Kitchen Troubleshooting: Fixing Those Culinary Disasters

Even the most experienced cook has gone through the heart sinking event of a kitchen disaster. Sometimes we're stressed, distracted, forgetful, or a prankster kept a space shaker loose for the next user. Don't worry, your dish isn't ruined yet! Here are a few pointers on how to amend and improvise when you're having bad luck in the kitchen.

#1 - Prevention is the best step, especially when guests are involved: When trying a new dish, do a trial run before your big party or get together. Sometimes recipes aren't what they seem, ovens vary, and sometimes you might not use a proper ingredient. Once you gain a better understanding for that recipe, it will be a hit! It happens to everyone, but don't be one of the people that have to learn the hard way.

#2 - When your cake falls apart: A great improvisation to a broken cake is to make a parfait. Whipped cream, fresh fruit, and maybe even a flavored pudding of your liking can be assembled in alternating layers and no one would be the wiser. This can work with cookies as well. You can also finely crush broken cookies, mix with a little butter and make a pie crust. If the cake has perhaps small or one large break, use a bit of frosting as glue and puzzle it back together.

#3 - Overcooked veggies: Turn them into a cream soup with a blender.

#4 - Runny gravy or sauce - Add cornstarch as a thickening agent. A tablespoon or two should cover it. Caution: Do not mix raw cornstarch into hot gravy, it will turn globby. Mix the cornstarch with a couple of splashes of cool tap water and mix until dissolved, then add to sauce or gravy.

#5 - Cookies mushed together during baking: Take cookie cutters and cut them into fun shapes. Your guests might figure it out, but they'll have too much fun choosing their favorite shapes! To avoid this dilemma altogether, check out my blog about cookie disasters here.

#6 - Lumpy gravy or sauce: Run it through the blender to get rid of all the bits, or pour it though a sieve or another fine strainer.

#7 -Stale bread: Turn your stale bread into a snack food. Very thinly slice the stale bread (to about the size of a large, thick cracker) and toast it. Serve them around a bowl of dip, soft cheese or paté. If you've got some extra time, you can even turn it into a dessert by cutting it into cubes, and making a sinful bread pudding. You can also turn them into breadcrumbs in a food processor and save for another time.

#8 - Overcooked pasta: Saute the pasta in butter or olive oil in frying pan, this will crisp up the pasta slightly. Add grated Parmesan, you can also deglaze the pan that you sauteed the pasta in and do a light cream and wine sauce. With sauteed pasta, remember to keep the sauce very light.

#9 - Too sweet: Try adding something acidic, such as lemon juice or vinegar.

#10 - Too Salty: Try adding a little sugar and cider vinegar in equal amounts.

I hope these tips help next time you have the misfortune of a cooking flop. Just remember that it happens to the best of us, and all it takes is a creatve, resourceful mind to improvise in a tough situation.

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