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What's your cooking "speciality"—and how did you find it?

What dish are you known for (your most requested!) and/or what's your go-to when you want to make something impressive and distinctly *you*? (Still trying to find my "thing.")

Sarah is Food52's senior staff writer & stylist.

asked 9 months ago

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27 answers 2022 views
pierino
pierino

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added 9 months ago

Pasta. I spent a lot of time in Italy, much of it doing food research--when I wasn't going to football games--and developed a feel for the different types of pasta including the regional variations and why they were created.
I especially like the Roman style and I can whip up a pleasing Bucatini al'amatriciana on short notice. But I like to free style it as well; which Italian cooks do based on what's on hand.

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PHIL
PHIL

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added 9 months ago

That is what's great about pasta. Open the fridge and you can always find something to put on it.

BerryBaby
BerryBaby

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added 9 months ago

Pierino, your dishes always look so amazing and delicious! Love when you post photos. 🙂

BerryBaby
BerryBaby

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added 9 months ago

Sunday Pot Roast Supper! There was a restaurant that my husband would go to that served fabulous pot roast. He described it to me and it took a number of tries but was able to create a delicious recipe. It wasn’t exactly like the one he had...but said it ‘even better’! It’s the most requested dinner by family and friends.

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PHIL
PHIL

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added 9 months ago

looks delicious!

BerryBaby
BerryBaby

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added 9 months ago

Thanks, Phil! It is tender and so flavorful. The most requested dish by guests and family.

Mimi
added 9 months ago

Coconut mochi cake! It;s my go-to for whenever i have to bring dessert anywhere and its always loved and enjoyed. I also love it because its super easy to make

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Nan
Nan
added 9 months ago

Mimi, do you have a recipe you would like to share :)

Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich

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added 9 months ago

Homemade bread. It's become my go-to because my family and friends consistently request that I make it for our dinners together.

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My Friend Maillard
added 9 months ago

This answer only kind of fits into the structure of the question, but my specialty is sauce making which I found as a teenage vegetarian who loved creamy pasta. I love making all kinds of sauce now. If someone in my family is requesting something they regard as a "Joanna specialty" it is usually something with a roux (Thanksgiving gravy), or, on the other side of the sauce spectrum, pesto.

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My Friend Maillard
added 9 months ago

Also, for anyone who just loves giant, nerdy cookbooks I highly recommend *Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making* by James Peterson, preferably the third edition which includes none European techniques.

pierino
pierino

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added 9 months ago

Another nod to the James Patterson "Sauces". It is the very best contemporary book on the subject.

Nancy
Nancy

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added 9 months ago

I think there may be many specialties, or that one's focus can change over the course of one's life, as interests, people, family etc change around you.
The food writer Jennifer Harvey Lang said something like this when editing an English version of Larousse Gastronomique shortly after she became a mother, and how she suddenly found the hitherto boring foods suitable for babies and toddlers fascinating. Her new specialty was born.
My specialties are spice blends, condiments like chutney, and bread.
The first two because I love strong seasonings, learned them first for myself and then for others as gifts.
The last because I once lived in a town without a bakery and had to learn to make bread if I wanted to eat good bread. Again, many of my friends never learned, so my breads, both plain and fancy, became something they couldn't get elsewhere and didn't make at home, and so requested.

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Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich

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added 9 months ago

Nancy - I'd like to branch out a bit with my bread recipes. Do you have a favorite bread cookbook or other resource? Thanks!

Nancy
Nancy

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added 9 months ago

Trena -
There are tons of good bread books out there. And many from which I've made one or two loaves.
But the three I personally have found most reliable, interesting and/or rewarding to bake from are:
1) James Beard, Beard on Bread. Fantastic recipes which reflect both his life and many American foodways. Like snapshots, and great tasting!
2) Bernard Clayton, Complete Book of Breads (any edition, original or revised, usually title New Complete Book of Breads). More exhaustive and descriptive than Beard. Together, these two books give you almost any notable bread served in an American region, home or restaurant.
3) Elizabeth David, English Bread and Yeast Cookery. For me, more a book to read than to bake from (although reliable for that, too). A great history by a great writer.
Enjoy your exploring,
Nancy

Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich

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added 9 months ago

Thank you, Nancy! I really appreciate you taking the time to compile this list of books for me.

barbara n
added 9 months ago

Trena,the book that started me on the road to bread baking is the King Arthur anniversary edition. I also agree with the Bernard Clayton. Another favorite is The Italian Baker by Carole Fields.
Enjoy!

louisez
added 9 months ago

Jam is my jam, except for when it's bread, pickles or cake.

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creamtea
creamtea

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added 9 months ago

I can't settle on a specific specialty. I have worked to perfect roast chicken, steaks, ethnic foods, cakes, brownies, pancakes, waffles, bean dishes, salads. I don't like and am not great at soups (except chicken soup).

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MMH
MMH
added 9 months ago

Mine is roast chicken. I craved it at one point in my life. I cooked my way through all of the master chef's recipes to find what I liked best. I agree with Ina. I think it is simple and elegant and easy & my Jeffrey loves it. I've taught my daughter that it's essential. My favorite method is spatchcock. You can have a whole chicken & roasted vegetable on the table in 45 min and it's a fabulous meal. When I have more time, and like herb pastes under the skin.

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Stephanie B.
added 9 months ago

I enjoy making a lot of different foods, so I don't personally think I have a specialty. But lately when doing pot luck style parties, people ask me to bake bread. Another friend usually asks me to make macaron too - she does very politely without any entitlement because she understand they're finicky and time consuming. So...bread and macarons is kind of what I've fallen into?

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PHIL
PHIL

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added 9 months ago

Most requested dish is a charcuterie , either as the meal or before it. Since that is technically not cooking, I would have to go with pasta, usually for a Sunday dinner

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Cynthia Dooley
added 9 months ago

Wow, what a spectacular charcuterie platter! Anything that mouthwatering, thoughtful and sophisticated qualifies as cooking in my book. If you were a friend of mine, I'd be requesting one too.

ChefJune
ChefJune

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added 9 months ago

Sarah: I've been teaching cooking for more than 40 years, and what I thought was my specialty when I started turned out not to be "it" at all. I found my specialties found me - not the other way around!
There's way more than one dish and I'm guessing yours will be too.. more likely a category. Mine are Fish and French cooking.

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foofaraw
added 9 months ago

I want to say edible food but that's probably too generic, so I'll say I try to hone my ability to make meals with the smallest ratio of effort and time vs nutrition and filling level.
I make lots of big-size one pot meals that at least ok enough that I don't get bored eating them 2x/day for a few days. I also try to maximize my time in the kitchen to get enough done: while heating up oil, cut onion; while waiting for veggie to finish steam, prep fish to bake; while waiting the dinner simmering, prep tomorrows breakfast (bread/oatmeal)/cleaning/put stuff into dishwasher, etc.

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barbara n
added 9 months ago

Sourdough baking. I love the smell and how it responds to how you treat and use it. I used to bake for a farmers market and along with the white and whole wheat bread I also sold hubby's favorite, sourdough carrot cake.
People would get a funny look on their face, try the sample and hand over the $5. And be back every week for it.

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