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Stuff That's Just Not Worth Making at Home


Chris Amirault
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There are variations, but this is the basic recipe I use:

Thai Chili paste

Red or Green

30 or so thai bird-eye chilies red and yellow or green, finely chopped (some seeds)

I buy them on branches in season at the farmers market. (can use dried or frozen out of season)

4 teaspoons coriander seeds toasted and ground

2 fresh lemongrass stalks, 1 or 2 outer leaves discarded or about 4 tsp. chopped fine

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns toasted and ground

4 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh or thawed frozen greater galangal

6 -12 medium sized fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped (remove tough center leaf stem)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro roots or stems

5 small shallots, chopped (6 tablespoons)

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons ga-pi (Thai shrimp paste) (I’ve also been known to use shrimp or fish sauce)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Prepare the mise of your ingredients (hardest part) Add them to your food processor and puree/pulverize until a paste forms. Add a bit of water if needed make smooth. (By all means do this in a large mortar and pestle if you have one- turns out great) I also sometimes buy pre-chopped lemongrass. You can freeze both leftover lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves for next time. I also freeze some of the Thai chili paste in ice cube trays for later. For Thai green chili paste use more green chilies less red.

www.farmandforage.wordpress.com

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... I will make bagels and soft pretzels from scratch, though. I've turned my children into bagel snobs and haters of Auntie Anne's pretzels (mall food)...

A brilliant strategy :biggrin:

... once. I boned a whole duck...

Boning poultry. Yes !!!

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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... San Marzano canned tomatoes ...

Of course ! Now that you mention it, the two chutneys I made up last February (!) featured canned tomatoes. At ~90cents a can, that's almost do-able. Thanks for sharing your formula.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Thai Chili paste

Can this not be preserved for room-temp jar storage in the same way as Indian curry paste ? Viz: add the required amount of vinegar, fry in plenty of oil till the moisture's driven off ? That's how I do my Indian curry paste. Huge cost saving over bought-in-a-jar. freedom to vary the paste / make as many brands as you care to. Free your curries from all tasting the same because of being tied to the few varieties available retail. Keeps forever, unlike curry powder.

(Sorry. I don't mean to push a pin into the bubble of inspiration !)

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I seem to be the only one everywhere that likes this stuff, and I'm sure its my childhood, but I LOOOOOVE a bowl of menudo, the fastastic mexican tripe soup. That is something I would never think of even bothering to make at home, I just go to the hole in the wall Mexican joint for a bowl of the stuff. Yum.

Edited by minas6907 (log)
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Chinese

Thai

Mexican

I love all of these cuisines, but living in NYC there are too many places where I can have great versions of them for $10 or so. Especially at places that serve a discount lunch, as many of the Indian and Chinese restaurants do.

On the other hand, I tend to cook Italian/pastas and prime steaks at home, because I can do them better and cheaper than most dining out options for these in NYC. Plus I avoid the markup on wine that comes with eating out, and I like to have a good bottle of red when eating steak or Italian food.

I figure that in 30 minutes with little to no prep, I can cook a prime dry aged steak and potatoes dinner for myself for under $20 at home. A similar meal at Sparks or Lugers is going to cost me $70 and that's without even factoring wine in the equation, which could easily add another $100. However, I'm not going to spend all day trying to make chicken mole, when I can go out and have a credible plate of it and a Tecate for $15-20.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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Dim Sum. A majority of the dumplings are finicky, delicate, complicated, time sensitive, and hard to make on a small-home-scale. Easier just to go to a proper dim sum place, sit right next to the kitchen doors, and wait for that first wave :biggrin:

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Welcome, Dr. Spice!

Tomato sauce. I've never made a batch that made me go "oh this is sooo goood", even following highly rated recipes and adjusting for personal tastes.

That's a good example of something I'd never, ever buy. I make big batches and freeze it.

Same here, with regard to making, rather than buying (but I don't usually make enough to freeze).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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  • 2 weeks later...

Long time listener, first time caller. Stuff that's not worth making at home? Peanut butter! The cost per 100 grams of peanuts is equivalent to the cost of the same amount of peanuts-only peanut butter. Having two little ones means I go through it so quickly that it's far easier to walk across the street to the store to buy it. Home experiments have yielded great results from the food processor, but I would rather spend my time doing something more rewarding in the kitchen.

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For me, it would have to be corn tortillas. My last 3 attempts have been, shall we say, less than stellar.

Same experience here. We have a great little Mexican joint right down the street where I can get them fresh, better than mine and for about the same cost as the ingredients. Can you say no brainer?

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Long time listener, first time caller. Stuff that's not worth making at home? Peanut butter! The cost per 100 grams of peanuts is equivalent to the cost of the same amount of peanuts-only peanut butter. Having two little ones means I go through it so quickly that it's far easier to walk across the street to the store to buy it. Home experiments have yielded great results from the food processor, but I would rather spend my time doing something more rewarding in the kitchen.

I agree if all you want is plain peanut butter. I don't so I make my own. I like to blend different nuts together for health benefits. I add some oils for the same reason and I don't add sugar or preservatives.

I've been making my own for decades - first using a manual meat grinder with a "nut-butter" blade and later a Vita Mix blender and now I use my Thermomix31, which is even easier.

I like a more intense "roasted" flavor :wub: so I roast the nuts more than any commercial product.

I have complete control of the product and as I am something of a fanatic about it, :blink: it suits me.

That being said, there are many fine commercial products out there that are perfect for the person who doesn't want the hassle.

One of my friends is addicted to Better'n Peanut Butter sold at Trader Joe's.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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i second the dim sum thing, mostly.

my mother makes the best potstickers/gyoza/whatever i've ever eaten in my life...better than any dumpling house in taiwan or even the specialty house in beijing we were invited to on a government research trip thing when i was nine years old.

mine aren't quite as stellar, but they're close. and still better than all the places that offer them in cleveland.

on the other hand, the other dim sum i like----chicken feet, deep fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp, the long flat rice noodles stuffed with either beef or shrimp, etc----it's just sooo much more convenient to drive 25 minutes and order it all.

when i lived in waco, texas, though (for school) and it was 100 miles to either dallas or austin, i ended up making a lot more dim sum items to tide me over between trips.

as for menudo....you know, in waco there was this hole-in-the-wall joint near campus that had it, and so i never bothered making it.

i haven't found a place in cleveland yet....maybe it's time i try tackling this one at home. i heard it makes the house stink for a day, though.

when my parents landed in the states in the 70s, they landed in mississippi and had to make most of their beloved foods themselves---tofu, soymilk, gluten (by making dough and then washing it?) and pressed roe. thirty five years later, they live 80 miles east of houston and just drive in and stock up.

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All these people who are making great naan without a tandoor, how are you doing it? I have never been able to make naan at home that matches up to proper fresh tandoor-cooked naan.

Naan is a lot like pizza. If you extend the baking time, the end product suffers tremendously. The right baking stone material can make the difference between great naan and mediocre naan (and great pizza and mediocre pizza).

No baking stone on the market will bake naan in less than 5 minutes. 5+ minutes is the kiss of death for oven spring and good speckled charring. If you've ever watched naan being baked, it should be about a 2 minute endeavor, max.

1/2" steel plate preheated to 550 f. is conductive enough to mimic the oven spring and baking times of an 800-ish tandoor. At least it will for the bottom of the bread. For the top to char properly, you'll need an oven with a broiler and the steel plate positioned in close proximity to that broiler- 3" max.

So, yes, it can be done, but it requires a little ingenuity to compensate for relatively anemic home ovens.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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^^^

I think it's more than just the right heat...there's something about proper tandoor naan that is special - the aroma, the texture, etc. So much restaurant naan is a load of rubbish, but when you get good naan it makes it all worth it!

If I win the lottery, I may buy a tandoor. But failing that, I tend to avoid naan unless I'm somewhere I know has a hot tandoor and a good reputation!

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i love watching the naan makers in the restaurants splat the uncooked stuff all over the oven walls and ceiling..

something I would never make at home.. dried scallops..coz they smell and you need a lot of sunlight! :laugh: and you can just buy a huge pack pre dried for a pretty decent price :wub:

Jade Shing!

It is nice to e-meet all of you ^_^

My Love of Kitchen Gear is a love of Kitchen Tools :)

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Filo dough

Injera (though I have made Ethopian stews that have turned out pretty well)

Puff Pastry (tried to once and it wasn't worth the effort -- on the other hand, I frequently make croissants mostly because I love the feel of the dough as you're turning it)

Cured meats

Cheese (other than ricotta)

I do deep fry from time-to-time, but the mess and the hot oil small just aren't worth it.

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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Puff pastry

Dulce de leche...nestle can boil the cans of sweetened condensed milk. Might reconsider if I had access to fresh a cow and was curious enough to see if I could do it better from "scratch"!

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