The 'It's The First Time I Made This' cookery thread

A couple of weeks ago I made something I don’t know what it is, but kind of a chicken dumpling casserole. Obviously that was the first time, since I made it up as I went along. Last week I made stuffed bell peppers for the first time. I mean, how hard could it be? Harder than getting them already made, or having someone’s mother make them; but really not hard at all.

And that, the stuffed bell peppers, is the gist of this thread. What have you made that you’ve never made before? Maybe you’ve eaten it a hundred times before. You just never made it. Until now.

Everyone likes fish cakes, right? How many times have I had them? ‘How hard can it be?’ Pretty easy. Why haven’t I made it before? Tonka the Cat (and later, Creamsicle) was very pleased with the dish of fish juice I drained from a 14(?) oz. can of wild-caught salmon. I mashed the salmon up in a medium-sized Pyrex bowl and added finely-minced yellow onion, bread crumbs, dried parsley, minced garlic, an egg, mayonnaise, and some Old Bay seasoning. I mixed it all up and formed it into eight patties, and put them in the fridge while I made the lemon-dill Béchamel sauce the SO likes to much. The sauce finished, I cooked the patties four at a time in a cast-iron frying pan with corn oil in it. Buttered Brussels sprouts were the veg. We each had two fish cakes. I’d have more, but I filled up on the sprouts. The SO said the fish cakes are delicious. (‘Don’t put them away! I might have some more!’)

So, campers… I mean ‘cookers’… what have you made for the first time, and how did it turn out?

I tried cheese souffle a few weeks ago for the first time. It went fantastically. I am an awesome souffle maker apparently.

It helps that I was using an ATK recipe with a good base and I’m a very experienced cook.

I’ve made it a second time since and also had it turn out great. I think it’s going into the regular rotation. With meat prices going up a little bit of egg and cheese and milk is a much cheaper dinner alternative. Who knew we would ever live in a world where souffle was cheaper and easier than hamburgers?

I don’t think I’ve ever even had a soufflé!

I got a slow cooker as a Christmas present and have been making a number of things for the first time. My first attempt was a vegetable curry. It was a little bland, and I learned to be more aware of how many servings the recipe indicates, because I made a LOT of goddamn food. My second attempt was chana masala, and other than it being somewhat watery, I was pleased. I would have felt reasonably confident feeding it to other people. My third dish was a red lentil dal. It was a bit of a risky pick given that I didn’t know if I had ever had lentils before, but I felt that it turned out well. I am improving, however slowly!

About 6 - 8 years ago, I decided that I wanted to make fettuccine Alfredo in the comfort of my own home. I tried a recipe that was the same as this one, for all intents and purposes. And I was surprised at how easy a dish and tasty a dish it was.

Also, about two years ago, I stumbled upon this recipe, and I can say without hesitation, that it is the best damned appetizer/dip recipe that I’ve ever made, or will ever make (very likely).

EVERYBODY likes fish cakes?

Well, maybe, I guess. But speaking for myself, I haven’t YET found a frosting to put on one that doesn’t make me gag.

When I lived in Southern California there was a restaurant chain that served pies. The pie that I was addicted to was called French Silk. It was so decedent and rich. I assumed that it was very difficult and time consuming to make. Cut to last Christmas season when I was looking for a pie recipe that was different from the same old stuff and decided to see if Food Network had this one. They did and it was so easy, used very few ingredients and it tasted better than I remembered. (I go with a chocolate cookie crumb crust.)

I’ll let you know in an hour or so, after my first attempt at sausage and spinach stuffed shells is cleaned up.
Last weekend, TheKid went a little nuts and made a couple of coffee cakes for a meeting I had at work. Now, this child is a trained pastry chef. She can make fancy schmancy French petit fours, make pulled sugar flowers-but never made old fashioned coffee cakes. They were fabulous.

Chicken croquettes! I had them years ago at Willie’s Diner (I think) in Bloomfield NJ. You don’t see them on menus any where. I made some, based on Joy of Cooking. Fudged the details and some of the ingredients, but I enjoyed them. Kinda labor-intensive.

Here’s something I haven’t tried yet. Any advice would be appreciated.

Sausage rolls.

I have some bangers in the freezer, and a box of pastry dough. I thought I’d ‘skin my sausage’, if you know what I mean, and roll the meat into a log that is the length of the dough, then roll it up, slice it up into 2" to 3" chunks, and bake it until the dough is pretty. (Note: The sausages are uncooked.)

Good plan? Bad plan?

I made egg drop soup for the first time 2 weeks ago. Or rather, I made it correctly for the first time.

What the hell is egg drop soup other than soup with some egg drizzled into it? BZZZZZT!!!

Who knew? I followed the recipe in the NYT magazine to a T, and then added just a few things: A little bit of Sesame Seed Oil, some Low Sodium Soy Sauce and some Udon noodles. Holy shit was it good. And it was hearty enough to have for dinner (thanks to the Udon). It’s all (well, mostly) in the corn starch-- mouth feel, baby, mouth feel. You have to thicken the soup to give it that mouth feel.

I made a big bowl:

2 cups chicken stock plus 1/2 cup water brought to a boil. Lower to simmer and add:

1 diced garlic clove
5 peper corns
1 length of ginger, diced (length of ~ 1 1/2 - 2")
5 sprigs of cilantro

Simmer for 20 minutes. (This adds important, subtle flavors)

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of corns starch dissolved in white wine (and some soy sauce and sesame seed oil).

Add Udon (cooked separately)

Stir, and slowly add 1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon corn starch. Let set of 10 minutes, and pour in to a large bowl with 2 chopped scallions (chopped very thinly)

Absolutely delicious. It seems like a lot of work for “just” egg drop soup, but it’s just the 20 minutes of simmering that takes time. The rest is pretty quick.

I may even try Hot and Sour soup one of these days, but that requires a LOT of special ingredients.

Verdict? Pretty darned good. I actually aced the bechamel! Only drawback was the sausage. Bought it at Whole Foods, had a slightly fishy taste. And, I could’ve tossed in more spinach - there’s no such thing as too much spinach.

Not my story, but worth sharing:
I was subbing in a math class on March 12, the day before Pi Day (observed), and the teacher was giving extra credit for any students who brought in pie (more points for homemade). A couple of students, despite never having made a pie before, were bound and determined that they were going to make lemon meringue. I tried to warn them that meringue is extremely touchy, and that lemon meringue was therefore about the hardest possible pie they could start with, but in the end, I just decided that, one way or another, they were going to get a learning experience out of it.

I’m still not sure how it turned out.

Depends on what kind of bangers. If they’re just plain ones, I’d personally tart them up a bit. Skin them and add in a bit of diced onion, maybe a bit of garlic, some lemon zest, salt and pepper, parsley, that kind of stuff. Oh, and an Egg.

Puff pastry is best.

Popovers with sourdough starter runoff. Not the first time I’d made popovers, but the first time I’d used Ringo’s runoff to do so.

My high school students love pie day because they get an excuse for a party. My boy brought Nutella cream pie two years in a row because he liked the attention and accolades. He makes it himself. He’s very ambitious and fearless in the kitchen.

I’ve only very recently become successful at making bread, after over a decade of making doorstops and paperweights out of flour, water, and yeast.

Armed with my new knowledge I set out to make a dark rye bread with caraway on Saturday and…it worked!

Now I’m kicking myself for cutting the recipe in half, because that first loaf is already gone.

Years ago, our department had their annual meeting, and one of the managers decided we should have a chocolate-chip cookie contest. I of course mailed back “Do they have to be chocolate chip? Do they even have to be cookies?” I ended up making oatmeal cookies, more or less according to what I found in a book of Doukhobor and Quaker recipes. I didn’t have shortening so I used butter (softer texture, but I knew that), and figured that brown sugar has more flavor. Then I had no walnuts or raisins, so I used slivered almonds with some crystallized ginger and enough candied peel to make up the amount. Damn, they were good! I still make them, and sometimes get asked for the recipe. (Last time I also made half a batch, and they’re gone. Oh, well.)

More recently (just last week) Zyada and I made some slow-cooker pulled pork that turned out pretty well. The rub recipe was too sweet, but ended up mostly in the drippings, and the meat was great.

I made a braided loaf of bread - one part honey wheat, one part white, one part dark rye - from scratch. It was glazed and looked very professional, tasted great. Made the no-knead crusty bread, also came out great. Yesterday we attempted General Tsos chicken, very labor intensive and a little soggy. It was good and fun to make, but there’s a reason for all those Chinese restaurants out there.

Wow, I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials out there but do you have a favorite? Or any guidance?

I’ve learned that cornstarch is the key to a lot of Chinese cooking. You need enough to get things crispy, but not so much that they get gluey. It’s a tightrope.