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Old 01-04-2008, 03:26 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Clearly some intelligence has to be brought to the process. If you're making a bread dough, for example, and it's too wet, you can knead in a little extra flour, if it's too dry, you add some liquid... At least you had a sound starting point.
Agreed, except that I attribute the ability to make those changes, or even determine if they are needed, to experience rather than just intelligence (although that is certainly required!).

And that is where I am severely lacking (experience, anyway!); I simply have no clue when kneading the dough whether it is too dry or too sticky. And that is also why I intend to keep trying, as that is the only way to get that experience.

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Old 01-04-2008, 03:30 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ErikC View Post
Agreed, except that I attribute the ability to make those changes, or even determine if they are needed, to experience rather than just intelligence (although that is certainly required!).

And that is where I am severely lacking (experience, anyway!); I simply have no clue when kneading the dough whether it is too dry or too sticky. And that is also why I intend to keep trying, as that is the only way to get that experience.

It takes both. Without intelligence, experience is just another name for mistakes. You recognize there is a problem and figure out how to fix it, either through experimentation or seeking help or reading recipes, etc.

Many baking recipes will tell you how the dough should feel and what to do to get there.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:46 PM   #23
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I used to work at a small resort, and one day we were doing catering for 650 people. It was real old school french cuisine as well. Straight out of TDB (We refer to Escoffier's as "That Damed Book") Anyway it was just me and another guy in the kitchen, and of course he cuts his finger with a knife bad enough to have to go to the hospital. This happened about half way through, so I had to finish out catering for 650 people by my self.

That was the most challenging day of my culinary life.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:11 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by ErikC View Post
Except that with baking, atmospheric conditions can play a big role in how things turn out. Moisture in the air, temperature, even whether the flour has absorbed moisture from the air in days gone by. I think this is why more people have trouble with baking than with cooking. At least that's how it is for me.
I agree when I worked in a little bakery in Colorado we never added the amount of flour the recipe said whether it was bread,bagel,croissant or danish dough we mixed by feel of the dough some are softer or wetter or firm.We had to do it that way as the flour was usually dryer than it is in other climates.So if we added flour according to recipe the dough could well turn into cement.I do it to this day baking at home. Once you learn the feel of different doughs it really becomes secong nature. I can do all that and to this day I still cannot make a fluffy biscuit or great scones. Its a mental block thing. I think.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:18 PM   #25
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The most recent challange I can think of was making two paella's one with grilled vegetables & the other with chicken, chorizo, mussels, clams, snapper & shrimp for 150 people. I only found out I was in charge of the paella's the day before, the party was on an Island, the grocery store had slim (vegetable) pickings because it was a holiday weekend not too mention it was a boat & car ride away. I prefer planning ahead when it's for a large group with lots of specific ingredients so at the last minute made it a bit of a challenge. They both turned out great in presentation & taste so all the party guests were happy as was I & my husband who helped tremendously with the grill.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:40 AM   #26
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I plan on grilling Octopus tentacles soon. I actually do not see it as much of a challenge, its just going to be hard to find.

As for most challenging, I had to prep for 2 weddings in the same day, plus part of the resteraunt remained open and I had to cook that stuff too as I got the wedding food ready.
"wok-a wok-a"
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:42 AM   #27
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For me it has been and still is a ten to fourteen layer tort "Spartacus" that came to me from Olga Bondar, formally of Ukraine. It's great but I have to talk myself into it everytime - takes me about a week of psyching up. It's a family recipe she brought with her from Ukraine. Wish I could remember her website - she does those beautiful Ukrainian eggs. Google her - Olga Bondar.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:52 AM   #28
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Most challenging thing... grilled scallops, grilled salmon, filet mignon, hamburgers, chicken breast(boneless) all on the same grill at the same time.

Talk about keeping you hopping!!! Not burning or over cooking the salmon, while searing the scallops and getting the filet just right, getting the boneless chicken done but not dry(i hate grilling boneless chicken) basting the scallops with garlic butter, salmon with lemon butter, chicken with a light vinegar, spice sauce, spicing the beef(love that montreal steak seasoning!)... and timing everything so it was done at the same time!!!

oh--this was for 15 people... and the charcoal had been burning too long when I started... I pulled all the protein off at the same time..

Everything came out close to perfect. The salmon was a touch over cooked on one end, but not bad..

This was one of those times when I brought the plate in with everything on it, the site was magnificent. All that grilled food on one LARGE platter still steaming. It was the first time I grilled scallops.. awesome...
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:04 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
YT, I remember the pic, I don't remember you saying you cooked that feast on a 13" grill.... I'm impressed. The plates look bigger than 13"
they`re actually about 13" each, you`r quite right :)

and although it Looks almost impossible, it really wasn`t, just took a little bit of logistical planning.

the carrots peas and pots were all canned, the carrots and peas go into a small sauce pan that`s left on the BBQ as do the potatoes but those are lest in the can 2 holes popped in the lid.
the bread stuffing is the simple just-add-hot-water type, that was then mixed and put into tin foil and kept on a rock that was just underneath the BBQ all along and quite hot at this time.

the meat (pork) was then cooked on the BBQ remaining area, and also put into foil and then kept on this rock.

plate up the tin of potatoes by pouring the liquid into the carrots and peas, then drain the carrots and peas into another already hot saucepan. plate the carrots and peas up add the bread stuffing and the meat, put the plates on this rock.

the excess meat juice from the foil gets poured into the pea,carrot, potato juice and a gravy is made.

put that gravy on the plates and eat up (after taking a picture).
Katherine Snow. xx
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:22 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by YT2095 View Post
, and also put into foil and then kept on this rock.

Good idea.
I always cook everything at once no matter the amount of pots or room it takes up. I should really start keeping things warm while I finish or cook someting else. I imagine it's much less hectic that way. I'll admit I don't always do things the easy way.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:31 AM   #31
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One of the most challenging meals I've ever cooked has to be my first Thanksgiving. I just wasn't prepared for the volume of food I had to put out of my teeny little kitchen, and I think I cooked for b/w 10-13 people. The most challenging aspect of this was actually that there were several vegetarians joining us, and I had never prepared vegetarian anything before. Everything went great; the only problems I had were due to the fact that I had to keep holding/re-warming things in the oven because everyone wanted to stand around and drink instead of eat!

As far as particular foods that are difficult to cook, I think a properly cooked pan-seared duck breast with crispy skin and done to MR-M is a tough one. Duck breast seems like it can go from rare to well done in an instant sometimes. I think its due to the fact that the breasts shrink so much from the cooking and it can be hard to account for the change of size over the constant heat. Also, you have to have your stove at just the right temp of else you'll get burnt skin and rare meat, or a lot of fat under the skin.

I think another tough on to do is pate a choux. At the point where you need to add the yolks its so tricky, because if a baker wrote the recipe, they would tell you to add exactly this many egg yolks and mention that the dough should look shiny. A cook would tell you to add egg yolk until the dough is shiny. The dilemma is that sometimes that perfectly shiny dough needs one more egg yolk than the baker says, and sometimes that dough might only require say 5 1/3 yolks, because 6 yolks would be just enough to break it. You're always torn between wanting to make it just that little bit better but not wanting to ruin it by just barely taking it too far.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:33 AM   #32
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Probably the most difficult and time-consumming thing I've made was a Chicken Gallantine, which was then turned into a Chaud-Froid (sp?). Classic, nit-picking French Cuisine-type stuff. Oh, and I had a French instructor teaching us how to do this in College. I have never done one since.

These days, it gets challenging at work, when the boss hands me the list of Weekly Specials. Sometimes I get to help write them, sometimes I don't. When I know what they are a few days ahead, I'll at least get some things prepped. Sometimes, though, I don't know what we're having until the day we go live with the Specials Menu, which on top of getting my line set up and running, I have to prep a lot of other things.
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:02 PM   #33
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For me it wasn't a single food, but rather my son's rehearsal dinner for the wedding party,and parents and grandparents...We held it in our back yard around the pool, it was beautiful, but wow...the menu was fried chicken that i finish off in the oven with garlic and wine and a little butter, pasta with meat sauce (homemade meat sauce) also a pasta with pesto, huge bowls of green salad,potatoe and mac salad, rolls, before hand for snacking were 4 LARGE trays of antipasto that took me 2 hours to roll all the meats salami, mortadella, proscuitto, copa, cut the cheeses,it had olives, marinated mushrooms,peppers,marinated artichokes, and things I've forgotten now..Everything turned out wonderful including the mass of cream puffes I made..Groom was happy bride, well she said thanks to DH when it was over I felt as if I could sleep for a week, but, nope, had to be up bright and early to host the bridesmaids getting dressed and their breakfast which I won't even try to tell you about...

HEAVEN is Cade, Ethan,Carson, and Olivia,Alyssa,Gianna
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:12 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by chave982 View Post
Just wondering what the most challenging foods/meals people on here have cooked. For me, it was my first loaf of white bread...back when I thought exact measurments didn't matter .
While bread is technically not "cookery" - that was my biggest bugger - it wasn't until after I had made it according to the recipe written on a 3x5 card, and I wound up with two doorstops, that I turned the card over and found the rest of the instructions ... the next time when I combined the front and back of the recipe card - it worked out just fine.

I think the hardest cookery dish was my first attempt at Moussaka ... actually making the Béchamel sauce for the topping.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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