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I just learned how to make a grilled cheese sandwich

And I'm 24. After years of trying and being able to make just about anything but a grilled cheese, a boiled egg and rice, I conquered one. What 'simple' thing did it take a while for you to master, or maybe you haven't yet?

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  1. Rice was hit or miss until I purchased an electric rice cooker.

    10 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      I seriously have to read the simple white rice recipe on Cooks Illustrated every time I make rice! HaHa

      1. re: pagesinthesun

        Rice for me, too, until I bought Madhur Jaffrey's "Invitation to Indian Cooking." Perfect rice every time since then!

      2. re: fourunder

        Rice, can't do it and probably never will be able to. I've given up.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          I can't do it either. Seriously thinking about investing in a rice cooker.

          1. re: ludmilasdaughter

            If we ate more rice, I'd definitely buy a rice cooker as otherwise it would not be made.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Rice is pretty easy - the trick is to leave it alone.

              You can use any old measuring device- I have a coffee cup that I use for instance. the Ratio is 1 rice to 2 parts water (I use just slightly less than that - but let's not complicate things)

              1 coffee cup full of rice, 2 coffee cups full of water - bring to a boil turn to low - don't look or touch for at least 15 minutes.

              Rice can be very tricky for rice dishes like Arroys con Pollo where you might have tomatoes or other liquid - in that case I use daisy marteniz's trick - the liquid should be about one inch above the dish.. that's roughly to the first knuckle on my index finger (she uses a wooden spoon). It's worked for me everytime.

            2. re: ludmilasdaughter

              I was sick of trying every rice recipe, every brand of rice & getting good results only half the time. Got a rice cooker from Amazon for about 30 dollars & now have perfect rice every time. Also it has a steamer basket on top where you can
              steam some veggies while rice is cooking. The booklet gives you ideas for cooking other things besides rice.

              I had an old rice cooker for many years & finally gave it to the thrift shop. The new ones are no comparison!

              Save yourself some misery & go for this little cooker.

              http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007...

          2. re: fourunder

            Seriously, a rice cooker is the best investment. I, too, could never make a decent pot of rice. Now I actually look forward to making it.

            1. re: fourunder

              I ADORE my Microwave Rice Cooker from Pampered Chef. It is my most used kitchen gadget and I get perfect rice every single time. It even works on boxed rice mixes. It's the best.

              1. Scalloped potatoes. It's still a soupy mess for me.

                5 Replies
                1. re: youareabunny

                  That was something I could never get right until I saw Julia Child doing it. She explains it well on her potato show.

                  1. re: youareabunny

                    I parboil my potatoes a little before putting in the oven. If it is soupy you might not have the right amount of flour, you need some in every layer as well as pats of butter and some good whole milk or 2% at least.

                    1. re: Ruthie789

                      Evaporated milk works great! Creamy without the extra fat.

                    2. re: youareabunny

                      Thanks for the tips everyone. I've got a fresh bag of russets so I will give it a shot. Maybe 4th times the charm! (I know that isn't many attempts, but it seems so easy that 3 failures did quite a number on my confidence lol)

                      1. Have you tried using mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread? That was a recent "WTF? Oh, that actually makes a lot of sense" moment for me. And I'm a lot older than you.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Soul Vole

                          I think my problem was putting butter in the pan as opposed to on the bread. I've got it now though.

                          1. re: deputygeorgie

                            Try Mayo - spread very easy and browns extremely well.... I haven't used butter for years once I tried mayo there was no going back.

                          2. re: Soul Vole

                            SoleVole, I put mayo on one side of the inside of the bread, and mustard on the other inside. then butter for the outsides.

                            And Deputy Georgie, try adding some tomato slices and or bacon. And different cheeses....like Brie, oh my such gooey goodness.

                            1. re: Soul Vole

                              I use mayo instead of butter, and cook them in the oven (because I want everyone to eat at the same time). 350, 8 minutes on the first side, 4 minutes on the second. So easy, and I'm not taking forever to cook all the sandwiches.

                            2. Turkey gravy at Thanksgiving: too lumpy, too oily, too bland. It took a long time to get it right.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gfr1111

                                Gravy was a very rough thing for me, too. I've got it now, but it took many tries.

                              2. I'm decades older than you, d.g., and I still have a grilled cheese question: how do you get a lovely grilled tomato slice on top of the cheese? Only way I've been able to: grill the tomato separately, then slap it 'tween the bread/cheese. Any better way?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: pine time

                                  I guess that's what you'd have to do. Maybe grill the tomato, put it on your sandwich then grill the sandwich?

                                  1. re: deputygeorgie

                                    that's the way it's done. used to work in a coffee shop and had many a tuna melt, grilled cheese, etc. with a warm, juicy tomato slice.

                                  2. re: pine time

                                    Just had a crazy idea--what if you buttered the outside of the bread, piled one slice with cheese, top with the sliced tomato, and put it in the broiler until the tomato is cooked? Then you could take the whole thing out, top it with the other pice of bread that is buttered on the outside, and grill it on low heat, flipping constantly, until you have a perfect grilled cheese???

                                  3. Southern fried chicken.

                                    Over 5 years to get it to where I felt confident enough to serve it to others. There was no KFC or Maryland Fried Chicken in Germany in the 70s. Or my swamp in Louisiana in the 80s.

                                    Ground pretzels, fresh herbs, buttermilk, and a cast iron chicken frier with bacon grease and lard solved my problem.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                      This! is my next conquests family isn't too sure about me learning how to fry chicken with no direction.

                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        I only just found out the key to getting the crunchy exterior is to add buttermilk to the flour until it's shaggy. Never knew.

                                          1. Roast Duck - it wasn't until a culinary tour of china that the old rotisserie on the grill method and NOT the oven finally sank in.

                                            1. Not necessarily simple, but I still can't make a decent loaf of bread or pizza dough. I've tried just about every recipe.

                                              Rice was a tough one for me as well, and I found it's a piece of cake in an electric steamer. Another easy way is to simply bake it. I put equal parts liquid and rice in a small baking dish, cover it tightly and place it in a non-preheated oven at 350 degrees. At about 40 minutes for white rice, and closer to an hour for brown rice, it comes out perfect for me every time.

                                              1. Just had another grilled cheese memory: in college, my roomie--who had never cooked or even heated up soup before (nor done laundry, nor vacuumed her room, but those are separate stories) decided to make the classic grilled cheese with an iron. No kidding: she used the steam setting, put no foil on the bread, and "steam ironed" bread, then tried to hold the iron about 1/4" from the cheese to melt it. I stood there, not saying a word. She dropped out next semester--maybe she was starving for Mom to cook her a meal?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  I CAN make grilled cheese, but the only way I can do it without burning the bread is verrrrrry slowly. And sometimes I don't want to wait. So I turn the toaster sideways and stick cheesy toast in there. It's not "grilled," but it's crunchy and warm and gooey and good.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: tracytrace

                                                    Such ingenuity! You need a toaster oven. :)

                                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                                      Ah, that's not my pic. I think I got the idea here on CH. But, I think you're right. I DO need a toaster oven. I've never had or used one, but, especially in this heat, I can see the point! Thanks!

                                                      1. re: tracytrace

                                                        ok somewhere on the web,i just saw these special sandwich bags that you can pop in your toaster with bread and cheese to make a toaster grilled cheese! pretty clever, but i thought the cheese might still all go to the bottom..

                                                        also, in response to the original question, i'm still working on devilled eggs. I've now decided that the best way for me, is to wait until someone else makes them!

                                                2. Poached eggs. By some kind of divine intervention, I made 2 very good poached eggs last Saturday. I will now be making poached eggs very often so I can remember what I did. Most previous attempts were disasters, a few were passable, none I'd serve to anyone else.

                                                  Pizza. The crust is close, but still not where it should be.

                                                  Success rate on a high quality gratin dauphinois is about 50%, with no clear rationale on why it works once, but not the next time. The biggest issue is with the cheese/cream breaking.

                                                  For mastered, I'd say a high quality vinaigrette, one with great flavor and balance, doesn't break, and a basic 3-ingredient recipe that's easily adaptable for different flavor profiles.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                                    I recently discovered microwave poached eggs, and it was a revelation.

                                                    Put a Tbl or two of water in a ramekin, crack your egg into it. Microwave on 70% for one minute, and then for up to 45 seconds more depending on your zapper and it's power level.

                                                    Perfect egg, every time.

                                                    1. re: tzurriz

                                                      Trying this at home, thanks for posting. I hate getting out (and cleaning after) all the poaching gear just for one or two eggs!

                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                        The best thing about microwave egg poaching? Being forced to really clean the m/w after said egg explodes. Now it's on the stove top for me!

                                                        1. re: gourmanda

                                                          an egg without the shell? Did the yolk explode?

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            I think I've brought this up on another thread long ago. but a few years ago when I had my exchange student from Thailand, she came to the US having never used a microwave. I explained that a lot of things can be cooked in there, just no foil. She put an egg on a plate turned it on and expected a hard boiled egg! She got a huge "POP!" and a big ol' mess. It was hilarious :D

                                                            1. re: alliegator

                                                              I think I ruined a microwave while babysitting back in the mid '70's.... I kept trying to microwave a pot pie. In the aluminum pan. I couldn't understand why it wouldn't cook, and what all the sparks were about.

                                                            2. re: wyogal

                                                              Yes, an egg cracked into a ramekin. Kablooey. I do them in a saute pan now. The post about the student putting the whole egg is pretty funny, but an understandable mistake if someone was not familiar with a mw.

                                                              Like you and the pie pan, when I was a kid I put a Wendy's burger in to reheat. That's when I realized their wrappers are made with foil.

                                                            3. re: gourmanda

                                                              I've only had it explode once, when I forgot to adjust the power level. :D

                                                              I make two poached microwave eggs almost every morning lately. No problems at all. No explosions. Just yummy eggs.

                                                            4. re: grayelf

                                                              What is poaching gear?

                                                              I use pot or sauce pan, slotted spoon, dish for raw egg and dish for cooked. Plus eggs, water and vinegar. Perfect each time.

                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                I grew up in a house where poached eggs came out of little "ramekins" that were suspended over water in a rack thingy, so that's what I use too (got mine at Williams Sonoma). Was fascinated by the first "free range" poaching I witnessed. Still haven't tried it...

                                                          2. re: foreverhungry

                                                            Have you tried poached eggs with very fresh eggs, they usually hold together better?

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              I also add vinegar to the water, helps.

                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                Vinegar and some like to use a whisk to make a whirlpool. I also found I prefer a shallow pot so the white has less room to move - 2 inches in a wide sauce pan. The only thing I can't figure out with the poached eggs is after you place them on a towel to dry, how the heck do you get them off "safely?" They always seem to adhere and it's a delicate act to plate them intact.

                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                  This may seem very tedious, but it's my trick. I put paper towels on a clear space of counter next to a wall, then place a raised grate on them. Then I lightly oil a few spatula/spoon things. Catch the egg, leave it on the spatula propped against the wall on the grate to drain until they're all done. Then plate!
                                                                  That probably only make sense to me. Let me know if you'd like clarification.

                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                    This has actually been my new solution, leave the egg on the spoon. I just wondered if that was crazy, but I'm in good company :)

                                                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    I use a slotted spoon to scoop the egg, and place the whole thing, spoon included, on a paper towel briefly, to get the excess water off. I don't hold them for service, they are eaten when ready.
                                                                    I worked briefly at a restaurant briefly while in cooking school, and they had eggs benedict on the buffet. We cooked the eggs in shallow muffin-like pans, in the steamer oven.

                                                            2. The same exact three as you! I bought a egg poacher/boiler for $12 and it changed my life.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: sweetpotater

                                                                Mac 'n cheese. Fails me every time. Some of you may gag, but I end up going back to the one in the blue box......

                                                                1. re: chloebell

                                                                  Do you cook stove top (milk, eggs, cheese) or bechamel with cheese? I've cooked Alton browns stove too with success and bechamel is pretty easy too. Just make enough sauce and cook the pasta thoroughly so it doesn't absorb all the sauce and turn into a tasty brick.

                                                                  1. re: youareabunny

                                                                    I do the bechemel with cheese and it is fool proof. I do not like the custardy southern style.

                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                      I haven't met many plates of Mac and cheese that I wouldn't inhale buy my heart lies with my grandmother's southern custard style which I can't seem to recreate. When I make it, it's quite awful and probably what most don't like about this style. Ive watched her make it and explain it to me for years but can't figure it out :)

                                                                  2. re: chloebell

                                                                    I do the bechamel then bake for holidays. Kids love the blue box... So most regular meals its done that way.

                                                                    1. re: chloebell

                                                                      I've started making a variation of the Modernist Cuisine's, where you essentially you high quality cheese to make your own version of Velvetta, then cook a specified weight of pasta in a specified volume of water (3:1 ratio pasta:water by weight, I believe), and when there's a couple of minutes left for the pasta to cook and some water left, you stir in one of your premade cheese logs. It's fast, simple, tastes great, very customizable, and just darned cool.

                                                                      1. re: chloebell

                                                                        Try the Over The Rainbow Mac and Cheese recipe by Patti LaBelle. You'll have perfect (albeit seriously rich) Mac and Cheese. Google recipe.

                                                                        1. re: jinet12

                                                                          I tried this and despite the reviews and really wanting to love it but I didn't think it was so good. I definetly want to try again I just know ill love it.

                                                                    2. I just learned the wisdom of searing a steak on the stovetop and finishing it in the oven. Like buttah, I tell you!

                                                                      1. If you're worried about making grilled cheese, have no fear. I saw already made grilled cheese sandwiches in the frozen section of a Shop Rite in NJ. $7.00 for a package of 2. They were right next to the already made peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                                                          Wow! Even cheap food is expensive now :(

                                                                          1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                                                            I'm disgusted to admit this, but I tried the cheese variety and it was disgusting! The pb&j wasn't bad... Gosh I'm gross.

                                                                          2. Rice
                                                                            Gravy and pan sauce - it completely evaporates or turns into a muddle mess. I'm quite embarrassed to admit this one as I feel like I'm a fairly good cook, but I rarely make gravy or pan sauce as they just don't go well.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              I'll give you this tip... Mix some flour into a small amount of pan drippings. Barely any left. Mix it into a roux, then thin it out with milk or water. If it needs thickening, add some corn starch wi hot water. Very little of both or it'll get goopy.

                                                                              1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                Thanks for the tips, I'll be sure to try it out.

                                                                            2. no one's mentioned my bĂȘte noire - homemade mayonnaise. i've bitched about it ad nauseum here.... i received and tried DOZENS of tips, here and elsewhere. i finally made it - THREE TIMES - SUCCESSFULLY! following this video: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                                              but then the last two times it didn't work. i was using a different stick blender and cup, at my sister's house, but i would think it would still work... haven't tried it since... *whimpers...*

                                                                              i can poach eggs, i can make rice like nobody's business. it's annoying as hell because, as my sister loves to say, "any idiot can make mayonnaise."

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                Just ask your sister, "Well, which of us is the idiot?"

                                                                                I'm assuming she knows how to make the mayonnaise...

                                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                  She does. By hand. Every time, damn her. she fixes mine.

                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                    Maria Carmen, you missed the joke. I meant the idiot *does* make the mayonnaise.
                                                                                    (She as much as said she's an idiot!)

                                                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                      hah - well i did miss that, but my sister was also taking a dig at herself purposely.

                                                                                2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                  I managed to successfully make the stick blender mayo last night! It failed me previously. I had my ingredients at room temp this time, which may have helped.

                                                                                3. I was late to learn how to roast a duck, which is only slightly more involved than roasting a chicken. For a few extra dollars and a little more effort it's like turning Barry Manilow elevator music into a symphony.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Do I have your permission to use that quote "it's like turning Barry Manilow elevator music into a symphony?" Brilliant!

                                                                                  2. Cracking and egg without breaking the yolk. it was pretty hit and miss for the longest time but I'm pretty much hit now.

                                                                                    DT

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                                      Interesting trivia I read on the internet, so it must be true.

                                                                                      Vast majority of men use one hand, women use two.

                                                                                      Any truth?

                                                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                        I'm a woman and I use two. I can't even think of how you'd do it with one :)

                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                          I'm a man and I can juggle flaming chain saws with one hand and break eggs with the other.

                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                            This male has been using one since Mom and I got into omelet making when I was 15 years old.

                                                                                            Cannot remember where I saw it. Mom used two.

                                                                                          2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                            I learned from mom to use two but have tried to learn with one. It has been maybe 80% accuracy with it.

                                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                              I ama woman and use one hand but can crack two at a time. I can crack with both hands. Its an art. ;-) But Veggo has me beat with the flaming chainsaws.

                                                                                            2. re: Davwud

                                                                                              I've actually never had this happen which is interesting as I eat a lot of eggs. I have read that fresh eggs make it somewhat easier as the protein are more stable. SO did have a cracked yolk with a lovely smiley faced picture to show for it.

                                                                                               
                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                Practice makes for a lot of omelets.

                                                                                                Perfect makes for sunnyside up.

                                                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                  After over 35 years of marriage, I still ask Mr. Pine "how do you want your eggs this morning?" His answer: "however they come out of the pan." Which is good, considering my lack of egg skill!

                                                                                            3. Er, I'm 39 and, for all intents purposes, I do not cook. In fact, I can probably make a short list of all the things I actually know how to make:

                                                                                              Spaghetti
                                                                                              Eggs (includng omelettes)
                                                                                              French toast
                                                                                              Pork chops (I have an ex who liked them; haven't made them since)
                                                                                              Hamburgers
                                                                                              Tacos
                                                                                              Potatoes, baked or mashed
                                                                                              Plain white rice

                                                                                              Anything else, I would probably need to look closely at a recipe and follow it step by step. Oddly, I have made a wide variety of baked goods. I dislike cooking, but I enjoy baking!

                                                                                              1. Acquiring the proper technique for skinning a fillet of fish took me decades. Then one day, boom, I suddenly had it. That moment was as joyous as the first time I rode a bike without training wheels.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: tonyabbo

                                                                                                  Wow, I'd love to learn this. The skin -side of the filet turns into a chopped up mess. Also, If i could learn to eat a whole fish without constantly picking bones out of my mouth that'd be good too.

                                                                                                  1. Mashed potatoes.
                                                                                                    Pasta
                                                                                                    Poached eggs
                                                                                                    Fish
                                                                                                    Soft boiled eggs
                                                                                                    Rice
                                                                                                    Chicken breast on the bone or off
                                                                                                    Whole roast chicken
                                                                                                    Many more, I am sure