People occasionally ask me if I ever screw up in the kitchen or make something that just doesn’t work. The answer is a most definite YES! I thought I would dedicate a blog post to dishes I have royally messed up.
Most recently we have Sweet Potato Donuts. I found this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine, and they looked delicious. Also, since they have a vegetable in the batter, and since they were baked not fried, they looked relatively guilt free. A big plus. I really wanted to try them out. The recipe called for mixing yeast in milk, then adding the other ingredients, letting it rise, shaping into donuts, then letting rise again, then baking off. My dough never rose. Never, not even a little bit. I was baffled at the time, but later figured out that I tried to dissolve the yeast in cold milk. Oops. Here’s a picture. You can even see how flat they were. The flavor was good, but the texture really suffered. I will definitely try these again at some point.
My friend Mosi and his (now husband!!) Jeremiah had a dinner party awhile back and Mosi cooked the most delicious Beef Bourguignon. I was inspired to try it, so I found a recipe in Tyler Florence’s book “Family Meals.” The flavor was great. However, the beef texture was too tough and not at all moist like it should be. The recipe instructed to simmer over low heat for a couple hours in a large Dutch oven. I had the heat too low, and it just wasn’t hot enough to break down the meat. Lesson learned!
First is Jamaican Jerk Babyback Ribs. These came from one of our Steven Raichlen books, and they were supposed to be what they sound like. Jerk seasoning is pretty hot, it’s supposed to be. It contains habaneros or Scotch bonnets. This recipe was a spice rub which called for habanero chile powder. It called for 1-2 teaspoons of the stuff, but I misread it as 1-2 tablespoons of it. Not okay! It blew our heads off like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The ribs were almost inedible. We literally drank milk with dinner, and ate them with a fork because I couldn’t stand it when the ribs touched my lips. It took awhile to recover from that one.
Then there was the time I attempted Indian Spiced Poached Salmon. I’d never poached any fish before and really didn’t know what I was doing. I found a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. What I didn’t know is that when you’re poaching fish, you must make sure the poaching liquid completely covers the fish. So you need to buy a flat fish. However, I had center cut salmon fillets, which really aren’t flat. I didn’t have enough oil to completely cover the fish, and the very top half inch stuck out. I let it cook for the time the recipe allotted, and the top part was still completely raw. So I flipped the fish to let that cook in the oil for a few minutes. Big mistake. It cooked too long and basically tasted like Indian spiced cat food. I would like to try poaching again, but haven’t yet. I guess I’m still a little scarred.
The last major screw-up that comes to mind is when I made enchiladas awhile back and I wanted to serve rice and refried beans with it like they do in Tex-Mex restaurants. So did I just buy a can of refried beans from the grocery store? Oh no, not me. I got the brilliant idea to make the refried beans completely from scratch. I found a recipe in a magazine. I soaked the beans, then cooked them stovetop for a couple hours with all the flavorings. I taste tested them after the allotted cook time had passed. They were quite crunchy, nowhere near done. Hmm. Well, it was almost time to eat, so I thought maybe if I nuke them in the microwave they’ll cook through. They didn’t. Not yet deterred, I mashed them (quite a feat since they weren’t cooked) and then microwaved them again on high. No dice. At that point, I decided to give up. At least we still have the rice as a side dish, I thought. I had cooked the rice as usual, and then decided to be more authentic and stir in some turmeric like they do in Mexican restaurants to make the yellow rice. So I stirred in the turmeric, seasoned with salt and pepper, and gave it a taste test. I spit it out. It was horrid. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but it had this awful bitter taste that was completely inedible. I thought about it for awhile, and then realized that my turmeric had gone rancid! Whoops! Now, unless the spice jar is really new, I always smell my spices before adding them to food. Lesson learned.
Well, hopefully you enjoyed hearing about some of my less than successful dishes. I’m sure there will be more in the future! 🙂