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Once-is-Enough Kitchen Feats


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I just made chicken adobo (Philippine style) for a charity auction for my son's preschool where those of us who were providing main dishes were asked to cook for about 60 people. I noticed that this was going to be one of about four mains, so I cooked for about 25-30 (six chickens plus around 30 cups of rice on the side). The quantity wasn't too difficult, but it turned out that everyone who was cooking made too much food and there were only about 35 guests, so not much of a dent was made in the adobo or any of the main dishes for that matter. I'd happily make adobo for 30 or 60 people again, but I think next time, I might inquire in more detail to be sure there will be people there to eat it.

Rosehip preserves are something that seemed like a lot of work for not much return. I think I'd need a very large quantity of rosehips to feel like I had a batch big enough to deal with that again.

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I'm never gonna mess with traditional Thanksgiving dinner again. Never again:

I used to say that i would never mess with traditional thanksgiving. This year was the first year I caved, mostly because there was no way I was going to get a full bird into my tiny oven. Did the breasts sous-vide, and made a roulade with the legs and thighs. Made things prep heavy the day before but made the day of a little less stressful and allowed more control of meat temperatures, which resulted in a more correctly cooked bird.

I missed the glory of the whole roasted turkey...but I got over it.

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Spending an entire day attempting to parboil, remove the guts from and process a 10-gallon bucket of large, live Atlantic whelks a friend of the family gave me. House stunk for days, I never could get the things tender or grit-free, and I still have a bag of what I decided to just whir in the food processor for potential fritters in my freezer.

Yuck.

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I'm never gonna mess with traditional Thanksgiving dinner again. Never again:

I used to say that i would never mess with traditional thanksgiving. This year was the first year I caved, mostly because there was no way I was going to get a full bird into my tiny oven. Did the breasts sous-vide, and made a roulade with the legs and thighs. Made things prep heavy the day before but made the day of a little less stressful and allowed more control of meat temperatures, which resulted in a more correctly cooked bird.

I missed the glory of the whole roasted turkey...but I got over it.

This was the first year I prepared the entire thanksgiving dinner. I was able to make almost everything beforehand...cranberry sauce 2 weeks before and frozen, gravy 1 week before frozen, 2 pies the day before, assembled the dressing the day before and popped it in the oven while turkey was resting.

My reward was accolades from others saying it was better than their mother/grandmother ever made and having a stiff drink while everyone else did the dishes.

The only problem I really have in the kitchen is the lack of a dishwasher :)

Edited by therippa (log)
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Cooking a holiday turkey with dad.

Me: "Hey, we haven't had a big family dinner in ages, let's do a turkey! I bet they're on sale now."

Him: "That's an excellent idea! Let's you and I cook this thing together."

Me: "Okay, after watching a number of cooking show Thanksgiving specials and reading cookbooks, cooking blogs, internet guides and eGullet threads, I say we should do it this way."

Him: "Nope, we're doing it the way I've always done it."

Me: "Funny, I don't remember you cooking a turkey, ever?"

Eventually, we compromised. I let him stuff the bird and he let me use thermometers. The whole thing was unnecessarily stressful. The turkey was like every bland, dry turkey you ever had at your "I wish I had the time to cook" friend's/family's dinners.

Next time we do this I'll let him know after I get the non-industrial turkey in the brine. I'll cook and he can carve.

fotos1409.jpg

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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My father is a chef and his ability to put 10-14 piping hot dishes on the table all at the exact same moment for thanksgiving dinner will never cease to amaze me. Everything prepped, parboiled, laid in baking dishes; into the oven the moment the turkey (generally twice the size we would ever need to feed everyone) came out. As soon as they were in all four burners came on and the sautee items were next. All in 3 minutes everything came out, into serving dishes and onto the table. Turkey, yams, mashed, brussel sprouts, squash, cranberry sauce, gravy, parsnips, turnips, carrots, creamed pearl onions, stuffing, and I think I am missing a few.

Maybe one day I'll be able to cook like that!

As for things I'll only do once, homemade croissants...I refuse to make puff pastry again.

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I think I saw this on Great Chefs on New Oleans one time, and I just had to do it.

I completely boned out a whole chicken while leaving the skin and meat intact, Only the wings and drumstick remained. I then sewed up the neck, stuffed, sewed up the rear, and roasted. It was pretty good, but now I just roast the damn thing and make dressing.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I second a few of these suggestions. Fresh water chestnuts seemed like a wonderful idea, but by the time you've got them shelled, processed and chopped guess what? They look, smell and taste EXACTLY the same as the ones in the can at the grocery store!

And anything involving homemade puff pastry? Well, it's a nice idea but by the time you've done all that endless rolling, folding and kneading you're too tired to eat it. Buy a good quality puff pastry at the store (one with real butter in it) and you get just as good a result for a heck of a lot less labour.

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From my perspective, what's special about that picture is the thought bubbles I put over the heads:

That bastard is bound and gagged and can't hurt us anymore.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Anything from Keller's "The French Laundry" cookbook by myself.

I now require 2-3 unwitting experienced sous chefs to even attempt one of those dishes. My first experience was doing a 3 course all from this book with noone but my wife to help me (my wife does not cook and really couldn't help with much). It was miserable and took 2 hours longer than expected. My guests finally got to eat at 9:30. It was delicious but so not worth it. I'll probably just head to Yountville next time I want something of Keller's.

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I've never attempted this again!

Many years ago, I had sheep's brains in a Turkish restaurant, which I enjoyed very much.

I thought I'd replicate the dish, so I visited my butcher who didn't have any brains. However the spring lambs were due in in a couple of weeks and he said he'd keep a couple of heads for me.

I collected them and returned home by bus with a carrier bag in each hand, each containing a lamb's head.

Have you any idea how difficult it is to open up a lamb's head with ordinary household & kitchen tools? Several hours later I'd used a selection of saws, pliers, cold chisels & knives and I'd got the brains out. Blood spots & bone splinters were found in the kitchen for several weeks thereafter.

Nevertheless, I braised the brains, sliced them into a dish, covered with fresh tomato sauce, topped with potato gnocchi, sprinkled with cheese and baked them. I thought they were delicious.

My wife hated them!

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My butcher (okay, the dude behind the counter at the supermarket) opens them for me Chris.

Brains are an acquired taste. Maybe your wife just needs more exposure?

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I smoked a 16 lb pork shoulder over night, by myself, on a webber kettle grill. It took around 18 hours. I had maybe 20 people over the next day for bbq. I also smoked 2 chickens, and a large variety of sides I did myself. I was awake for around 36 hours. I couldn't wait for everybody to leave.

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About 35 years ago I tried a recipe which has had me laughing at my own pretensions ever since. (You should know that this took place at a point in my development when I thought it was the manufacturer's job to sharpen a knife.) Ya semi-bone a duck body out, leaving the bones of the legs and wings in place. Ya make two different forcemeats: one a coarsely-ground pork sausage, the second a finely-ground liver sausage. Ya make a stiff purée of chestnuts. Ya wrestle with and curse at the bird, which now has the structure of a jellyfish, and lay down a layer of the first forcemeat, then the second forcemeat lining that one, then the chestnut purée, and continue alternating the three in concentric layers until the whole cavity is filled. Then you roast the thing. The intent is that, after the bird looks brown and crispy from the oven, you cut the limbs off, then cut rounds directly across the boneless bird, said rounds looking like a beautiful target pattern, with a layer of crispy, fatty duck meat around the edge. (Actually, when I recount it now, it seems like several ballotines I've had, and like some treatments of Italian porchetta.) A beautiful plate only in theory, my friends. Two days of work, and it looked a lot like a forensic examination of a very bad car crash.

I have no memory of where the recipe came from, nor its name. (For amusement's sake, if any of you know either, please tell me.) More importantly, I'm not sure that the intervening decades of home kitchen experience has taught me anything useful to control the filling of the boned bird any better. I have seen recipes for some ballotines where the fillings are assembled into a package outside the meat which is going to furnish the "wrapper," and then the meat (goose neck, bird skin, whatever) is then sewn around the filling, but they've been recipes where the wrapping has been pretty thin. Maybe even with the meat, legs, and wings attached to the skin, that would have been the better strategy, instead of just trying to "butter" one layer on the previous one inside the Tunnel of Doom, and hoping that the whole thing would miraculously come together at the end. It didn't.

Paul

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Christmas pudding -- six months of work (albeit light work for the first 5.75 months). All to say on Xmas day, "All that, for this?"

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I smoked a 16 lb pork shoulder over night, by myself, on a webber kettle grill. It took around 18 hours. I had maybe 20 people over the next day for bbq. I also smoked 2 chickens, and a large variety of sides I did myself. I was awake for around 36 hours. I couldn't wait for everybody to leave.

This is why God invented beer.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I really can't compete with some of these wonderful stories, but my teeth are still ringing from my last cooking experiment.

This gorgeous looking dessert popped up on Australian Masterchef a few weeks ago. It was suitably hyped - created by Australia's top pastry chef etc etc - and despite the theatrical excitement of the episode all I wanted to know was what the thing tasted like. I still think it looks divine. On the TV it was completed by a 19 year-old amateur in 1 hour 45 minutes, so I figured it couldn't be that hard to make. I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard so I bought the rest and decided to give it a go.

It took me ages. A lot of this is because my current kitchen is the size of a phonebox and I only have one bowl, so I had to stop and do the dishes after every stage. Even so, I have the utmost respect for the Masterchef contestant who did it in 1:45 because it took me over 5 hours including serving the thing up (and cleaning the kitchen!). And I discovered that quenelles are really *@$%£ difficult to get perfect! It felt like I had spent my entire day making dessert.

The end result was so overwhelmingly sweet that I could only eat a few spoonfuls. Sugar seemed to dominate the flavours. It looked great but the taste simply didn't match the appearance. All of the individual components tasted delicious on their own but when you put them together they just didn't add up to the sum of their parts. They added up to sugar. Neither me nor any of my 5 guests could finish their modest portions.

At the very least I would have used dark chocolate where the recipe specifies milk, but although I have a few tweaks in mind that might steer the result towards my preferences, I don't think I'll be spending 5+ hours on it again...

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This gorgeous looking dessert popped up on Australian Masterchef a few weeks ago. It was suitably hyped - created by Australia's top pastry chef etc etc - and despite the theatrical excitement of the episode all I wanted to know was what the thing tasted like. I still think it looks divine. On the TV it was completed by a 19 year-old amateur in 1 hour 45 minutes, so I figured it couldn't be that hard to make. I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard so I bought the rest and decided to give it a go.

I am hating Masterchef at the moment and have given up watching it, but I was glued to the screen when that dessert came on - salt, peanuts and chocolate are my idea of dessert heaven.

How disappointing that 5+ hours of work ended in tooth-ache!

A few years ago I 'catered' a christening morning tea for 50 guests for a relation as a gift (I'm not a professional). After I had spent several weeks attempting to get her to speak to me about what she wanted on the table and FINALLY finalised it, she called me the night before, just after I'd bought all the food and done all the do-ahead stuff, to tell me that what she really wanted was lots and lots of Krispy Kremes, because that would be 'unreal' (I was paying by the way. Do you have any idea what those things cost?!).

But it took me two knocks to learn my lesson. I did the food for a birthday party she was hosting the next year. I should have run for the hills when she told me she wanted Italian and started talking about buying supermarket roasted chicken, hummus & guacamole for that authentic italian flavour....

Now I can say with confidence, NEVER AGAIN! But the food I made was awesome. I was just too tired to enjoy myself, or stab her with a breadstick.

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Kitchen feat I will never again attempt: Cooking a Japanese meal in someone else's kitchen using their knives. Just not worth it. In my defense, I was on holiday and couldn't have brought my own knives with me. But still - I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I just assumed everyone had decent knives.

The knife in question, available for my use: a paring knife. A dull paring knife.

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A sharp pocketknife (I like the SAK Soldier) is useful in that situation.

Okay, it's a lot like a paring knife but at least it's like a sharp paring knife.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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