SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
originalpinkmountain

Deceptively difficult dishes . . .

l pinkmountain
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

So the "deceptively easy" food dishes got me thinking of the opposite so I thought I would post mine and would be interested in hearing yours! Don't need tips on how to make them easier (that's for another day, most of these I've googled a gazillion times) or know that you find them easy, I realize that this is subjective. If you grew up making tourtierre at your grandmother's knee you probably find it easy, but I would find it intimidating . . .

So as a segue, my first one would be pie. Despite the saying "easy as pie." I find anything with rolled and shaped dough tortuous. Pie is my nemesis only because it is such a favorite of mine. I can make a serviceable pie crust now, but don't enjoy the process. If I was rich I would buy all my pies at a pie bakery . . . .

The other thing is something I had for lunch, pasta e fagioli. It belongs to a whole set of bean dishes I am working on perfecting. I don't think it is difficult by any means, but many of these traditional bean dishes rely on quality ingredients slowly cooked to bring out the best of their flavors, the caramelization. And cooking the beans with a good broth and good quality spices. And the kicker, the good quality bits of meat that you might add. Like who has good pork broth on hand made from ham hocks. Not saying that's difficult, but ham hocks where I live are no longer ubiquitous ingredients to be found in the grocery butcher area, which is almost now non-existent. Same as good quality smoked bacon or sausages. Once the purvey of the poor for the cheap cuts and leftover bits and bobs, good versions are harder and harder to come by as modern meats rely on chemicals a lot for texture and flavor, I have found. I made my red beans with a broth from a ham bone, some ham bits and fake vegetarian Italian sausage, which was good. The original recipe I used called for pancetta and Italian sausage, the real meat kind. Slow caramelized soffritto is key too. And some home canned tomatoes. That was it. Served over ditalinni, my favorite soup/stew pasta. I think the recipe spices were sage and thyme but my canned tomatoes were made with Italian spices so that was it, other than some garlic powder, which was not the best, should have done a fresh clove in with the soffritto but didn't have any. A bay leaf went in with the beans as they cooked. I topped it with Parmesan/Romano grated cheese from the plastic container. Again, not ideal for this simple stew but what I can afford. A nice fresh-grated aged imported Parmesan would of course take it over the top . . .

Along those lines, a good lentil soup is another one of my holy grails of peasant cooking. Apparently it was the soup so good that Esau sold his birthright for it . . . I have made good lentil soup a few times, but a whole lot of mediocre versions . . . the stars of ingredients need to align just right for me on that bean . . . I do ok with red lentils, but the brown ones are a challenge for me.

Comments (63)

  • lindac92
    2 months ago

    Fudge....yep....never tastes like grandma's. I remember her beating and beating the stuff with a wooden spoon and a pan tilted on it's side until some inner voice said "now'....and she spread it into a pan and it was perfect!!
    But I don't understand the pie crust inability...It's really easy it you are gentle. BUT I had a friend ( RIP, Liz!) who said she couldn't make a pie crust. I said nonsense!! she insisted and I said I'll teach you. Keep in mind she was about 14 years older than I, had 5 kids and cooked up a storm!.
    well one day we had a pie crust session and she made easily 3 falling apart breaking up slumping in the pan crusts. And I guess I realize that some people just can't make a pie crust!

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I can't think of anything that I think is really hard as much as time consuming and if I can give things my full attention with plenty of time they usually turn out pretty good.

    That includes having good ingredients that are fresh and high quality and good utensils and pans.

  • Related Discussions

    Thermador Appliances

    Q

    Comments (3)
    I have a Bosch dishwasher & I too am unhappy with it for different reasons. It does take an inordinately long time to operate, as you mentioned. I only paid $650.00 for it so I think it is a lower grade model. I love the fact that mine is almost completely silent (I have a very small kitchen/ family room combination where we watch TV) so this was the primary reason for choosing the Bosch. The thing I very much dislike about it is the poor arrangement of the plate holders, bowl holders & especially the awkwardly small silver ware compartment (that when filled up usually tips over & silver spills out all over the bottom of the unit.) I have a timeshare in which their very cheap dishwasher has better equipped utensil & dish arrangers than my Bosch. I think the main issue I would like to get across is even though an appliance has a well known brand name, it is not always the best for practical use. Maybe the company expects those who can afford such appliances can also afford a cook and a housekeeper who will gladly contend with the shortcomings of the appliances. I have always felt that one needs to thoroughly research every aspect of their appliances and should not necessarily buy all of one brand. They should choose each for their own inherent qualities. I am sorry I chose a Bosch just for the name & the fact that it is quiet. I also made the same mistake when I chose a refrigerator. I chose one that only holds refrigerator items as I already had a freezer. Then after a while realized we needed an icemaker in the kitchen as the freezer was located across the house in the laundry. Now I have a dishwasher that only whispers and an icemaker that only roars.
    ...See More

    Our kitchen (Before & After). Steps we took to get to the final result

    Q

    Comments (12)
    Great job! I have been working on a. Similar project but I am waiting on the counters. I look forward to hearing how they hold up for you. I would love quartz but the price tag is just too much right now. ($5k for the cheapest. Ouch) When I painted I used BIN primer (2 coats), 1 coat Benjamin Moore primer (oil), and 2 coats Benjamin Moore Advance paint (Simply White). I sprayed my doors and rolled the cabinet frames. Turned out great. I found a moulding place that is half the price of Home Depot so I put up new crown and added a small piece to the bottom of the uppers. Wrapped our island in board and batten and painted it functional gray. I still need to find hardware
    ...See More

    Silly question about dish and hand soap dispensers

    Q

    Comments (38)
    I've had many homes and would always vote for a built-in soap dispenser, always. I have never had one break, but as people have commented, you would fix it and not leave a hole in your countertop. I use dish soap for both dishes and hands. One thing I have found with a couple of my dispensers is that the nozzle can corrode a bit if you use a lemon dish soap (which is my favorite type of soap unfortunately), so I switched to Ivory, but anything mild would solve the problem. Some of my sinks have been in an island and I just love the uncluttered look. If you occasionally need a stronger soap, keep it in the cabinet below. I have that in a clear lucite-type stick-on holder right on the inside of the cabinet door within easy reach. I keep the sink stopper in it too so it's not constantly gobbed up with food.
    ...See More

    Help with location of second trash can!

    Q

    Comments (13)
    Both of our DWs flank the clean-up sink with a secondary trash underneath for scraping dishes. There's a wide drawer base for dishes on the end of that run right next to one of the DWs. Very convenient to unload and set the table as it is also adjacent to our breakfast table. I absolutely wouldn't change that in your design because of the convenience factor. If the dishes happen to end up in the DW that is on the other side of our sink it is no big deal to walk a few steps. In our house, the dirty dishes come from the right so I have the trash under the left side of the sink. The person at the sink is usually doing the scraping and loading. The sink base is 39" so there is plenty of room to stand with the can pulled out on one side the the DW open on the other side. I would place your trash on the right side, either under the sink or next to it so if someone is prepping on the left side of the range they will have access to it. A tilt out hamper on the end of the island could work for your cloth napkins and such. I would flip the drawer base and DW on the island so that the DW doesn't become a shin banger between the prep sink and refrigerator. My refrigerator is placed similarly and I would find that to be bothersome. With the DW on the other end it will be easier to fill it with overflow from the clean-up sink. It does not have to be right next to the prep sink.
    ...See More
  • colleenoz
    2 months ago

    I’ve made lots of kumquat marmalade over the years as it was a favourite of FIL’s. Deseeding is tedious but you can wear food handlers’ gloves. Then just soak them overnight in the water for the recipe and it’s ready to boil up the next day. I find it fairly straightforward.

  • plllog
    2 months ago

    You're right, Colleen, but I couldn't get the seeds out with the gloves on. I have small hands, so even the size smalls aren't tight at the tips. My friend's kumquat tree has gotten old and doesn't have much of a yield anymore, so avoiding them is easy. The farm box people have limequats this week, so I just ordered a package...but not a case!

  • colleenoz
    2 months ago

    I slice the kumquats and the seeds are easy to pick out with a small knife.

  • Olychick
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Thanks, lovemycorgi, maybe I could do it with a thermopen. Not sure I have the hand stamina anymore to beat it, and no hand mixer, just the hugest Kitchenaid, but maybe I will still give it a try sometime. I loved that stuff!

  • bragu_DSM 5
    2 months ago

    not necessarily difficult ... but quite time consuming


    croissants

  • Rho Dodendron
    2 months ago

    the perfect blintz

    I don't make them often but when I do they ARE perfect. Every one in the batch may be different ssizes but they are delicious. I might have used ricotta that is easy to locate.


    But cookies made with cookie cutter? Bleech. I dislike making them--too much work.

  • CA Kate z9
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    As to the Kumquat Marmalade:

    I wore gloves to totally remove the insides from the skin;

    then I ran that thru a food mill to get out the inerds and seeds but squished thru' the pulp;

    then I ran the skins thru' a meat grinder attachment I have for the KitchenAid, which worked incrdibly well;

    then simmered the skins and pulp to thicken ; and jarred.

    Like I said, a lot of work and a lot of washing-up, but so worth it.

  • annie1992
    2 months ago

    I just baked three types of bagels, each using a different technique, all of which required overnight rises of either the shaped bagels or the starter/poolish. Then boil, then bake. It wasn't hard, just time consuming and it would have been easier if I hadn't been using all three techniques simultaneously.

    My annoyance is the ubiquitous "stir fry". It's simple and everyone swears it's fast. It is, after I spend an hour cutting up everything. Then it's just vegetables and some meat stirred together, nothing to shout about and certainly not worth all that slicing and chopping.

    Annie

  • nekotish
    2 months ago

    Frying anthing, deep fry, shallow fry - I hate the lingering smell of oil and the mess. DH makes fish and chips when he fishes for halibut or ling cod, but the rule is OUTSIDE! Don't get me wrong, the beer batter and tartar sauce and either french fries or onion rings is a sublme meal. I just cannot abide the smell of frying in the house - I would rather let people smoke inside!

  • laceyvail 6A, WV
    2 months ago

    Spaghetti carbonara--it's simple but not easy. I've got the technique down now, but the first couple of tries were edible but not right. And since I use guanciale from Zingerman's it isn't something I want to get wrong.

  • wednesday morning
    2 months ago

    I cannot, for the life of me, bake a nice white cake. I can make yellow cakes with eggs in them until the cows come home. But, a good white cake eludes me.

    I really do think that some difficulty with things like pasta "vazool" is that so many recipes are overly complicated. Whereas this was originally just a peasant dish with no meat or meat broth. One reason that they were eating beans like this is because it was what they had instead of meat.

    I am not going to offer you cooking instructions since you said that was not what you are looking for. But, I do stand by my assertion that many of these recipes are overly convoluted and are not really the simple food that they orginally were.

    I can make a nice pasta "vazool" in less than 30 minutes using my own canned tomatoes and keeping it very simple. Simple but good quality ingredients is the key.

    As you say, folks from back when did not have meat broth waiting to be used. So many recipes that call for the use of extra added meat broth are not really original. They are modern versions and many just over complicate it all.

    I may give another stab at a white cake. I have no idea how it eludes me. I know how to whip egg whites. I know how to fold them in. I have been baking for decades and I avoid a white cake. I even have some King Arthur cake flour instead of all purpose flour for such uses.

  • maddielee
    2 months ago

    As I age, most anything that uses more then 2 pans.


    My (From somewhere) pasta e fagioli recipe:


    1 pound ground chuck

    1 small onion, diced (1 cup)

    1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)

    3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

    1 15-ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)

    1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)

    1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

    1 12-ounce can V-8 juice

    1 tablespoon white vinegar

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon oregano

    1 teaspoon basil

    1/2 teaspoon pepper

    1/2 teaspoon thyme

    1/2 pound (1/2 pkg.) ditali pasta


    1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.

    2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.

    3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

    4. (I skip this, usually throw the pasta into the simmering soup) About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain.

    5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more

  • Jasdip
    2 months ago

    I can't for the life of me roll a circle out of dough. It's always in the shape of the world, with protruding edges, etc.

    I didn't think of it till Plllog mentioned it but yes, tortillas. Mine are usually too thick no matter how thin I try to roll them, and again, they're not round.

    Way too time-consuming for the taste, is anything rolled and stuffed. I julienned some carrots and zucchini, onions and other veggies very thin, and rolled them and chicken in something, I forget what it was. Far too much of a pia for the end product. Hats off to people to make California rolls, sushi etc!

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Annie, Bagels are quite the odyssey. This is what one of my sons has been playing with these past few weeks. The results are out of this world. Mark Straussman's recipe captures the bagels of my NYC childhood perfectly.

    https://mstrausman.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/bagel-video/

    PS Nothing deceptively difficult about this bagel making. Any recipe that calls for wooden planks and burlap on top of bread making and boiling is straight up difficult in my world ;-)

  • Springroz
    2 months ago

    I have a whole story about this!!! LOL..

    Way back, I had a cookbook with a beautiful black and white cake in it. I decided to make it for the church band’s Christmas party. Being in Houston, TX, it was very warm and humid that December.....

    I made the angel food cake. I made the devil’s food cake. I made the filling. I made the ganache. I dirtied every pan, bowl, mixer, and spatula in the kitchen. I went to assemble it, and the ganache would NOT set up. I tried everything. I finally put it on my cake stand (which, thankfully, had a lip. I just kept spooning the ganache back up to the top! When we got to the party, I called it Heaven and Hell cake, because it tasted like Heaven and looked like Hell!!

    So, fast forward a few years, and I am at a Fine Cooking cooking class. One of the cooks got asked if they ever had any recipe that JUST DIDN’T work, then they asked the class, and I recounted my story. Having no self-esteem, it concerned me that the two assistants in the back were laughing. I mean practically howling, as I spoke.

    They came over at the end of class to explain.....They had ALSO tried that cake, and been completely unable to make the recipe work!!! I felt SO much better....

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    2 months ago

    The only thing I find very difficult is mastering the art of bread making. Not there yet.....but then, I don't try it very often either and I'm sure practice makes perfect :-) Otherwise, I do find some recipes are overly complicated - too many steps involved. These I rarely make except for special occasions. Can't be bothered to produce many just for me!

    And the secret to making perfect tortillas is to use a tortilla press. Measure out the correct amount of dough, roll into a ball, place in the center of the press and presto - perfectly round tortillas of the proper thickness!!

  • Olychick
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I remembered another fail for me: homemade noodles. Every Christmas our first course was chicken and noodles with homemade noodles my grandma made. They were my all time favorite food, ever, and we only got them at Christmas. As the family grew, the servings got smaller - oh how I resented all those younger cousins taking some of "our" noodles! Anyway, when I married, I decided I was going to replicate the dish. I'd never seen my grandma make them (tiny kitchens with no room for kids on holiday meal prep days), but I read my cookbooks and they seemed easy enough. Well, they were, until time to roll them out. It was like trying to roll out a rubber band! No matter what I did, how hard I rolled, they would spring back into the original sized circle. I finally gave up.

    Several years later, I got a pasta maker and could finally make noodles. But, honestly, the smooth, perfectly formed noodles were not the same. Grandma's had some variation in thickness and were 'rougher' than the pasta I could make. Hmmm, maybe this should be a Covid isolation Christmas project for me; try to make them again without the pasta machine.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    To me deceptively difficult means something that is easy to do, easy to do in a serviceable fashion, but also possible of doing in a sublime, soulful way and with a certain je ne sais quoi that puts it into the category of an art. I've eaten pasta e fagioli hundreds of times, made with canned beans and canned tomatoes or even Ragu chunky tomato sauce. It's good, delicious, one of my favorite meals. But when made slowly with home grown or home made quality ingredients, it enters another level of flavor and satisfaction. Same for me with stir fry. I make it almost every week, it's always fine, but rarely really, really good/delicious. I haven't mastered the sauce ingredients and rarely have good fresh stuff on hand or want to fuss with peeling and dicing ginger, garlic, etc, an electric stove is crap for stir frying, and the care you take with cutting and cooking the veggies is all part of it. And tofu, while deceptively easy to eat, is very difficult to make taste sublimely good as the star of a dish, and that's my usual stir fry protein source. Is mine good, yes, but great eludes me even after years of trying. My pancakes and waffles are the same, always "fine" but rarely great. Part of it is electric griddles and stoves just don't provide even heat which is part of the art of getting a pancake cooked on the inside and not overly brown on the outside. Same with bread, mine is always fine, ok, edible etc., sometimes pretty good, but very rarely great. And if you've ever had a truly great pie crust with the delicious flavor and flakiness, you understand why most pie is good but some pies are in another realm.

    Canning on the other hand, is something I think is deceptively easy, the deception being that people think it is difficult because you have to time things and measure ingredients specifically. But they also think that it is very dangerous which if you do it a lot is rather laughable, with regards to high acid boiling water bath canning. It's only dangerous if you go out of your way to do it completely wrong without heeding any of the proper directions. But the directions themselves are dead easy--boil water for ten minutes, measure a cup of vinegar, cook for a minute on high heat . . . I can see someone not wanting to take the time to do it, not enjoying fussing with the jars and product, etc. but not being afraid of how difficult it is . . . However, I am learning more and more that some people are directions only oriented, they don't want to know all the whats, where's and why's of the directions, so they lack confidence in being able to apply them properly. If I understand the principle, then I know what the purpose of the directions are and it relaxes me.

  • LynnNM
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    My family’s looongtime Christmas coffee cakes! They’re delicious, very special and holiday-ish . . . but take 2 days to make. This year I decided to retype the directions, to make them easier to understand, and with more modern day terms, for DD, DS, and my many now-adult nieces and nephews. My copy of the recipe originally from my Grandma Kay. I even added 3 small photos to better explain some of the technical aspects. Typed, using 14-size type, the directions are 4 pages long! the recipe makes 6 good-size coffee cakes. We‘ll have the first tomorrow for Christmas Morning breakfast. I’ll send a couple home with DD when they head back to Dallas next week, gift a couple to friends, freeze one for later and, not make them again until next December!



  • John Liu
    2 months ago

    I still can’t make a decent xiao long bao (soup dumpling).

    And there was a street dish I had once in Taiwan, that I tried many times to replicate and finally gave up. It was 1” cubes of jelled broth, that held together in the bowl on a hot Taipei night but when placed in the mouth, instantly dissolved into a flood of delicious meaty liquid. I mean “instantly” literally, and that was the magic of the stuff. They’d calibrated their jelly to liquefy at exactly 98-point-a-little degrees, and also made it delectable.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Just regular pork pork dumplings are impossible for me. I tried Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe and made pretty bland dumplings. The recipe seemed straightforward and simple, but apparently not.

  • msmeow
    2 months ago

    Everything! I hate cooking and I stink at it. Everything in the kitchen is a struggle for me.

    Donna

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    2 months ago

    Donna, that's how I feel about sewing

  • salonva
    2 months ago

    I agree about anything fried or sauteed ( the lingering smells, and the attention). I am a big fan of anything that can be poured into a dish and baked in the oven at x degrees for y minutes, covered is even better. :)

    I think I either never paid good attention growing up, or am just challenged but a lot of the basic "common sense basics" just skipped over me. I am otherwise a very high functioning person.

  • lizbeth-gardener
    2 months ago

    Olychick: Your noodle story reminds me of my noodle making. My mothers noodles were never uniform in size or thickness from one noodle to the next. I made the same kind of noodles until I decided I had to make noodles like my MIL, whose homemade noodles looked like boughten noodles- every one perfectly shaped and the same size. After achieving this feat, my DH finally asked if I would make them like I used to- he preferred my oddly shaped noodles😂

  • lizbeth-gardener
    2 months ago

    LynnNM: My daughters and I used to make similar looking rolls for Christmas presents. We shaped some like candy canes, glazed and put some red and green candied cherries on for trim. Do yours have a cinnamon type filling? They certainly are a gift of time, not to mention how delicious they are!

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I'm reminded of the movie "Ramen Girl" which is a surprisingly good and entertaining movie about a young American trying to learn the art of making a good bowl of noodle soup . . . which is one of those things that fits perfectly IMHO into the "Looks easy but is subtle in its difficulty" categories . . .

    My Bubbe taught me how to make egg noodles but I rarely do it because of my aversion to rolling and fussing with dough, and also very limited counter space. I remember being confounded why making them from scratch made them taste SOOOOO much better than the store bought ones. My dream kitchen has a baking area with lots of counter space, including a butcher block area . . . .

    Frying and deep frying are my nemesis (cant figure out the plural) due in large part to having an old, pulsing electric stove . . . and now a big fear of frying as hubs family destroyed their home two years ago from a grease fire on the stove that got out of hand fast when it spread to the old wood cabinets above the stove. House rebuilt but they now fry in the air fryer hubs got them for Christmas last year. Ideally a deep fry cooks the food but the food and batter don't absorb a lot of the grease. When my pan of oil is empty after I fry up all my latkes, I don't even want to think about it . . . maybe some year we will get a gas stovetop. It's on our wish list but not worth the investment right now since we don't know how long we're staying.

  • bbstx
    2 months ago

    Another hater of cooking fried food here. I either fry on the side burner of the grill or use an electric skillet on the back porch. Several months ago, I fried up several pounds of ground beef. I got so “efficient” in cleaning up, I threw away the cord to electric skillet! I had the table covered in newspaper. When I was finished frying, I took the skillet inside, rolled up the paper and threw it out. Later - after the trash had been picked up - I realized the cord had been in the paper. A replacement cord/controller costs as much as and skillet.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    2 months ago

    I agree with another poster who said they can't recall being unable to make something. I try to to be very careful, taking one's time, buy the best ingredients, make sure i have tools i need, and expect to practice.


    I'm pretty happy with my ability to make decorated sugar cookies, but that took all of the above. I was also really happy with my ability to make fresh ravioli. Probably the hardest thing I've made was an ombre ice cream cake. Rococogurl and I each spent a few days on that one a few years back.


    I like cookbooks, but really rely on input from posters online... so I rarely make anything that I cannot learn about first on the internet. I made mini Beef Wellingtons Christmas Eve and I was pretty happy with them, but glad that someone in the comments warned the cooking time may be too long ... saved a lot of filet mignon from ruin.


    Never assume a recipe is good; many are not even tested at all before they are published.

  • wednesday morning
    last month

    Deceptively difficult is trying to form those beautifully sculpted and pinched and formed dumplings from Asian cuisines. I have tried and tried and they taste good but are not photogenic. They have no "good side" to them!

    I can manage many hand formed pasta shapes, but these pinched and formed dumplings elude me!

    I got really inspired by recipes for one type that are referred to as "momos", supposedly they are Tibetan in origin but these dumplings are found in many parts of Asia. They are lovely and I will keep trying to make them pretty. In the meantime the ugly ones are still wonderful.

  • wednesday morning
    last month

    olychick, your comments about the noodle making I can identify with.

    My mom made thick and chewy egg noodles. I made them when I had my own family to feed. Mom rolled then out and cut them, but sometimes she just pinched them between her fingers and dropped them into the pot.

    Now I make what I call "pinch noodles" with my little grand daughter. We make the same egg and flour noodle but just pinch them off. I like the thick and chewy ones. You dont' have to roll out the dough first, just pinch.

    You might also look in to making slippery pot pie. These are basically noodles that you roll, cut in to squares and slip into the hot pot. You will find recipes for slippery pot pie that call for no more than short pie crust to ones that are more like an egg noodle. It seems that everyone's grandma makes the most "authentic" ones. I am grandma now and I made the ones that my family know.


    Or there is always speatzel that is very quick and very easy.

    I have also developed a deft hand for making cavatelli with ricotta cheese and eggs as the base.

    It is those beautiful Asian dumplings that elude me.

    Most folks love noodles!


  • wednesday morning
    last month

    pink mountain, I am with you about he bean and tomato meals. I, too, have my own delicate and wonderful canned tomatoes and I, too, use much the same considerations as you do when putting it together.


    Donna, I have often wondered how it must be to someone who cooking is just NOT their thing to do. For me it comes easily and with joy. But sometimes I just dont want to cook and I feel so uninspired and I think that this is how it must be for those who dont take to cooking and see it as a chore. What a chore it must be, really!


  • Kswl 2
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Biscuits....easy to make, very difficult to make really well. The cutting in of butter, chilling the dough, the varying amount of liquid, sugar or no sugar, to knead or to fold, to pat or to drop—-there are too many choices, methods, styles and tastes.

    So in my quest for the perfect biscuit I found the America’s test kitchen recipe for biscuits with warmed cream. No buttermilk, no butter. I omit the inordinate amount of sugar in the recipe and double the minute amount of salt and it is a perfect, fluffy and tender biscuit. In a choice between tender and flaky (layered) It’ll pick tender all day long. Those awful canned biscuits have incredibly defined layers and they are awful. I subscribe to the heresy that not all baked goods need to be flaky!

  • Lynda (Zn9b/23 - Central CA Coast)
    last month

    I can't make an attractive cake to save my life. They are all very tasty, just not pretty to look at.

  • wednesday morning
    last month

    kswl, I have long argued that a biscuit is not meant to be flakey. Flakey is what you get in a good pie crust . Flakey is what you get with cut in fat, unleavened flour, and very little liquid added.

    Tender and fluffy seems more appropriate texture and quality for a piece of bread that you are going to have with a meal. Fluffy is what you get from a nice cut in fat and leavened flour with added liquid.

    Fluffy and flakey are two entirely opposing textures and I think that the superlative of "flakey" has been wrongly applied to biscuits as part of the culinary narrative for way too long.

    My pie crust is flakey. My biscuit is high and fluffy and tender.

    If I want to take a basic biscuit and make it in to some type of dessert or for some special use, I could layer my biscuit dough with layers of butter by gently folding layers of butter in to it. And, I have done that on occasion.

    But, for dinner, I want a piece of bread, not a piece of pie crust.

    I use one tablespoon of butter per cup of flour. But, most recipes call for way too much fat. I am likely to butter that biscuit, but, not always. I would rather have the butter on the biscuit where it can be enjoyed as it melts into the fluffy biscuit and have it be an option as to how much fat gets slathered onto dinner.

    I see recipes that make a biscuit as rich as a cookie in terms of fat! I dont' want that for dinner.


    I can make a good biscuit, but not a white cake or a beautiful dumpling. Gonna' keep working on that dumpling, maybe, even today. Gonna' give the cake a rest after all the holiday cookies that have floated through our lives lately.



  • amj0517
    last month

    I really enjoy cooking and baking, and I think I am decent at both. I am embarrassed to admit though, that I cannot make chocolate chip cookies to save my life. It has become a joke with my kids. I’ve tried adjusting the mixing time, butter temp, etc. and no matter what, they always come out like thin pancakes. My kids tell me they don’t care because they still taste good. I’m convinced that they are terrible because I don’t make them with love (queue Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond: “the most important ingredient is love”). I make them with frustration and hope that THIS will be the good batch! 😂

  • DLM2000-GW
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @amj0517 that's surprises me but I guess we all have something that stumps us. I made CC cookies yesterday and decided NOT to use my tried and true recipe. Why? I have no idea but figured how different could they be and not in a good way. Lesson learned. I actually called a friend who is a great baker to explain the chemistry to me because my usual ones are a combination of wonderful outer slight crunch and inner chewy and the ones I made yesterday are quite puffy and cakey - huge disappointment. So now I know how critical the sugar/flour ratio is to achieve what I prefer and though you can often cut the sugar in a recipe to temper the sweetness, anything more than 2 - 3 tbs will alter more than taste. But back to your CC cookies - have you tried chilling the dough before baking? Sometimes the dough gets too warm in the mixing and spreads too quickly. Chilling it can help with that and also does something magic with the flavor - intensifies it somehow.

  • Kswl 2
    last month

    I am still meaning to try allison Roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbread. Has anyone here made it?

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Oh yes, biscuits! That's why I say, "I am dough challenged." Just about anything that requires flour and shaping is a challenge for me. I don't care how many people tell me secrets or how easy it is. A perfect scone or biscuit requires attention and a very light touch. I can make adequate ones, but not sublime ones.

    The perfect oatmeal cookie eluded me for some of the reasons DLM mentions. I finally settled on using a mix of shortening and butter to achieve the right mix of crunch but still a little softness. I use 1/3 organic shortening and 2/3 butter. I tried half and half and it was a little too greasy for my taste. So after some experimentation I came up with that ratio. I think the secret to my grandmother's oatmeal cookies is she used stick margarine, but I tried them with all margarine and I just didn't like them. Margarine has fallen out of favor and thus margarine just doesn't seem to be what it used to be. One could use Crisco too, that's what my other grandmother used in baking, but I'm just not a huge fan. I'll bet the secret to a lot of old "grandma" recipes was some leaf lard . . .

  • DLM2000-GW
    last month

    @Kswl 2 I have not tried it and just rec'd her Nothing Fancy cookbook as a gift - it's not in there :-(

  • gsciencechick
    last month

    Going along the dumpling line, pierogis are pretty challenging. My mother and I tried once, and it was a giant mess. You have to get the seal right on them or they will open up and make a big mess in the pot. But there are families that do a big assembly line and will make hundreds. I just buy them. Luckily, there is a Polish deli about 10 minutes away.


  • nekotish
    last month

    Kswl, I have made Allison Roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbread quite a few times. It is my family's favourite cookie now. Once the logs are refrigerated, I cut them into slices and freeze the slices on a cookie sheet until firm and then put them in freezer bags. That way I can bake off a half dozen or so at a time and not be tempted to eat 10!

  • Kswl 2
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Great idea! I’m dying to make them and will when finished with the current scone marathon, trying every possible combination of ingredients. So far my favorite is not even fully homemade— it’s the King Arthur Yuletide Scone Mix (you still have to add butter, milk and egg) with the addition of brandied fruit I made from a recent NYT recipe. i drizzle them with an orange rum glaze and am embarrassed to say a baking of those doesn’t last longer than two days in our household of three. I am also putting brandied fruit in my Constant Comment tea... nirvana in a cup!


    I made cherry almond (Bakewell) scones day before yesterday. Two thumbs up from my testers, lol.

  • jojoco
    last month

    Back to cc cookies. The basic recipe of 2 1/4 cups flour will give you cakey cookies every time. I like thinner cookies so I use just a tad (maybe one tsp?) over 2 cups. Then, when the cookies are baking, I lift the tray on one side and let it bang back down on the oven rack. Instant deflation of the cookies. (the trick won't work though if you use 2 1/4 cups flour. You'll just make noise. )

  • agmss15
    last month

    Carbonara can go so very very wrong. My uncle and aunt lived in Italy and when I was 11ish we went to visit them. After we came back Carbonara was a fairly regular meal for us.


    However one time my mom went away for something or other art related. And my dad attempted Carbonara. And he rinsed the pasta before adding it to the raw eggs. And served pasta floating in raw eggs to his two picky unsympathetic daughters who missed their mom’s cooking. He never was allowed to forget it.


    I think much of cooking is as Lpink

    described it - one can make an adequate to down right good version of whatever. And occasionally one prepares or partakes in an incredible version.


    I remember once being served a tortellini soup at someone’s house. I thought it odd because it was just a clear broth with a few tortellini floating around. However the broth was incredible. Just perfectly prepared - clear rich and perfectly seasoned.


    So my choice would be broth. I can make a lovely broth. I like soups I make. But never ever have I made a broth that good.

  • Kswl 2
    last month

    DLM, please report back on the recipes you try. Her recipes sometimes are outre, like the chicken confit dripping in olive oil, literally. I don’t know where to edit them or if they need it. Usually the first time I make something I follow the recipe exactly. But with a chicken I would hate to have to get rid of it, iykwim. I like her pasta dishes but the amount of garnish she uses before serving.....basically a little of everything actually in the dish!

  • wednesday morning
    last month

    I tried my hand at making those Asian dumplings again and I have to tell you that my dumplings looked like some kind of prehistoric sea urchins! They were still good, though.

    I am thinking why not just use a pierogis press or a ravioli cutter and be done with the theatrics of making them so pretty.


  • Louiseab Ibbotson
    last month

    Maddielee, that pasta fagole is about my favourite casserole. The grands love it loo, although the yungest picks out the beans.