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What do you wish you could do that you've never been able to master?

I'm sure I'll think of lots of things later but right now for me it's braid a six-braid loaf of bread.

I've been wishing I could for decades. I once attended a King Arthur demonstration where the instructor made it very clear. I went home and I was able to do it with yarn pieces. But I didn't try it on dough fast enough and I forgot it.

I've got the KA cookbook that has pictures. I've checked out every other demo and tutorial I could find. I just CAN'T do it.

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  1. I can never roll out a round, flat pizza crust if I use the store bought dough for a quick dinner.

    I just tell my husband now that he's so much better at it so he should make dinner. And it's the truth!

    I can never make a good gravy with the meat droppings and flour either.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thedryer

      Most people avoid putting droppings in food. :)

      What's your gravy method? There might be a better way than what you're doing (gravy has always been my job, even at other people's houses.)

      1. re: salsailsa

        Agreed. My pastries all come out tough.

        1. re: GilaB

          After monkeying around with pie crust recipes, I finally found the Cooks Illustrated Vodka crust recipe. Not beautiful (it always ends up puffy), but it's amazing and flaky.

      2. Poach an egg that is to my satisfaction. It's an ongoing battle, and I've tried a gazillion methods.

        But hey -- we all need aspirations, eh?

        27 Replies
        1. re: linguafood

          I do ok with a skillet of water. But the Julia Child method of dropping them into a saucepan of swirling water? No way!

          1. re: MazDee

            Yah, tried a skillet version recently. Still overcooked my yolks.

            I'm starting to think it's just not meant to be. Wah.

            1. re: linguafood

              Did you try the white wine method? I haven't yet.

              1. re: c oliver

                I did. The skillet method I mentioned. Overcooked the yolks. Sucked.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Dammit! But if you don't overcook them next time will it work, do you think? It's my cross to bear also.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I'm not sure I thought this white wine recipe was all that great for poaching. It calls for diced shallot (I only had onion), and those dice swimming in the poaching liquid make the egg whites all pockmarked. Not particularly attractive.

                    If I ever feel like being angry at my brunch again, I might give the MW method another try. But for the foreseeable future, I'll have to feed my poached egg cravings at restaurants.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      I've wanted to blame it on our 6200+' elevation but the restaurants here do them fine. Maybe they've appropriated all the poached egg mojo in the region.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I have only myself to blame. Guess it's just one of those things...

                      2. re: linguafood

                        Maybe you keep the poaching liquid level too deep. I poach in very shallow water. Just enough to touch the whites. Sorry to hear you gave the wine version a go but it didn't meet your expectations. I'm still enjoying eggs with wine.

                        You might be better off poaching whole eggs and using a timer. Ever try that?

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Poaching whole eggs as opposed to ...what, half eggs? Seriously, I don't know what you're saying.

                          Even in the skillet, the whites went all over the place. I've also done the strainer method where the runny whites are supposed to disappear and only leave the 'tighty whities' surrounding the yolk. Didn't work.

                          The closest I've gotten is the MW method, as you can do very small increments. The shape is also near perfect since I crack them in a little bowl. But it's still not a fool-proof method, which is apparently what I need.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            I have the exact same issues you do most of the time. On the rare occasion it comes out right I never know why. I did the strainer thing also. Nope. It frustrates me enormously that I can cook way more complicated things than a friggin' poached egg and it thwarts me almost always.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I know. And I have a very soft spot for eggs benedict on Sundays. Wah.

                              I can make the hollandaise - no problem. But the goddamn egg? Fuhgeddaboutit.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  That's exactly how my husband's egg (boiled whole to the soft stage) come out looking.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Yes, I've mentioned the MW method. It's hit or miss so far.

                                    Why does the recipe have you pierce the yolk?

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      the yolk will explode in some microwave models. CHOW actually demonstrated three ways to cook an egg successfully in the microwave; including poaching.


                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        I'll check it out. Maybe there's some other magical tweak that'll finally make this happen!

                                    2. re: pikawicca

                                      I'm having the internet connection from hell today. Will check the link later hopefully.

                                  2. re: linguafood

                                    Ha! No, when my man poaches eggs he soft boils them in the shell, so the whites are firmer but the yolk is perfect. He slices the shell and scoops out the egg from each side. Works well. Tastes good.

                                    My daughter uses the egg poach forms and floats that in hot water until they firm up to her liking and then pops them out of the form.

                                    I use the shallow liquid in a pan method.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      But he's making soft boiled eggs not poached, right? I suppose I could try those little form-thingies. Why beat this all but dead horse any longer?

                        2. re: linguafood

                          I suspect the perfect answer for you and linguafood may be "onsen tomago," or what the Japanese call "hot spring eggs." They are an excellent better than poached version that is, in reality, a very old traditional version of "sous vide" eggs. I've heard them called "ryokan eggs" in English, and they come from the ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) in the general Tokyo area where eggs were placed in a basket, then put in the natural hot springs that were used for hot water in the Japanese style baths, then served for breakfast in the morning. The yolks are not "raw and runny, as in Western style poached eggs, but they are a bit firmer and when perfectly done, the yolks and whites are almost the same "just set" temperature. Here is some information about them and a method for making them. The web has tons more information and recipes if you Google "onsen tomago."



                          My favorite way of serving them is a take-off on the Japanese version of congee with onsen tomago, but instead of a traditional congee, I serve them over a lovely traditional "loose" mushroom risotto, then let the guests stir them into the risotto as they wish... When done well it results in a really luxurious and creamy risotto accompaniment, or with a bit of added protein, even a main course.

                          Try it, you'll like it...!!!! '-)

                      3. re: linguafood

                        LOL! Now that's something agribusiness has not thought about yet.... Little cottage cheese size containers in the deli section with four poached eggs suspended in liquid inside for you to warm and use at your convenience (use by date "within the next year"). Hey, I can buy hard boiled eggs individually or by the dozen, why not poached???? '-)

                        (If anyone remotely connected to agribusiness reads this, watch for them, they'll be coming soon to a supermarket near you!)

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          I dunno, darlin'. Wouldn't "poached eggs" for sale be the agri equivalent of Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book"?

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Are you trying to tell me that the world doesn't follow his directions?????? '-)

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              You certainly do, darlin' , you stole my heart! Happy T' Day.

                      4. Fried eggs. So elementary, but so very unachievable for me. The running joke at our house: "how do you want your eggs?" Answer: "however they end up."

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pine time

                          I'm with you. I seem incapable of controlling the doneness of the yolks. Fortunately I'm happy to eat them anywhere from runny to almost hard.

                          1. re: cookie monster

                            In the heady days before fat and cholesterol avoidance my dad used to do sunny side up eggs by basting the top with hot bacon fat. Turned the surface of the yolks a little pink. That tickled us! Cooked the surface white to still moist perfection. Left the yolks blissfully runny. Fat and cholesterol laden nirvana!

                        2. Sad to admit I have a few

                          Fried chicken - It never cooks up right for me, if the coating is great it's raw towards the center. If it's cooked all the way the crust is burnt. Finally settled for fried chicken drumettes.

                          Not good with fish, always seem to over cook it. Do a good job with Ensenada style fish tacos.

                          Gravy - never can get that smooth texture with just the right consistency. On Thanksgiving I'll be doctoring Trader Joe's gravy in a carton.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: engie

                            For the chicken:

                            Put a rimmed baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. Start frying the chicken, breasts first, then thighs, legs, and wings. As they brown, place them on the cookie sheet and let them finish cooking in the oven. Works great every time.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Don't breasts cook faster than legs, which cook faster than thighs, though?

                              1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                That used to be true, but commercially raised chickens have such huge breasts that they take longer to cook, IME.

                          2. Pie crust. Might as well use the Frisbee in the yard...sigh.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kcshigekawa


                              Try it. it took me two tries to get it right. it was perfect except i need to get my shaping skills a bit sharper

                              1. re: trolley

                                That gets a high pass, it looks nice and crumbly. My first two could have deflected bullets.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  This did not come easy. I had several miserable attempts before success.


                                  The crust was flaky and crumbly all the way thru. The edges were perfect. J. Kenji López-Alt really did some hard work on this one.

                                  Here are some pics with the crust filled with pumpkin filling. The custard isn't perfect but I now live at 5,600 ft so i've gotta get a break somewhere!

                            2. Rainey - have you looked at this youtube demo - done very slowly, with a clear and consistent technique? You could have it play on your screen over (and over) as you braid your own loaf.http://youtu.be/6zqEzXjXIbo

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                Thanks! Checked it out and it was wonderfully clear.

                                I've added it to my recipe database and right after Thanksgiving I'll try it in dough.

                                Thanks again. I think you may have helped me finally master it. And if I don't it will be on me 'cause the video couldn't be better. ; >

                                1. re: rainey

                                  Hey rainey - Midwesterner TT is right - this is the best. One additional suggestion that worked for me is to make ;practice dough' - a workable dough w/nothing special - use your hands to roll out long, narrow strands and brush them well w/oil before braiding so that you can _unbraid_ w/out sticking if you screw up (and I did, many times).

                                  Unbraiding the mistakes and then re-braiding would really mess up good dough, but the practice dough is dispensable and lets you do over and over till you get the visual and muscle memory of which strand goes where. This video is great for that.

                                  when you try to do this just once with your rich recipe dough you don't want to waste it and its easy to lose track before you get the braiding down.. Braiding is essentially a repeated pattern, different for the number of strands per braid - once you 'get 'it' it seems to fall into place - but repeating it with cheap, disposable dough makes it so much easier.
                                  I hope this helps - I do this with swedish cardamon bread @ Christmas and it works for 10+ loaves as gifts.
                                  good luck

                                  1. re: kariin

                                    Great tip about oiling the ropes! Thanks.

                                    Say, can I ask for another one? When I do a conventional braid I start from the middle and braid one half. Then I turn the loaf around and braid the other side. It comes out very even and I don't end up with one blobby end that way.

                                    Possible to do that with a 6-rope braid or too confusing to bother?

                              2. A Julia/Jaques omelette eludes me still.

                                1. Cook fish/shrimp properly. It's always a little overdone since I don't yet seem to have enough experience (I've only been cooking regularly for a couple of years) to nail the precise moment of doneness and as a result err on the side of caution.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                    Actually, I'm going to go ahead and extend this to anything that's meant to be served a little rare. The best I generally manage is brown-greyish outer layer and pink center. The pink-red-throughout doneness is tricky.

                                    1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                      Then sous vide cooking is the answer to your prayers. Most people don't understand it fully, but what it basically boils down to is "cooking backwards." You establish the temperature at which your rare steak, coddled egg, perfect shrimp. custard, whatever, should be cooked to for the desired doneness, then put it in water proof packaging (but not with eggs in the shell) and drop it into a "water bath" that will maintain that precise temperature without varying more than half a degree either direction until you're ready to take the food out and finish it off. For example, I have a chuck roast that I am slow cooking at 140F (medium rare steak) that has been lazing at that temperature for 48 hours and is now ready to come out and do an absolutely incredible impression of a Porterhouse steak! The secret is that the collagens and tough fibers of the chuck roast will relax and give up all of its tough and ornry meanness when held at a steak's serving temperature for a long period (in this case139F for 24 to 48 hours) which, in effect, produces all of the tenderization and benefits of a long slow braise but never lets the chuck roast cut get above medium rare serving temperature. Voila! The best of both worlds!

                                      Sous vide magic can work for just about anything, but I limit my use of it to things that make sense. Unfortunately, the same thing is happening with sous vide cooking as happened with microwave cooking when it first came out. Insanity rules! One of the stupidest gifts I have ever received in my life was a "microwave broiler" that my second mother-in-law sent me for Christmas. It was a fair sized Corning Ware baking dish with metal pieces embedded in the pyroceram, which ensured that it would get damned near Space Shuttle reentry tile hot after 20 minutes in a microwave. And these were the directions: "Heat Microwave Broiler in microwave oven for 20 minutes, remove from oven and set on a hotplate or cooktop, then add steaks and broil to desired doneness." My god. It was fifty bucks! ($180.00 in today's world) 35 years ago...! It produced all of the fat flares and smoke of an overheated out door barbecue! Inside MY kitchen! I used it once, then it died in the box. I put it on a shelf in the garage and left it there when we moved. MANY of the souse vide recipes of today belong in the box with that "Microwave Broiler"...!!!

                                      Used reasonably, sous vide is magic. You never have to overcook anything again! '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Oh yeah, I'm well aware of how good sous vide is for achieving that cross section that's almost entirely pink-red (rather than grey then pink then red). I just don't have the money or space (I'm in college) to get a sous vide unit. But believe me it's one of the first things I'll buy once I start working.

                                        1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                          There are more essential acquisitions early on in your working career, but keep it somewhere down on your list...:)

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            mmmm... I don't know about that. After using sous vide techniques for at least a year now, I truly rank my Souse Vide Supreme water oven right up there with my standard stove and oven when it comes to critical cooking appliances. Neither my cook top, my ovens (2 "fancy" GEs: a 220v Advantium built-in and a Trivection oven), nor my microwave can cook a brisket of beef to medium rare, drop dead exactly as tender as a medium rare filet mignon!

                                            In that sense, for anyone on a limited budget who loves "top drawer" food and has the cooking skills to use sous vide to their advantage, the damned thing pays for itself VERY quickly!

                                            I think of my Sous Vide Supreme water oven as the appliance that gives me the ability to time travel. How else can I buy dry aged grass fed USDA Prime tenderloin for $8.66 a pound instead of $34.00 a pound in today's prices? With properly applied sous vide techniques that's exactly what I do with a grass fed dry aged chuck roast or a brisket! And for anyone living where their utility company charges them an arm and a leg for cranking up their standard oven or cooktop, sous vide immersion heaters and/or Souse Vide Supreme water ovens just barely sip the energy. There will be basically no change in my utility bill for cooking my chuck roast for 2 days at 139°F, then searing it with a kitchen torch and serving it as steak. As always, it's how you look at things that establishes the value of something. For me, Souse Vide rocks...!!!!

                                            And if I had a kid going away to college to live in a dorm, I would send him off with a sous vide appliance. S/he could put a lock on his closet to store it securely and cook any damned thing s/he wanted to! Hey, beats the college cafeteria! '-)

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Caroline darlin', it seems you have found a magical way to spin straw into gold on a dinner plate, so I am re-thinking my priority list for Santa this year!
                                              P.S. - I'm Santa.

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  I'm putting Rudolph into rehab for a month. I don't know what he did last night, but he's got a big, red, bulbous whiskey nose this morning. He looks like W.C. Fields with antlers.

                                          2. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                            They're coming down to $200 soon.


                                            And I'll probably get one then. By the time you're through college, they'll probably be fifty bucks :)

                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                I think I know what I want for Christmas! The Sansaire looks great, but it won't be available until end of January. I'm also considering the Dorkfood Temperature Controller to use in tandem with my crockpot before investing in anything as expensive/bulky as the Sous Vide Supreme.



                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                  I saw that DorkFood controller the other day and my reservations about it are, first off, for a hundred bucks all it does is turn a crock pot on and off??? My second reservation is that it only monitors temperature but does not circulate water to compensate for convection currents. While the Souse Vide Supreme does not circulate the water, it compensates with a "diffusion platform" and racks that you place foods in that ensure that the exact temperature water is in contact with all surfaces of the food packets. I just don't see how simply having a "temperature probe" in any one specific place in a crock pot can accomplish all of that.

                                                  HOWEVER....! MAYBE after the SansAire has been on the market long enough to shake the bugs out, I just might get one and sell my Sous Vide Supreme to reclaim some counter space! But I'm going to give that further thought: I change the water in my SVS twice a week, so it's easy to just set the temperature and let it heat up while I prep whatever I want to cook. With the more traditional SansAire design, it would require putting away and setting up again every time I want to use it, and for me, that's a drag! I tend to use things less when that's the case. Yeah. I admit it. I'm lazy! '-)

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Yeah, the Dorkfood thing is tempting because of the price, but I can't imagine it works as well as the Sansaire or SVS given that it just turns a crockpot on and off. I sent my DH the link to the Sansaire so we'll see what Santa decides!

                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                      I'll cross my fingers, an Merry Christmas! '-)

                                    2. Pancakes - I just make waffles instead. I REALLY like to eat pacakes, though, so either order them when we're out or get the Krustez frozen ones when the craving hits.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                        Same here. Not good at pancakes at all. I just order them whenever we're out for breakfast.

                                      2. Chocolate cream puff swans. Kids distract me every time I start the recipe and it ends in disaster. I can do chocolate bonbons, macarons and a many other more difficult recipes. But, somehow, I always underestimate how hard cream puffs are and I start the recipe on days that I don't have enough time or patience to succeed.

                                        1. I can do a lot of things but for the life of me I have never been able to make those filled phyllo pastry triangles.
                                          I am good with other phyllo but not those. They just end up looking awkward.

                                          1. Funny you started this thread with the mention of a bread and my brain went to a perfect rye bread. I make homemade bread all the time, but have yet to find the right formula for the perfect (European style) dark rye bread.

                                            As the thread evolved, people brought up fish/seafood. I can certainly boil/steam lobster, crab, mussels, clams, etc. That's easy just following directions. My goal is to finally learn to buy and cook a perfect piece of fish and perfectly sear a Scallop.

                                            I'm pretty old and still trying to figure this out. I blame it on my mother, who did not like fish or seafood. so we never had it while growing up. I had never even tasted most seafood until I was in my teens.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                              Joe Pastry did a series of entries on dark rye bread a few months ago. Here's a link to the recipe http://www.joepastry.com/2013/black-b... but page backward and forward and get it all.

                                              If you're not familiar with his site it's culinary gold! He not only has great recipes and tutorials but every arcane fact even remotely connected to the subject from history, culture, whatever. This guy is an ABSOLUTE gem!

                                            2. Pie crust. It either tastes great and rolls terribly , or tastes bland and looks perfect. My one attempt at a GF crust was comedy. It became a crumble topping.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: autumm

                                                Remember that you don't want gluten to form in pastry crust. My great aunt who was a GREAT cook and taught me to bake bread made awful pie crusts. She was used to handling flour the way she did for bread that depends on gluten.

                                                Use as low a protein flour as you can get. Handle it gently and as little as possible. Some people use two fats, adding butter later so more of it remains in visible pieces. Some add vodka for part of the water to discourage gluten formation. I prefer limoncello. You can't actually taste it but I think it adds a bright note.

                                              2. I want to throw pizza dough in the air, make my own sushi (and have it look professional!), prepare my own starter and make sourdough bread! I want to be a judge on Top Chef and have a Coney Island hot dog with Anthony Bourdain and pick Wylie Dufresne's brain! I want to audit classes at the CIA and the Cordon Bleu!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ahuva

                                                  All estimable goals!

                                                  I might be able to help with the sourdough starter. I just made a couple. One is the one I've always used that begins with commercial yeast but I wanted to do one from natural wild yeast too.

                                                  I used Ed Wood's recipe. The thing is it took much longer than the one jump started with dry yeast. At least a week longer. So, what I have to offer is that you may have been doing fine all along but just giving up prematurely.

                                                  I have a third one made from a live starter I bought online. A week after they all got going you can't see a difference in their vitality. I'll start baking with them after T-day and see what the differences are in flavor and texture. The natural ones are supposed to make better texture. I'm counting on it.

                                                2. For the longest time it was pie crust, until my sister in law showed me a trick... now I always make great pie crust & it's so easy. So that leaves making homemade pasta. I bought a pasta machine 10 years ago & haven't used it yet. Something about making homemade pasta scares the heck out of me. Silly, I know.

                                                  22 Replies
                                                  1. re: i_am_Lois

                                                    Hey, Lois - you're gonna tell us that trick, right? or are you just messing with us?? my pie-crust is ok but....

                                                    1. re: kariin

                                                      She lays a lint free towel on the table (a piece of muslin)... flours it well, then starts rolling the dough on it. Believe me, the dough will not stick at all & rolls out beautifully.

                                                      1. re: i_am_Lois

                                                        thanks Lois. That sounds reasonable. my german neighbor lady in Chicago had a large thin fine linen (cambric) sheet she floured heavily and used only for hand-stretching strudel dough. I've never made strudel (not a crazy person :->) but I will try it with pie dough.

                                                        1. re: kariin

                                                          kariin use plenty of flour on the towel where you'll be rolling the dough. It's easy to spin the towel around to roll the dough from different directions. When ready to transfer to your pie plate, it's easy to fold the dough in half by lifting up the towel from the side closest to you. When done, take your towel outside & shake as much flour off as you can. My sister in law then folds her towel & stores it (unwashed) in a zip lock bag in a cool place. Her's has never gotten discolored, moldy or buggy. I prefer to wash mine after each use. I used to use 2 sheets of wax paper or roll dough directly on the floured table, both which produced tragic results. The towel is the way to go.

                                                        2. re: i_am_Lois

                                                          A Pastry Cloth is the way to go, although they seem to always sell with a (useless to my way of thinking) rolling pin cover.


                                                      2. re: i_am_Lois

                                                        Lois, you may be ahead of the game on not using the pasta machine yet... I bought one about 30 or so years ago -- very expensive! -- only to find out I don't really like fresh pasta. There is NO WAY you can cook fresh pasta al dente!

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Really? You are bursting my bubble! My next cooking project is making fresh ravioli....is really it that difficult to make it al dente? I hate overcooked pasta.

                                                          1. re: eviemichael

                                                            Before you give up the dream buy some fresh pasta at the supermarket and see what you think. I did everything I could think of like buying imported Italian-grown-and-milled semolina flour, and all that jazz, until I finally found the trick that allowed it to cook Al dente. The "trick" was air-drying it for a couple of weeks and then it tasted/cooked just like Colavita or Barilla! Jeez! I could buy a lifetime supply of either brand for the price of the pasta machine! Why bother? So my lovely very expensive pasta machine has lived in a box in the garage for the last thirty years. That was five moves ago! But please! Don't just take my word you won't like it. Try it yourself... '-)

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Send your box to me! :) There must be some way the great chefs make fresh ravioli al dente though. Batali's Babbo restaurant is known for a pretty toothsome beef cheek ravioli, right? :)

                                                              I'll let you know how my experimenting turns out over the holidays. Fingers crossed!

                                                              1. re: eviemichael

                                                                I can't recall ever making ravioli with my pasta machine's VERY tender pasta but I did make my own lasagna noodles, but mostly I tried fettuccini, rigatoni, pasta shells, lasagna noodles, and spaghetti... I don't know that I've EVER (from upscale hand made ravioli in an upscale restaurant to Chef Boyardee in a can) had ravioli where the pasta shell was al dente. The lasagna I made with the fresh noodles did not have the "tooth" I get when I make it with good quality store bought noodles, even though my pasta machine did do the ruffles down the edges and the whole nine yards.

                                                                Any and all foods are a matter of personal taste and preference. '-)

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  I just got a great deal on my first kitchen aid mixer (woohoo!) and my mom just surprised me and ordered the pasta making attachments.

                                                                  I'll report back. :)

                                                                  1. re: eviemichael

                                                                    Congratulations! And may your Kitchenaid serve you twice as long as mine has served me! Which is at least 35 years... '-)

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      Thanks! I really wanted the red one, but couldn't beat the steal on a white one.

                                                                      1. re: eviemichael

                                                                        My KA is now 3 weeks old, and it's already turned out numerous batches of cookies, whipped cream, mashed potatoes, 3 loaves of bread, and probably 4 or 5 other things I can't recall. Loving it, thus far! (I'm still awaiting, however, the free ice cream attachment that I sent away for.)

                                                                        1. re: eviemichael

                                                                          Don't regret getting the white one. I can promise you it is the ONLY appliance color that has NOT gone out of style in the last 75 years! It's "classic."

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            That's true. I just saw a blog post of someone who had one in neon green and went to a lot of trouble to figure out a way to paint it white!

                                                                            I may get a kitchenaid red cover for it though :)

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              But my apple green one goes so great with the orange walls!

                                                                            2. re: eviemichael

                                                                              I don't know what you paid for yours, but the mark-up on them is really low so any good discount is a deal.

                                                                          2. re: eviemichael

                                                                            If you're not too impressed with your homemade pasta after you get you get your attachment, if you're so inclined, you can also use it to make homemade crackers - definitely cheaper than store bought, and usually better.

                                                                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                              Thanks for the tip, I never ever would have thought of that.

                                                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                                                    My gluten-free fresh pasta cooks to a perfect al dente! Must be the flours I use. I adore my KA pasta attachments, too.

                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                      Flour can certainly make a HUGE difference in anything you make with it! Semolina is the only flour I used for pasta.

                                                                2. I'm really lousy at writing on cakes...just can't get it right no matter how I try!!

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: FoodWacky

                                                                    Good heavens, my writing on paper is illegible. I wouldn't even try cake writing!

                                                                    1. re: FoodWacky

                                                                      Oh yeah. I'm so bad I wouldn't even have the audacity to make that a goal.

                                                                      At one time Wilton had a set with a clear overlay and templates of various alphabets. The idea was to pipe over like kindergarteners learn writing. You could do the same thing but printing out fonts in whatever size and piping over them on plastic wrap. And, of course, you have to get the consistency of the icing exactly right too. =o

                                                                      But it's a little like rubbing your tummy and patting your head to hold a piping bag, keep tension and write, isn't it? I love that the instructions always have "relax" in there somewhere. ; >

                                                                      1. re: rainey

                                                                        Even w/ my lousy handwriting, I did take up calligraphy for a few years. My results weren't bad at all. Maybe I should substitute that for my real handwriting? Wow, would take me so long to write on a cake that it'd be stale by the time I finished.

                                                                    2. I've always wanted to master the art of being able to snap my fingers and have a wonderful meal with wine instantly appear, then snap them again and have all the dirty dishes wash themselves and go back to sleep in the cupboard.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: medrite

                                                                        When you master *that* one be sure to stop back and tell us how it's done! ; .

                                                                        1. re: medrite

                                                                          LOL! Are you one of those people who watched too many episodes of The Jetsons when you were a kid? When you invent this magic, let me know and I'm first in line to buy it! '-)

                                                                        2. Paella. I have a pan, but I've never quite gotten it right. And every time I spend $30 on good seafood and botch it up, I feel sick to my stomach. I usually only try it every couple years as a result, you know, when my ego is feeling extra robust.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                            I've never tried paella but it's so romantic to see the table-sized paella pans propped up on cinder blocks over an open flame log fire bubbling away. Someone walks up from the beach with an armload of fresh catch to toss on top. Anything that comes out of that must be delicious, no?

                                                                            Mabbee you're not using the table-sized paella pan and trying to cram your armload of fresh catch onto a cooktop? ; > ::ducking and running::

                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                              Yeah, my pan is only like 20" across! Maybe that's my problem. I've tried it on the cooktop, in the oven, on my gas grill, and over a large propane turkey-fryer type burner. I suppose I need to try it on my Weber kettle grill, if unsuccessful, the next logical step is to get out the cinder blocks and cook it over the fire pit!

                                                                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                What is the part that doesn't come out right?

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  Depends on the day. I've had rice stick ( I have since thoroughly seasoned the pan), burn, not cook enough, overcook the fish, gummy texture, etc. lol

                                                                          2. Rice, stupid simple rice. Brown rice, now we're in for trouble

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              I am also SO BAD at cooking rice. Thanks to 660 Curries, I have mastered white basmati, but I'm still terrible at cooking brown rice. I eat rice very infrequently, though, so I don't mind buying it already cooked from the Chinese place across the street. $2 is a bargain for my sanity!!!!

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                My rice was always unpredictable. Then I bought a Zojirushi rice cooker. Now my rice is always perfect - long grain, short grain, brown rice, sushi rice. Cheap rice, expensive rice - no matter, the Zojirushi makes perfect rice every time. And it has short and long-term "keep warm" functions that work so well that the rice stays perfect even days after you cook it. It's a miraculous invention!!

                                                                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                  Would love to be able to make great Basmati. My father was the consummate master. Never have I seen anyone else who could so reliably get perfectly separated grains without a hint of starchiness or exploded grains.

                                                                                  I, on the other hand, have never succeeded. But I don't want to give up and use a rice cooker - in part because it's my belief that the machines can produce reliably good, but not unbelievably great - and it's the latter I'm looking for. Too many childhood memories of great rice to settle for the rice cooker.

                                                                                  Interestingly, brown rice isn't nearly so difficult for me - my results are usually quite passable and many are very good - does that give any hints to anyone about what I may be doing wrong with the white stuff?

                                                                                  1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                    Without any further info, I'd guess that you're not adequately rinsing the white rice. Good luck in your quest!

                                                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                      No, I definitely rinse every time. Until the water in the pot looks completely clear with the rice in it. Then I drain that water as well and add new water.

                                                                                      Conceptually, I can clearly see the problem: the relative rates of absorption vs. evaporation of water are off. More water should be evaporating. There might be something to do with absolute ratios of rice to water too (best results - not perfect but as close as I can get seem to come with a ratio of 15/8 parts water to each part rice.) Another variable - and I have no idea how to control this for different amounts of rice to prepare, is the shape and size of the pot. Different widths, depths, and volumes are all, obviously, going to have slightly different results because the surface area-volume ratio has changed.

                                                                                      Would love the instructions pine time mentions, particularly as a basis for comparison and experimentation.

                                                                                      1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                        Rice is not 100% predictable. Recent weather has an impact; humidity, temperature, how long it has been stored. So in addition to rinsing, my experience is that soaking the rice for up to an hour will ensure that the rice expands while cooking into smooth textured gains that don't clump. At least this works for most white rices, but how I'm cooking the rice will determine whether or not to pre-soak. Plain steamed rice? You betcha. Risotto or pilaf? Not even! Fried rice? Soak, steam, refrigerate for at least one day, and not too tightly covered. You might say rice is sort of like a violin. You need to know how to play it well to please an audience. '-)

                                                                                        POST SCRIPT: Unless you're adding it to soup, rice is normally cooked covered to maximize absorption.

                                                                                    2. re: AlexRast

                                                                                      Have you tried Madhur Jaffrey's basmati rice instructions? I get perfect rice, every time. Let me know if you need the info.

                                                                                2. Carving a chicken the correct way.

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Mel.D

                                                                                    You should check out some of the turkey carving videos, NY times has a great one and is how I learned to carve a chicken in less than 10 minutes. Although I guess I should ask what's the correct way?

                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                      the correct way is so you don't destroy the poor bird and make a total mess :)

                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                          For me, the key is removing the wish bone before cooking. You make two small slits in the back of the breast and then you can use your hands to remove the wish bone. Once you do this, carving off the breast is much easier. For the legs and thighs, I always pull them to expose the joints as I'm carving. That should guide you where to use your knife.

                                                                                          1. re: austineatsworld

                                                                                            That's key! I do it for chicken and turkey.

                                                                                      1. Also in the troublesome bread category. I still can't make a really great flour tortilla. Seems simple, and I've had hands-on lessons with an experieced tortilla maker, but mine are never quite right.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: arashall

                                                                                          We're in the same area, HEB fresh are delicious.

                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                            Yep. That's my go-to. But every now and then I get the urge to try again and do my own.

                                                                                        2. It was pie crust, but I *finally* made a decent one a couple of months back. Might need to check if I can replicate it (have made press-in oil crusts since, but those don't count! :)

                                                                                          Now, it's the grill/barbecue. We only have a gas grille at the moment, but even that eludes me. Flames, burnt food, sticking, disasters. We are moving again soon, but that and frying stuff without smoking up the house are on my list for when life calms down!

                                                                                          1. Potstickers. Sometimes I think I could eat them every day, but I don't have enough patience for the dough. Still trying.

                                                                                              1. Perfect stuffed pasta. I am on a mission during the holidays to perfect a pumpkin cappellacci recipe.

                                                                                                  1. Steamed eggs. I don't know what its called but my mother used to make a treat for us when we were kids. She would beats some eggs with a little water and sugar then steam them until just set. It would be smooth and amazingly silky. Better than any other custard or pudding. Mine never are! I either over or under cook them or they are cooked right but somehow the heat was too high and there's no silkiness at all. I'm a decent cook but I can not get this one simple recipe down.

                                                                                                    1. Kneading dough for bread making. Knead bread dough for 10 min ? I'm at a complete loss.I have know idea of what it should look or feel like.I have tried several times.My bread comes out tough. Trying to make a simple french country loaf is the hardest for me. I know my way around the kitchen,I just can't do it.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                        You knead until you can feel the dough become elastic and develop a smooth skin. When you think you've got it, pull off a small piece and, holding it between the thumb and index finger of both hands, begin to gently pull and stretch it. You want to be able to pull it so thin that light shines through it without tearing.

                                                                                                        If you can do that you've achieved "the window". That tells you you have a strong gluten network. Now cover it and let it rise and carry on.

                                                                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                                                                          RLB describes this as "smooth and shiny." And it really does get smooth. The cellulite-esque lumps disappear and the dough just smooths out.

                                                                                                          1. re: rainey

                                                                                                            I'll try looking for the window. Should I punch the dough down after the first rise and let it rise again,or just let it rise once and then form the loaf. How long do I let this rise ? Should I cover this with a towel ? I bake on a stone using parchment paper. I bake at 425. Oven temp to low ?

                                                                                                            1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                              Sounds like you're in for the adventure of bread making! First I'll give you the short version: almost anything works in the end. You'll get big open holes or a tight texture, bursting boules or flatbread, dough that holds it's shape or dough that pours out like a batter. All forms are possible and tasty and prized in cultures all over the world.

                                                                                                              Now the long version.

                                                                                                              I expect you're talking conventional loaves something like a sandwich bread. For that the usual practice is mix the dough, let it rise, redistribute the gases and reinvigorate the yeasts by a bit of folding or kneading, shaping, second rise (proof) and then bake. For rustic breads that redistribution is a couple mere folds of the dough that retain as much of the carbon dioxide pockets as possible. For fine textured breads some bakers slap the dough around on counters and then knead.

                                                                                                              At each stage you want to keep the surface of the dough moist. That's usually accomplished by oiling it and covering it. Some people use oiled plastic wrap. I learned from my great aunt who put a tea towel over it. Sometimes I just put the bowl I mixed in over it upside down on my baking counter.

                                                                                                              Shape it by pouring it into a pan, rolling it into a loaf and placing that in a pan or hand forming boules, batards, torpedoes, rolls, etc.

                                                                                                              Finally, bake it. That can be done simply in your oven or you can add steam by pouring hot water into a heated container. This keeps the crust soft for as long as possible to maximize rise. I like rustic breads and bake my hand formed loaves in clay. However you bake a stone (actually a clay or ceramic slab) in your oven (the heavier the better) creates very constant heat and improves crust but be sure to preheat your oven long enough to bring the dense stone up to temperature as well.

                                                                                                              After you've made a few loaves you'll be ready to investigate sponges and preferments that will greatly improve the flavor of your bread. And get yourself any of the excellent books on bread making. Peter Reinhart is the uncontested master. Any of his books will be extremely helpful. But *nothing* teaches like experience and experimentation.

                                                                                                              Have fun. I *know* the eating will be good.

                                                                                                          2. re: emglow101

                                                                                                            You may want to watch a couple of 2-minute youtube videos that show how to knead bread dough by hand. Epicurious has one that says the test to tell when dough is kneaded "enough" is when 2 fingers inserted in dough ball leave indentations that hold their shape.

                                                                                                          3. Pancakes. I either flip them too soon and have a gooey mess, or I stop cooking them and the inside is still gooey.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Kashmirgirl

                                                                                                              What I've found is have a nicely oiled pan, preheated on a slightly lower than medium burner. Pour one pancake in the center 2.5-3" diameter. Watch for bubble formation. You want uniform bubbles throughout the pancake. When they stop forming at a constant rate, flip. Sort of like popcorn in the microwave burns after the consistent popping stops, it's the same idea. You want the bubbles to keep popping. When it lags, that means its cooked and ready to flip.

                                                                                                              If the pancake color isn't up to snuff, adjust the pan temp accordingly. Higher temp yields darker, lower temp more blonde.

                                                                                                            2. My tragic never ending dilemma of not being able to do a home made pie crust. I shudder when I think about the attempts I have made over decades that have only ended in dismal failure and me slinking around buying pre made crusts:(

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                I used to be the same way.

                                                                                                                Have you tried the ATK pastry with vodka? Works like a charm. In fact, I have a whole variety of recipes that have things like "never fail" and "fool proof" in their names and they all make fine pastry. They use things like a whole egg, vodka and vinegar with good results.

                                                                                                                So, don't give up (if you don't want to). Find a recipe you can trust and it will get easier.

                                                                                                                Other things to keep in mind is low protein flour, minimal handling and rest periods before rolling for the flour to fully hydrate and relax. I also think it helps to make your pastry well ahead so you approach the rolling in a more relaxed frame of mind.

                                                                                                                Rolling on a floured cloth, as others have pointed out, is helpful. In fact, towels with flour embedded are wonderful resources for handling all kinds of pastry.

                                                                                                                Experiment with rolling pins too. I like a very heavy stone one with ball bearings. Does half the work for me.

                                                                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                  " Find a recipe you can trust and it will get easier."

                                                                                                                  This. I had the worst time getting the hang of pie crust, and went for years using mixes and the like (do they still make that pie crust "mix" comes in shelf-stable foil-wrapped sticks like margarine - you just add some water?) Then I gave it another try and somehow magic happened and it worked for me. My tried-and-true is the Basic Pie Dough recipe in the 1970s edition of Joy of Cooking.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                                    I remember those! Used them for years as they cut out a tremendous amount of tears and scatological language (which did not enhance T-day in any way).

                                                                                                                  2. re: rainey

                                                                                                                    I need to just go for it. Now that it is cooler weather and the one dessert I truly enjoy are fruit pies I will give it a go. Will post a pic and a blurb if I succeed:)Thank you:)

                                                                                                                  3. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                    Then go with David Lebovitz recipe: no cold butter, no rolling out, no tears


                                                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                      I had success with the Oil Pastry from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, probably because I always have the ingredients on hand and fresh (shortening is always an extra-grocery-run item for me), and because it makes a sturdy yet flakey crust.

                                                                                                                      The online version of recipe has slightly different proportions, same instructions. http://www.bhg.com/recipe/pies/oil-pa... My cookbook version uses

                                                                                                                      2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                      1/2 cup cooking oil
                                                                                                                      1/3 cup cold milk

                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                        I have all of that here...I have a rolling pin....pie tin...apples sugar spices...I might try this Saturday. Thank you very much:)

                                                                                                                    2. Pretty much anything cooked in a pan that needs to be flipped and requires my attention. Baking, roasting, pastry, soups, stews, slow braises - I can do all of that. Anything that actually requires me to stand there and watch it - no can do.

                                                                                                                      I either flip too soon or get distracted and flip too late or use too little fat so it sticks or too much fat to it's a greasy mess. Most notable offenders:
                                                                                                                      Pancakes (flip too soon, too little/much fat)
                                                                                                                      Grilled Cheese (get distracted and flip too late)
                                                                                                                      Eggs (too little/much fat, can't get them over easy or do omelettes)
                                                                                                                      Hashbrowns (too much fat, flip too soon for half the pan, get distracted and flip too late to burn the other half)
                                                                                                                      French Toast (see: Grilled Cheese)

                                                                                                                      The only exception is burgers, which I'm ok at assuming I'm cooking for myself since I take my burger medium. If I'm cooking for family (who all like well-done), then I'm screwed.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: amishangst

                                                                                                                        I'm with you on pancakes but finally mastered grilled cheese by setting a timer - 3 min. per side, and hashbrowns - 6 min. per side. Eggs have never been a problem for me - guess a 1 min attention span is enough there.

                                                                                                                      2. Hi Rainey, have you seen the book A Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh? It has a really good, step by step with photos tutorial of the six braid loaf.

                                                                                                                        1. Scones. I'm just not meant to make them at home.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: TracyKaplan

                                                                                                                            Scones are something that was difficult for me too.

                                                                                                                            Have you tried making them with frozen butter? I had to use frozen butter once because it was all I had. They came out GREAT!.

                                                                                                                            You slice frozen sticks as thin as you can. It will break into shards as you do it. You just toss the shards into the dry ingredients. Pour on the wet stuff. Fluff it with a fork to distribute the wet parts. Turn the mass out and knead it 3-5 times (I do it in a floured cloth). Pat it into a disc on a cookie sheet. Pat a glaze (egg, buttermilk, whatever) on just the top. Cut your disc into quarters then eighths. No dragging a knife back and forth. A clean stroke down from top to bottom please (I use a bench scraper). Stick a knife underneath and gently pull alternate scones out a bit so they can all rise. Then bake.

                                                                                                                            They'll rise. They'll be flaky and delicious. I promise.

                                                                                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                              You can great frozen butter with the large holes of a box grater, too.

                                                                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the tip. This is inspiring me to try again over the holidays!

                                                                                                                            2. SE Asian. I can't do it. I can stir fry. I can't go to the market and buy several bottles of sauces to add to it. It just doesn't work for me. i can buy the veggies and the meats, just not all those bottled sauces. If i could, I'd make it at home. but I just can't use all those bottled sauces.

                                                                                                                                1. Poaching an egg perfectly. Or even with mediocrity.

                                                                                                                                  1. I've got a new one since I just started doing my pies.

                                                                                                                                    I would LOVE to be able to do that pastry chef thing where they grab a handful of flour and in one elegant sweep, dust the whole counter top about 2 grains deep. ::sigh::

                                                                                                                                    1. There is only ONE thing that I wish I could do and have never been able to master: Eat what I want when I want and stay slim! And while I'm at it, why not throw in stay young too? More bang for my buck!

                                                                                                                                      1. I can't caramelize onions. I managed it one in my life, and never again. I have no idea what was so different- maybe it was the air, since I was at a beach house at the time.

                                                                                                                                        1. Debone a chicken but leave the skin intact for that Spanish/Filipino stuffed chicken dish.

                                                                                                                                          1. Right now I'm working on perfecting my cookie baking. I know it seems ridiculously simple, and both my daughter and my granddaughter have it down pat, but my cookies just don't turn out all that great. I just purchased a new baking sheet and a Silpat which on first try has improved my results about 100% but I still have a ways to go.

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: elegraph

                                                                                                                                              This time of year you should easily find a "cookie coach" friend to bake with -- it will be some small thing that's tripping you up - e.g. how to tell when butter/sugar is creamed enough or a difference in measuring flour technique or your oven's real temperature not being what you think.

                                                                                                                                            2. For a long time it was rice pudding, couldn't replicate some of my favorite versions but I finally figured out that I was over cooking the milk which accounted for the paste not creamy pudding consistency that had eluded me. Now I nail it.

                                                                                                                                              Beyond that the one dish I can't nail is the perfect paella. Still trying but somehow something is either under or over cooked.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                Would you care to share that recipe?

                                                                                                                                              2. Fettucini Alfredo....I learned this dish in the 70's and use an egg yolk. Nobody seems to do that any more...is this not good any more?

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: johnnyb510

                                                                                                                                                  So... are you saying you can't make this anymore? Or were you replying to another thread?

                                                                                                                                                  Egg in alfredo? I thought it was just butter & parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Crepe batter without lumps. I've never managed, its always lumpy.

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                      I've been making crêpes in my blender ever since I bought my first blender, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to get lumps. First off, the traditional ingredients ratio for crêpes is 2 eggs, one cup of milk (I usually use fat free), one cup of flour, and around 3 Tbsp of butter plus salt to taste and about 1/2 tsp of sugar to promote browning. Dump it ALL in your blender all at once and blend until smooth. Don't worry about "exciting" the gluten and ending up with rubbery crêpes because the batter MUST rest for at least an hour and that's plenty of time for the gluten to relax. It can relax in or out of the refrigerator, and the batter is good for at least a day or two. I've been making crêpes this way for so long I'd forgotten that it could be made in a bowl!

                                                                                                                                                      Just to check my ratios, I googled "crêpes" and this Alton Brown recipe is pretty much "on the nose," except he combines milk and water for the fluid total, and surprisingly he seems to think the mandatory hour's rest is to get rid of bubbles that may be suspended in the batter. Not so! And be omits the pinch of salt plus a little sugar to promote browning. Anyway, two classic batters that MUST be allowed to rest if you want to achieve the proper results are crepe batter and Yorkshire pudding (popovers) batter. And I make them both the no-brainer blender way.


                                                                                                                                                      And, hmmm... Now that I think about it (duh!), both crêpes and popovers are made with the SAME batter. Why didn't I recognize that sooner? <sigh> So now you can have un-lumpy crêpes any time your heart desires! Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                        We make crepes in our restaurant. We whisk the batter by hand, it's always lumpy, and the crepes turn out great. In other words, lumpy batter does not equate to bad crepes. If you do use a blender to make the batter, heed the advice to let the batter rest. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                          The way I do it is to mix in the liquids slowly. I beat eggs and milk together, then mix in just enough into the flour to create a fairly thick but not gluey paste. Then I add a little more, achieving a thin paste. Then more, to get a thick batter, and the rest, to get a thin batter. Gentle beating at each stage keeps everything smooth. Only at the end do I add butter

                                                                                                                                                          As mentioned elsewhere resting is useful, although not strictly fatal if you've been gentle and careful with mixing. The difference in texture is usually fairly minimal. Nonetheless, I'd almost always rest anyway.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AlexRast

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the replies, all. I might just give the blender a try. My crepes taste fine (to me), I just don't like having lumps! I've tried the mixing slowly trick, but I've not done it to the point where I incorporate all the liquid before adding more, I'll give that a go too :)