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Your Culinary Nemesis in the Kitchen


NeroW
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Anybody (besides me) have *that one thing* they just always screw up? Never happy with it?

I do: macaroons. :angry:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Mine is pie crusts. I swear so much I make drill sergeants run and hide when I try to make a pie crust :scowl:

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I can't bake! Bread. Pies. Cakes. Cookies. Anything.

Oh, I can cover the entire kitchen and myself in flour. I can knead, punch down, let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, pull, push, feed yeast, chill dough, preheat oven, etc., but I cannot turn out a single edible baked product!

Grrrr! It's all the more vexing since my mother, her mother and her sisters were/are all excellent bakers!

Squeat

Oh, one thing I do do right: biscuits. But that's it.

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Rice.

*hides*

I can usually cook it but only by specifically following a printed recipe from Joy of Cooking. I never mastered the pilau in culinary school, but I better bone up 'cause I put rice pilau on the menu for tomorrow night. Maybe I'll cop out and make pommes duchesse. (It's a French menu.)

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Maybe I'll cop out and make pommes duchesse. (It's a French menu.)

Sure.

I've never encountered decent rice in any French context.

That makes it not a cop out but a courageous stand for authenicity.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I have burnt pot after pot of chocolate pudding. Today I had my assistant stand by the pudding and stir for half and hour. It still scorched. I just don't have the time to make 2 gallons worth of pudding (what I need for service) in a double boiler. It is very depressing. But I have found if I get it out of the pot in time and add a bit of orange extract it still tastes yummy.

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Nemesis:

Desserts, the desert of cuisine, the abandonment of flavour and texture and nuance for the cheap thrill of a sugar rush.

"From the shallows of my last breath, I strike at thy heart thou damned cupcake."

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Pie crust too, but with a twist. I can make quite a good one, but never on the first try. I suppose this wouldn't happen if I made pies more often, but somehow... I always insist on making pumpkin pie, just so, at Thanksgiving, sometimes another at Christmas, and rarely make a pie at any other time; this gives me anywhere from 10 to 11 months to forget how. So on the night before Thanksgiving I routinely have a pastry crisis. In fact, I schedule it: "Sorry, I have to go home now and have my pastry crisis." Sure as hell, home I go and put together a promising batch, only to wreck it, gradually and irretrievably, at the rolling-out stage. 'Long about 10 PM or so I give up, throw away the whole mess, and start fresh. Midnight or so - again sure as hell - out comes the pie from the oven, complete with perfect crust. (And I even remember to make little stars and teeny stars out of the scraps and to bake them less than I do the pie; place 'em on it just before serving - very pretty. Bake the rest of the scraps just for ME; sometimes I think I'd rather eat plain pie crust than the most elegant pastry ever made.)

And I don't wanna know from power of positive thinking, neither! Tried that. Never made a damn bit of difference. Psyche myself up, psyche myself down, doesn't matter a bit 'cos you can take always take this to the bank: Crust #2 never fails; Crust #1 never fails to fail.

:raz:

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Yep... Pie crust.

I should have the genes. My grandma's sister, Great Aunt Minnie, was the goddess of pie crust. She would come to visit for a month or so at a time. The day she arrived was pie day. The men folk in our little family compound would have been in revolt if they didn't come home and find her lemon meringue pie. I used to stand on a chair and watch her. Grandma was no slouch, but everyone recognized that Aunt Minnie was the world's genius. Her chicken and dumplings... got it. Her pan fried chicken... got it. Pie crust... I don't do pies. I do pretty darn good skillet corn bread. My biscuits are passable. My pie crust could sink the Bismark.

(Please do not tell me all of your secrets. I have tried them all and I fully understand the science behind a great pie crust. In my hands, they are all hopeless.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Nemesis:

Desserts, the desert of cuisine, the abandonment of flavour and texture and nuance for the cheap thrill of a sugar rush.

"From the shallows of my last breath, I strike at thy heart thou damned cupcake."

You may appreciate the cupcakes we made at military school... we would hollow them out and fill them with all manner of unsweet condiment (think anchovies, horseradish, mustard, tabasco, ketchup, raw onions, etc) for unsuspecting plebes--and others--to--ahem--enjoy.

Sweet, they were not. I think they were more like sulfur vents at the bottom of the ocean. It takes a special kind of life form to survive with those abominations around.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I can't count the times I've blackened pots boiling potatoes. If I leave a kitchen (at home) for just a second, I usually forget about the damn things. I'm not a big fan of the boiled spud, expecially hate mashed potatoes, but my family LOVES them. I love the steamer at work though. The only thing I burn with the steamer is usually my right hand. DUH

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Mexican-style rice (though I'm closer, now that memesuze shared a Diana Kennedy recipe with me) -- it's always gummy. Other rice I do pretty well.

Enchiladas -- I can never manage to keep the tortillas from dissolving. I've tried frying them. Doesn't work for me. Harumph.

Fortunately, my Kitchenaid mixer mastered pie crusts for me. Can't make one without the mixer, though.

amanda

Googlista

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I'm another one who can't master rolling out pie and tart crusts. I've been known to throw the mound of dough into the plate and use my fingers to work it into shape out of desparation.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Fortunately, my Kitchenaid mixer mastered pie crusts for me. Can't make one without the mixer, though.

Whoa - does it roll them out for you? :shock: My cuisinart doesn't, and rolling's where I run into trouble.

If it's mixed right, rolling's the easiest part.

There's a big pie crust tip.

amanda

Googlista

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Fortunately, my Kitchenaid mixer mastered pie crusts for me. Can't make one without the mixer, though.

Whoa - does it roll them out for you? :shock: My cuisinart doesn't, and rolling's where I run into trouble.

If it's mixed right, rolling's the easiest part.

There's a big pie crust tip.

Oh, it's easy enough. But until the second batch....

Wait a minute, I like this. What you're saying is, it's the cuisinart, not me, that forgets how until it's had a practice run.

I can live with that.

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All right all of you pie crust morons-here's what you do-

Wait until tommorrow when I am at home and can paraphrase it or search the web for Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee recipe and all of her unbelievably detailed instructions on making pie crusts that appeared in her excellent book (the only one I still am hanging on to) in Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts. This is the best simple pastry book I have ever owned. Great basic pastry instructions and excellent recipes.

Do like Martha-Be like Martha (except for the whole being mean and insider trading thing. I would skip that part :wink::shock::laugh: )

As far as culinary nemesis go- I can't decorate cakes for shit. I can bake them perfectly and make the various icings and stuff like a champ, but when it comes to combining the two it often looks as if I made the cakes in an Easy Bake Oven.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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As far as culinary nemesis go- I can't decorate cakes for shit. I can bake them perfectly and make the various icings and stuff like a champ, but when it comes to combining the two it often looks as if I made the cakes in an Easy Bake Oven.

:laugh:

I remember my next door best friend had one of those easy bake ovens! And I wanted one sooooooooo bad. (We were about seven at the time).

Don't know why, but pie crusts aren't as hard for me. Not easy tho' as I approach making them with a certain amount of trepidation, but they seem to work out.

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Martha says that cold is your friend when making pie dough of almost any sort. I have finally succumbed to her wily charms :hmmm: and follow her instructions completely and accurately. My pie crust is better than it oughta be. She is also not afraid of butter, and admits that lard makes many of her recipes better than butter (you tend to get a much flakier crust with rendered animal fat).

I never liked her much, but I make all kinds of pies and just about never screw them up thanks to her stern but loving instructions. :wink:

Incidentally if you order the oven from that link eGullet makes big bucks. This is your big chance to fulfill your childhood dreams. Go for it!

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Never had any trouble making a pie crust, but I can't make hash browns to save my life. And it's just about the only thing I can't do in the kitchen. I have tried every trick everyone has ever suggested to me, but I cannot turn out a decent hash brown no matter what I do.

My one and only success with them was when we made hash browns in culinary school (oh, excuse me, "pommes roesti"). That day I managed to do it perfectly. I was so proud, I told everyone I knew. Then I tried to put them on the menu for my next five dinner parties. Always a complete disaster.

I always go out to eat when I want a big breakfast for the sole reason that I absolutely cannot make hash browns, and they're undoubtedly my favorite part of breakfast.

The whole situation is very, very sad.

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