Deep-Frying and Recipes-Within-Recipes
"I like to think of myself as a fairly adventurous, medium-to-advanced-level home cook—on weekdays, speed and ease are the name of the game, but on weekends, I'll schlep to Kalustyans for black garlic cloves or spend an afternoon slicing shallots to infuse oil for a Burmese salad dressing. Still, I have my limits. When I see a recipe in a cookbook that directs me to refer to multiple other recipes in the book just to get my mis en place together, that's a deal-breaker. If a recipe requires a deep-fryer or a slow cooker, I'm SOL equipment-wise. Up until recently, instructions that called for prolonged use of a mandoline were off-limits me, though I recently overcame (!) my aversion to the tool (which stemmed, naturally, from a bloody incident years ago)," says Jamie.
"Hidden 'recipes within recipes' is the big one for me—recipes that complicated are why I go to restaurants—but to be honest, another nagging deal-breaker is a recipe that calls for small amounts of stock. Look, thanks to my job I'm lucky if I make one home-cooked meal a week. I don't have time to make stock. If I open a large carton of stock, it goes bad before I can finish it. And no, I'm not filling my freezer with half-cup tupperware full of stock-sicles. Freezer space is devoted to booze, dumplings, and ice cream," says Max.
”I generally avoid recipes that have a buttload of ingredients or take over two hours to make. Unless I'm cooking for a special occasion, whatever I'm making better not cost much in money or time,” says Robyn.
"Anything that calls for fish tends to stop me in my tracks, since I live in a neighborhood with virtually no reliable options for fresh seafood. Also, anything that requires me to have my oven on for more than 2 hours—I live in a small apartment with no windows in the kitchen, so it makes the whole space unbearably hot. But assuming I had better accommodations and a full range of equipment, I'm usually down to try anything once. That said, I'm not too proactive with projects that require several days of planning and patience (marinating overnight, leavening, etc). I guess my relationship to food is more about instant gratification," says Niki.
"I don't care what Kenji says, I don't deep fry at home. And I'm not exactly wary of trying new ingredients, but I hate to buy an ingredient for a recipe that I know I'll never use again—like the pomegranate molasses I bought last year for an Ottolenghi recipe that was just so-so. Sidebar: how long does pomegranate molasses keep in the fridge, and what else can I use it on?" asks Ben.
Sous-Vide and More
"I don't do sous-vide, and deep frying scares me a little. I seem to be impervious to impossible ingredient lists—I've been running around to six different grocery stores in San Francisco trying to track down Thai herbs for a dinner from the Pok Pok cookbook," says Maggie.
"DON'T BE SCARED, USE A WOK FOR DEEP FRYING. For me the deal breaker is never the recipe itself—I'm willing to go great lengths for good food—but more the source and the background of the recipe writer. Before I get into a project, I want to make sure that it's going to WORK. Unless the person writing the recipe has a good reputation or there's an accompanying article that really explains why this version of the recipe will get me the results I want, I'll have a hard time trusting it and will generally pass it by. I definitely never ever ever ever trust a recipe from one of the "just throw this and that together, isn't it scrummy?" TV personalities, and pretty much never trust a recipe from a restaurant chef unless they have lots of experience writing for home cooks. They're the worst!" says Kenji.
"I love ridiculous cooking projects, especially ones that take multiple days to complete, but for some reason I get really frustrated when an otherwise straightforward and quick recipe asks me to marinate meat overnight. It just throws everything off, because every other component is ready to go, and yet I'm supposed to remember to plan a day ahead for the meat. And I never remember. Ever," says Nick”.
"I'm ashamed to say this but I still don't really know how to use our big outdoor grill. I'm sure it's pretty obvious if I just tried, but I can't help also thinking that I'll blow the thing up," says Carrie.