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You can't make it just as good

JuniorBalloon Jan 1, 2014 03:59 PM

"I can make it just as good".

Can't count the number of times I've read a reply that contains the above phrase. It's always in response to someone who has posted a recipe that includes an ingredient, technique or an amount of time to simmer or stew. Someone will post they use a shortcut and it's just as good. I want to say, "No you can't." You can make something that's good enough for you, but it's not just as good as using the proper ingredient, technique or time.

I use short cuts all the time. I'm not complaining about those. They are sometimes necessary to get dinner on the table. But I know when I've made a quick spaghetti sauce it's not going to be as rich as a ragu that simmered all day.


  1. s
    sueatmo Jan 1, 2014 04:06 PM

    Many times I can make veggies better than the ones I get in almost any restaurant. Same with salads and salad dressings. But I get what you are saying.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo
      JuniorBalloon Jan 1, 2014 04:23 PM

      Your techniques are probably better than what the restaurants are using. :o) My comment really wasn't about the difference between what a restaurant will produce and what you can make at home. It's more about people who take the time and care to make something and someone else coming along and saying, "Oh, you don't have to go to all that trouble..."


      1. re: JuniorBalloon
        sueatmo Jan 1, 2014 07:59 PM

        You know there are people who really can't tell the difference between a well prepared dish and a so so dish.

        This is maddening for those of us who take care with our cooking. But it is a fact of life, I think.

        1. re: sueatmo
          MidwesternerTT Jan 2, 2014 08:58 AM

          Actually, that lack comes in handy at times with my spouse. He's generous and genuine with his compliments so he knows good food when he tastes it. But he'll happily eat pretty much anything I serve and has told me more than once (when consulted regarded menu planning) that it REALLY does not matter to him.

    2. c oliver Jan 1, 2014 04:33 PM

      Being a pretty rigid recipe follower I totally get what you're saying.

      1. z
        zackly Jan 1, 2014 04:34 PM

        I can't make mayonnaise as good as Hellmans and I've stopped trying.

        1 Reply
        1. re: zackly
          Zalbar Jan 3, 2014 12:24 PM

          Secret to that is a tsp/tbsp of dijon and the right amount of lemon juice.

          I've made mayo that was an exact copy of Hellman's, and I love Hellman's.

        2. t
          tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 1, 2014 06:27 PM

          I have that response to a lot of substitutions done for health or other dietary reasons - sometimes those substitutes are necessarily, but most of the time they make an inferior dish (although there are exceptions). That fake meat substitute is not the same as using beef, yes I can tell it's not butter, skim milk thickened with flour is not a good substitute for heavy cream, and noticed you left the salt out.

          For specific ingredients, I find that in many cases bottled lemon and lime juice cannot replace fresh, pre-ground pepper can't replace freshly ground, and Kraft Parmesan in the green jar can't replace freshly grated.

          For techniques, Bolognese sauce and gumbo are ones I find can't be messed with in terms of shortcuts. Bolognese takes at least 6 hours to make properly, and can't be vegetarian, gumbo needs that carefully browned lard and flour mix for the depth of flavour (and is similarly non vegetarian).

          18 Replies
          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
            sunshine842 Jan 1, 2014 06:34 PM

            this is why I tend to not read recipe reviews "I cut the sugar by half, added three times the cinnamon, substituted ground almonds for the flour, and used liquid tofu instead of milk and this recipe SUCKED".

            Yep, I'm sure it did. You didn't make this recipe.

            1. re: sunshine842
              c oliver Jan 1, 2014 06:45 PM

              I LOL when I read a review like that on epi.

              1. re: sunshine842
                tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 1, 2014 09:57 PM

                This is also why I don't leave recipe reviews - I rarely cook the recipe exactly.

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                  sunshine842 Jan 2, 2014 04:00 AM

                  if it's the first time, I'll at least stay fairly close to the recipe...but yes, for most recipes, I rarely follow it to the letter.

                  1. re: sunshine842
                    jeanmarieok Jan 2, 2014 07:35 AM

                    I'm exactly like you, sunshine, I stick pretty close the first time I try a recipe, then make it to my taste after than.

                  2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                    c oliver Jan 2, 2014 08:10 AM

                    The exception for me is COTM. When they vary from the recipe they note that and give the reason. But I would guess those 'hounds are a notch up from the average epicurious reviewer :)

                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                      tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 2, 2014 04:23 PM

                      I usually look at a handful of recipes for the dish I'm looking for, and triangulate between them for what I want. I often have to substitute ingredients, due to local availability, as well.

                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                        emglow101 Jan 2, 2014 06:20 PM

                        I also do this.Recipes are just a guideline for me when cooking.I do follow them when I bake something.I always felt you could give two home cooks the same ingredients and recipe. They both would be different.

                        1. re: emglow101
                          c oliver Jan 2, 2014 06:41 PM

                          Do you ever visit the COTM threads. I'd say most of them follow the recipes. And most of them are better cooks than I'll ever be. That's why I follow recipes :)

                          1. re: c oliver
                            emglow101 Jan 2, 2014 06:56 PM

                            Never. I'm sure they are much better cooks than me also. I don't usually stray to far from them. They are a guideline for me.

                            1. re: emglow101
                              c oliver Jan 2, 2014 07:01 PM

                              You might want to check them out. Here's an index:


                    2. re: sunshine842
                      jpc8015 Jan 2, 2014 08:18 AM

                      This is one of my ultimate pet peeves when it comes to recipe websites. I think I see it most often on Food Network.

                      If you are a vegan with celiac disease then why would you want to try making Paula Dean's flaky buttery pie crust? I'm sure that it just won't be the same made with gluten free flour and organic shortening.

                      1. re: jpc8015
                        ipsedixit Jan 2, 2014 08:31 AM

                        If you are a vegan with celiac disease then why would you want to try making Paula Dean's flaky buttery pie crust? I'm sure that it just won't be the same made with gluten free flour and organic shortening.

                        I think if you are a vegan with celiac disease, just uttering the word "Paula" followed by "Dean" would cause you a medical episode.

                    3. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                      westsidegal Jan 2, 2014 06:14 PM

                      to add to tastesgoodwhatisit's list:

                      fresh ginger and fresh garlic always tastes better than powdered
                      fresh or dried legumes always taste better than anything that comes out of a can.

                      1. re: westsidegal
                        tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 3, 2014 08:02 PM

                        I find that fresh ginger and powdered ginger are totally different ingredients that simply can't be substituted either way - fresh ginger can't substitute for dried when the recipe needs the powdered version.

                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                          westsidegal Jan 4, 2014 09:13 PM

                          just made a chickpea tangine for my new year's eve party.

                          made two versions which i served side by side.
                          the first used powdered ginger (as the recipe stated)
                          the second used an equivalent amount of freshly minced ginger.

                          both versions were served to the 10 guests at my new year's eve party without telling them what, exactly the difference was between the two, just that there was a difference in preparation methods.

                          the fresh ginger tangine, was completely consumed.
                          the powdered ginger tangine ended up with about 1/3 of the pot left over.

                          certainly this wasn't a scientific study, but every time i've done any sort of side by side comparison, the food made with powder has NEVER been the favorite.

                          1. re: westsidegal
                            tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 4, 2014 09:43 PM

                            Baking often uses powdered ginger, and I don't think fresh would substitute well - for something like ginger cookies even finely grated ginger would be clumpy, and not spread itself through the dough.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                              prima Jan 4, 2014 10:28 PM

                              There's a triple ginger poundcake on epicurious that calls for fresh, dried and crystallized ginger, and it's really good. Fresh ginger isn't clumpy in baked goods when it's been grated with a rasp or a ceramic ginger grater. I use both dried and fresh, and in quite a few recipes I use both together.

                    4. ipsedixit Jan 1, 2014 06:34 PM

                      You're absolutely right.

                      I can make it better.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        JuniorBalloon Jan 1, 2014 10:02 PM

                        You are the exception that proves the rule. Not everyone is a ninja kitchen master. :0)


                      2. JetLaggedChef Jan 1, 2014 07:01 PM

                        AMEN! :)

                        Also... I hate when people post reviews of recipes saying things like:

                        "I hated this recipe! It was horrible. I only swapped out 6 of the 10 ingredients and also changed steps 4, 6 and 9, omitted step 8 and this recipe was the worst. I'm giving it zero stars because it ruined my life!"

                        1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2014 08:13 PM

                          <Someone will post they use a shortcut and it's just as good. I want to say, "No you can't.">

                          It depends on the "shortcut". I will use an extreme example. Let's say the traditional ancient method to make a pot of pasta is to boil the water using wood fire. You didn't use wood fire. You "short cut" it and used a gas stove. Needless to say, this shortcut has no adverse effort on your pasta.

                          On the other hand, there are plenty shortcuts which will make the new recipes to taste different or even worse. Using Uncle Ben instant rice is not the same as using regular rice. Using a spoonful of MSG is not the same as using real ingredients.

                          Great post, J Balloon.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            c oliver Jan 1, 2014 08:15 PM

                            MSG is a "real" ingredient, isn't it?

                            And I agree that this is a good post.

                            1. re: c oliver
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 1, 2014 08:25 PM

                              <MSG is a "real" ingredient, isn't it?>

                              Not "real" enough to me. Just like margarine is not a real ingredient to me.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                c oliver Jan 1, 2014 08:38 PM

                                Why isn't it "real enough" for you? I ask this sincerely because I respect you.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  Puffin3 Jan 2, 2014 07:47 AM

                                  I'm a big fan Escoffier fan. When I decide to make one of his dishes I will not start unless I can follow the recipe to the letter. I get great results and the taste nuance is always there.
                                  When friends and family hear I'm making an Escoffier dish for them they actually have been known to 'dress-up' a bit. LOL

                                  1. re: Puffin3
                                    c oliver Jan 2, 2014 08:13 AM

                                    That's a really cute story and high praise for your cooking also. And I think you point out something important. It's those nuances that can take a dish from good to great. The nuances that I count on other great cooks to tell me about. I'm really not into reinventing the wheel.

                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  jgg13 Jan 3, 2014 07:25 AM

                                  do you not consider yogurt to be "real"? because MSG is made by fermenting with bacteria

                            2. JuniorBalloon Jan 2, 2014 11:04 AM

                              Chems and Ipsedexit's comments as well as others made me think about techniques and changing them. I know him well enough to know Chem realizes that the difference in outcome between using a wood fire and an induction stove on the pasta would be negligible. But let's use BBQ as an example. Someone may think they can use liquid smoke and cook ribs in the oven and get something just as good. I would say no way and that if they think they can they are deluded or one of the people noted above that really can't tell the difference. You simply can't replace the low and slow 3 - 5 hours of cooking over actual charcoal fire.

                              But, and I think this is what Ips is alluding to, what if you alter the technique and use sous vide to get the ribs to a set temp and then finish them on the BBQ. I have never tried it, I'm sure they would be delicious, perhaps even better than low and slow over the fire, but they would still be different. As good? All of food taste is subjective to a certain degree and that can be hard to nail down. Like saying something is "Authentic". But in the second case you are altering the technique and not really using a shortcut like liquid smoke.

                              There is a difference between doing things differently and using a short cut. What shortcuts have you used that actually improved the dish?


                              23 Replies
                              1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                jpc8015 Jan 2, 2014 11:08 AM

                                I've got a recipe for ribs that I use where I wrap them in foil along with some honey, shallots, wine, and I can't remeber what else...and cook them low in the oven for 4 hours or so. The ribs are awesome but they are a completely different animal when compared to ribs smoked long and slow over hardwood charcoal. Are they just as good? Maybe, that depends on your preference, but I would never claim that my ribs are barbecue.

                                1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 11:11 AM

                                  <But let's use BBQ as an example. Someone may think they can use liquid smoke and cook ribs in the oven and get something just as good.>

                                  I would say no way too.

                                  <You simply can't replace the low and slow 3 - 5 hours of cooking over actual charcoal fire.>

                                  You can, you just get very different results. :)

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    JuniorBalloon Jan 2, 2014 11:16 AM

                                    And to that I would say, in the spirit of Glinda's question to Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, Are you good taste or a bad taste? :o)


                                  2. re: JuniorBalloon
                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 11:18 AM

                                    <What shortcuts have you used that actually improved the dish?>

                                    Well, I will say that if I ever "short cut" something and improved the dish, then I will no longer call it "short cutting". I will simply say this is a better way to do it.

                                    For example, I have recently (not that recent) used my pressure cooker to make many of my pork bone stocks/pork soups. It has certainly short cut the time by half or 2/3rd, and the results have been nearly the same if not slightly better. Now, I don't call it shortcut. I simply say that it is better to make these pork stocks/soups using a pressure cooker.

                                    P.S.: the pressure cooker only works for certain stocks. It does not do a very good job for other kind of stocks I do. Just want to be clear.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      jpc8015 Jan 2, 2014 11:22 AM

                                      I have found that the pressure cooker does an amazing job with beans. I will never go back to cooking beans the conventional way again.

                                      1. re: jpc8015
                                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 11:23 AM

                                        Right. Same here. Initially, I may have done it for the reason of saving time, but then I realized the final results are sometime (not always) better. It isn't just the time.

                                    2. re: JuniorBalloon
                                      JetLaggedChef Jan 2, 2014 11:22 AM

                                      Agreed. Though sometimes experience teaches you that a particular step is simply unnecessary so you're omitting it because of that, not because it's a shortcut.

                                      Rinsing poultry, for example.

                                      1. re: JetLaggedChef
                                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 11:24 AM

                                        <Rinsing poultry, for example.>

                                        I still rinse my poultry, but I stopped talking to them.

                                        1. re: JetLaggedChef
                                          JuniorBalloon Jan 2, 2014 11:33 AM

                                          Rinsing poultry is a whole other subject. I personally don't find it an unnecessary step, but it depends on what kind of bird I'm cooking. If it's from the grocery store, in a plastic bag with blood and water, I rinse. Not to remove bacteria, just to remove the glop. If it's a bird from the butcher shop, sitting in the case high and dry, no rinsing.

                                          Talking? I guess I do that too. Nice little birdy. Come here now, lay in the little pan, there you go. Isn't that nice?


                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                            sueatmo Jan 2, 2014 03:45 PM

                                            I just read in Consumer Reports advice from FDA NOT to rinse poultry because rinsing can spray bacteria around the sink area. If you get it on your hands, and touch the faucet, you can spread salmonella and other bad stuff, or become sick yourself. The article was basically about salmonella in grocery store chicken.

                                            I realize some people really, really hate CR, and it is not a cooking mag, but I won't rinse chickens any more. I'm careful as it is about sanitation regarding poultry, and meat, but the idea of spreading salmonella (which CR says it found in about 50% of tested chicken) does not sound good to me.

                                            1. re: sueatmo
                                              c oliver Jan 2, 2014 03:51 PM

                                              It's not just CR. It's been all over the news.


                                              I'm turning to non-factory farmed chickens. I'm no germophobe but those statistics get even my attention.

                                              1. re: sueatmo
                                                Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 04:00 PM

                                                <I realize some people really, really hate CR>

                                                It isn't just CR. Did you know Julia Child and Jacques Pepin disagreed on this before on TV. :)

                                                "And then there was the matter of washing chickens.

                                                “I have washed this chicken with hot water,” Child says, manhandling a wet bird.

                                                “I don’t wash my chicken,” Pépin tells the camera.

                                                “He doesn’t wash his,” she says. “I think in France they’re not as worried about things as we are, are they?”

                                                “Well, I live in Connecticut,” he says."


                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 04:08 PM

                                                  Hey, I find the video exchange between Julia and Jacques on youtube.


                                                  Start at 3:38 min.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                    JuniorBalloon Jan 2, 2014 05:35 PM

                                                    "I leev een Connetteecut." Hilarious.

                                                    Having read the recent scare stories I am aware they are afraid of splashing. It's not like I put it on spin cycle with debris flying all over. Sure a bit of care needs to be taken, but when I fix a chicken there is a lot of hand and utensil contact. Just watch what you're doing and take a modicum of care.


                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 05:38 PM

                                                      <Having read the recent scare stories I am aware they are afraid of splashing.>

                                                      On the other hand, we sort of did the control study. For decades (maybe centuries) Americans have been washing their chicken and did it in the "wrong way". Guess what? Vast majority of people survived.

                                                      <"I leev een Connetteecut.">

                                                      Must be a East Coast v West Coast thing (Julia - California, Jacques - Connecticut)

                                                      1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                        linguafood Jan 2, 2014 05:43 PM

                                                        Yeah. I'm a rinser, for the exact same reasons and in the exact same cases as you. We have a very deep sink, and I'm not playing bath day with whatever chicken parts I need to rinse. And lo and behold -- still alive to be typing this.

                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                          Cherylptw Jan 3, 2014 06:57 AM

                                                          Agreed; But if people are getting sick, it's not from the rinsed bird as it's from the lack of proper sanitation from not disinfecting the sink, faucet and surroundings afterward. Common sense is all it takes...

                                                          1. re: Cherylptw
                                                            linguafood Jan 3, 2014 07:54 AM

                                                            I don't disinfect my sink, either.

                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                              c oliver Jan 3, 2014 08:18 AM

                                                              Nor do I. Nor anything else in the kitchen.

                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                Cherylptw Jan 3, 2014 03:04 PM

                                                                I do; it's habit from previously cooking for others....I bleach everything

                                                                1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                  sunshine842 Jan 3, 2014 04:57 PM

                                                                  bleach residue isn't really doing you any favors, either.

                                                              2. re: Cherylptw
                                                                sueatmo Jan 3, 2014 08:09 PM

                                                                Yes. the problem as perceived by the powers that be is that bacteria is spattered on the faucet and sink. And it gets on one's hands too--particularly under the fingernails. I just decided it is easier to not wash. If I cook the chicken properly, any bacteria on its surface or inside should be killed. But bacteria splashed on the sink or faucet might be missed in the final cleanup. Or could contaminate, say salad greens.

                                                                But, I think the major salmonella problem is with the commercial producers of poultry.

                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                            Bada Bing Jan 3, 2014 10:06 PM

                                                            Thanks. Cool video. I watched the rest.

                                                2. t
                                                  tastesgoodwhatisit Jan 2, 2014 04:26 PM

                                                  Lasagna is another one. When I make lasagna it's a two day process - a proper bolognese sauce the first day, and then fresh pasta, fresh grated parmesan, etc the second day for the lasagna itself.

                                                  There are lots of different preparations for lasagna that vary by region and preference. But a quick and easy lasagna with jarred sauce, low fat cottage cheese, pre-grated mozzarella etc. may be fast and easy, but it's not even in the same class of quality, taste wise.

                                                  12 Replies
                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                                    c oliver Jan 2, 2014 04:32 PM

                                                    One hundred percent agree with you! Once I made Hazan's green lasagna I've not eaten another version. I can make it in one day cause I make the Bolognese sauce in huge batches and freeze. There's not a single corner I cut or substitution that I make and if I gave the recipe to someone else I'd lecture a la M. Hazan :) to not muck around.

                                                    And to add to this thread, I'll include Joe H's "absolute best risotto you will ever eat:...."


                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                      bcc Jan 3, 2014 08:37 AM

                                                      Thanks for the reminder about Joe H's risotto. I hope to try it sometime, but it terrifies me. It terrifies me because I'd probably eat two portions.

                                                      1. re: bcc
                                                        c oliver Jan 3, 2014 08:42 AM

                                                        I made it a few years ago...JUST LIKE HE SAID!!! It was terrific but insanely rich. Definitely a side dish with something else not rich.

                                                    2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                                      biondanonima Jan 2, 2014 04:58 PM

                                                      I actually love both types of lasagna, but I think of them as completely different foods. Sort of like homemade mac and cheese vs. the blue box. Love both, but they are not the same and shouldn't be compared to one another. Apples and oranges.

                                                      1. re: biondanonima
                                                        c oliver Jan 2, 2014 05:01 PM

                                                        I hear you but don't really like your comparison :) Blue box isn't just different but subpar, IMneverHO of course :)

                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                          biondanonima Jan 2, 2014 05:05 PM

                                                          I know many people scorn the blue box, but with a handful of shredded sharp cheddar, extra (whole!) milk and lots of fresh cracked pepper added, I really love it. Eaten straight from the pot in which it was cooked, of course - there really is no other way.

                                                          1. re: biondanonima
                                                            linguafood Jan 2, 2014 05:39 PM

                                                            Love the blue box. That neon orange cheese goop has a special place in my heart.

                                                            Maybe cuz it was such an exotic meal to this German gal '-)

                                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                                              c oliver Jan 2, 2014 05:55 PM

                                                              :) But you've changed it! More (good) cheese, extra (whole!) milk and fresh cracked pepper.

                                                              And, lingua, I'm not disparaging it at all. Have eaten tons of it. But I wouldn't really call it a riff on 'real' mac n cheese.

                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                linguafood Jan 2, 2014 05:59 PM

                                                                Neither would I, by all means. But sometimes, only the blue box hits the spot.

                                                              2. re: biondanonima
                                                                CanadaGirl Jan 4, 2014 05:45 PM

                                                                I love the blue box too (it's called "Kraft Dinner" in Canada), but I find it best when prepared as per directions and then stirring in a couple of big spoonfuls of salsa. Yum.

                                                            2. re: biondanonima
                                                              sueatmo Jan 3, 2014 08:11 PM

                                                              For me it is chili. I make tin can chili when I'm in a hurry, and take my time with it when I want the real stuff, cooked slow with deep flavor.

                                                              Two different dishes.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo
                                                                Bryan Pepperseed Jan 4, 2014 03:23 AM

                                                                For me it's pizza - Yes, frozen basically sucks but sometimes I just need a quick fix.

                                                          2. i
                                                            INDIANRIVERFL Jan 2, 2014 05:27 PM

                                                            Veggieburgers. "Tastes just like beef." Not even close. Or another favorite of mine is, "I substituted ground turkey for the hamburger in the chili. Can't tell the difference and is healthier for you." I wouldn't feed that to a dog. My daughter would run me in for cruelty to animals.

                                                            I can understand substitutions when health , budget, or availability become a problem. But don't start boasting about having discovered the recipe for oysters Rockefeller. You have to go to the source to truly know what they are about. As I have.

                                                            And my version isn't even close.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 2, 2014 05:33 PM

                                                              Now, there is something for you.

                                                              What if you compare a nice home made crafted turkey burger to the frozen mass produced McDonald style hamburger?

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                INDIANRIVERFL Jan 2, 2014 05:43 PM

                                                                I not only don't have a problem with turkey burgers, I like and have served them. But please don't say that it is "just as good" as a beef burger. It may even be better. But is not the same.

                                                                And I'll have you know I only go to McDs for the senior coffee. And I read that magazine for the articles. And I did not inhale.

                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                                  c oliver Jan 2, 2014 05:58 PM

                                                                  That's the diff, IRF. It's different so it's not in the category of trying to be "as good." I have an incredible turkey burger recipe but it's not a beef burger one and I don't pretend that it is. It's wonderful and it's "as good" as anything but it isn't "the same."

                                                                  Love that senior coffee...and I DID inhale :)

                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                    sunshine842 Jan 2, 2014 06:06 PM

                                                                    and I actually prefer veggie burgers to beef burgers, especially if they're served in a portobello mushroom cap (and they frequently are). Gardenburger used to actually have something on the box about them not *trying* to taste like a beef burger.

                                                                    I use ground turkey a lot -- none of us are particularly big beef fans, and in things like lasagna and chili, a lot of it is just texture, as the flavor of the rest of the meal overtakes it.

                                                                    But I use ground turkey -- not ground turkey breast, which to me is no better than using shredded damp cardboard.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                      c oliver Jan 2, 2014 06:11 PM

                                                                      We've been grinding our own beef for a few years now and then pork for bulk Italian sausage (thanks, Chef Batali). But a year or so ago we started fixing pork burgers and FAR prefer them to beef.

                                                                      Hopefully this will be allowed. Here's the turkey burger recipe I use:


                                                            2. h
                                                              HillJ Jan 3, 2014 11:37 AM

                                                              I gotta say sometimes this "can't make it" stance has stopped me from trying. Take baklava. I adore the stuff. Even with a sweet tooth that has changed dramatically over the last decade, a piece of well made baklava still makes me happy. So this past year, after years of avoiding it, I started to make my own. Batches and batches of trial and error. Focus on the syrup, focus on the nuts, and of course the pastry.

                                                              Well, I nailed it! Took me a solid year to focus on it but now I wouldn't hesitate to "make it just as good."

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                JuniorBalloon Jan 3, 2014 01:34 PM

                                                                You may have a slight misunderstanding about what I meant. You can certainly make Baklava as good as anyone on the planet. That only requires time and experience. What I'm referring to is someone who says I use margarine instead of butter when I make baklava and it's still just as good. No, it's not.

                                                                My comment was in no way intended to tell people they can't make a dish because they lack the competence. Only as an appreciation for making things with the proper ingredients and technique and time.


                                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                                  HillJ Jan 3, 2014 01:43 PM

                                                                  Well maybe I didn't fully understand what you meant but the explanation sort of does play into what I meant.

                                                                  You gotta crawl before you can run sometimes. And while I wouldn't have gone off and used margarine in place of butter to make baklava, I did learn that some of my short cuts weren't helping me make spectacular baklava. Acing it wasn't entirely about practice, practice, practice. Stellar meant patience, following key elements to the letter and using the best ingredients I could find. And as it turns out some of the baklava I was buying was pretty crappy after all.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                    c oliver Jan 3, 2014 01:49 PM

                                                                    And this is the main reason I'm usually a recipe follower.

                                                              2. fldhkybnva Jan 3, 2014 12:19 PM

                                                                Caramelized onions

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                  JuniorBalloon Jan 3, 2014 01:35 PM

                                                                  I love caramelized onions. You just can't hurry them. Takes patience. Yum.


                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                                    fldhkybnva Jan 3, 2014 02:05 PM

                                                                    I've read many approaches to speed them up but low and slow on the stove seems to work best for me.

                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                      c oliver Jan 3, 2014 02:14 PM

                                                                      You may want to try JoanN's technique:


                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                        JuniorBalloon Jan 3, 2014 02:32 PM

                                                                        That's a nice technique. Thanks.


                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                                          c oliver Jan 3, 2014 02:40 PM

                                                                          When JoanN recommends something, you can count on it.

                                                                2. z
                                                                  zsazsamugsy Jan 4, 2014 05:35 PM

                                                                  love ragu! called gravy in yonkers and sicilian gravy in bosto n

                                                                  1. prima Jan 4, 2014 05:58 PM

                                                                    Hungarian goulash and paprikash- my versions are decent, but never taste as good as what I order at Hungarian restaurants.(Realized after posting that I'm off-topic. I was responding to the title of the thread, rather than content in the Original Post).

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: prima
                                                                      c oliver Jan 4, 2014 06:02 PM

                                                                      prima, I'm curious. Do you use recipes from "reputable" sources?

                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                        prima Jan 4, 2014 06:15 PM

                                                                        Hi c oliver- I've used Wolfgang Puck's beef goulash recipe, which is quite good for an Austrian/German-style goulash, and I've used various Home Cooking Board threads' recipes (thanks to JungMann for his suggestions). I have the Szeged hot and regular paprika. A few years ago, I did try some goulash recipes posted by a Hungarian food blogger (guesss that's not so reputable!) who was posting recipes in English. I've made some good goulashes and decent paprikashes, but they still don't taste as delicious as what I've ordered at Hungarian restaurants in Toronto (haven't had an opportunity to visit Hungary!). Whereas, I prefer my borscht and cabbage rolls to any restaurant versions I've tried!

                                                                        1. re: prima
                                                                          c oliver Jan 4, 2014 06:18 PM

                                                                          Thanks, kiddo. But that's not what the OP is talking about (I think!) You're doing "research" and still not reaching goulash-nirvana. But you're not winging it or changing critical ingredients. In other words, you get an A :)

                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                            prima Jan 4, 2014 06:21 PM

                                                                            Exactly. Still trying to find goulash-nirvana at home. And I'm hoping I find it sooner than later, because good goulash is getting harder and harder to find in Toronto as Hungarian restaurants close and Hungarian chefs/kitchen staff retire!

                                                                            1. re: prima
                                                                              c oliver Jan 4, 2014 06:23 PM

                                                                              I'm going to be in Budapest in the spring. I'll check around :)
                                                                              PS: here in Reno/Tahoe there are NO Hungarian restaurants :)

                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                prima Jan 4, 2014 06:28 PM

                                                                                Hope you have a wonderful time!

                                                                                1. re: prima
                                                                                  INDIANRIVERFL Jan 5, 2014 04:32 AM

                                                                                  Back in the day, a truism was that the best Vienner schnitzel was to be found in Budapest, while the best goulash was in Vienna. Please let us know if true if you have the opportunity to visit both!!

                                                                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                                                    prima Jan 5, 2014 05:38 AM

                                                                                    Will let you know, should I ever revisit Vienna or find myself in Budapest. :)

                                                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                                                      jgg13 Jan 5, 2014 07:37 AM

                                                                                      I've had goulash in Vienna but not in Hungary. My understanding though was that they were slightly different stylistically with the Vienna style goulash being thicker. I certainly loved the various goulashes I had in Vienna and was never able to replicate it quite right, sadly.

                                                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                                                        c oliver Jan 5, 2014 07:59 AM

                                                                                        We'll be in both, as well as Prague, so perhaps we'll go on a goulash search. Or not :) So much food, so little time :)

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