades.... love the flavors!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                No specific recipe. I just line a baking dish with the grape leaves & layer upon layer of everything. Much less fussy, for me, than individual ones, but it does negate the finger food quality linguafood identified!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                            Boston Butt?

                                                                                                                                            Beatific Bolognese?

                                                                                                                                            Bountiful Bratwurst?

                                                                                                                                            What is 'BB"?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                              I believe s/he is referring to boeuf bourguignon. Tough one to spell out '-D

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                    the one that's easier to spell out!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                  I love the CI boeuf bourguignon recipe, but it is very time intensive. Totally worth it, but it doesn't happen very often (especially if you have to peel the pearl onions).

                                                                                                                                            2. Our family's "Christmas Rolls" -- yeasty, cinnamon-y, pecan filled rolls, with a brown sugar and butter glaze on top. SO good, but SO time-consuming to make. Passed down from my grandmother, who has been making them from a friend's original recipe for about 40 years! In our family, they only get made on Dec. 24. Even as a kid, I looked forward to these as much as the presents under the tree!

                                                                                                                                              I felt so accomplished when I finally tackled them on my own this past Christmas, Waddling around the kitchen, about 5 days overdue with my little boy, truthfully I was hoping all the hours of mixing, kneading, rising, rolling, etc might help "get things moving" down there!

                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                                I make a Christmas tree bread that also takes forever. You have to roll out a very buttery yeast dough and cut out a tree-shaped triangle, then cut out 25 donuts, laying these out on the triangle, filling each hole with currant jelly. The "holes" from the donuts are used to make the tree trunk. It's gorgeous and delicious, but takes two days to make.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                                  Would you be willing to share that recipe? Sounds so good.

                                                                                                                                                  (the Christmas Rolls)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                      I'll be happy to! With a sweet little 5 month old around the house, it might take me until tomorrow to get the recipe out and typed up for CH posting. I was going to try and post a picture of my last year's end result, but my work computer isn't a fan of that idea. I will try when I post the recipe from home...

                                                                                                                                                      Isolda, that Christmas tree bread sounds like quite a project! But I love the currant jelly touch...yum.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ItalGreyHound

                                                                                                                                                        Ah, there it goes! My mom has the patience to arrange the pecans in a lovely pattern. Me, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                        Here you go, guys - sorry so long. Hope if you do try them, you enjoy! It really is not a terribly difficult recipe, but part of our challenge has always been reading through the complicated notes on my mom's recipe card! I have simplified for you...

                                                                                                                                                        1 C + ½ C lukewarm milk
                                                                                                                                                        2 pkgs yeast granules
                                                                                                                                                        ½ C sugar
                                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                                                        ½ C softened butter (original recipe calls for shortening, but we have always used butter)
                                                                                                                                                        4 ½ C – 5 C A/P flour
                                                                                                                                                        2 eggs

                                                                                                                                                        3 T softened butter
                                                                                                                                                        ½ C sugar
                                                                                                                                                        2 t ground cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                        Optional: ½ chopped pecans

                                                                                                                                                        12 T melted butter
                                                                                                                                                        2 C brown sugar, divided
                                                                                                                                                        2 C whole pecans

                                                                                                                                                        Add 2 pkgs granulated yeast to ½ C of lukewarm milk, letting stand 5 min, stirring once.
                                                                                                                                                        Mix together 1 C milk, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture to milk/sugar mixture. Stir thoroughly. Stir in eggs and ½ C butter. Add flour (Note: I have only ever needed 4 ½ C – but always baking this in the winter!)
                                                                                                                                                        Turn to floured board. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft free spot until double.
                                                                                                                                                        Punch down and pull edges into center, and turn completely over in bowl. Let rise again until almost double.
                                                                                                                                                        Roll dough into an oblong, 9”x18”, making sure dough is even in depth all over. Mix sugar and cinnamon together for the filling. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with mixture. Sprinkle with pecans, if using.
                                                                                                                                                        Roll up tightly, beginning at wide side.
                                                                                                                                                        Prepare two 9”cake pans with topping: Place ½ melted butter in each pan, along with 1 C of brown sugar. Place whole pecans into a pattern, top side down.
                                                                                                                                                        Cut rolled dough into 1” slices. Place slices into cake pans (Note: should have about 8-9 rolls per pan, but this can vary.)
                                                                                                                                                        Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. (Note: We have always made the rolls the night before, and then placed in the fridge to be baked the next morning. If you like your rolls a little under-done and gooey – as we do - check them after the 20 min mark. 30 minutes will result in more browned rolls.)
                                                                                                                                                        Immediately after taking out of over, turn cake pans over onto a plate, and leave for 5 mins, to allow pecans and butter to drip down over rolls. Serve and enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HungryNihilist

                                                                                                                                                            You're quite welcome! Good recipes should be shared -- in my book, this is a great one! Nothing fancy, but delicious!

                                                                                                                                                    2. There are two I only make when specifically asked for.

                                                                                                                                                      Turducken Debone a small chicken without further breaking the skin. Stuffing of choice with shelled hard boiled egg or length of cajun sausage in the center.
                                                                                                                                                      Debone a duck in the same manner. Stuff with celery dressing with the chicken in the center.
                                                                                                                                                      Debone a turkey and stuff with sage dressing and center the duck. Cook till done. Allow to rest, then slice with your longest sharp knife 1/2 inch thick. You should get a pretty piece of each bird and stuffing.

                                                                                                                                                      I can already hear the screams from the poultry police and temperature tyrants. 30 years, and nobody has gotten sick yet.

                                                                                                                                                      Spit roasted pig.
                                                                                                                                                      Kill a pig, scald it, scrap the hairs off, clean with a stiff brush. Eviscerate from the smallest opening possible, leaving the kidneys. They are a good indicator for when the pork is cooked through. Wipe down inside and out with salt and oil.

                                                                                                                                                      Start fire 10 hours before projected dining time. Once the ground has heated up, seperate with half at the head and the other half at the hams. Use only wood of choice, not scraps. I love Australian Pine. Turn the pig until done. Carve into identifiable portions or pulled pork. Kidneys and filets belong to the pitmaster. Serve with white bread, creamy slaw, salt and pepper.

                                                                                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                        Turducken is a good one. No poultry police here. I've only done it once. Not an easy project.

                                                                                                                                                        As to the pig - Pine for cooking? All that nasty resin? I've never tried it and always thought it bad for food. As to the pig's kidneys - absolutely a tribute to the cook.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                          Australian pine isn't really a pine as we know Northern white pines (“Pinus”) to be, for example. Its genus is Casuarina. Its red sap is drinkable, the gum is chewable, and it is one of the best woods for barbecuing meat. It's widely planted for a vast number of reasons but is highly invasive as well...


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                            Damn you, Gio, now I got somethin' else I have to find and experiment with - Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                              Talk about faint praise... You're welcome.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                Hell, I've been playing with cookin' with wood for thirty years. Now you tell me about a wood that I'm probably, actually gonna have to buy? I mean, I'm a stinky old 'hound, it's not fair for you folks to point out somethin' I didn't know about.

                                                                                                                                                                To get even, however, I'm gonna make something you've never thought of with your favorite fish and then post about how good it was!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                  You don't even know if you can get Australian pine in New Joisey. INDIANRIVERFL lives in Florida where this tree is grown in this hemisphere. (maybe other places too in the US I don't know about.) You might have to import /ship it in from parts unknown. But probably an easy task for you though.

                                                                                                                                                                  Have you ever thought about helping out JB Bannister with his whole animal grilling? My favorite fish? Great!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                    Gio, my friend, where there's a will there's a way, no?

                                                                                                                                                                    As to the fish, I'm thinkin', regardless of your preferences, I'm gonna take a striped bass belly, fill it with a slightly pounded out lobster tail, and then fill that with lump crab. Not sure if I'm gonna cook it on the grill or in a pan, but I assure you two things: (a) I will gloat and (b) I'll call it stripelobrab ala Gio. You are welcome to suggest a sauce . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                      That's pronounced 'Joe', you know.

                                                                                                                                                                      Your take on a seafood turducken, I see. I'm thinking a brandy cream sauce. Or perhaps just a simple lemon, garlic, butter sauce will do. Don't want to mask the flavor of the Australian pine smoky goodness...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                        what time should i be over for dinner? i'll bring a growler of resurrection.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                      Not much luck online finding it, but a buddy of my Dad's who retired* to Florida said he would bring some up to me around the Fourth of July. It's gonna probably cost me a coupla beers and having to listen to stories I've heard a dozen times before, but . . .

                                                                                                                                                                      *Cliche, no? Jersey cop retires and moves to Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                        Just like an ex-Jersey cop he wants me to know that the wood's gonna cost almost eleven bucks. So much for his fuckin' beer and invitation to dinner. At least that will get me outta rehearin' the story about the time, "Me and your Pop saw this sonovabitch . . . ."

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                          You didn't think something so exotic is going to be cheap, did you...
                                                                                                                                                                          Look at this stuff:

                                                                                                                                                                          Too bad they only deliver to Iowa, themselves. Two gals in a pick-up. But it's something to strive to find locally

                                                                                                                                                                          Lump charcoal database:

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                            A Hamilton and a Washington? I don't consider that too pricey at all to add to the various piles of woods in the backyard. One upside of Sandy was I collected a lot of flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                            Thing is I'll still make the old men dinner (steaks, of course will be the request). I'll serve 'em fifty dollars worth of beer and borbuon. I'll Hear about the time that my Dad "broke that Sp*c's" nose" in all it's racist glory for the fifteenth time.

                                                                                                                                                                            I'll pack up some leftovers. Clean up the next day. You get the idea. Just 'cause I'm a stinky old 'hound who couldn't not take the bait from you guys and wanted to play with somethin' new. Plus, I'm gonna have to give that crusty bastard eleven dollars when he leaves. At least my Dad will volunteer to cut the logs for me. . . .

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                                OK, I bow down to these!! Especially the deboning.
                                                                                                                                                                Turducken doesn't call my name, but doing a deboned, stuffed Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmastime would probably be on my culinary accomplishment bucket list.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  i'm sorry, but i can't bring myself to eat anything that has the word "turd" in its name.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                    I did one circa Gourmet November 1979; a Julia Child recipe that had you bone out the turkey, slice and marinate the meats (seperatly, dark and light), stuff the turkey with white sausage, chestnuts, etc, and sew it all back up.

                                                                                                                                                                    Delicious, but it was weird that the 'sliced' breast meat came off the bird in tiny chunks (aka - slicing 'down' thru slices leaves bits); we all agreed it was a triumph of accomplishment and flavor, but a miss on the plate. Sigh.

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh to be 17 again, and willing to try something that takes 4 days to make! Now I am more aware of the time something will take by reading the recipe, and choose more judiciously.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Homemade potstickers. But the chance to play around with the fillings and get just what you want is priceless!

                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                    Lobster Potstickers! So good I dream of them til I remember the amount of work and time. It takes a couple of years to forget that and get into making them again.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ElsieB

                                                                                                                                                                      That made me laugh. In the fall of '09, we were gettin' soft shell lobsters for less than three bucks a pound. We ate quite a few the usual way and a couple more stuffed in fluke filets. I ask the Mrs. what she wants for our anniversary dinner. Her answer, "Can you make dumplings out of lobster meat?"

                                                                                                                                                                      Great dinner, but I have yet to make 'em again.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                      I love potstickers so much that I am constantly setting aside time to whip up a batch. I agree, it's a bear, but if I set up the stuffing part on the coffee table, I can easily fill 'em while watching some TV. I just can't touch the remote. :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                        Ugh, I made potstickers once last fall. The recipe I used made 52 of them. After all the work, my SO wasn't feeling well and didn't eat any, and I didn't even want to look at them anymore. That's one thing I will gladly, from now on, just buy.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                          Mmmm, lobster potstickers sound fab!
                                                                                                                                                                          I actually don't mind the time that goes into them, it's just that for the last four years, I didn't have that counter space for such a mess. Now, with a better kitchen, it might be enjoyable again. I hope...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                            I took an Asian dumpling class recently from Andrea Nguyen. Now I don't hesitate to whip up some dumplings. The dough and/or the fillings can be made in advance. I even had some leftover dumplings that I held in the fridge and steamed the next day and I thought they were as good, or almost as good.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                              Believe me, I've thought about a trip (just a girl and her car) to Cali to do just that. It's on my bucket list.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                If you promise to never call it "Cali" again, then we'll let you in :) It was a great, fun class. Fourteen of us made seven different dumplings.\

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Venison Jerky. It's alll gone in about 2 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                            Baked potato/veg chips.

                                                                                                                                                                            Hamburger buns. Takes 2 days following the way my mom did it, and they are SO good, but gracious --it's just a bun!!

                                                                                                                                                                            ANY handmade homemade pasta-- I just don't do it often enough to get a good rhythm/ technique. I always think "you know that's not really hard...." but then it's 8 mo.s later and I haven't made it again.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                              Kris, you will appreciate this. A top-flight Chicago restaurant (TRU) used to have its kitchen with a window on the street so you could watch the chefs at work. Once when I was passing, two of them were grinding out sheets of pasta from a plain little hand-cranked pasta machine. The sheets were so big that they would have fit a full-size adult bed. When the men held them up high over their heads as the pasta emerged from the machine, none of it broke or cracked or fell on the floor (as for sure it would do if I tried that). "Do not attempt this at home: we are professionals."

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Chili Rellenos - shrimp and queso fresco stuffed Poblano Peppers. Battered and fried. Spicy tomato sauce on top, baked to finish. Lot's of work - similar to the Rick Bayless recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Maggie19

                                                                                                                                                                                I find chili Rellenos easy - roast the chili on my outdoor grill; put them in a paper bag for a while. make a simple tomato/chili sauce while they rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                Wipe the roasted crust off the peppers, slice open carefully, and take out seeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                Add in a slab of good mexi cheese, or in a pinch; pepper-jack. Squeeze shut.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mix a couple of egg yolks with a tsp. of kosher salt, a sprinkle of cayenne/smoked paprika, a dash of cumin. 1-2 tbsp. of flour, 1 of cream/crema. Whip coresponding egg whites to soft peaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mix whites into yolk mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mound some of that in a triangle shape (like the stuffed pepper) in pre-heated non-stick with a bit of oil film. As that heats up and begins to cook on the bottom, lay the stuffed pepper on the pile of soft egg cloud.

                                                                                                                                                                                Add another pile of 'egg cloud' ontop of the pepper. Put a lid on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                Once it seems to be drying/coming together, flip to fry the other side. When puffed and awesome, slide onto a paper towel or better yet, a clean brown paper bag to drain.

                                                                                                                                                                                Then, slide to warm dinner plate, and serve with the simple tomato/chili sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                BEST. EVER!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Homemade pasta
                                                                                                                                                                                Traditional turkey mole negro
                                                                                                                                                                                Naan: I'm pretty great at making it on a charcoal grill, but it is a huge pain.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tandooritaco

                                                                                                                                                                                  Agree with you on the Naan! My husband used to request it all the time because it's sooo good, but geez the curry to go with it takes long enough! Haven't made it since we had kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Deep fried battered onion rings - these would be much easier if I owned a deep fryer with thermostat. Using oil in a pot on a gas stove makes them tricky.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Pickle relish - smelly, 2 day process ending with hot-water bath canning. Fortunately my BIL has perfected the family recipe, has a kitchen with excellent ventilation, and gives us jars as gifts.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And I agree with those who listed cutout, frosted, cookies. Love to get them, only make them every 3 years or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The Christmas sugar cookies and gingerbread men & women my children and I made every year all through "their growing up years" - about 4 through age 13. An old French recipe it took one day to make the dough, another day to cut them out with antique cookie cutters. A third day was needed to make the royal icing then mixing different colors, filling in, and decorating.

                                                                                                                                                                                    They were a total labor of love and the children looked forward to the project as part of our Christmas celebration. They were such works of art friends requested them for gifts instead of something bought. It was such fun to do but so special we only made the cookies once a year. Oh, and they tasted divine.

                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh yes, I forgot about the cutout cookies. I love doing them and mine turn out very beautiful, not to toot my own horn or anything, but they are SO much work over multiple days. Not to mention my hand is sore for a few days afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                        One cutout cookie recipe was from the 1970s, and I still remember how time-consuming: basic dough, IIRC, but you handpricked with a pin the designs, then hand-painted (with the tiniest, thinnest artist's brush ever) the details. They were gorgeous, and got raves, but I conveniently "lost" the directions before the next Christmas!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hah... I can relate to that... The recipes I had were much older than the 1970s, that's when we started making them though. I gave the original recipes to a friend of mine who is a terrific cook but I still have copies of them around here somewhere. Couldn't possibly go through all that now, nor would I want to actually.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                            My mom, who worked in a candy store for six years after World War II, made the best sugar cookies EVER! I still use her recipe. The secret ingredient is cream of tarter. Makes them so light and extra yummy. I have all her old cookie cutters and Christmas just isn't Christmas without trees, bells, Santas, angels, etc. Don't mind making and baking the cookies. It's the decorating and the cleanup after that takes forever. Another thing I do now and then in memory of mom, especially if kids are going to be around, is to make taffy for a taffy pull party. And her rocky road was to die for! Her divinity would melt in your mouth, but she always admonished me to never, ever, make it on a humid day or when it's raining. *It won't set up,* she'd say.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Beef tenderloin, especially this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                                                                                                                                                        It isn't difficult, but it is very costly: if you get the size tenderloin you need to make the recipe, you can spend over $100 on the meat alone. We only have this on special occasions.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I made sfogliatelle once. Never again. There are some things it's better to buy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Spanakopita. I make this maybe 3 times a year. I have the best recipe I've ever tasted, but it's such a pain to work with filo and so easy to let it dry out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                          Would you be willing to share your Spanikopita recipe? I'm in desperate need of a good spinach pie!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jenhen2

                                                                                                                                                                                            Not Isolda and would also like her recipe. Meanwhile this one is tasty but for me only if you can get your hands on some adult (rather than baby) spinach, which for me is where the labor of love comes in with all that washing and picking over. http://www.marthastewart.com/313253/q...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh neat, you like adult spinach too! Baby spinach is great for salads and ease, but I prefer the flavor of the full grown stuff for pies and cooked things.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jenhen2

                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a rough recipe, but you can't screw it up. It's more spinach-y than cheesey, which is why I like it. It can also be made crispy, rather than soft, which I prefer.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 box filo, defrosted (buy the really good organic stuff if you can find it)
                                                                                                                                                                                              a lot of excellent Greek extra virgin olive oil (maybe 3/4 cup??)
                                                                                                                                                                                              14-16 oz fresh spinach, washed and stemmed (old spinach is great, but do get rid of the tough stems)
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 generous handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
                                                                                                                                                                                              1 lg bunch scallions, chopped finely
                                                                                                                                                                                              6-8 oz feta, crumbled (don't buy pre-crumbled and get the kind made with sheep's milk, rather than cow's milk)
                                                                                                                                                                                              freshly ground pepper and salt

                                                                                                                                                                                              Wash and wilt the spinach (I do this in batches in the microwave but you can do it on the stove), then wring out thoroughly in a dish towel and chop finely. Mix with chopped dill and onion, generously salt and pepper. Set aside.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Preheat your oven to 350-375. Have all ingredients out and ready to use. Pour about 1/2 cup olive oil into a cup. Brush some of this on a large baking sheet (needs a rim, but not a large one). Now unwrap your filo. Place one sheet at a time on the baking sheet, brush quickly but thoroughly with oil, then place another sheet. When half the sheets are used up, spread the spinach mixture evenly over the top sheet. Dot with the crumbled feta. Now lay one sheet of filo on half the filling, then tuck the other half under the same side to enclose the filling. Brush with oil. Do the same with the other side, then continue stacking and oiling the sheets, pouring more oil into the cup if necessary, until all the sheets are used up, (or you have torn, dried out, and wasted them--this will happen with a few of them, and it's fine!). Some people recommend keeping the remaining filo sheets under a damp towel until just before you need each one, but I think this is a pain and never do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              If you like soft pie, score the top layer of filo sheets very lightly with a sharp knife. If you want it crispy, score all the way down almost to the bottom layer. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until slightly brown. Cut along score lines when cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Marcella Hazan's green lasagna. Even with making the Bolognese sauce in bulk and only having to defrost a package, it still takes hours with Bob helping. But it's so worth it. To us and our friends and family.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Russian Napoleon! I make it once a year, for my boyfriend's birthday. That's it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The first time I made it, I cried because I had no idea what I was doing and I was up until 4am. I had never tasted Russian Napoleon before, only seen pictures, so I didn't really know what to expect. Because it was for his birthday, I was extra stressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's a pain in the ass to make the dough for the layers, chill it, and then roll them all out crazy thin, then bake them (only two at a time, since otherwise they brown unevenly since they only are in the oven for a few minutes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                There are around 15 or 16 layers, and you have to make extra layers to crumble and coat the cake with at the end. If you underbake the layers, it tastes like raw pie dough (unpleasant in the final product).

                                                                                                                                                                                                Then I make a huge pot of pastry cream to spread between the layers, then the entire thing has to sit and soak for a day before it reaches the correct consistency. Sometimes the layers slide a bit, and it's the WORST.

                                                                                                                                                                                                But my boyfriend loves it so very much, and it always turns out wonderfully, so I will keep making it once a year on his birthday, and only his birthday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This sounds so interesting! I'm googling now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: youareabunny

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is ridiculously delicious. It reminds me a bit of a crepe cake with all the layers and pastry cream inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                    we lithuanians use a buttercream and preserves to coat the layers of pastry dough. and don't forget to prick the dough after it's rolled out, otherwise it gets to "puffy".

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first two layers I ever baked, I forgot to prick them and they came out so puffy! I had to reread the instructions to figure out what I'd missed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another Lithuainian. Yahoo! And the buttercream is so good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                          i grew up with one of those attached to my chest, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Middle Eastern neighborhood I grew up shopping at had a large Russian contingent. Napoleon was a compulsive buy on one market run and has been a longed for treat ever since. I can appreciate how much love you're putting into those cakes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks! I have no idea how the Russian markets in Brooklyn make such a large quantity of the cake - it's such a pain in the ass. There must be some kind of trick to it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          When my boyfriend told his mom that I'd made him Napoleon from scratch, she looked at me like I was crazy and told me most people just buy it from the store because no one wanted to spend time making it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm out on the Island, Sara....can you give me a general idea of where the Russian neighborhoods are? My son lived near Prospect Park for a while, but I'm not sure of all the specific areas. TIA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sssoapwrks

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry for the late reply! I went out of the country on vacation this past week and just saw this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The biggest Russian neighborhood in Brooklyn is probably Brighton Beach. It is South Brooklyn, so it's a bit of a trip to get there from Manhattan since it's all the way on the other end of Brooklyn. However, the neighborhood is completely dominated by Russians - Russian grocers, candy stores, clothing stores, toy stores, book stores - that it can be quite an experience. The main language there is Russian, and English is secondary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kings Highway (between Midwood and Sheepshead Bay/Avenue U to Kings Hwy) is also a fairly sized Russian neighborhood in South-Central Brooklyn. It's not as impressive as Brighton Beach if you're going there to visit/try out all the different foods, but it has a number of Russian bakeries and markets. Kings Highway is also heavily observant Jewish (conservative or Orthodox) and so everything is shut down from Friday night to Saturday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I also currently live near Prospect Park, but my boyfriend and I occasionally venture to either of those neighborhoods for things we need, or on the way home from visiting his relatives. It's about 40 minutes by subway to Brighton from where we live. It might be a long-ish trip from Manhattan, but going to Brighton can be like going to a different country!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks very much for the description Sara! i know where you are talking about! I'll check it out as soon as I can get the opportunity to head in there on the Southern state!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you're not adverseto shortcuts (as in frozen puff pastr dough), here's a recipe that might make it a regular treat.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                              dufour makes an all-butter frozen puff pastry. also, during the holiday season, trader joe's carries a decent puff pastry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the tip, Caroline1 and Vidute! I'll have to check my local grocery store and see if they carry dufour or something decent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Filipinos have a similar pastry called San Rival. It's layers and layers of meringue with chopped cashews, spread thin and baked into wafers, with pastry cream, caramelized sugar, and a pound of chopped toasted cashews between the layers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a great presentation, but it takes a whole day and a chunk of money, so I make it only once at X'mas time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Laughing and weepy reading this - I know how this feels. took on labor of love (wedding cake see way above) and was working WAY over my head. Isn't this fun? my spouse asked halfway through process. Ah no and I'll kill you if you say that again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                good on you for this. Lucky BF.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. deboned turkey roasts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                stuffed rolled beef roast
                                                                                                                                                                                                                stuffed cabbage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                buttermilk brined fried chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                hand rolled tortelloni/tortellini

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Pierogies; lady locks; and, with two little kids, even pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Jellied oxtail. It takes two days to make, and another to set and maximize the intense beefy and tangy vinegar flavors with the veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. For me it's all about baking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ooey gooey honey buns with pecans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Walnut Potica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Chinese style hand cut noodles (with sesame peanut sauce, but the sauce is fairly easy)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chicken tortilla soup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do desserts count? If so, Opera cake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Curious about chicken tortilla soup. What's hard about it? I've not made it but it seems pretty straightforward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I make it often its wonderful and it takes about an hour or so if you have the stock and cooked chicken or other protein ready to go

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do a fair amount of dicing and chopping in prep but its nothing to difficult

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The recipe we like browns chicken thighs with bone-in (for more flavor), uses spices we don't always have on hand (though I did start buying multiple kinds of chile for it), includes chopping a number of condiments, long simmer (for spices flavor, which is hands off, but not so good when you're hungry now), and (the icing on the cake) has you deep frying up tortilla strips for the super-fresh crunch. It's the combination of flavors, textures AND temperatures that really makes it. The rich meaty chicken, deeply flavored mildly spicy chili, cool rich avocado, fresh acidic tomatoes, smooth creamy sour cream, and crispy crunchy fried white corn is every bit as good as the magazine claimed (Fine Cooking).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This set our "chicken tortilla soup" bar kind of high. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I could see doing most of the rest of it more often, but deep frying the tortilla strips is just that one extra complication that means it doesn't happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: 1MunchieMonster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                All of your touches certainly add to the richness and enjoyment of this dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I keep freshly ground chiles on hand so it makes it easy to utilize when needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A short cut in time and calories I do is to thinly slice the corn tortilla strips and spritz them with oil, season with salt and a mixture of chili powders and microwave till crisp. Takes little time, makes little mess and the strips are crisp and seasoned. No not exactly like deep fried but once in the soup it doesn't take long before they all loose the super crunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. cream of crab. using only real fresh maryland jumbo lump crab meat and a more expensive sherry makes it an expensive dish! But so yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Chili and cream of mushroom soup, both of which I usually end up making over a couple-few days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Tiropetes (the Greek Phyllo and feta cheese triangles). I have a friend help and we make four or five dozen once a year, eat the ugly ones and freeze the rest. They freeze wonderfully but are a major pain wrapping each one individually for the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: raberbm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh my, I haven't had those in decades! I had a Greek friend who would make and freeze them. And then she would occasionally have these big Greek feasts. Sigh :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Once, when Kathleen was in high school, I convinced her to help me make a bunch of these. Stocked the freezer with hundreds, but put her off the process for life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: raberbm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is an easier way! All the years I lived in Turkey and Greece (decades ago!) I never once saw tyropita in those little triangles! The only times I've had those has been when I bought them in a frozen tray from Sam's Club, and when I ordered them in a "Greek" restaurant in El Paso, that bought them from Sam's club. '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I make my tyropita in large jelly roll pans by painting the bottom of the pan with melted butter (lately I've taken to using organic ghee, the mild flavored kind) then adding phyllo sheets two at a time, painting heavily with the melted butter, spatter with drips of milk (fill a ramekin about half full of fresh milk, then dip your fingers in and flick the milk over the buttered phyllo sheets to help them bond during baking, otherwise they'll slide apart when done) then adding a filling made of feta cheese, egg yolk, chopped parsley and maybe a spoonful or so of yogurt to make it spreadable, depending on the grade and origin of the feta cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I use a full half pound of phyllo sheets on the bottom, then the filling, and the other half pound of phyllo sheets on top, lavishly buttering and spattering with milk all the way except the final sheets on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then I cut the tyropita into triangles that are at least twice as big as the diamonds I cut for baklava. And it's critical that you cut them BEFORE baking, because if you try to do it after baking, the pastry just flakes and flies all over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I make at least two large jelly roll pans full at a time, unless it's for the holidays and gifting when I make more. Tyropita (and baklava!) crusts should never be soggy, and it's the heavy handed use of butter between the layers that keeps them that way, even when you pour hot honey over baklava and let it sit for days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's sooooooooooooooo much easier making tyropita in big sheet pans than making those triangles! But SOMETIMES I do roll the same filling into long strips of well buttered phyllo to make "sigaraburek," a Turkish savory that is just what it sounds like - tyropita rolled into a cigarette shape. LOTS of work! But they don't taste any better, and maybe not as good, as the diamond cut tyropita. And if anyone says you're lazy for doing it this way, you can just tell them you're not, you're just being authentic! A lovely tray or cake plate stacked high with this kind of tyropita is the first plate emptied at any buffet where I've ever served it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd forgotten you lived in Turkey. We visited a couple of months ago and are returning to Istanbul only in June. Looking forward to more great food!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Istanbul is my favorite city in the whole wide world! Even more than Athens or.... no sense in my naming a bunch of cities. I've already said "in the whole wide world." Somewhere I have a photo of me sitting on that great couch in the harem in Topkapi Palace. A friend was on the board of directors, and the entire harem was closed for renovations, but Davud had pull. '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm pretty sure it's still there, but one of the really fun places to have traditional Turkish food is in the upstairs restaurant in the Spice Bazaar. I first ate there way back in the 50s, and it had been open for a century or more then (the spice bazaar dates back to the 1600s). The restaurant is not well known to tourists, and you have to ask a friendly shop owner how to find it. I doubt that it has closed as its main purpose was to give the shopkeepers and merchants a place to get good food, so unless they've all gone over to McDonalds, it should still be there! And you can get some great spices while you're there too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you're looking for token gifts to bring back, I always go to Haci Bekir's for lokoum (Turkish Delight). But do go to the original shop! It's been in business in the same location since 1777! Kinda fun to shop in a place that's only a year younger than our country! Have fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline1, thanks to you and your milk tip in this post, for the first time EVER my crispy topping stuck to my chicken tonight instead of shearing off -- thanks so much, milk is like culinary super glue !!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Milk is magic stuff! Do you know a lot of art work is done with milk products like casein paintings? Milk painted furniture was common for centuries. But for cooking chicken I often use buttermilk. It's great for making crispy coatings stick for both frying or baking. In both cases, if I cut up the chicken I soak the pieces in the buttermilk overnight, then use the same buttermilk for holding on the breading. MUCH better than brining, and it doesn't add any extra salt to your diet! YAY MILK! Milk mustaches for everybody! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Definitely pierogis! My grandmother made them for me as a kid and oh, how I loved them smothered in onions, butter, and sour cream. I make them about once a year now. Between making the dough and the filling, then filling the dough, boiling, and sauteing, it's a an all-day affair (though very worthwhile!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dordalina

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you ever tried Millie's? Very good and the shipping is much more reasonable if you live in the Northeast.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the info grampart! I live in MA so this is a great find, surprised I hadn't heard of them! My mouth is watering already.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: dordalina

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm lucky enough to live near some polish churches and groceries that sell home-made pierogies. not as good as mine, but definitely in the ballpark

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Lobster Thermidor, a la Julia Child. Takes 8 hours. One cooks the lobster four times!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Yes! Beef Wellington! But time and inflation have made it almost impossible to afford on a retiree's budget, especially using my own recipe that I came up with way back in the 60's! It's not just puff pastry smeared with duxelle and wrapped around a seared whole tenderloin. My recipe lines the puff pastry with prosciutto or Parma ham, then it's striped with rounds of fresh black Perigord truffles, then a layer of pate de foie gras, then a really thick dry rich duxelle, then the whole seared tenderloin is wrapped up in it, put on a jelly roll pan seam side down and decorated with fancy puff pastry shapes before glazing with egg wash and roasted to perfection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In today's world, I have to have grass fed dry aged beef. Expensive enough all by its lonesome. But the real kicker on a retirement income is... fresh black Perigord truffles!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Soooooooo... I'm experimenting! I've found a place that sells dehydrated Tuber Melanosporum powdered truffles, and I've ordered some to experiment with... I'm hoping to make a "button mushroom" duxelle with lots of butter and then make it taste like Perigord truffles by adding some of the powder. Wish me luck! Maybe Santa WILL bring a real Christmas dinner this year. '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You are an absolute gem, Caroline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I remember reading your description a few years ago...and swooning :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have always wished I had been one of your guests "back in the day". Or now, for that matter.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dinner at Caroline's . . . I'm in. The next night, I wanna raid Bill Hunt's wine cellar!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why not invite Bill and have him bring the wine to go with the wellington? Or maybe it is more fun to eat and drink well two nights in a row.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm a 'hound, only thing I like better than two nights is three or more. But, come on, bein' let loose in Bill's wine cellar with a corkscrew when he's not home would kinda be like Mom and Dad goin' on vacation on prom weekend with a full liquor cabinet. Sure he'd be pissed when he found me sleepin' in a corner, but, . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I volunteer to supervise you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've gotta feelin' you may have others willing to join you . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Uh oh, your prom analogy hits a little close to home, as my daughter's senior prom is June 6. Hope they're not heading out to Phoenix to raid Bill's wine cellar!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              you do realize there are 12 days of christmas, don't you!?? why celebrate only 3 days when you can have 12!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now there's an idea! Good thinking! '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  OK, so, if I've got Caroline's on Day One, and I gotta get outta Bill's cellar on the morning of Day Three (maybe just go to a diner or something for a some black coffee and poached eggs while I try to get good), where should I go the other nine days?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rent a boat. Fish for the striped bass. You'll probably need two or three of everything because I'll be there for the dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Next set out lobster pots and crab traps. Wood & wire for the pots and steel for the traps. Remember the L pots use chum for bait and the C traps need to be baited with ground herring, squid, sardines and cod so you'll have to fish for those also. That will take a few days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After you have all the fish, etc. you'll need a couple of days to perfect your recipe, cook, and serve. I'll bring the beer. You've already had enough wine...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Boat, traps, bait, and tackle are all covered. That's why you do favors for your buddies when they need 'em (I've carried more couches in my life than any man ever should).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, I'm definitely gonna need that diner breakfast and Day Three off. If you've ever had a wine hangover on a diesel boat at dawn, you understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <" If you've ever had a wine hangover on a diesel boat at dawn, you understand.">

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ahem. I wouldn't know...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If striped bass is coming on board I'll be there too

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gio's lookin' for me to make good on creatin' the seafood version of Turducken I mentioned up stream - "Stripelobrab ala Gio". The fundamental concept is in place, but there's the "tryin' it out" factor to be considered. Moreover, we need a sauce. I'm thinking this is a good place to use some tarragon/sherry/*cream. You know kinda thermadorish?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I promise one thing, when Bill's done hosing me off his cellar floor, assuming the cops let me off with only a warning,** I'll start to see if it can work. One problem is that, although the bass have been runnin' here, it's a bit early for Jersey crabs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nonetheless, I am actually of the mindset that there is a way to make this thing work. I've stuffed fluke with bug tails before. I just gotta put that lump in first, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Would it be gross if I battered and fried it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          *In fairness, it was Gio's idea to use brandy, so I gotta try that too. Same vein, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          **"It's just the 'hound in me officer."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess you don't like the brandy cream sauce I suggested upthread. Anyway, here's something to consider:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But for goddess sake don't use canola oil...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I edited my post to note the inspiration and variations. My wifi sucks here in the Jersey rain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As always, hat's off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, and what's canola oil?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ah... Always one step ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW, where is Bill Hunt? Haven't read him here in a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I will gladly buy the ingredients to feed us both if you will construct! This sounds amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL! All of you sure know how to make an old broad feel great! Party's on!* And if Bill Hunt comes, he can bring the wine... '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              *Cyber parties with cyber guests and cyber food and cyber gifts are the best kind! I was once invited to a cyber wedding with cyber gifts (back in the day of early web), and since it was all "cyber," I was able to give the bride and groom a lovely yellow Lamborghini to go on their honeymoon! They were so thrilled!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. What a WONDERFUL thread---I have just now sat here and read through the whole thing three times. Two comments: 1) How many of these special time-consuming-to-make foods are from ethnic cultures. Speaks of another world with large families and lots of stay-at-home adults. 2) Reading these accounts, such a feeling of love comes thorough---love of cooking and love of the people we cook for. Cooking is such a social art, such a loving art. Who would stuff dumplings for six hours if there weren't someone to stuff them for?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A great response, Querencia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And, I agree, in particular, about stuffin' dumplings. It takes me two days to make pierogi for my Mom and her sisters. Each has a favorite that their Mother made and it appears that the gene skipped a generation. Nonetheless, it's pretty flattering and touching when these sixty/seventy something ladies get excited to take their favorite leftovers home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just what I was getting at! It's not about shorts cuts or faster ways to do something. It's about the special memories that are made. My son loves "my" lasagna and he knows its special when I make it. Not only does it taste amazing but not having every weeks keeps it special. He now makes it with me it's a wonderful experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Lasagna, most definitely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Tamales, i can never make just one batch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my homemade pastitsio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    and baklava. going to try that butter soaking method.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i freeze my cabbage for rolls, and it is amazing how much easier it is!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. baking soda in the water when boiling eggs really does work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I used to make a beef pie with pastry dough that one had to refrigerate, roll out, fold and fold... then refrigerate, roll out, fold and fold... refrigerate, roll out, fold and fold... etc, etc. to get a flaky crust. Took a very long time (though not hard to do). But my wife has decided to avoid wheat (some book she read) so that one's shelved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My vanilla bean gelato is definitely my labor of love because it takes two days to make the custard and then let it cure and then churn. It took me five tries to get the recipe exactly how I wanted it and it is definitely my favorite thing to make for people I love. Also, it is a perfect base so if someone is coming over and I know they love chocolate/oreo/marshmallow/nuts or whatever I can just throw it into the churn or use the ice cream as a flavor base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Not entirely food, but gingerbread houses. I love doing them, but once you add up the cost of buying all the candy, plus the time to make the dough, then roll, cut and bake, and then assemble and decorate, it's quite a laborious and expensive creation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did you know that if you live in a dessert with really low humidity, gingerbread decorations will last forever? When my kids were toddlers, I made very fancy hand cut and decorated Nutcracker Suite gingerbread cookies and hung them on the tree. The kids (amazingly) did not try to eat them, and they got rehung the following year, and the next to years, and then we moved back to California where they were melted messes when I unpacked them for Christmas. Bummer!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The last gingerbread house I made was about 7 years ago for my grandson. It was a "Seven Dwarfs" kind of Disneyesque cottage with a "thatched" roof made of split-in-half large shredded wheat biscuits. Turned out gorgeous, but I don't think they make large biscuit shredded wheat any more, not that I've looked for it that hard... Now that he's ten and most interested in Transformers and other cartoon junky stuff, where's Grandma's incentive?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Veal prince orloff - endless prepping and constant watching - dubos torte (always sweating the caramel crackle finish) and the excellent chili recipe from serious eats which has about a gillion steps!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Pasties- The meat pie that my aunts and uncles made and ate in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 3MTA3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh lord, yes! My husband is from the UP and he loves these. I can't even get it quite right, so I take the lazy way out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes!!! Difficult things that I made once and never ever intend t make again??? MOLE! An original really-truly made from scratch honest to goodness Oaxacan mole! A gazillion different types of chiles, the same variety of nuts and seeds, avocado leaves, for crying out loud! And special Mexican chocolate. Two weeks of serious shopping to find all of the ingredients, then two days to make the mole!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Then a girlfriend invited me to lunch and made a delicious chicken mole. I asked for her sauce recipe... Dona Maria mole in a jar at her Mexican grocers! <sheesh> All my work and she duplicated it with a beer bottle opener? How fair is that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yup, had the same experience with mole, even with later eating a darn-near-exact jarred one. Except you write it better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm VERY glad to know this! Mole is something I've thought for years to make. Dona Maria it is!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with Caroline. Home made mole is twice as good but 50 times as much work. The math favors Dona Maria. Extra bonus: the 8.25 oz. jars live on as juice glasses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She said the jarred stuff "duplicated" what she had made. And that's SHE that made it, not someone like I :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I think you know I can vouch for Caroline's culinary skills. My favorite nearby Mexican restaurant serves a lunch special of pork in mole for $6. I like it. They have assured me several times the mole is house made, I have my doubts. But as long as I like it, it really doesn't matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Along with b'steeya, mentioned above, my three are as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Montreal Smoked Meat. Takes about 10 days to cure, a day to smoke and a day to steam. Unbelievable results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Haggis. Disgusting to make, but make it I do every Robbie Burns Day. Lovely stuff once finished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gefilte fish. Also disgusting to make (I take my induction burner outdoors to cook it so it doesn't stink up my house) but mandatory at Jewish holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I thought of duck the moment I saw your post! I make it every two years. I combine elements from about 3 or 4 cookbooks. Scalding the skin, airdrying it just right....lotsa nd lots of time (and dishes). But....my taiwanese wife calls it the best duck she ever had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        More often, I do a really simple duuck breast version with a GREAT dipping sauce. Found the recipe in a different cookbook: Gotham altogether.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Duck is usually a once a year indulgence for me. Usually on sale around chinese NY year. But I get several different dishes and wonderful prized duck fat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The breast is done rare, usually with a port and fig or other dried fruit sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Back and wingtips to make stock. And fish the bones out of the confit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Legs and wings, and most of the skin dry rendered in the oven to confit. Oh, that pure white fat, reserved mostly to cook potatoes with for special meals. Or sweet potatoes with a dusting of my dried home-grown chilies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A teeny tiny ramekin of pate from the innards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LeJazzHot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like duck a lot. Just recently discovered that my occasional "duck jones" can be satisfied with a simple preparation of the frozen quackers they sell at our local Publix. The hardest part is waiting on the thaw. This is my latest. Did it mostly for the fat this time. Looks pretty good, huh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The thaw is easy. Put it in the fridge and come back in 2 days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not the technique, it's the 2 days, i'm a kinda "want it now" type of guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Then there are a whole lot of recipes that you don't want to try. Xaio long bao are easily a two day process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd probably make duck a little more often if quarters were available, or if it was on sale more often. I live alone. Then I could save up bones and skin and do that at the same time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I often order it in restaurants if it's a choice But when I buy it, I feel compelled to process every bit. I bone my own chicken breasts and save shrimp and lobster shells for stock. If I could buy duck quarters, I'd do it more often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 3 things.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. what our family calls stripey jello (but my recipe says patriotic jello using red and blue jello layers). 7 alternating layers of jello and sour cream filling. The kids love and adore it, takes all day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Baked stuffed artichokes. snipping off of thorns and leaves and stuffing each petal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Baked eggplant. the slicing, salting, sauteeing, baking. takes hours and uses an entire roll of paper towels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Beef tips. The part that is a real hassle is individually turning each dredged cube with tongs during the browning phase for a perfect sear on each side and maximum fond. It might not seem that complete browning of each side matters, but, it really does. The torture is smelling the wonderful aroma for four hours till they are done. The leftovers are worth fighting for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Great thread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is always comforting to find oneself among kindred spirits. So many people I know think I am insane for the amount of time I'm willing to spend in the kitchen. But as with most of you, I usually find it therapeutic, and even when I'm frenzied, enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I make a lot of PITB dishes, but a couple especially labor-intensive ones come to mind--stuffed (and batter-fried) squash blossoms and Rick Bayless's Yucatan-style fresh coconut pie; I make them once or twice a year b/c people I love request (and swoon over) them. That makes it worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But crawfish "bisque" trumps all else. Boiled crawfish must be peeled. The heads must be cleaned out and the front, pointy portion w/eyes and antennae removed from each. The remaining part is reserved as these will be the vehicle for the stuffing, made by grinding or chopping the crawfish meat and mixing with minced veggies and seasonings. The stuffed heads are later cooked in a "stew" made from dark roux and seafood stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I remember my aunts peeling leftover crawfish after a big boil and preparing the heads and then divvying it all up,taking their portions to their respective homes to complete the process the next day. I've tackled this project only twice in my adult life, with a 22-year interval between. The last time, three of us worked at it for about 10 hours. I hope I'll get around to this at least once more during my lifetime!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Lobster Pot Pie - start with 2 live lobsters and make everything from scratch. It's a labor of love for my Sweet DH.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. full thanksgiving meal- brined air dried turkey, chestnut stuffing, cranberry dressing, sweet potatoes w pineapple, sweet rolls, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, green beans. everything from scratch, ive been doing it for years and tweaking it a bit to get it down to clockwork. a full day in the kitchen and a couple days turkey prep beforehand- i enjoy doing it all. somebody else can make dessert or sometimes theres an apple pie in there too. burp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Shrimp stuffed artichokes. Takes a lot of time to prepare but the problem I have is finding decent artichokes in my area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Morimoto's Bouillabaisse. With the from scratch lobster stock and fish fumet needed as foundations for the broth, it's definitely a labor of love but one truly sensational dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My sourdough bread recipe. I like it extra-sour, so I let the starter get really strong. Sometimes I get too impatient and use it early--okay, but not the pronounced flavors I prefer. Then a full day to use the starter to produce 3-4 loaves. Thank heavens for the stick of butter that gets melted over that 1st loaf. Yum. But, I only do this now maybe twice a year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Lasagna, stollen for Christmas, and stuffed cabbage for my mom's birthday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I didn't even think of brisket. That takes me days to do right and is something I rarely do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Pho.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                from scratch, meat broth and all. I put Mr. Kariin (Bert) on the plane and went immediately to the big market, found my best advisor: Experienced Vietnamese Lady. Had a full explanation and bought all the produce etc. herbs from my garden, rock sugar, meat and other Viet. ingred. from the local store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Home and lots of time on broth, Happy time but all day, mostly simmering and skimming. Aged the broth in refrig, chilled (good suggestion from EVL) Made enough broth for 2 BIG batches, froze 1. Welcomed home B. w/delicious Pho, rice noodles, meat, veggies and herbs. Done again when i have cleared time and am alone, no interuptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seriously wish I could buy well-prepared soup base and add my own herbs, veggies and meat. Anybody anywhere do this??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Oops, forgot the Wedding Cake experience: 3 tier (10.8,6 inch) red velvet (w/xtra chocolate) w/french/italian/belgian buttercream icing and piping and wavy stuff. decorated w/tiny crimson roses and petals and an extra half sheek cake (same) for extra guests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, sure - I'll make the Wedding cake. To my dear hard-working niece and nephew who paid for their own wedding (after 10 years and 1 baby) and could not afford at $400 for the cake. What the hell was I drinking??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Took a full week, dog ate 1/2 of the first 10 inch layer and then half of the 8 inch layer while cooling - how did she get up that high??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bought all the fancy: pillars for inside the cake, cake boards, 10 and 6 inch pans, decorating sets, hand-rotating stands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No damn fondant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Did you know pouring boiling sugar syrup into spinning butter/sugar is a death-defying activity - High Risk for permanent damage? ER? Transporting a 3 tier iced but not decorated cake in the back of a volvo station wagon requires skilled engineering consultation and even in October it can get so warm thru the glass in the back that icing starts to soften and melt during the 45 minute trip to the site?? prompting severe marital discord and verbal freak-out as driver and cake preparer vent??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Decorated, chilled in the service fridge on site, flowers and glass B and G on top, on the beautiful white and silver cake board... gasps from guests, N and N see for first time and she cries/he hugs and cries. Toddler says 'oh, pretty'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  me and spouse, happy proud and thanks full. SO.Worth. It.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will never do this again. Now I understand why they cost this. I drank alot afterward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just reading this caused me to drink a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That settles it - I'm not making my own cake!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OMG. You totally rock. That sounds even more hair-raising that the SmittenKitchen wedding cake saga. But once is definitely enough. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are the best aunt in the world!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great story, wonderful memory, which you'll always have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made a friend's wedding cake once - three tiers, different flavors for each tier, etc etc. Had to take two days off work and completely empty my refrigerator. One of the layers for the middle tier broke in half as I was placing it, prompting a trip to the convenience store in the middle of the night, in my flour-coated apron and pajama pants for more heavy cream and white chocolate. The cashier very gingerly asked me "is everything okay....?" - I can only imagine what I must have looked like. 20 lbs of buttercream icing later (and a case of carpal tunnel from the endless piping), the cake was complete.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The fully decorated and assembled cake was transported in the back of a van through the streets of Queens and Brooklyn, with me crouching (in my wedding clothes) in the back holding the board so it wouldn't slide all over the place, despite my instructions that there HAD TO BE SOMETHING TO BRACE IT in the transport vehicle. I'm pretty sure I mooned half of Queens on the way. Thank god there was air conditioning - although as Kariin said, it still got enough sun through the windows to soften the frosting A LOT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After one of the guys moving it from the van into the hall nearly dropped it, we finally got it into the venue. I put on the finishing touches, got it put in the fridge, and was whisked back to the church to sing at the ceremony. I have never been so happy to get to a damn reception in my life. It was a beautiful cake, the bride was thrilled, the guests thought it was delicious. I didn't taste a bite - I hit the champagne the moment I got there and I barely remember the rest of the evening!!!! There IS a reason wedding cakes are so damn expensive!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You are so right about this! Wedding cakes are more work than anyone realizes, there's a reason you pay $5 a slice from a bakery! I made several working in a grocery store bakery many years ago, but making them at home is a whole other level of effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I made one for a dear friend a few years ago... baked and iced a few flavor samples for her to taste. Bought a bunch of decorating equipment and pans that I didn't have at home. Then baked 3 tiers of white and chocolate cake from scratch, brushed with an amaretto syrup, filled with strawberry whipped cream, iced and decorated with swiss meringue buttercream (had to separate like 30 eggs that day!). Transported the whole thing in the back of my Accord. In August. Oh, also, I had just found out I was pregnant and morning sickness was starting to set in!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Everyone loved the cake so... I did it all over again for the same friend about year later, for her in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary party!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I made Thomas Keller's Pork Trotters with Mache and Sauce Gribiche. It took me about 2.5 days to produce. It was worth it but I will have to work up to making it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. cook's illustrated strawberry cream cake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sourdough anything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pork dumplings with homemade wrapper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                eggplant parm

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  actually sourdough waffles and i imagine anything flattish is pretty easy, though you do have to start the night before.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have you ever seen Jenny Jone's YouTube video on Paczki? She makes them lower fat and while that might seem anathema to Polish cooking/baking, she's really enthusiastic and lovely in sharing her take on the donut!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. i thought about making some demiglace but seeing the recipe, that's not going to happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Lasagne Bolognese for me too. I put slices of hard cooked eggs in it. And only shredded mozzarella. One day I will add pepperoni slices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Something I've been craving, but not feeling like making, is homemade egg rolls. Not difficult to make, but tedious. My mother used to make them using spring roll wrappers which are much larger and thicker than the thin, crisp egg roll wrappers I prefer. The recipe I use makes about 50, which is a lot of rolling. It's more than I need at one time, but at least they freeze well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Could you please post a recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't recall seeing those thin square egg roll skins. I'd love to try them. I usually use the thicker ones for fried egg rolls.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The spring roll skins I have in my pantry are paper thin, round, and are used for fresh basil rolls.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Years ago, I was at a little market owned by a Filipino lady. I told her I couldn't figure out which recipe to use for egg rolls - there were so many different fillings. She said to keep it simple, and use lots of cabbage and onions. So that's what I do. The other flavors are pretty much what's in the recipe you posted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think most Asian markets carry them. They would be in the freezer case. My city has two small Asian markets and they both have them. I like them so much more than the thick ones, which alway seem to get soft.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                O'Tasty and Spring Home are the two brands I've seen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These say "spring roll" I thought you said you prefer to buy "egg roll" wrappers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry for the confusion, I guess I just call them egg roll wrappers because the recipe is for egg rolls - but Jaden specifies this type of wrapper. In the article before the recipe under "Mama's Rule #2" she says the two terms are interchangeable, which seems to be the case with restaurants in my area, though they usually tend to use the thinner wrappers. And just to make it more confusing, my mother always called them spring rolls, though I realize now she always used what are labeled egg roll wrappers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now I'm really wishing I could edit my original post!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm confused. Do I buy frozen spring roll wrappers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes. Buy the frozen spring roll wrappers and not the refrigerated egg roll wrappers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. The one thing that I love to eat is Jasper White's pan roasted lobster but it is SO intense to make what with red hot skillets, obscenely hot ovens and precise cooking teams but it is just unbelievably delicious. Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/11611/...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cheffrank

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ha! any recipe that suggests using surgical tweezers definitely qualifies!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Spaghetti Sauce. Each year DH and I make a 28 quart pot of sauce and divide it up between ourselves and our 2 grown children. They ask for it as part of their Christmas presents. It takes a full day to make and simmer but has lots of fresh goodies in it. Ground Sirloin, Italian Sausage, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, diced red/green/yellow/orange peppers, diced onion, minced garlic, sliced olives, small whole button mushrooms, lots of spices. It gets vacuumed sealed in individual family sized portions and frozen. They love it and we love doing it. We've done it for years. (PS: there is more to add to the pot - these pics are still a work-in-progress!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Vol-au-vents, beef bourguignon, coq au vin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Kreplach (Jewish wonton soup) for my husband's family, the way the grandmother made it (although I refuse to render chicken fat).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shoes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One day, when you have some time on your hands, you may want to reconsider and try making schmaltz if you cook eastern-European jewish food even on an irregular basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chicken fat is an astounding thing to work with. It's the secret to my matzo balls and chopped liver, unbelievably fantastic with potatoes, so simple to make it's ridiculous, and you can usually go to your butcher and get chicken skin for rendering for either nothing or virtually nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Try it some day. You'll be amazed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I buy the frozen stuff. Is there that much of a difference? It's only a tablespoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I made a feast for my parents 40th anniversary. It included:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Shrimp Cocktail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tossed Salad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeast Dinner Rolls (from scratch)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Twice Baked Potato
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fried Corn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Green Beans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cognac Steak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They were impressed by the flaming of the steak!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dessert: White cake with strawberries & strawberry ice cream!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nothing too good for my parents! They loved it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: 4Judy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          VERY lucky parents!! I'm sure they are very proud of the way you turned out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My Dr Pepper ribs. Marinade for 1-2 days in fridge then cook in the marinade in the marinade for a few hours, make the sauce, coat & turn the ribs 3/4 times. Same with my sticky chicken or Chinese chicken wings. Hellish long time to make but beyond awesome to taste! My middle son adores these & chooses them every year for his birthday meal with cornbread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also my pulled pork. Make the rub & the spray, cook all night long & next morning on low. Make the smoked ketchup to go in the sauce the previous day, make the sauce the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Pierogi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We only make these once a year as a family. I suppose I could make them myself but it would take a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Roast duck
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not hard to make, but I don't like the way it makes the house smell.