As much as I love cooking, I have to say that I have had my fair share of epic disasters. From burning sugar, to not realizing I needed some kind of ventilation in our house when making a vinegar reduction, my kitchen - and ever so patient husband - have seen it all! Not that we can fix burnt sugar, but there sure are a lot of reinventions for recipes gone rogue.
My first fix? Stuffing! Ahhh yes, Thanksgiving. A time of togetherness, and let’s face it, a time for a shot or two of whiskey! We had the opportunity to host our family for this year's big holiday, and everyone was so excited to come eat all the delicious food we had made. It went off without a hitch, everything turned out perfectly, and we all lived happily ever after – these were the words I so desperately wanted to type right now, but that just wouldn’t be true. Don’t get me wrong we had a fantastic time, but I sure did learn a lot about how not to turn the crockpot mac and cheese on to early or it does in fact become something I would describe as cream of noodle soup (that my incredibly thoughtful family still ate, regardless of its resemblance to canned baby food). So there I was, just coming to terms with my noodle dilemma, when I realized that I forgot to set a timer for my stuffing! At this point I turned around, spilled a glass of wine on myself, had a costume change, and was back and ready to face my Thanksgiving debacle. Ok, it sounds much worse than it really was, but when you’re hungry most things do. My Mom and I casually discarded the solidified stuffing that had formed in the bottom of the pan - by method of throwing it over my shoulder into the garbage disposal - and carried on as if it was a typical Thursday dinner. No big deal, I thought, the only people who knew this had happened were my brother and father- that I caught giggling to themselves out of the corner of my eye - and well now…..you! Needless to say I had some leftovers to deal with the next day. So I thought to myself, “What can I possibly do with this conglomerate of very dry stuffing?” And it came to me….What if I took an egg, mixed it with my stuffing, rolled them into little balls, and cooked them in my cake pop maker to make – for lack of a better word – meatballs?! They already had the bread in it to absorb the egg, and had all the flavoring from the herbs and spices that I had used to make the stuffing in the first place. I put them on a bed of spinach with some of my leftover spiced malbec double berry sauce, and gravy, to make an absolutely mouthwatering reinvention of something that would have also been a great substitute for house insulation.
Now that we have segued into reinventions, here are some ideas of things you can do in a pickle – which does sound quite vinegary if you ask me….
Making a sauce and your cream separates? First off it got too hot, which is why this happened in the first place, but rest easy - there is a fix! Strain the sauce, put the liquid back into a pan (discard the cottage cheese like awfulness that you now separated), make a roux to thicken it, and voila you have a delicious gravy. This happened to me when I used the poaching liquid for my salmon to make a sauce. I didn’t want to lose all that flavor, when it separated, so I used this trick and had the most delicious seafood gravy on my hands….Does anyone have a napkin by chance?
Decorating cupcakes for your kiddos bake sale and your butter cream curdled? You can actually take a hair dryer, that’s right, and blow dry your kitchen-aid while it’s mixing to bring your delicious frosting back together. You will look absolutely ridiculous doing this, so I suggest drawing the shades before proceeding, but it will do the trick!
Bread dough not rising? Let it set up in your fridge for about an hour and then divide your dough into little sections to be rolled out into very flat circles. Take a sauté pan and turn it on high and place once of your circles into the pan. Cook on one side until you see it bubble up a little. Flip it, and then cook for about 30 more seconds. Your once lifeless dough is now the perfect flatbread for a pizza, wrap, or perhaps a great game of frisbee golf!
Trying to make rolls by dehydrating kale and using it as a flour substitute? DON’T! I can say first hand that one bite of these bad boys will in fact remove all of the saliva in your mouth. A good thought in theory, but has the aftermath of mouthwash.
Most anything can be reinvented with a little creativity, and the right amount of humility. Just remember in most cases you will be the only one who knew that your kitchen disaster even happened so recreate, re-plate, and go get yourself ready because your guests won’t be late!