Join 3,427 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook
May 25, 2011 12:31 PM   Subscribe

What follows is a D.I.Y. cooking starter kit: small kitchen projects that any cook can tackle. What they all have in common is that they are simple, season-less and a clear improvement on the store-bought version. Includes: Chinese Chili-Scallion Oil, Chocolate-Hazelnut Paste, Corn Muffin Mix, Crème Fraîche, Cultured Butter, Fresh Cheese, Horseradish Beer, Mustard, Kimchi ,Maple Vinegar, Preserved Lemons, Tesa (Cold-Cured Pork Belly), Tomato Chili Jam, Vin d'Orange
posted by AceRock (43 comments total) 128 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is inspiring, thanks.
posted by swift at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2011


I need to make some kimchi. Thanks for reminding me.
posted by orme at 12:53 PM on May 25, 2011


I am most dubious about my ability to beat nutella in my own kitchen, but I was planning to experiment this weekend so I will give this a try.
posted by biffa at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2011


Odd that the recipe for making vinegar has you start with vinegar if you're just going to use wild yeasts anyway. It isn't necessary; I'm making pineapple vinegar right now and the ingredients are just pineapple, sugar, and water. You don't need to bootstrap with other vinegar.
posted by kenko at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cool! This is what we do around our house. We've tackled beer, wine, infused vodka, yogurt, mustard, red wine vinegar, vanilla sugar, garlic oil, pesto, etc.

I love Kitchen Projects. And they totally do taste better than what you can buy.
posted by Kitteh at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2011


Mmm.... horseradish beer.

Oh, wait a minute there...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am most dubious about my ability to beat nutella in my own kitchen...

Don't be. Simple chocolate recipes like this are just about guaranteed successes, and if the quality of the ingredients is good, it will taste much better than anything you've ever bought in a store.
posted by gurple at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2011


Neat, gonna make that mustard for sure. When I visited the Ommegang brewery I bought a mustard made with their Abbey Ale that I've been looking to try and reproduce.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2011


I am most dubious about my ability to beat nutella in my own kitchen...

Don't be. Simple chocolate recipes like this are just about guaranteed successes, and if the quality of the ingredients is good, it will taste much better than anything you've ever bought in a store.


I made this 'Nutella' recipe to huge success and I don't even own a Cuisinart or blender (I made it with an immersion blender) - just toast the nuts, melt the chocolate, and blitz it all together
posted by iona at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2011


kenko, local yeasts are highly variable. When I was a kid in eastern New York, we'd leave our apple cider at room temperature for a day and got a really nice bubbly fizz. The adults would pack it full of raisins, leave it for three days, and get hammered.

I've tried to duplicate that in various other regions of the country I've lived in since, and the only way I've gotten close is to deliberately add champagne yeast.

Starting with a vinegar with live mother lets you better control which of the local yeasts you get.
posted by straw at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


With the "fresh cheese" - I think the problem isn't going to be how easy that is, it's how weird the ingredient is going to be. Show of hands -- who, right now, knows where in their neighborhood they can get their hands on rennet? Anyone?

Right.

However, it's very possible to make a ricotta-ish cheese using just milk and lemon juice -- and everyone knows where to find those. Or -- another cheese, by just draining yogurt, and adding nothing else. Which is even easier to find. Either would have been a lot more "beginner-friendly."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:42 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


For the rennet, there's a link on where to order under Resources.

My mom made kimchi when I was younger. It's not too complex, you just have to be patient with the length of the process.
posted by dragonplayer at 1:47 PM on May 25, 2011


How are these recipes / ideas any easier to tackle than any other found on the internet, except maybe a souffle? It's all gimmick.

Also, on a side note, some of these recipes suck. Not trying to piss in your lemonade, I'm just sayin'...
posted by Malice at 1:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which are the sucky ones, and how do you fix them?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nah, I know that it's easy enough to find where to order things online, but I suspect that having to take that step will also dissuade people. It's a lot easier to try out new things if the tools are easily obtainable; it'd be easier to chicken out and think "Oh, fuck it, I don't want to try making cheese after all" if you're waiting for delivery. Whereas, if all you need is milk and lemon juice, it's easier for you to indulge the whim while you're feeling brave.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damnit, I wanted to make the crème fraîche but you can only find ultra-pasteurized cream here.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2011


I hear you EmpressCallipygos. I'd be more inclined to try the ways you shared.

I swear I've seen rennet tablets by Junket stocked in the Jell-o section at a local grocery store. Or am I confusing it with pectin?
posted by dragonplayer at 2:25 PM on May 25, 2011


Just in case ya'll didn't click through, I'll point out this Bibliography from elsewhere on that D.I.Y. site.

I love the idea, want to try some of the recipes, but I'm with the Empress: these are not designed for novices, particularly when it comes to obtaining the ingredients. On the other hand, it is the New York Times, so presumably their local readers have broader access to specialized ingredients than some of us might...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:47 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wanted to make the crème fraîche too, but what am I going to do with all that extra buttermilk. I hate the stuff.
posted by Ardiril at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2011


what am I going to do with all that extra buttermilk.

Fried. Chicken.
posted by AceRock at 2:49 PM on May 25, 2011


Ardiril, you don't need buttermilk to make a perfectly acceptable substitute for real crème fraîche. Julia Child always said a mixture of half sour cream and half whole cream was just as good, if not quite as thick...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:53 PM on May 25, 2011


Thanks for this - some fun-looking projects in there!

Show of hands -- who, right now, knows where in their neighborhood they can get their hands on rennet? Anyone?

*raises hand*

Two deli-type places, and three supermarkets, all within fifteen minutes walk.

It's not some crazy rare ingredient - they sell it (and the vegetarian fake stuff) in the baking section of any mid-size supermarket. Well, the posher ones like Tesco and Sainsbury's anyway.
posted by jack_mo at 2:58 PM on May 25, 2011


I saved this article for a month--and just yesterday bottled up five jars of kimchi. My first batch! I get to taste them this weekend, and I learned I can't matchstick carrots in the slightest.
posted by Earthtopus at 3:07 PM on May 25, 2011


With the "fresh cheese" - I think the problem isn't going to be how easy that is, it's how weird the ingredient is going to be. Show of hands -- who, right now, knows where in their neighborhood they can get their hands on rennet? Anyone?

I know my local supermarket in NZ sells it.
posted by netd at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2011


Woolworths? They still have Woolworths in NZ? Or is that some other Woolworths?
posted by bz at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2011


This probably warrants reiterating: it seems there is links provided for online sources of the more "exotic" ingredients. Those links appear at the bottom of each recipe.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


They may carry rennet in New Zealand or Sainsbury's. I've never seen it at my supermarket here in Brooklyn, though (and if they did I'd be all OVER that).

And I know that there are online sources. My point is that even that fact may be enough to make some novices say, "screw this--if I have to special-order stuff, I'm not doing it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2011


My point is that even that fact may be enough to make some novices say, "screw this--if I have to special-order stuff, I'm not doing it."

A novice that determined not to leave the novitiate will just have to remain a novice, then. Not, in the end, such a big deal.
posted by kenko at 4:09 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've never seen it at my supermarket here in Brooklyn, though (and if they did I'd be all OVER that).

In every grocery store I've been to the rennet (in Junket tablet form) has been with the ice-cream accessories (e.g. the rock salt, jars of fudge sauce, etc). So you might try that section.
posted by jedicus at 4:15 PM on May 25, 2011


They specifically say in the cheese article to avoid the junket tablets.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:48 PM on May 25, 2011


Woolworths? They still have Woolworths in NZ? Or is that some other Woolworths?

Completely unrelated to the defunct UK chain. It is however changing all of the stores to a new name (Countdown) so it won't be long until we don't have any either.
posted by netd at 4:50 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


what am I going to do with all that extra buttermilk.

Soda bread! The white bread recipe looks nearly identical to my grandma's. Dead easy to make and goddamn it makes fantastic toast (best broiled with butter).
posted by smirkette at 5:37 PM on May 25, 2011


They specifically say in the cheese article to avoid the junket tablets.

Well never mind then.
posted by jedicus at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2011


Soda bread, eh? Hmm... Go good with the butter with the creme fraiche.
posted by Ardiril at 5:47 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A novice that determined not to leave the novitiate will just have to remain a novice, then. Not, in the end, such a big deal.

Perhaps -- but there's also the argument that this isn't people "determined not to leave the novitiate," but rather people "too intimidated to think they're ready to leave the novitiate.

The whole intended goal of the article was to convince people that "see this fancy-sounding stuff that you think you can only get in a supermarket? You can totally make it yourself and it's easy, here's how!" I just think that for a not-insignificant number of people, "using specially-ordered ingredients" is not in their definition of "easy". "Advanced beginner," maybe, but not "total basic introductory level". So someone reading that they have to special-order an ingredient for what's supposedly "easy" may be intimidated unnecessarily. Especially when there are alternative recipes that do not require special-ordered ingredients, that would let people get their feet wet. Then move on to "Okay -- see how easy that was? Now that you've done that, the next step is to do the same thing, only swap out this different ingredient for the lemon juice - and here's where you order it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on May 25, 2011


I'm with EmpressCallipygos. I read the very first sentence:

If you live in an apartment, or tend to let surplus vegetables die in the crisper drawer, you may think that the do-it-yourself food movement does not apply to you.

...and thought, "Cool, this article is totally aimed at me. Maybe I'll make something awesome!" It's not like I'm kitchen-phobic. I actually cook (things like lasagna) and bake (things like chocolate chip cookies) fairly often and figure my kitchen has a decent set of basic tools. I thought it would be fun to try something a little different.

Then I read the recipes. Yeah, probably not gonna happen. I'm not saying it's impossible, but the hurdles are already making me feel bored and frustrated just thinking about them. I don't own a deep-frying thermometer or a food processor. Once when I asked an employee at my local grocery store if they had rosemary they didn't know what rosemary was -- imagine if I asked where to find the special cheesemaking rennet or the unfiltered organic live vinegar (I actually laughed out loud when the first step of making the vinegar was...getting some homemade vinegar). Online ordering is not an easy solution because getting packages delivered to my apartment is a hassle of epic proportions. I don't have random pieces of cotton cloth lying around to strain cheese (my tea towels are all fuzzy and I *sleep* on my only pillowcases thank-you-very-much). Grinding up allspice berries and juniper berries with a mortar and pestle? They're joking at this point, right?

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these recipes; it's not their fault I don't own a deep-frying thermometer! I know perfectly well that I *could* overcome these obstacles...but then, as we know, I'm the kind of person who doesn't remember I've got bell peppers left till I find their moldy, shriveled carcasses in the back of the fridge. That makes me also the kind of person who's just not going to take the bus across the city to a fancy grocery store to get vanilla beans!

So, cool article, but I have to think it fails at its stated purpose: I live in an apartment and tend to let surplus vegetables die in the crisper drawer, and I continue to think that the do-it-yourself food movement does not apply to me.
posted by ootandaboot at 10:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have to think it fails at its stated purpose: I live in an apartment and tend to let surplus vegetables die in the crisper drawer, and I continue to think that the do-it-yourself food movement does not apply to me.

It only "applies to you" if you think it'd be enjoyable. The staff of the NYT is not going to come to your house and force you to make cheese at knifepoint. The point of the article is to give people who are willing to put forth a little effort an idea where to start. If that's not you, that's okay!
posted by dubold at 2:21 AM on May 26, 2011


The point of the article is to give people who are willing to put forth a little effort an idea where to start. If that's not you, that's okay!

But there are recipes where people could put forth even less effort, is what I'm saying.

Look. ootanaboot wants to learn. The NYT wants to teach her. But ootandaboot's learning curve is too steep for the recipes that the NYT posted. However, there are other recipes that do match that learning curve --
ones that do not involve special-ordering rennet, or even cheesecloth. I'm just questioning why those recipes weren't used for this instead.

It's like, the NYT has walked into a fourth-grade math class and not noticed it's trying to give the kids a fifth-grade math textbook. That's what I'm getting at.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:28 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having lived in a few different places (around the UK, at least) I've noticed that availability of ingredients varies widely. Whether you can easily buy rennet, belly pork, capers or fresh dill is a function of demographics. I've lived in rural areas where the local shops might have a choice of white or wholemeal bread, if you know which days the delivery comes. They might even stock a few dried herbs and spice (parsley, ground black pepper, chilli powder, maybe an 'italian herb blend'. I've also lived in major cities where you can find pretty much any food you can name, and a ton of stuff you've never heard of before.

I think the sense in which these are good projects for the first-timer is more one of simplicity of preparation than one of ubiquity of ingredients.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:34 AM on May 26, 2011


To be fair, they don't all require unusual ingredients or special equipment. The creme fraiche needs two common ingredients, a bowl and a... okay, I don't have a whisk, but a fork would do.

Same for the beer mustard: you need beer and mustard.

And the kimchi is totally do-able if you substitute a few things (I was thinking I'll use Worcestershire Sauce instead of fish sauce and normal chilli powder will be fine instead of Korean for the spicy paste bit).
posted by jack_mo at 7:52 AM on May 26, 2011


Show of hands -- who, right now, knows where in their neighborhood they can get their hands on rennet? Anyone?

*raises hand*

My local food co-op has it in a cooler along with their bee pollen and live vinegars and fresh, locally produced bulk tofu.

Recognizing that not everyone lives near (or shops in) a hippie food co-op, I'll also point out that my more mainstream local grocery store has it in the refrigerated case near the butter. I remember two grocery stores in Austin that kept it in a similar location, and two in Berkeley as well.

Rarefied food communities, yes, probably. Just wanted to weigh in, though.

The key is to be looking in a refrigerator case, not on a shelf, if you want to purchase rennet locally.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:03 PM on May 27, 2011


It's really easy to make butter. All you need is heavy cream and a strong arm.

I'd love to make other dairy products like yoghurt or cheese, but it's impossible to find cream that isn't ultra pasteurized.
posted by daHIFI at 4:27 PM on May 31, 2011


Mudpuppie and daHIFI point out an interesting stat of affairs.

mudpuppie is all "oh, it's totally easy to find rennet, who says they can't?" But the very next comment, dahifi said something that I could say, "it's totally easy to find milk that isn't ultra pasteurized, who says they can't find that?"

The point being: just because you can find it in your store doesn't mean everyone can. Some people can find rennet in their stores; try finding it in my local supermarket here in Brooklyn. But on the other hand, I got non-ultra-pasteurized milk out the wazoo and am surprised dahifi can't find it.

An attempt towards more egalitarian ingredients would have been a nice gesture, is all. A recipe that more people stood a better chance of finding ingredients in their local supermarkets, so it wouldn't sound so intimidating. Yeah, you can special-order stuff, but for the culinarily timid, that sounds scary ("If I have to special-order it, does that mean it's expensive? Or I'll be stuck with a case of the stuff if this doesn't work or I don't like trying this? Is it worth buying a pound if I only need a spoonful and decide I don't like doing this? ....Ah, fuck it.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 PM on May 31, 2011


« Older 50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President J...  |  Once upon a time, Indiana Jon... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments