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What should I learn to cook? (Or, what would you like an ible on?) Answered

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I get seriously tired of the same old things. I want to branch out a bit.

What should I learn?
What are your favorite things to cook?
What are your favorite things to eat?

I think my next big thing will be scalloped potatoes. I love when my mom makes them, but I've never had success at it by myself.

And perhaps new desserts and breakfast items?

Obligatory Iron Chef apron picture activate!

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Goodhart (author)2009-05-19

Well.....I have had two or three things at restaurants that I really loved but have been told are too hard to learn at home, and haven't had the time to search for them.....

1) calamari not fried !
2) sweetbreads
3) baked escargot

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canida (author)Goodhart2009-06-10

#1 and #2 are easy!

I've got several easy squid recipes up already, and just did an extremely successful test run of easy pan-fried sweetbreads last week. Will make more soon, and document the process.

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Lithium Rain (author)canida2009-06-10

I had calamari for the first time a few months back - and absolutely hated it. It was icky! Crunchy and battery on the outside and rubbery and bland on the inside. >_< I'm hoping it was just prepared badly and doesn't really taste like that. :D

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Goodhart (author)Lithium Rain2009-06-10

Well, it depends. Some people don't like them, and some really love them....the good ones I have found, I liked....the bad ones remind me of chewing on chicken cartilage.

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Goodhart (author)canida2009-06-10

Yes, I remember the Salad one, as I commented that it sounded good. Those squid were definitely not being overcooked :-) And I just vied the pan fried one too, and unlike the restaurant I frequent (Chinese / Japanese) where the Chinese side fry the living juice out of them, in comparison to the octopus I have had with my Sushi sampler or Bento boxes...I prefer the latter.

I did mention elsewhere that I had found one restaurant that cooked them properly, but have never found it again (and I have forgotten where I had them, unless they stopped serving them :-) .

I am not sure how the sweetbreads were prepared that I had at the restaurant years ago...but I don't think they were fried. They was very soft all over. It is just hard to get some of that stuff in my area anymore (although I did see a Hog's head in the local Giant food store a few days back.....surprised me really...there were 2 or 3 of them.
I will watch for your process, in the event I find a local source for them.

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caitlinsdad (author)Goodhart2009-05-19

What about sushi to your list? Calamari, especially the smaller baby squid is best grilled with olive oil, salt/pepper. I guess you could do it on a George Foreman grill but leave it open so it doesn't steam cook it. I like pan fried liver and onions but the other stuff, I dunno... I think there is more prep work in deveining it and maybe cooking the heck out of it. There is a good Chinese dish, Kung Pao chopped chicken gizzards with cashews and celery, peas you might like. I've only tried escargot once in a butter/shallot/wine sauce. I guess they are all baked or sauteed in the shell for best flavor. Kinda like crawfish. Not much pickins.

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Goodhart (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-19

Sushi (using cooked meats or raw veggies and fruit) would be ok. But I wouldn't want to go the Shashimi route unless I could get the proper grade of fish. I would rather let an experienced Itamae do that.

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caitlinsdad (author)Goodhart2009-05-19

That cooked imitation processed whitefish crab-stick seems to be the popular substitute for raw real fish in sushi like California rolls. It does take a while to appreciate raw tuna though. The Philly roll with cream cheese in it is so-so.

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Goodhart (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-19

Still not all Sushi is raw fish, since Sushi refers to the vinegar rice bed the meat or veggies are in.

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westfw (author)Goodhart2009-05-20

After doing away with prejudices against raw fish, and having many sources of sushi-grade fish around, I've sorta decided that my favorite sushi is Avocado... Sigh. There are lots of interesting fillings that don't involve raw fish; smoked salmon (not QUITE raw :-), (cooked) salmon salad, (cooked) shrimp, (cooked) eel, egg, caviar (tobiko to be authentic, but I bet if you like caviar at all, your favorite would make interesting sushi), cucumber, carrot, a rather wide variety of furikake seasonings, Mango...

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Goodhart (author)westfw2009-05-21

I actually do like that taste of eel. I had it as a youngster, one of the first things I ever made in an iron skillet. :-)

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jessyratfink (author)Goodhart2009-05-19

For #1 - sauteed perhaps? #2 - I do need to do more baking! #3 - I'll need to do some research. ;)

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Goodhart (author)jessyratfink2009-05-19

Um, do some research on #2 also, since sweetbreads are not breads nor baking :-) I am not sure how the restaurant did them (#1), but they weren't oily and were OH SO TENDER.

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jessyratfink (author)Goodhart2009-05-19

Oh, hahaha, I know what you're talking about now! Not something I typically talk about, so my mind went right to baking (monkey bread!) and not to organs. ;) I've actually never had them. My grandmother loved eating that sort of stuff, though. I wonder where I cold find them around here? I'd probably need to call a deli or butcher!

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Goodhart (author)jessyratfink2009-05-19

Yes, and I am unable to find any restaurants locally anymore that will make Calamari the proper way (and not fried into a rubbery mass). I need to check into how they are made otherwise (these were cooked but then iced down in the salad bar, the one time I had them.

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canida (author)2009-06-10

We've started to experiment with sous vide and some of the more ambitious bits of molecular gastronomy - see if you can lay hands on Under Pressure and the http://www.amazon.com/Alinea-Grant-Achatz/dp/1580089283/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244682467&sr=1-1 Alinea] cookbook . Those are dangerously fun, but require some equipment.

The other fun thing on our list: charcuterie. We ate a ton of incredible preserved meats while in Spain & Portugal last month, and of course made some uncurd sausages after a recent pig hunt. Useful references: Charcuterie, River Cottage Cookbook, River Cottage Meat Book, and old standards like Joy and Gourmet cookbooks.

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jessyratfink (author)canida2009-06-10

We've actually gotten the Alinea book into work. I suppose I'll need to rush out to the section tomorrow and hope it's still there! We've gotten in Bouchon and The French Laundry Cookbook, but nothing else from Keller so far. Maybe Under Pressure will come in - getting a $70 book for $17 sounds much better. And considering Charcuterie has some very nice blurbs from both Anthony Bourdain and Lynn Rosetto Kasper (two of my absolute favorite people!) I might need to check that one out as well. I've never used Gourmet cookbooks, but I like the magazine. My bibles are The Joy of Cooking and A New Way to Cook. I always reference them first. :)

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TheJovialOne (author)2009-05-19

Well, I have a couple of things you could consider cooking and/or baking.

In my professional chef-ing experience, trying your hand at ethnic foods is always a lot of fun. Spaghetti is great and all, but when was the last time you made a lasagna, you know? Or even ravioli? I'm Greek via my father's side, so I grew up with a lot of Greek food and they're relatively easy to cook. For example, Pastitio is a lasagna-shepherd's pie hybrid that has some nifty ingredients like orange zest, cinnamon and three kinds of cheese!

And in regards to the suggestion of sushi: I met a guy who has spent almost 30 years perfecting the art of sushi. He spent like ten years alone just making the rice. And I even believe there was a tv show about people like him or some celebrity cook talking to people like him. To the Japanese, sushi isn't just something you whip up; it's a lifestyle choice. :D

Here's a couple things I've made that people love:
1) Pop-overs (Alton had a show about them and they really are quite tasty)
2) Potstickers/Ravioli (two totally different foods, but experimenting with fillings is always fun)
3) Spanakopita (it's Greek and they're delicious... spinach and feta cheese puff thingys)
4) Ratatouille (I think I spelled it right; it's on TV right now, so it inspired me ;] )

And sometimes, if I have a few extra minutes in between unloading boxes, I'll throw some things together in a marinade and just let some chicken breasts soak in it overnight. Experimentation is the key to success. At least, in my kitchen, that's what happens.

Finally, I despise Booby Flay. Oops. I mean Bobby Flay. He's such a tool. And Fieri is a horrible Frankenstein-esque mix of Bobby Flay and Emeril. WE DON'T NEED A BAD BOY OF THE CULINARY WORLD! Take off the damn sweatbands and loosen up on the bleach and hair gel there, buddy.

I need a cookie to calm down, now. But yeah, do a little research and see what sparks your interest. Good luck and godspeed, young Padawan.

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user

Thank you for the suggestions! They all sound really good. :D Sushi is still something I'm not big on eating, so I don't know I'll go making it anytime soon! There's a really great place about a mile from me called Osaka, though, and I want to eat there a few more times. I really do want to like sushi! And speaking of lasagna, I have a really great recipe with homemade meat sauce. I should probably make that and ibleize it. It's a "greatest hits" sort of food item for me! I cook mainly ethnic foods right now, so I'm trying to get back to basics. I spent this morning searching through many books, and I think I'm going to get going with the experimenting soon! First, I'd like to do an ible over herbs and spices, though. I promised a friend that I would. I told her how to use cumin, oregano and a few other spices and she's really enjoying cooking now. I've realized a lot of people don't know how to use them properly, or even what to use them for. I think that'll be a good start, and I might learn a thing or two myself. :D

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canida (author)jessyratfink2009-06-10

OK, next time you're here we're having make-your-own sushi night.

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jessyratfink (author)canida2009-06-10

Yay yay yay! That would be fabulous. Is there going to be any sort of intern-a-thon again this year?

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Some say that sushi is an acquired taste. Just remember that if there's cream cheese anywhere near your sushi, it's not real and you're being robbed of the good stuff. Back to the basics, huh? That's always fun. I just had an idea of doing a series of Instructables of foods I used to love when I was a kid and the modern updates I serve now. Grilled cheese, mac-and-cheese (my favorite ;] ), tuna sandwiches, sugar cookies with frosting (decoration time!) and turkey balls. And for the record, turkey balls don't have anything to do with the bird's anatomy; they're just meatballs that use ground turkey instead of beef. Maybe I could make it a special menu or something with your (and everyone else reading this) submission(s). Alfred, to the JovialCave! -runs-

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Goodhart (author)jessyratfink2009-05-19

Sushi refers to the vinegar rice on which the meat or veggies are placed (or wrapped). Try the cooked meat ones first if you feel squeamish, or the veggie/fruit combos....but without being able to get sashimi grade fish and meats, one can stay away from making sashimi themselves. Still, if a Japanese restaurant has a skilled Itamae and they can get the proper grade of fish, etc. by all means, give it a go. Maybe start out with a sampler or a lunch time Bento box. . . PS: sashimi refers to raw fish

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caitlinsdad (author)TheJovialOne2009-05-19

Opa! Greetings from New York City, home of the Greek diner! Breakfast 24 hours a day and an endless cup of some darn fine coffee.

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caitlinsdad (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-19

and don't forget moussaka and baklava.

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jessyratfink (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-20

Baklava is one of my favorite things ever. My grandmother used to make it from scratch. I have forced all the people I love to eat copious amounts of it. :D

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Baklava is a tradition in my family apparently since my great450 grandmother first discovered Greece and the baklava tree that grew there.

At least... that's what my yia-yia says. Then again, she is turning 90 this year and is starting to lose it.

But yes, whenever I make baklava, I give a square to everyone. Even my neighbors that I can't stand. Maybe all that honey will make them nicer. So far, hasn't worked. They must need more baklava.

And a random sidenote: I want to make sure it's being pronounced properly. It's pronounced bach (like the composer)-lah-VAH (emphasis here). Same with the popular Greek sandwich, the gyro. It's not JYE-roe. The sandwich doesn't spin while you eat it, people. It's pronounced YEE-roe.

:D

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caitlinsdad (author)TheJovialOne2009-05-20

It must drive you nuts when somebody does the "chee-Bourgie, chee-Bourgie" thing. And souvlaki is not a gyro when you order it. Those are grilled skewered chunks of real meat instead of the gyro cone.

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TheJovialOne (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-20

Yeah. The gyro meat is a lovely combination of meats all ground together and then wrapped around a spit to keep it warm and it make it easier to serve. Greeks and their genius.

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I've always pronounced those right thanks to my gran! Same goes for gnocchi. I've heard that one butchered a ton!

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TheJovialOne (author)caitlinsdad2009-05-20

Isn't Greek coffee the best? Oh man, I need to find the box that has my little copper kettle in it.

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caitlinsdad (author)TheJovialOne2009-05-20

Somewhere I've heard it has something to do with chicory to smooth it out.

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jessyratfink (author)2009-06-10

I'm cooking arepas right now for the first time. Almost done. I'm excited. If this recipe works out well I'll probably post it next time I do it. :D

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Okay, so the arepa was tasty - however, it was a little dry. I need to do a bit of tweaking, I think! And perhaps make them a little larger. I tried to do 1 cup water and 1 cup masa harina for five cakes. I probably shouldn't have tried to stretch it so much. I still have a few more variations to try. I hope one of them does me right! :D I filled the arepas with Cuban black beans, red pepper, red onions and emmentaler cheese. Perfect combination!

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caitlinsdad (author)jessyratfink2009-06-10

http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/07/de-pabellon-at-caracas-arepa-bar-throwdown-bobby-flay-east_village-nyc.html

They serve arepas at street fairs commonly along with corn in the husk grilled over coals. They are a bit greasy when they pan fry them on the griddle to heat them up and usually have a layer of mozzarella cheese as a "sandwich". Maybe that is just the tourist version they made up.

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jessyratfink (author)caitlinsdad2009-06-10

I watched that episode of Throwdown! They looked delicious! And from all the research I've been doing, it doesn't seem to be a tourist thing. Some people even put crumbled cheese in the dough. I can't wait to try them again. If nothing else, I have a great idea for a sandwich with an arepa twist. :)

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Joe Martin (author)2009-06-10

I'm a bit of a experimental cook like you and the other night I found the best macaroni cheese, I've always found macaroni cheese on its own very delicious yet quite bland if you get what I mean. I had half a jar of tomato pasta sauce in the fridge so used it on the base of the dish I bake my mac'n'cheese in, Then I made up my usual cheese sauce with big helpings of a couple of different cheddar cheeses, lots of cream and then a small splash of white wine which I think goes really well with the flavour of the cheese and gives it a more "adult" taste. This sauce is then mixed in wit the the macaroni and then spooned carefully onto the top of tomato sauce in the dish. Here come the final yummy touch, My crust! I've been working on this for a while but have now got it perfect, It has a main base of breadcrumbs mixed with grated cheese, very finely diced white onion and red pepper. This is then sprinkled all over the top to cover all the pasta and then the whole dish is baked for around 20 minutes. When you then serve it up the bottom have of the macaroni and cheese has turned a redish pink from the tomato sauce and gained a delicious rich flavour yet the top half is still very cheesy and has that crust attached to it which isn't crispy yet not soft, perfect. It has really changed that dish for me, An 'ible will come soon when I next make it!

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jessyratfink (author)Joe Martin2009-06-10

I can't wait to see an ible! That sounds really, really good. :D Anything with onion on top is always better!

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Goodhart (author)2009-06-10

Although this isn't really in the category of cooking per se`, there are a wide variety of salads out there that are simply marvelous - for example.....would you have thought of the following, to use up that can of SPAM that has been sitting in the pantry for eons?

Ginger Spam salad

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jessyratfink (author)Goodhart2009-06-10

I must confess that I have never eaten spam. The rest of that salad sounds quite nice, though. ;)

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Goodhart (author)jessyratfink2009-06-10

It can be a little salty (but then, what form of ham isn't?) and it's feel is not as firm as normal ham, but it isn't horrible (I don't think so anyways, when used in something....I have made casseroles with it). But the important part is cutting it into either thin strips or small pieces, then you get the ham flavor, but not the sponginess of the spam ;-)

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Rock Soldier (author)2009-06-04

The filling in apple pie.

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Oh, I already do that. A few apples thinly sliced, a few tablespoons of flour (just enough to coat), sugar, cinnamon - apple pie filling! You can do it on the stovetop in a skillet if you don't want crust.

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what about cherry pie filling? Just do a series on drunk food you can make/enjoy while intoxicated that wont set your place on fire.

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Cherry pie filling is something I've never done! The problem is that I don't drink, and all my friends that do drink seem to make elaborate baked goods when drunk. Last time we made four different types of pie. :P

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jessyratfink (author)2009-06-03

Scalloped potato success! Ible will be coming tomorrow night. :D They were boyfriend approved!

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Really, really good! I don't know that they could have turned out better. :)

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gnomedriver (author)2009-06-04

I had three bananas that had turned from brown to black. The yellow stage was long gone. So I made banana cake! I thought I would make use of the lemons that had gone mouldy in the fruit basket so I then mixed up a lemon/chocolate icing. The apples were looking a little sad too. I was visited by the cooking muse and I boiled the apples in ginger beer and got something with a sweet taste and a ginger bite.

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