Easy Fixes To Cooking Mistakes
It’s the Holidays! Under stress, you make mistakes….everybody does. Although a pro has a multitude of tricks up their sleeve, to us common cooks and aspiring gourmets, we need something a bit more practical. My Father-in-law was a master chef and one day, after having eaten the same split pea soup too many times, he scooped in a jar of peanut butter. It was delicious!! Most of us wouldn’t think of a fix like that.
Ever fix a delicious recipe and find out when it is nearly done that oops! something isn’t right? Don’t throw it out, FIX IT!!! . Here are some nimble ways to fix a recipe mistake….usually. Sometimes nothing will help, but these tips are great! Hope it helps!
The most common error is when it is too salty! Yikes!! A dozen people can take the same soup, and some will say too salty and others will say not enough salt. So, to salt to your taste, here are some ideas. The hardest thing is to take some of the saltiness out.
Potato? Yes, the potato will soak up the salt, but also the flavor. Sad. Instead, dilute or distract is the best path.
- Distract by pureeing cooked rice, or add rice flour as a thickener, it will balance the saltiness. Citrus can also distract. I use lemon or an acid such as a mild vinegar with some sugar or honey to mask salt.
- Dilute is another possible solution. The best solution would be to add more ingredients (think vegetables, beans, meat, etc.), and broth to the food to make up for it. Mix up a side pot of thickened veggies and meat, thicken, and add to the main dish.
DON’T add salt!! it will bring out the sweetness even more.
DO add something bitter or acidic, or apply more heat. That will give a depth of flavor.
How to undo super spice? Depending on the recipe, a complimentary acid or sweetness will help a great deal. Try lime, lemon, orange, a mild vinegar, for acidic notes, or something sweet, like a jam, chutney, honey. Fat can work wonders, and if the cuisine is compatible with these ingredients, try avocado, sour cream, yogurt, olive oil, you get the idea. You can also add (dilute) the effect by adding more base liquid, or even a carbohydrate such as rice, pasta, etc., depending on your recipe.
I run into this with dressing recipes, like adding too much vinegar, or having a tomato sauce that makes you pucker up. I have some ‘authentic’ Italian recipes that use baking soda to dampen the acidic tomato sauce, they also add sweetness, like sugar. I am more in favor of adding a pinch of salt, or a bit of sugar instead of baking soda, though.
Too….um…uninteresting, not flavorful?
If your spices are correct, and you don’t want to add more, then try a bit of vinegar, or again, lemon. Try white vinegar, champagne vinegar, or even some balsamic vinegar is great.
It will add a touch of brightness and perk up the tired, flatness of your food.
So for this time of year when mistakes are inevitable, try to fix it instead of throwing it out. (if all else fails, order pizza ;-)Happy Holidays and Healthy Cooking!!!!!
- Nancy Oar