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Culinary Challenges


Samantha
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With the end of the year approaching, I've been spending some time thinking about what I'd like to accomplish in my kitchen in 2006. To that end, I'm trying to compile a list of dishes, desserts, or foods that are difficult to cook well.

So far on my list I have French macarons and dim sum. Can anyone contribute their ideas on dishes or foods that are hard to make well?

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Biscuits!

Mastering biscuits to rival my Great Aunt Minnie's is at the top of my 2006 resolution list.

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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I think good caramels are difficult, at least for me they are.

I struggle with cheesecake too... the perfect cheesecake anyway!

"Many people believe the names of In 'n Out and Steak 'n Shake perfectly describe the contrast in bedroom techniques between the coast and the heartland." ~Roger Ebert

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Biscuits I can do (plenty of butter and buttermilk, use some cake flour, and don't knead them too much, as little as possible).

I find that eggplant is a difficult thing to do well consistently. Fried in thin pieces it comes out well, but grilled is inconsistent as is sauteed dishes. Soaks up oil like a sponge sometimes. Love it when it's good, though.

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Try salting first to draw out the water. Then bread and bake at 400 degrees. Makes a great base for eggplant parmesean <sp?>

Biscuits I can do (plenty of butter and buttermilk, use some cake flour, and don't knead them too much, as little as possible).

I find that eggplant is a difficult thing to do well consistently.  Fried in thin pieces it comes out well, but grilled is inconsistent as is sauteed dishes.  Soaks up oil like a sponge sometimes.  Love it when it's good, though.

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Finding the time to make pasta is my culinary challenge for 2006... especially if I make it into med school for the fall.

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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Many years ago, Craig Claiborne made Couloubiac of Salmon, which, as I recall, had over 100 ingredients, involved a lot of fiddling and took several days.

Here's a giant recipe for David's French Bread (David Liederman's baguettes), which used to be sold in the David's Cookies shops and was perfection.

Paraphernalia

6 single or 3 double tin or aluminum French bread molds, 18-20" long – homemade: from sheet aluminum, cut 2 rectangles 18" x 20" or 18" x 23". Measure the width of your oven before cutting to make sure they will fit. Fold each rectangle in half lengthwise and then bend each half to produce a soft "W", with tighter curves at the base of each trough than in the standard bread mold.

metal pastry scraper

8 qt. earthenware or glass bowl or stainless steel round casserole with lid

kneading board, preferably marble

pastry brush

plastic atomizer or plaint sprayer filled with cold water

Ingredients

2⅔ cups (approx.) warm water (90-100°)

1⅓ oz. cake yeast or, if unavailable, 2 packages granular

6 cups unbleached flour + approx. 1 cup more for kneading

4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons melted butter for greasing molds

1. Sprinkle the inside of the bowl or casserole with about 2 teaspoons of the "1 cup more" flour and set aside.

2. Put 2 cups of warm water in a measuring cup and set aside.

3. Put the remaining ⅔ cup warm water in another measuring cup. Add the yeast and stir until it dissolves.

4. Put the 6 cups of flour and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook.

5. Add the 2 cups of water and the yeast mixture to the mixer bowl and mix at low speed for 1 minute.

6. Lift the dough hook. The dough will be quite damp (not dry, as in most recipes for French bread). Use as little flour as possible - no more than the 6 cups + 1 cup, give or take a couple of tablespoons. If the dough is really too damp, add up to ¼ cup more flour, taking it from the "additional" cup. If too dry, add up to ¼ cup more warm water.

7. Let the dough stand without stirring or mixing for 2 minutes.

8. Mix 3 minutes on medium speed.

9. Let the dough rest for 1 minute.

10. Mix 1 minute on medium speed.

11. Let the dough rest for 1 minute.

12. Mix 1 minute on medium speed. The dough will still be fairly sticky. It should scrape almost clean from the dough hood, but will still be a little "ropy."

13. Generously flour a flat surface (preferably marble), using the flour from the additional cup. Scrape the dough out on to the floured surface. Using a pastry scraper, scrape the dough up this way and that. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Flour the fingers and work the dough quickly, kneading 5-10 seconds, just enough to shape it into a sticky ball. It will feel light and loose.

14. Drop the dough into the floured bowl or casserole. Cover with plastic wrap or the utensil cover.

15. Put the bowl or casserole in a warm place. A good place is a gas oven with the pilot light on. If you do this, leave the oven door ½" ajar at the top. Or put the container in a closet with a blanket wrapped around it. The temperature can range from that of a refrigerator to 110°. Let the dough rise until double in bulk, 1½–2 hr. in a warm place, or up to 12 hr. in the refrigerator.

16. Generously flour a flat surface and turn and scrape the dough out on to it. If the dough is stuck in the pan, don't panic. Scrape out as much as you can.

17. Clean the bowl, wipe dry, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour.

18. Using the pastry scraper, scrape the dough this way and that into a non-sticky ball, keeping the work surface and your hands floured. Drop the dough ball into the bowl and sprinkle the top with a little flour.

19. Cover the bowl, place in a warm place, and let rise until double in bulk.

20. As the dough rises, brush the bottoms of the molds with butter.

21. Turn and scrape the dough out. Work as before, until it can be shaped into a ball. Keep the working surface floured.

22. Shape the dough ball into a long oval shape about 4" x 16" and cut crosswise with the scraper into 6 equal pieces.

23. Pat each piece all over with flour to prevent sticking. Take one piece and shape it into a 6–8" oval. Fold the oval over itself into thirds. Turn the dough so that the folded section faces you. Roll and stretch the dough into another 6-8" oval and fold in thirds. Repeat a third time.

24. Pick up the dough and with floured fingers turn the bottom of the dough into itself, making a biscuit-like round.

25. Lightly flour the work surface. Flour your fingers. Pat out the dough into an 8" circle.

26. Fold the dough away from you, making a half-moon shape.

27. Lift the straight fold and fold in half away from you.

28. Press the edges down like a seam. Pick up the dough and put it seam-side-down on a floured area.

29. Flour your hands. Hands flat, fingers together, roll the dough into a long, thin snake long enough to fit the length of the bread pans. Put in the pan.

30. Repeat with the other 5 pieces of dough.

31. Put the pans in a warm place. If in the oven, it is not necessary to cover them with a cloth. If in the oven, do not cover. If in the room, cover with a cloth.

32. Let rise until double in bulk. If in the oven, remove. No need to cover.

33. Set the oven to 500° and heat for 10–15 minutes.

34. Put the loaves in the oven and spray with the atomizer.

35. Bake about 20 minutes, spraying after 3, 6 and 9 minutes.

36. Remove the pans from the oven, and remove the loaves from the pan. For a very crusty loaf, return loaves to the oven for 2-5 minutes, turning them occasionally on the oven racks.

37. Let the loaves cool. They freeze well.

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"Many years ago, Craig Claiborne made Couloubiac of Salmon, which, as I recall, had over 100 ingredients, involved a lot of fiddling and took several days."

Isnt this one of Anthony Bourdains favorite dishes espcially when made by a grumpy Russian woman :hmmm: ??

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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