5 Dishes That are Surprisingly Easy to Make at Home

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Flickr user palindrome6996
Everything you need to be sucessful

Yes, I know I went on a big stink about what kind of food people shouldn't make at home. That's not because I hate cooking; that was because some dishes are just bad ideas, whether due to difficulty of technique, time commitment or cost. Plenty of things are really easy to make at home, some of which end up tastier and more economical than at restaurants.

So, fire up your range, 'cause it's a lot easier to do than dealing with an annoying hipster waiter.

5. Burgers

Gustavo Arellano
Bread, meat and cheese. Could there be anything better?

I have never, ever been truly impressed with a burger that I've eaten at a restaurant. It didn't matter how many culinary buzz words there were, how much beer the cow drank or how much cheese was injected into the meat; they're almost always built badly (buns breaking apart from the moisture of the food), uncreative (how many more time do I have to read the words "teriyaki" and "pineapple" next to each other) and, worst of all, much more expensive than they need to be.

They even commit the cardinal sin of food: they tend to become really hard to eat. If I wanted my hands covered in food juice and bits of bread, I could have just fed my baby cousin.

Good thing that, despite how hard fries are to make well, burgers are easy. All you need is good meat (be friendly with your butcher), good bread (potato rolls are perfect) and good taste (I can't help you with this one). Make sure you protect the carbs with a layer of hydrophobic fat like mayonnaise and you're already bounds ahead of most restaurants.

4. Pizza
Flickr user Rainydayknitter
Can you tell which are store bought and which are homemade? I can't.

Three important ingredients make pizza. Literally, only three ingredients. If you can get the crust, sauce and cheese down, there's no reason you should be scared.

The crust is as simple as breads can get: combine water, yeast, salt and oil. Wait a little bit. Punch at it until you're done. You don't even lose much if you're lazy and use store-bought raw dough. The real key to getting the perfect crispy crust is heat transfer. If you don't have a bougie pizza stone, a cast iron pan will work just as well.

Cheese is cheese. You get that shit from the store.

The sauce ends up being the hardest part and all it really is is tomato, onion, garlic and some spices stewed together for a bit.

3. Steak
Thumbnail image for ribeyesteak.jpg
Flickr user jasonlam
There is no caption that will add to this picture

This should not have to be a section. Steaks are really easy. You take a cut of meat, add salt and pepper and then put it under some super-high heat. Period.

You want to be fancy? Make some herb butter on it. Melt some butter, chop some garlic and basil, combine, stick it in the fridge.

2. Crepes
Thumbnail image for homecrepes2.jpg
Flickr user Dan Zen

I hate pancakes. They're dry, they're boring tasting and they're super-filing, taking up space where things that actually taste good can go.

Luckily crepes--its skinnier, more attractive European cousin--are just as easy to make. Don't be intimidated by the fancy crepe pans and spatulas you see at malls; they are mostly for show. All you need to do is mix some flour, water, milk, eggs and butter in a bowl and then pour a little bit of it in a non-stick pan. In a fraction of the amount of time that it would have taken to make a fat American stack of pancakes, you can have a dozen crepes ready to pair with your favorite sweet things.

1. Ice Cream
Flicker user joyosity
Can't find Nutella Ice Cream? Make it.

Okay, Ice cream might seem a little scary but don't worry: it's science. If you can do science, you can do ice cream.

You want to get a liquid (the ice cream mix) to a solid without forming any ice crystals. You can do this one of two ways. The boring, normal way: buying a machine that's going to clutter up your counter space and take more time than just going out to the store and buying a quart. Or, the exciting way.

Hands down my favorite way to make ice cream, and probably the quickest and simplest, is to get a block of dry ice from the grocery store, smash it into dust with something blunt (please don't use your hand) and rapidly stirring the dust into the ice cream mix. It'll bubble for a few moments but you'll end up with whatever flavor ice cream you want, carbonated and in less time than it takes to dig up the permafrost that is the last layer of ice cream in the carton.

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Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

While a great steak is bought, not grilled, if you put the pepper on before you grill it, you're going to have a steak that tastes of burnt pepper...

Regular crêpes are easy to make at home with a non-scratched, non-stick pan (you'll have to throw away the first one, tout le monde le fait) but great crêpes are not really attainable at home.


Honestly, I'm going to have to disagree with this a bit.   I agree that making homemade ice cream is incredibly easy and much better than you can get anywhere else.  However, with things like steak and burgers, I actually find most restaurants make it better.  Restaurants have better access to good quality beef.  usually the steak you get at a steak house is a well-marbled steak that restaurants get first access to before anyone else.  Most places also dry age their steak, something I'm unwilling to do at home.  The same goes for the quality of burger meat.  Pizzas can be great at home but the hardest part is the crust.  The dough has to be springy and crispy, it's hard to get the right amount of fermentation in.  Also, a lot of places have great things like a wood-fire oven that cooks pizza in a wonderful uneven manner giving each bite a different texture. 

Crepes, yea i agree with you, most places use a substandard crepe batter that can be easily replicated at home. Honestly, most crepe places nowadays use crepes only as a vehicle to hold as much strawberry, nutella and whipped cream as possible.


   Restaurants have better access to good quality beef 

Yes and no.... You'd be surprised how many restaurants up and down the spectrum all buy their goods at Restaurant Depot... Slap some mahogany on the wall and you can charge 10 bucks more for a steak.  

You can find great beef at Whole foods or Bristol Farms. You're also gonna pay for it, though its still cheaper than a steak house. My suggestion is to go find you a Stater Bros and look at the Harris Ranch Beef dont be afraid to ask the guy bend the counter to show you more.  But chances are you'll find a really nice piece of meat right here in the case.  I think a Harris Ranch Strip will cost you about 12 bucks a pound (That will still run you 40 bucks at lets say flemings).  Dry aging is neat but not always needed (I think its a bit gimmicky if you ask me)  

Important step!  Bring your steak to room temp and salt it 10 min before you put it on the grill.  

Get your grill screaming hot, cook 4 min each side should be med rare.  Let it rest 5 min and enjoy.  Here is a link to teach you how to do the feel test on steak. 


Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Or go to one of the people who actually give a damn about the beef they sell. Frank from 5 Bar Beef at the Laguna Hills (Fri AM) and Irvine/UCI (Sat AM) farmers markets raises beef on Irvine Company land in Silverado Canyon, and Dave from Da-Le Ranch in Lake Elsinore sells at the Mission Viejo (Fri AM), SoCo (Sat AM) and Lido Isle (Sun AM) farmers markets. Both are grass-fed (not just grass-finished) beef and the quality difference is stunning. Both are cheaper than Whole Paycheck.


also the meat house in Brea..  I'm offering simple options Dave.  

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