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Old 04-20-2015, 06:53 AM   #1
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Cooking Outside Your Comfort Zone

In time past, we had the GCC - our very own Golden Chef's Challenge. We haven't done one in a while, and there were people who found it difficult, and maybe too competitive. But I like challenges, and so I propose this challenge to everyone. Make something outside your comfort zone, something new and challenging to you. This isn't a competition. There will be no one to judge your dish, except you and those you cook for. I would suggest that you go a little past your skill level, whatever that level might be. Then, take pictures, and post them with what you made right here on DC.

If what you made was spot on, then kudos to you. If it wasn't, then maybe someone will have tips to help you succeed with your challenge. In any case, we all learn, and become better cooks for our efforts.

I hope a bunch of people participate in this. There are no categories. You get to make whatever you want.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 04-21-2015, 09:31 AM   #2
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I got a head start already. Which does Not get me out of a good Challenge making a new Dish to share.


We recent made two 9x13 pans Tiramisu for a party. Never made before, and only shared a taste once at a restaurant, so I wasn’t real sure what to expect. Like anything one buys at Ikea, some assembly is required. We shopped 2 Italian markets for “real” ingredients, a regular grocers and liquor store. We decided to make a sample run before hand and it’s a good thing we did. When a recipe says Dip Lady Fingers Briefly in espresso, they really do mean just a second or two. We ran out of coffee before the 2nd layer cookies were dipped, and when it came time to taste test, the coffee flavor completely overwhelmed and the bottom layer cookies were saturated and liquidy.

#2. Making Zabaglione. Never made eggy custard before. Recipe says cook and stir in a double boiler until custard forms bubbles and thickens. We attributed the bubbles were due to so much whiskings. So we took turns Whisking some more. There is a fine line between Cooked Custard and Almost Scrambled Eggs. I guess that’s what they mean when the recipe also says Do Not Overcook. The kitchen smelled nice though with the liqueurs cooking off. Before we went shopping, I climbed up on a step stool searching in the cupboards above the refrigerator. I asked, where’s that bottle of Amaretto that’s been aging up here for the last half century. She said, I might have tossed it. I said, well the Bottle is an Antique and you could Retire on its sale alone. She said, I’m already retired. We hiked it to the liquor store, only a couple blocks. The Liquor Mgr knows our dog and gave her treats. Why, since neither of us ever shops there?? Ah, but her BIL sometimes takes the dog for a walk and he stops there.


We decided to use Brandy and Amaretto to flavor. Not familiar with brandy, we bought Christian Brothers ( that seems Wholesome) and it came in a nice Art Deco Shaped bottle. A new bottle of Amaretto set me back a few quid.


In making the recipe we decided we didn’t really care for the brandy, so saved that to give to BIL. The Amaretto we Really liked. I used “heaping” tablespoons of that. I’m sure you all know how to measure heaping spoons of a liquid .


Some things we pretty much knew. Have everything laid out and ready to go for assembly. Eggs at room temp, beaters/ bowls well chilled. Measure the lady finger cookies out in a pan so you know how many to use. Make expresso early so it is well cooled. Dust off the pot in hot sudsy water if you haven’t used it in a while. You can make in a regular pot if you don’t have a small machine. The thing they don’t say, is what to do with the egg whites. Might want to have a plan to make meringues or cookies or something. I hated tossing those out and if we were making at my house, they would have been refrigerated for later use. We made stuff in Reverse order of the recipe, as we understood it. That is, beat whipped cream, beat mascarpone, then beat the egg yolks/ sugar mix. It helped that we had 2 mixers going. I learned a quick way to separate eggs. I always break an egg in half and toss the yolk back and forth between shells Dx just breaks the egg, holds the yolk in her palm as the white runs through her fingers into a bowl. Is that ever fast.


After we successfully made zabaglione, (Yes, a 2nd Pan) I think the technique is similar to making a crème anglaise or perhaps a cooked custard for home-made ice cream. The topping is simply a dusting of cocoa powder. After it sets up in the ‘frig, it is best to do a 2nd dusting before serving. Anyway, we made 2 pans for a party, did not double the recipe, and they turned out great. Here’s the recipe we used—


Tiramisu Recipe
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:46 AM   #3
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Outside my comfort zone? I would be dead on the floor after all that work. It would have to be done in parts if I were to attempt it. Over a period of time. Most of it sitting down.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:02 AM   #4
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Writing about this took longer than making. I think we did each pan in under an hour, including drinking a fresh pot espresso to tide us over while the custard cooled to room temp.

Normally, I find/ we find we cook better together if one of us is working on our own sides of the kitchen counter with a double sink between us. This involved cooperation and the ability to calmly debate confusing instructions. Which we didn't care for so much. It's really easy and pretty logical once you get the hang of it.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:36 AM   #5
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Hmmmm, anything dessert, cakey is outside my comfort zone, I think I am too heavy handed.
My first entry is likely to be today, German Cheesecake. I've already overcooked the pastry base, I blame the 3 G&T's I've had.
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:05 AM   #6
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Outside of my comfort zone...I'm drawing a blank...
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Old 04-21-2015, 08:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
Outside of my comfort zone...I'm drawing a blank...
Ever made a Sacher Torte? Or how about authentic Lumpia. Fried rice with pefectly cooked squid tenticles, and calamari, with squid ink sauce. Is all of that in your comfort zone? If it is, then you have certainly had more culinary ingredients available to you than I do.

I know what I'm going to try, just not sure when, Buttered Popcorn flavored ice cream. Someone at work challenged me to create such a thing. Next payday I'll give it a shot.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 04-22-2015, 05:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
Ever made a Sacher Torte? Or how about authentic Lumpia. Fried rice with pefectly cooked squid tenticles, and calamari, with squid ink sauce. Is all of that in your comfort zone? If it is, then you have certainly had more culinary ingredients available to you than I do.

I know what I'm going to try, just not sure when, Buttered Popcorn flavored ice cream. Someone at work challenged me to create such a thing. Next payday I'll give it a shot.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
That stuff is expensive, at least in the quantity you have to buy at Restaurant Depot. I noticed it when we were standing at the seafood counter and thought, hmm, that would be something interesting to try. Walked over to check it out and about had a heart attack. Don't remember how much it was, just being extremely shocked at how much it was. Granted it was in a fairly good sized jar for a restaurant that would probably take a home cook forever to use just making small quantities of pasta but it was still pretty pricey. I haven't looked elsewhere for it yet as it was just a spur of the moment seeing it there thought.

Haven't made a Sacher Torte, which really doesn't look hard to do, you should try it, looks good. I have made a Dobosh Torte multiple times as it's one of my favorites.
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Old 04-22-2015, 06:12 AM   #9
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OK, just for the heck of it, looked for squid ink. It's still pretty pricey for the amount you get, $5.15 for 8 grams thru Amazon Prime (no S&H) but at least that's not heart attack inducing and is sized for a home cook. Maybe we'll check it out soon.
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