Kitchen Quick Fixes: The Top Kitchen Disasters and How to Handle Them
You’ve cooked a meal and the guests are due to arrive any minute. But…oh no…disaster! Something has gone wrong and you don’t have time to start over. This is not a drill, people! So, what can you do? These kitchen quick fixes should help…
Disaster #1: Your dish is too spicy
You need to add another component to temper the spice, ideally dairy. If it’s a curry, try adding a swirl of yogurt or cream. If it’s a chilli con carne, sour cream is best. If you can’t eat or use dairy, then a tiny bit of sugar should also work.
Disaster #2: Your dish is too sweet
A few drops of lemon juice or vinegar should combat the sweetness.
Disaster #3: Your dish is too salty
Assuming this refers to something with a liquid base – a soup, stew or sauce – then you need a potato. Place a peeled, raw potato in the saucepan too and continue to cook. All the salt should be absorbed by the potato thus saving your dish.
Disaster #4: Your homemade mayonnaise/salad dressing keeps separating
You want to impress with your own fresh dressing but you just can’t get it to come together. You need to cheat. If you add a teaspoon of shop-bought mayonnaise to your homemade version, then the emulsifiers and stabilisers in it should also bind yours together. And nobody will ever know 😉
Disaster #5: You’ve over whipped the cream
First of all, step away from those beaters! Continuing to mix it will only make it worse. Instead, add a tablespoon of fresh cream, or milk if you’re really desperate, and stir GENTLY to bring it back.
Disaster #6: Your egg whites won’t whip up
Egg whites like to be really clean so you need to make sure that the bowl and whisk/beaters that you’re using are spotless, with no hint of washing-up liquid left on them and definitely no trace of fat (butter etc.). You can try moving your whites to a new bowl and trying again. If it still doesn’t work, check to see that there’s no yolk in with the whites. If there is, then you need to remove it. Finally, if you’ve done all of the above, then you will need to start again with new eggs.
Disaster #7: You forgot to defrost the butter
Don’t put it in the microwave as this will melt the outside too much and leave the inside frozen. Instead, get a pint glass really hot by swilling it around with boiling water. Then, stand the butter on its end on the worktop and invert the glass over it like a dome. The butter will defrost naturally in minutes.
Disaster #8: Your gravy is lumpy
You need to sieve it. Sure, you’ll lose any chunks of vegetables you’d put in the gravy, but their flavour will still be there.
Disaster #9: You’ve overcooked the pasta/potatoes/vegetables
It’s time for some quick thinking now. If your pasta is soft then you probably need to fry it up in a little oil to give it a more al dente texture. Mushy potatoes need to be turned into mashed potatoes. The vegetables could also be mashed (if they are root veg, they’d make a nice parsnip/carrot purée) or otherwise chop them small and consider adding them cold to a salad or baking them in a dish with a cheesy-breadcrumb crust as a vegetable gratin. Next time, when your veg is finished boiling, try ‘shocking’ it in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process immediately (hot veg keeps cooking away until you stop it). If you want to reheat it, use the microwave or pour boiling water over it.
Disaster #10: Your soup/stew has too much fat in it
This is an easy one. Drop an ice cube into your stew and it will help the fat come together on top so you can easily skim it off.