What's the one thing you just can't cook/bake...

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by nubka, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    For chocolate chip cookies, I just use the recipe on the back of the Hershey's chocolate chip recipe and underbake it by two minutes :shuffle: They come out great every time.
  2. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Well-Known Member

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    I flunk at pie crust. The things I have to pass off as pies make me cry.
  3. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    For those talking about pancakes, the last batch I made looked as good as anything I have ever seen at an IHOP and the trick was to NOT GREASE THE PAN. I recently bought one of these and its a true non stick surface. If you grease the surface then you will get an uneven color on the pancake. I think in my next batch I may use some cake flour along with all purpose and see if that gets them even lighter. Pancakes are an obsession of mine but I don't want to have to go to IHOP every time I want some.
  4. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Some people will flame me for what they perceive as heresy, but ditch the butter altogether. The original Toll House Cookie was made with shortening (Crisco), not butter, and in this case I think they got it right. For the classic chocolate chip cookie, it's Crisco, not butter that you should be using. It makes a far better cookie in this rare case. Other cookies, go for the butter, but not in this instance.

    Meanwhile, I'm with Southpaw. I have yet to successfully cook dried beans; I think I need to lower my heat and cook them more slowly. I'm not giving up yet though.
  5. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    I can usually bake what I set my mind to do - m next project will be to make croissants, it might take a few tries...

    I have yet to perfect bagels, the last time I had way too much baking soda in the poaching liquid, they tasted a bit like pretzels :p

    I have a hard time with gravy - usually turns out too thin.

    As for savory pie crusts most recipes need a bit of pre baking for them not to turn mushy.
  6. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    For beans, I always soak and then cook them for 1.5-2 times longer than any recipe says to, which often means pre-cooking them separately.

    A friend told me never to add salt to beans until they are cooked all the way through. Otherwise they'll stop cooking.
  7. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    To me chicken/turkey gravy is incredibly easy, all you need to do is whisk constantly. It's best to start with less flour and then add more. I usually add salt, pepper, and some wine or broth.

    However, I usually cook chicken and turkey in a broth/wine mix loaded with garlic. This means that I'm starting out with a consomme rather than just the fat.

    But the recipe is one that has never failed.
  8. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I cook beans (pinto, navy, etc.,) in a crock pot. Super easy and they turn out great every time. I put in salt at the start and have never had a problem.
  9. AragornElessar

    AragornElessar New Member

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    Bread where you have to use yeast. Don't know why or how, but I manage to kill the yeast every single time and end up w/flatter than flat bread. My last try could have doubled for a door stop.
  10. duane

    duane New Member

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    Add me to this list.

    I wish I could invite many of you over for breakfast. I throw down on some pancakes.
  11. ArtisticFan

    ArtisticFan Well-Known Member

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    I can cookmost things, but I cannot scramble eggs.
  12. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    Dried beans are easy: start with pouring over boiling water and soak them 1-2 hours (no need to use cold water overnight as many places say, I don't have patience). Then cook for about an hour before following be rest of the recipe if you, though many already accommodates this. If you are making black bean soup, for instance, you can start with the beans + bay leaf + ham hock and just let the beans soak up all the flavor.


    See this recipe, for instance: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/black_bean_soup/

    I love simply recipes, my favorite cooking blog, I have hardly ever run into trouble following her directions. (Except making gravy, bah!!)
    Southpaw and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely no to that! Even if I could find shortening where I live, which is doubtful, I wouldn't do it. If anyone has trouble with chocolate chip cookies, just use this David Lebovitz recipe (the nuts are optional). It's the last chocolate chip cookie recipe you'll ever need.

    I don't know how to make candy, and I really want to. But anything involving thermometers terrifies me, so I'm doomed to a caramel-less existence.

    ETA: since Simply Recipes has been mentioned - make their Nutella cookies. Again, the nuts are really kind of optional and the cookies are incredibly good.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
    kwanfan1818 and (deleted member) like this.
  14. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

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    Shortening works better in some cookies and butter in others.

    "cookies made with shortening and no extra water added, for example, are higher and lighter, while butter cookies are flatter and crispier. This is because butter has a lower melting point than shortening, causing them to spread faster and more in the short time it takes to bake a cookie."

    I think that is why shortening might work better in a cookie with brown sugar, chocolate, nuts, etc. You don't rely on the cookie part to give all its flavor. Shortbread on the other hand needs butter to have flavor.

    I like roll out sugar cookies with shortening - the cookie stays even - with butter the edges are lower and crispier.
  15. Citlali

    Citlali Well-Known Member

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    Brownies :( I followed hundred recipes and just can't do them right.
  16. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    This is from a book called Earth to Table. I've made it many, many times now, and used the crust for pies, quiches and pot pie toppings. For savoury pies, you can mix in a bit of fresh herb such as thyme or some cayenne pepper - pretty and delicious! Warning: it is VERY buttery.

    For two crusts, easily cut in half for one:

    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I like unbleached)
    2 tsp salt (I find this way too much so only do 1 tsp)
    1/4 tsp granulated sugar (I use raw sugar, no problem)
    1 cup cold unsalted butter
    1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water (this will vary)

    Now here's the trick - as already mentioned, everything must be as cold as possible. This is to maintain the texture of the fat, which results in a flaky crust. When I'm about to make this, I put the butter in the freezer while I do everything else, and all the utensils in the fridge, then I wash my hands in as cold water as possible. LOVE the idea posted above of putting a few ice cubes in the water!

    Then, instead of going through the trouble of cutting up the butter with two knives or using a pastry blender - both of which can be time consuming, resulting in the butter starting to melt - you use a box grater and grate the butter through the larger holes. Then, you toss it by hand with the dry ingredients like a salad, so each shred of butter is now coated. Then gradually add the water and knead until it all comes together. Shape into two fat disks, wrap in plastic (I just put them in ziplocks and squeeze out the air) and chill for 30 mins, or even a day or two (very handy when entertaining to get this done in advance!). Then roll out (having it disk shape helps this) and away you go.

    Just don't ask me how to shape the crust, because as I said I'm a disaster at that. :)

    And for those who like to do pies sweet and savoury, this is a lovely, fun and very good book on the subject - The Book of Old Tarts.

    There are so many ways to make scrambled eggs - what is the issue, and maybe we can help?

    What kind do you like? Gooey or dry? Icing or no icing? Cocoay, dark chocolate, more milky chocolate? Again, so many recipes out there, maybe we can help point you in the right direction.

    I have an old clipped out recipe from Cosmopolitan that I used to make - very, very rich with tons of chocolate squares, eggs, sugar and cream. Haven't tried this one that just popped up on Facebook this morning, but Bon Appetit is usually good - Cocoa Brownies.

    I confess that it's been so long since I really baked much that the last time I wanted brownies (Super Bowl party), rather than buy a bunch of ingredients I won't use again, I just bought a box of Betty Crocker and threw a ton of walnuts into it. As a child, when my mom asked what kind of birthday cake I wanted, I often said brownies - so she's make a box with extra walnuts, and then ice it with a simple mix of icing sugar, unsalted butter and milk. *drooling at the thought*
  17. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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    I can make any kind of gravy. To add flour I mix it with water or milk, stir it up, & use a sieve when adding to the pan. No lumps!

    For choc chip cookies I use 1/2 butter & 1/2 shortening.

    My downfall is brisket. I've never cooked one that was tender. And my beef roast is almost as bad.
  18. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Taste? Texture? Doneness?

    I have to say buying a meat thermometer saved my marriage. Seriously - the first time we tried to roast a chicken many years ago we carefully calculated the time and followed all the hints about poking it, colour of juices, whether the thigh is loose etc, and it was just awful. Didn't make another one for years. Ditto roast beef - all that calculating, and it never turned out right. With a meat thermometer, it's perfect every time.

    Also, try to buy really good beef that has fat in it, because it will be more juicy. Roast it low and slow - about 325 degrees. We put it on a rack, and add a little water (and re-add) to the pan for extra moisture. For seasoning, we do just a dusting of English Prime Rib Rub to enhance the flavour, and it turns out beautifully every time with a nice tasty crust and perfect doneness inside.
  19. Habs

    Habs Well-Known Member

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    I don't eat roast beef, but I've been told the ones I make are fabulous. ;)

    The trick I learned from MamaHabs is to melt some butter in the roasting pan, liberally sprinkle the raw roast with seasoned salt and pepper, and then brown all sides of the roast in the melted butter on top of the stove. When the outside is brown (takes just a few minutes), cover the roaster and pop it into the oven to slow roast in low heat - 300-325 seems to work well.
  20. Marilou

    Marilou New Member

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    For me it's Yorkshire pudding! It is just never consistant - add to that the fact that my husband's grandmother was from Yorkshire and made the BEST Yorkshire pudding ---well, you get the picture ;)
  21. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the recipe. I will definately try it! :)
  22. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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    I've used a meat thermometer for years...it doesn't help.


    I do this too. BTW, the meat always tastes fine. It's just that the meat is tough or else, the last time I made a roast in a slow oven, the meat fell into shreds & the vegetables were mush.

    BTW, I have used the same candy thermometer for at least 40 yrs & my candy always comes out. I don't know how anyone makes candy without one.
  23. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

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    Who has a recipe for the sort of brownie that is pretty thin, crackles on top, not too sweet, right in between cake-y and fudgy - the kind you would sprinkle powered sugar on top. My friend made these when i was a kid, and I have never found the right recipe.

    When I try to adapt recipes I find, I can't get that crackly top right.
  24. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    I've found for roast beef that the quick/slow method works even for grass-fed beef that has little fat. I make a paste of herbs and garlic and coat the outside, put in the oven at 425 for 10-15 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 325.
  25. Prancer

    Prancer Ray Chill Staff Member

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    Are you talking about pot roast? For me, pot roast always, always goes in the pressure cooker, and I add the vegetables as it cooks rather than having it all cook for the same time. The only reason I have a pressure cooker is pot roast, but that's reason enough to keep it.
  26. Sparks

    Sparks Well-Known Member

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    I have/had (?) a great brownie recipe. If I find it, I'll post it.
  27. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa New Member

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    I can't make good tuna salad. I can actually make and stretch phyllo to a tissue thin consistency with no holes, but cannot make tuna salad.
  28. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

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    Farmington cookbook has a great method of cooking roast beef medium rare from end to end.
  29. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I love roast when it's so tender that it shreads... :)

    Ooops, wrong quote. I was responding to Taf2002's post.
  30. peibeck

    peibeck Left in the Kiss-n-Cry

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    For those having problems with chocolate chip cookies, I agree shortening is the way to go as well. Also, the less time the better as they will still cook when you take them out of the oven. You also don't want to over mix your ingredients, just to the point where they are all incorporated.

    If none of the suggestions help, it may be that your oven just runs hot. Try turning down the temperature a little.
  31. peibeck

    peibeck Left in the Kiss-n-Cry

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    I just add dried Italian seasoning, some fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup of water, some veggies and jar of pepperoncinis (liquid and all) in a crock pot and it makes a great roast that falls apart.
  32. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    The most useful tip ever given to me on scrambling eggs is to turn the heat off under the pan about 3/4 through the scrambling process. The pan will retain enough heat to finish the cooking process and the eggs don't over cook and end up too dry or hard scrambled.
  33. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Similarly, heat the plate. That way you can put the eggs on the plate just when they are about perfect, knowing they will finish on the plate - and they won't get cold and rubbery before you have a chance to eat them. Turn the oven to 200, when it reaches heat, turn it off and put the plates in for a few minutes.
  34. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    Isn't tuna salad really just tuna and mayo and maybe some diced celery thrown in for crunchiness ?
  35. Impromptu

    Impromptu Well-Known Member

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    It think it depends on how "Mom" made it... I grew up with tuna salad that had hard boiled eggs in it, but when I moved to Minnesota, most people had never heard of putting eggs in tuna salad. Of course, I don't like tuna all that much, so anything that makes it taste less fishy is fine by me.
  36. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Also depends on whether you really want mayo or you prefer the tang of Miracle Whip. Tuna salad is like meatloaf - 1,000 recipes and no two alike.
  37. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

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    For chocolate chip cookies, it depends on how you like them. Search for Alton Brown's three recipes: the thin, the puffy, and the chewy (those are his names). I like the chewy, and it calls for melting the butter first (no shortening!) and changing the proportions of white vs. brown sugar, and the amount of flour.
  38. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    I'm terrible at making bread. IF I can get it to rise and be kneaded/punched down/etc. I typically burn or undercook the loaf.

    However, I am awesome at soups/stews and make some great roasts.
  39. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa New Member

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    If you like bland food, I suppose it is. I've had spectacular tuna salad and bland. I like the spectacular, and everywhere I have had spectacular, they demure when asked for the recipe. Dunkin Donuts, of all places, used to have a tuna salad about ten years ago that was out of this world good. I was told they got it from costco, but it is not the same.
  40. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

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    Can you post a link or the recipe? My DD is a Nutella FREAK! Thanks :)