[CLOSED] Win Two Tickets to The Taste

One lucky, food-loving KCET Food reader will receive a pair of tickets to The Taste's "Secrets from the Kitchen & Cellar," held September 3rd in Beverly Hills.

The Taste is a four-day festival of food and wine presented by the Los Angeles Times and Food & Wine magazine. Events held around town will include panel discussions, food truck lots, cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. [The contest is now closed.]

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Secrets from the Kitchen & Cellar, held in the old Robinson's-May parking lot on Wilshire Boulevard, will include demonstrations and tastings by Scott Conant, Michael Voltaggio, Celestino Drago, Claire Robinson and Aarti Sequeira; a live interview of Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre by Russ Parsons; two different wine seminars; and over 60 food and drink stalls offering unlimited samples. You won't go home hungry!

We're giving away a pair of tickets - a $300 value - to one gourmet reader. Leave a comment here (deadline: Sunday, August 28th, 2011) telling us about the one simple dish you never learned to master, from bread to tomato sauce to roasted chicken. We'll choose one of you to attend the festival and drown your culinary sorrows in world-class food and drink. Tell us your tales of kitchen woe below!

About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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For the life of me, I can't seem to make scrambled eggs taste at all edible. They always taste slightly off, and are either over-cooked or too runny. I know my way around the kitchen, so it drives me crazy that I can't seem to master such a simple dish.

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My tomato sauce is terrible. It's just so blah. What's worse is I will eat all of it to teach myself a lesson so every time I make pasta, I end up giving myself a stomach ache.

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The one thing I still have not mastered is macaroni and cheese. I never have the proper consistency that my grandmother had with even spread of cheese inside and a nice, crispy crust. It boggles me how I can now make a soufflé more consistent then my grandmother's mac and cheese... but I guess that what makes the mastery part of cooking so intriguing.

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I'm afraid of using my broiler. I always always feel like I'm doing it wrong making my broiled fish tentative at best, inedible at worst. Why is it so scary?!

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Kale! For some reason when I boil or steam it, it always comes out bitter and awful. But when I go to good restaurants it tastes good. I'm guessing they add something to make it taste good or something.

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Ugh - Frittata! I'm working on mastering the perfect Fritatta but for some reason it keeps coming out too dry, too soggy, to bland, to rubbery. I'm not giving up but must go back to the drawing board. Help!

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I'm still struggling with cooking rice. When I first began cooking six years ago and tried to make a simple rice dish, I burned the rice in a matter of minutes. I was so disappointed that I wouldn't attempt to make rice again until two years ago. After my second attempt, the rice came out soggy and tasted bland. I've since resorted to popping 90-second rice bags in the microwave but I still desperately yearn to learn to make the perfect rice dish.

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Please .... Help .... Pie crust!

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I still cannot boil an egg without calling my mother-in-law.

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I've been cooking since I was 13 years old. I know anything from Mexican food to Italian food to even American classic. When I cook , I do it with love and passion , the ONE thing I have not been able to MASTER is CHOCOLATE SUFLET , I've always wanted to try it and see how amazing it tastes. I enjoy making desserts , I would enjoy it even more if I got a Professional chef's tips & advice . My dream is to meet them , and ask them some questions that I have about the delicious way they cook . Since I've been cooking as a young a teen , it would be a reward , honor and dream come true to meet these great chef's !
Thank you for taking your time In reading this:)
I hope my dream comes true . .
- Paz Trujillo

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I like to think myself quite the (amateur) culinary master when it comes to all things dessert. From puddings to pastries, my creations are something magnificent. That said, I cannot - for the life of me - manage even the simplest entrées! Pasta dishes come out soggy, meats dry. One of these days, man. One of these days....

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Pancakes. Too fluffy. Too burnt. Too batter-y. How is it that something so simple can go so badly?

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The dish I never mastered is a simple omelet. I can never get the heat right and the butter never melts correctly. Either the pan is too hot and it burns the butter or it's not hot enough and the butter doesn't completely melt.

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Sadly, I cannot sear a scallop. I like them seared in butter (but I mix with oil to reduce the scortch factor). I think I fear the burn, and can't find the correct fire under the pan. Either I'm burning butter or I guess I have sort of a braise going on, not good.

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I've made so many different dishes, from Thai to Indian, Italian to good old American cuisine. I do very well for someone that is completely self taught, yet the only dish I can't seem to do very well is homemade pasta. The dough is either too rubbery, stiff, doesn't cook well...just a whole multitude of problems! HELP!

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I have been cooking since I was a child. Growing up in an Italian-American household, I have learned many dishes simply by being in the kitchen with my mother. I have no problem with tomato sauce, steak, meatballs, roast chicken, frittata, shrimp. The one dish of my mother's that I can not duplicate is her fried chicken. No matter how many times I have tried, I cannot achieve her crunchy, twice-fried deliciousness!

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Scrambled eggs is something seemingly simple, that I can't seem to master and do consistently. There's so many different techniques out there it's hard to know where to begin. Do we try Gordon Ramsey's method or Martha Stewart? Please help!

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Most difficult dish to create in my opinion is the souflée. I've tried over and over. Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving. Christmas after Christmas and can never seem to get it right. I would love to treat my family to a delish souflée this holiday season...crossing my fingers ;)

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Risotto.

I give up.

EVERYTIME I end up with a gross mess of sticky, clumpy rice that looks like oatmeal.

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I think I'm a pretty decent cook, but for some reason Indian food intimidates me. Not just some Indian food, but all of it. Whenever my husband asks for it (he's Indian), I just start to make excuses about making it. In the end, we always have Indian take out. Maybe next time I'll try it, but I can already see myself making an excuse to get out of it. lol.

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Pancakes may be my favorite food. Yet I can never get them correct. First I burn them, then they're too mushy. I've never been able to master the perfect circle. So, I always end up going out for them, when I would love to make them every Saturday morning.

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I still have not been able to make a simple omelette- as simple as it is supposed to be, I have not been able to make one like that I have been 100% happy with!

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For me I'd have to say the humble roast chicken is my downfall. There's what, 3 or 4 ingredients: chicken, salt, pepper, maybe some butter under the skin. Put it in the oven...and out comes a mess. I've tried brining, high heat, low heat, high heat then low heat, cooking breast-side down and then flipping it over, you name it. The end result is dry breasts, undercooked thighs, and half the time the skin is burnt (the other half of the time it's flabby). It's such an injustice to the bird that I've simply given up. >

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One simple dish I never learned to master is thick french toast. I love thick brick type bread slices for my french toast. When I order it out, it is the perfect bite! But when I attempt the seemingly easy task at home, my bread doesn't turn out moist in the inside due to the thickness and my crust not crispy on the outside. Definitely need practice and trial and error! It would be awesome to get to hear some basic cooking tips first hand from chefs at The TASTE!

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Pesto!! You evil temptress. There are few things better than a simple fresh pesto to add the finishing touch to pasta, pizza, or just about anything. In my house however, it is never simple, and definitely not delicious. It's clumpy, oily, and overall unappetizing. I'm not giving up though, I will conquer my pesto problems!

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I would love to be able to bake amazing bread. Fluffy, crunchy on the outside, sweet lovely bread. My bread...rock hard lumps of awful. I would love to learn from the masters to conquer my bread hurdle!

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Mashed potatoes. Some how my mother makes the best mashed potatoes and I make the most inedible mashed potatoes. My mother tried for 23 years to teach me how but even with my 8 years in the restaurant industry I could never seem to master them. Last year when I found out I was allergic to potatoes, I saw it as my chance to gracefully bow out.

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So I'm a pastry cook...but I can't make fudge! No matter how many times I try it always comes out hard and crumbly! I've tried all different recipes and methods with no success whatsoever. It's really sad that every grandma in America can make great fudge and a trained pastry cook with years of experience in high end establishments can't to save her life!

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My culinary paradox? I can cook a mean crab curry, BUT I can't poach an egg!?!

I've tried and fail too many times to count. It seems sooo wrong...

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Is it possible that after years of making pancakes for the family as a kid, I cannot seem to master them as an adult? They never come out even... is it that pan or is it just ME!?? ;)

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for the life of me, I still can't make myself an omelette...but hoping to master it soon. In-home brunch should be something more regular...

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Cookies! They just never come out right. I can't bake to save my life.

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Real Crepes, they are not fluffy nor correctly cooked ! I cannot master them. Maybe with your help, it would be possible !

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Poached eggs! How do you get them just right? They either come out hard boiled, or the yolk breaks while you're taking them out, or the whites separate into the simmering water. To quote Gilda Radner, "If it's not one thing, it's another!" And I LOVE Eggs Benedict! I've taken to making it with FRIED EGGS! Oy vey!

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Don't know if I can submit two comments but, baking really eludes me, too. Anything that has flour in it that goes into the oven and is supposed to come out fluffy and sweet and dessert-like, comes out gooey, or dry, or just not done, or it falls, or fails to rise. I have NEVER successfully baked a cake! I had a frozen cherry pie EXPLODE on me once! Ditto with the inability to cook a decent loaf of bread. And my biscuits? Don't even go there!

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Omelette. Never learned to make one properly. It sounds like a simple thing that anyone can prepare but there is an art to it. I've seen the cooking shows that make it look so easy and I try to copy the chefs on these shows. But still can seem to get it right.

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I cant for the life of me roast a chicken....It always cones out burnt and raw at the same time

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Me + salads w/ mayo = disaster. We just can't seem to get it right together. Whether it's macaroni, tuna or potato salad, we just aren't friends in the kitchen. Souffle? No problem. Tiramisu?? No problem. Potluck invite to a 4th of July bbq??? Problem! The worst part, is, I really enjoy these salads. >S.O.S.

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Vinaigrette. A simple vinaigrette to top my salads or even a nice protein, for me is either always overly oily or too sour from the vinegar. Haven't given up but I'd love a good fool proof recipe for a tasty vinaigrette. :)

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Ahhh, the bungles of Belgium Waffles... We have a nice waffle maker, but that does not seem to help my abilities... They spill over, get too hard, are too soft or burn. Can I blame the waffle mix? Probably not, but I'm still going to...

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Pot Roast is my ultimate downfall. Don't know why I can follow the recipes to a "T" and it still does not turn out right. I think it is my stove that is the problem, not me..... That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it, the same way my pot roast sticks to the pan...