You. Yeah, I know you. Your knife skills are up there with the best line chefs in Orange County. Your knife block costs more than a month of my rent. Every time you watch Top Chef, Chopped, or Iron Chef, you come up with your own dishes, which would totally beat out the competitors. You are the star home chef. I used to be just like you.
That is, before I attempted a few ill-advised dishes.
5. French Fries
I once spent an entire afternoon cutting, par-frying and portioning
individual servings of French fries. Then, I froze them overnight so ice
crystals could form, woke up, fried them super hot and tossed them in
They turned out okay.
So, unless you're prepared to go out, buy a potato slicer so your fries
cook evenly, buy a deep fryer so your oil stays hot, and are willing to
fry everything twice (once to cook the potato, twice to make it crispy)
leave the French fries to the professionals. Your Slap Chop has nothing
on a potato press, and if you thought gas was expensive now, try
spending up to a gallon of peanut oil each fry session.
Anyone can buy a block of sashimi-grade salmon from the Asian market,
slice it and circle it
around some soy sauce, but to impress with sushi,
you're going to need to need more types of fish than colors in a
Even if you do manage to make the trip to one of the few scattered fresh
fish markets in Orange County, everything still needs to be fileted,
sliced, or butterflyed. Then you have to make your own sushi rice (for
those uninitiated, that involves rapidly fanning a pot of rice by hand
until it cools down). Then you have to fry everything that needs to be
fried. Then you have to think about rolling the maki and forming the
sushi without everything falling apart.
Your dream sushi dinner might just be better served in a sushi bar.
3. American Barbecue and Homemade Sauce
Here's a secret that I don't want anybody telling my mom: Her pho is
only okay. As great as her Vietnamese cuisine skills may be, there's no
way she can out do an all-day simmering restaurant-sized pot of
cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cardamom, coriander, clove and cow parts
or the restaurant sourced noodles that accompany.
Her soup ends up tasting flat and the noodles that she gets at market
end up thin and wimpy, many times making you crave pho even more than
before. Dinner at home often concludes with lunch at a pho place the
So, do you actually think that you can cook better Vietnamese food than
my mother? Really?
1. Any Dessert, Pastry or Bread involving Flakes.
Croissants, danishes, tarts, turnovers, baklava. Flaky things taste
wonderful and are tempting to make, but the addictive mouth feel is
directly correlated with the amount of work.
If you want flaky, you can go one of two directions. You can freeze your
hands being French by layering, folding and rolling butter and dough
together at 60 degrees to keep the butter from melting. Or, if you're a
little more flexible, you can go Mediterranean and stretch your dough to
the thinness you want, brushing butter between each layer.
But, really, you should leave the layers to the bakers because there's
no home kitchen I've ever seen that's had the HVAC system or the counter
space necessary to do flaky pastry justice. Attempt it and you might
actually find yourself being French, starting the battle with great
gusto before quickly surrendering.