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Ideas for new cooking challenges

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The last (and first time) I created a challenge I just wrote something up what I thought to be a good first start. Soon after I posted the challenge, @manassehkatz posted valid comments about unclear conditions regarding the challenge.

So before posting a new one, I thought it may be worthwhile to collect some ideas here on our meta site and see what's received as a good idea and what not. Additionally, we can discuss specifics of a challenge right here - that way, rules follow a consensus so we can concentrate on cooking and baking :)

Please upvote challenge ideas based on what you would like to see and where you are likely to participate. In the original post are some inspirations how a challenge could look like.

Why should this post be closed?

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3 answers

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Contest category suggestion: cook something from or inspired by a specified culture.

Potential issues:

  • not everyone will have the ingredients on hand
  • may be difficult to define the boundaries of a particular culture's cuisine.

E.g. Challenge: Greece. Post a dish hailing from or inspired by Greek cuisine.

Responses might include tzatziki, moussaka, or a twist on spanakopita.

Most people are likely somewhat familiar with Greek cuisine, but this could be a way to challenge ourselves to learn more about the food of countries we are aren't terribly knowledgeable about! The challenge poster should likely provide links to several resources for recipes as well.

3 comments

I like the idea, can you please add an example in this answer or in a new post with possible boundaries? ‭Zerotime‭ about 2 months ago

I have added an example. I think it's going to be difficult to have hard boundaries since so much of cooking involves adaptation. For example if I use an avocado in a Greek dish am I disqualified, or is it simply "inspired by" and that's okay? Maybe we need some kind of scoring criteria - true to tradition vs. embraces fusion, presentation, etc. ‭Sigma‭ about 2 months ago

I think that a culture-specific cooking challenge would be a great next one, and in this case I also like the idea of being it related to Greece. Would you like to post it? I'm eager to try out some new things. ‭Zerotime‭ 24 days ago

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Seasonal produce

Inspired by farm-share deliveries and local produce, share dishes that use substantial amounts of whatever is in season at the time of the challenge. This is a challenge idea that could be used more than once, spread throughout the year. What's in season will vary by people's locations, so the challenge(s) shouldn't specify a list. It would be nice if answers included some indication of where the answerer lives (can be vague, like a region).

Sample seasonal variations (bearing in mind that there's a six-month offset between northern and southern hemispheres):

  • spring: aside from salad, what do you do with all these greens?

  • early/mid-summer: stone fruits

  • summer: squash overflow, or alternatives to sneaking onto your neighbors' porches and depositing extra zucchini (could also include eggplant, peppers, and other summer veggies)

  • fall: apples (and pears too if you like)

  • fall/winter: winter squashes and root vegetables

  • any season other than winter: preserving the bounty (pickles, jams, chutneys, jerky...)

2 comments

I like the idea, can you please add examples in this answer or in a new post with possible seasonal events? ‭Zerotime‭ about 2 months ago

@Zerotime I edited in some examples. ‭Monica Cellio‭ about 1 month ago

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Bake a cake without using sugar (and chemical substitutes)

Consuming too much sugar is something that's not really healthy (even though it's most often tasty., especially in cakes..). So let's bake any cake without using sugar!

As substitutes, natural ones are preferred. Chemical ones should / could be excluded, often it's very hard to get them in the right amount or even at all. (Where I live, supermarkets rarely stock chemical sugar substitutes and if only in large quantities.)

8 comments

There are two big ambiguities here: what counts as a cake, and what counts as using sugar? On the first one, there are sweet (cheesecake) and savoury (oatcake) baked goods which have "cake" in their name but which I wouldn't strictly classify as cakes. On the second one, is the restriction really "no processed sucrose", so that e.g. processed fructose or mashed apple would be allowed as substitutes? What about unprocessed or partially processed sucrose, such as molasses? Glucose? Honey? ‭Peter Taylor‭ about 2 months ago

@PeterTaylor As to how to define a cake, I thought about anything that's sweet, has to be baked and needs flour. Cheesecake is more like a tart (but I guess that it could sill count as cake somewhere...) while oatcakes are crackers. For the sugar part, it may be better to put up the condition to not use refined sugars (so nothing that is processed in any way)? This would allow to use fruits and honey as substitutes. ‭Zerotime‭ about 2 months ago

I'm not sure whether you disagree with me on the meaning of oatcakes, crackers, or both, but I think there's a dialectal minefield here :( For me, oatcakes have a soft inside (they're not entirely dissimilar to scones or dumplings) whereas crackers are thin and snap all the way through. Refined isn't quite the same as processed: most honey is processed, but I don't think it's refined. Maybe "no white crystals" would work (although it does allow demerara sugar)? ‭Peter Taylor‭ about 2 months ago

What if you broadened the challenge to a dessert? That avoids the ambiguity in defining a cake. I would define a dessert as a sweet food eaten as the course concluding a meal. ‭Sigma‭ about 2 months ago

@PeterTaylor Probably less a dialectal than a translation problem: I didn't know about oatcakes beforehand and translated it into my mother tongue and it came out as something that's related to biscuits / cookies. Recipes in my language show it as something more orientated towards cookies / crackers with a hard inside, hence I wrote it. I like the idea with no white crystals, perhaps extend it for brown crystals as well? ‭Zerotime‭ about 2 months ago

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