My Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream declared "Perfect"...

no, not by a panel of judges…just my friend. a few friends, really. But one in particular who is a total foodie generally, ice cream aficianado specifically. Of course, she’s also a dedicated lover of all nuts, and the version I made for her barely had room for the ice cream, so that might have swayed her a little. (Some key aspects include actually browning butter and adding it -pour off the clarified part-, toasting the fresh pecans, chopped, in a sprinkling of brown sugar, butter and SALT… salt is key. Custard base, generous with yolk, use more cream than milk.)

But others seem to agree, and I have to say I do as well. Others may be as good, but I can’t think of any possible way it could be better.

I have also acheived this level of “untoppable” with two other dishes: Macaroni and cheese, and carnitas. My ribs have been called that once or twice, but I’m not satisfied with my own consistency there.

So now that I have boasted and bragged and strutted my cooking stuff, YOU go. Is there anything you make that you, along with at least two more people, agree is the best possible version of that dish, not to be improved upon? (I figure at least three is good enough… all good cooks can make versions of dishes that are exactly right for themselves and maybe their partner, but once you have at least 3 people saying it, you are on to something serious.)

My stepmother makes pretty outlandishly excellent mashed potatoes, and she starts by…brace yourself… ***actually cooking the potatoes in pure half n half. ***No water anywhere. Since a major key to having delicious mashed potatoes is getting as much water OUT so you can get dairy and butter IN, bypassing the water and cooking in the dairy turns out to be the ultimate answer to that issue.

And yet you post no recipes, saddening the world at this Yuletide season.

yeah, i’d like to see the perfect mac and cheese recipe myself.

I don’t follow or create rigid recipes, per se, so it’s hard. i cook by feel and taste. I gave you some of the secrets to the ice cream, and as for the mac & cheese-Use lots of cheese, and lots of kinds of cheese, Strong and mild and you have to make sure to use some good melting cheese like mozzarella and fontina. Good mac & cheese can be more expensive than a meat dinner. But the big breakthrough I made was this: there are two main styles of mac and cheese, baked vs. sauced. Each one has strengths and weaknesses. I decided to go for both in one dish in hopes of canceling out the weaknesses.

So I start by making a rich, sharply flavored cheese sauce from my multiple cheeses, which I use to thoroughly coat my pasta. Then I make the baked casserole the same way I would have without saucing the noodles first: I layer the noodles with layers of cheese, and where I used to mix milk and egg to pour over the noodles, i use egg and sauce and some milk.

The net effect is for every single bite of the pasta to be coated with delicious cheese sauce, and lovely pockets of melted cheese, all wrapped in a wonderful chewy crust from the bottom and the top of the casserole.

I brought a huge pan of this to a party that was already brimming with all kinds of down-home dishes including ribs cornbread different kinds of casseroles and salads… Mine was the only dish that was absolutely wiped out by people coming back for seconds and thirds, everyone raving and telling me it was the best they’ve ever had.

Worked as a pastry chef for a while. One of my signature dishes was the Passionate Lady Killer, a two mousse layer cake.

Bottom half had an outside ring of alternating chocolate and vanilla lady fingers at 45 degrees, inside a thin round of chocolate sponge, chocolate mousse, another round of chocolate sponge and then the exposed passionfruit mousse.

Earned a few marriage proposals with that . Also did a nice version with champagne mousse, but who wants to hang with a drunken lady killer? :wink:

that actually sounds pretty similar to how i make mine. ditto on not exactly following a recipe. i like the oven baked casserole style, with a nice cheesy crust. mmm. i never used mozzarella though.

Tell me about the egg use? Yolks, whole, precooked somehow? Raw? Mixed?

I make a mean Mac-n-cheese (hint, use cheese ends from the deli, it’s a great way to get a variety of cheeses at a discount), but it can always use a boost to another level. Our house recipe is requested often, and there are never leftovers when it’s brought somewhere.

Excellent tip, I’ll have to give that a try. Making cheese sauce is also a great way to squeeze everything you can out of something like Parmesan with the rind, when it becomes really difficult to grate. (Parm is pretty important for the MC… I like to make sure I have mozz, parm, jack, extra sharp and medium cheddars, at least. Then I experiment. If I try a cheese that is too intense for eating, it goes in the sauce. I tried something called Bergamot just recently I think, very tasty, but also very intense. Great in the sauce)

As for the eggs: the way I learned to make M&C was baked: layer (slightly undercooked, otherwise they overcook in the oven) noodles (tossed with salt, pepper, and perhaps a little butter) and cheese, then mix eggs and milk at custard-y ratios (about 1 large egg to a cup of milk), again with salt and pepper added, and pour over the whole thing. That has the effect of binding, as well as making sure it stays moist. And I like the effect for both texture and flavor. So when I had my saucey breakthrough, I just mixed the egg and milk with some sauce.

If you’ve never done that, give it a try. Assuming you like eggs and milk and custards and quiche… which I do.

And I have had another Excellent cooking experience that I can take very little <a class=“ktg6us78hf8vdu7” href=“javascript:void(0)”>credit</a> for, because I followed a recipe precisely. I wanted to see if I could replicate Hong Kong style egg tarts, the kind you get in dim sum <a class=“ktg6us78hf8vdu7” href=“javascript:void(0)”>restaurants</a>. I have made a lot of pie crust, puff pastry, and danish pastry in my life, and none of it has ever been as tender and flaky as the pastry in a good “dan tat” - that stuff is just beyond.

I love it with the custard filling, but I also thought that it could easily be used with any number of other fillings, of course. So I followed this recipe (URL button not working, too lazy to hand code:<a class=“ktg6us78hf8vdu7” href=“javascript:void(0)”><a class=“ktg6us78hf8vdu7” href=“javascript:void(0)”>tart</a></a>-dan-tat.html), after doing a lot of research. To the letter. For just the pastry, not the filling. My first try and it is amazing. The next time I make it I will reverse the butter/lard proportions and use a smidge of salt, but that’s just my preference.

I’m going to post a thread about it because I have some baking chemistry questions about it…