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Fess Up, Fabulous Home Cooks. What have you ruined lately?

r
RGC1982 Jan 8, 2010 08:15 AM

I thought about this when I was telling the story of my inadvertently blackened beer can chicken, which was supposed to be the star of our backyard Easter dinner, to a friend. She was surprised that I would admit that I ruined dinner, would share photos of the disaster with far away friends, and could still laugh about it months later. Apparently, her MIL, who is a fabulous cook, never admits a mistake. She would never tell anyone that she ruined a meal, let alone laugh about it over cell phone photos of a charred bird with stumps that remained where plump legs used to be.

The way I see it, if you cook a lot, or try new things a lot, SOMETHING has to go terribly wrong sometime. It is the law of averages. Mistakes don't make me feel like less of a good cook, they just prove that I am human. Humans do things like shake cayenne into the food instead of paprika, or leave a chicken unattended on their new grill a little too long. Her MIL, however, will deny it and will even try to cover up, rather than admit that she made a mistake that ruined a dish.

So, I ask you all -- what have you ruined lately, and are not afraid to confess? Or shall I say, are not afraid to confess here on these boards (where you can remain relatively anonymous)?

  1. i
    Isolda Sep 1, 2010 06:46 PM

    I was in a hurry and burnt the hell out of some frozen (premade) veggie burgers last week. Does that count? But I did redeem myself with the fabulous beets and greens I served to accompany the nasty little char burgers (denuded of the black bits to make them edible.)

    1. l
      lidia Sep 1, 2010 08:18 AM

      Made a 'brutta figura' last weekend with a dish I recently recommended here, a potato 'torte' with ham, spinach and pepper layers which I'd successfully made several times in New England with the baking potatoes which are common there.

      The potatoes here are waxy (no such thing as a 'baking potato'), and they didn't absorb the cream/egg mixture At All, nor allow it to solidify, so at the end of 2 hours' cooking AND an overnight stay in the fridge I had a slip-sliding-y pile of randomly cooked food, in a curdled dairy-ish sauce (with 9 hungry guests)... rather than anything resembling a sliceable 'torte' or terrine.

      Turning it out was such a downer.. it was like that America's Funniest Videos or whatever.. where there's a family enjoying their above-ground backyard pool.. and then the pool wall breaks... SLOSH! they all go onto the lawn.

      That was my torte/terrine!

      Everyone was kind, fortunately, and they did seem to sincerely like the dish and its flavor. The potatoes were perfectly cooked but remained impervious to the cream/egg matrix.

      1. eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 03:27 AM

        Recently...

        Just could not get a freakin' pan sauce together for pork chops. Beer, stock, herbs, garlic---done it all dozens of times before, but this iteration turned out bitter and salty. Tossed the sauce and even diligently cleaned the saute pan to remove any traces of offending flavors. Next I tried a butter and cream sauce with a touch of wine, a foolproof standby since who-can-remember-when, but now a disgrace to my inch-thick and well-browned chops---my sauce tasted like spiked baby formula, if you can imagine such a thing (and good for you if you can't, you don't really want to go where this sauce went). Tossed that down the sink as well. At a loss, I pulled out a little 8-inch skillet and melted a good-sized knob of butter in it with a couple smashed garlic cloves and a few sage leaves. Cooked it all for a few minutes before pulling out the garlic and herb and letting the flavored butter brown: Pork Chops Drizzled with Garlic-Sage Brown Butter was actually better and more interesting to me than what I had planned. If only it hadn't required 30 minutes of frustration and a bunch of wasted ingredients to find it.

        In general...

        I am incapable of cooking Dover sole. Half of it is always pure mush in the mouth. Thought I was undercooking it and so cooked it longer: mush. Thought I was overcooking it and so cooked it shorter: mush. Tried dredging it: mush. Tried broiling it: mush. Mush, mush, mush, no matter what I do. At the moment I've decided to blame my market for the cuts, which are thinner than the fillets my cookbooks request. But as with things more important, it may be that there is just a time to part ways.

        5 Replies
        1. re: eight_inch_pestle
          Pia Sep 1, 2010 07:45 AM

          We drove out of state to visit the in-laws for my husband's birthday. I volunteered to make a birthday cake as dessert for the dinner crowd. Husband requested Boston Cream Pie and I brought the chocolate and cream with me since MIL is always on a diet and wouldn't have those in the house. When I started making the cake -- just a few hours before dinner, because we had just arrived -- I discovered she also didn't have eggs or butter, and only whole wheat flour! In-laws live in the middle of nowhere, so there was no time to make the hour plus trip to the grocery store. I improvised and came out with a leaden mess that was only edible if you ignored the cake part and thought of it as a chocolatey pudding. The worst part? While I was downstairs retrieving the cake (if you could even call it that) after dinner, apparently MIL went on and on about my baking skills to everyone there!

          1. re: Pia
            s
            small h Sep 1, 2010 06:16 PM

            Ouch. Well, your heart was certainly in the right place. I bought some shrimp to grill this past weekend & put them in the trunk of the car. It was a very hot day. The car is black. On the way home, we stopped off at the Lowe's to buy some paint & got into a little fender bender in the parking lot. Ninety minutes, one police report and thirty miles later, the shrimp finally found their way to the refrigerator, and at last, the grill. They were not in ideal condition, to say the least. No one got sick, thankfully, but no one was especially thrilled by the meal, either.

            1. re: small h
              ZenSojourner Sep 1, 2010 07:16 PM

              Yipes! You're braver than I. I'd have tossed them.

              1. re: ZenSojourner
                s
                small h Sep 1, 2010 07:45 PM

                I live on the edge. But in retrospect, it was an idiotic move on my part and one I won't repeat. High temperatures and car accidents impede my judgment.

                1. re: small h
                  ZenSojourner Sep 1, 2010 07:56 PM

                  "I live on the edge."

                  LOL!

                  That made me smile.

                  Seriously I'm glad there were no negative consequences.

        2. stellamystar Aug 30, 2010 04:54 PM

          Homemade Whoppie Pies gone wrong to take to a dinner party a few weeks ago. Bad news. Bland, lardy filling, too puffy yuck.
          I made Dirt Pudding instead in my emergency. Everyone swooned. That stupid dirt pudding. Always wins.

          1. amyzan Aug 28, 2010 01:49 PM

            I very nearly burned zucchini in olive oil earlier this week, and did blacken cubed eggplant on the same burner last week. I think the switch is malfunctioning on that burner, because it will intermittently go blazing hot. When I'm using cast iron, especially, it's a complete disaster, because noticing and taking the pan off the heat does no good. I have to notice early enough to get the food out of the pan, and turn off the burner, then start over. I never notice early enough. I really have to get that sucker fixed, but we're on reduced income here, so not likely to happen early. Unfortunately, no one is handy with electrical, either. Boo.

            My fave mistake, however, is overcooking baked goods because I forget to set the timer just a little short of the recommended time. Why I do this, I do not know. You'd think I'd learn. Sometimes, i actually remember. Why I'm so inconsistent, ay.

            2 Replies
            1. re: amyzan
              ChristinaMason Aug 30, 2010 10:50 PM

              That reminds me: I did the burn-zucchini-in-olive-oil thing, too. When cooking for my MIL. I picked out the worst of it and drowned it all in marinara sauce, but I still didn't feel right.

              1. re: amyzan
                i
                Isolda Sep 1, 2010 06:42 PM

                I actually love cakes that are slightly dry, so I intentionally overbake mine a bit unless I'm baking for people who love gummy cake mix cakes. Dry cakes with a simple syrup (rum or lemon) and cream are so much better than the frosted kind.

              2. CapreseStacy Aug 28, 2010 09:45 AM

                If there is a Patron Saint of Baking, I need to build an altar and pray to him/her.... need to bring delectable offerings (but not baked ones) and then burn some cupccake-scented incense... you get the idea. I try to make bread, it flops... my rosemary focaccia was a brick. My cakes and cupcakes are either dense or too gooey. The thing is, I do have a stand-out success every so often, which is what has kept me from giving up altogether. I made these lemon-zucchini muffin-top type cookies that were amazing AND pretty healthy. And I did succeed at bread once with a no-knead artisan loaf thing you make in a pre-heated dutch oven. But for the most part, I can't bake. I've tested/replaced my baking soda, double-tested my oven temp, measured ever-so-carefully. I've even had cakes come out decent and then dropped a layer into the soapy-water-filled mixing bowl while transferring the layer from cooling rack to cake plate, or dropped the sheet cake pan due to an unknown hole in my oven mitt, causing a cake-splosion on the open oven door. <sigh>. So if any of you have an in with the Powers That Be of Home Baked Goods, please put in a good word for me.

                7 Replies
                1. re: CapreseStacy
                  r
                  rainey Aug 28, 2010 10:39 AM

                  What a frustrating story!

                  When I hear people say "I can't bake" I just don't know what to make of it because when I hear other people say "you have to be exact in baking" I say "sez who?" and carry on with the by-the-seat-of-your-pants baking I learned from my great aunt.

                  I'd like to diagnose what's going wrong and put you on the right path but I think you'd get so much more from finding someone who's in your area to bake with face to face and hands on.

                  The one thing I'd suggest about bread is always move on to the next step by the indications of the dough and not the clock. Put those time estimations out of your mind and heed only the dough. If you stick a finger 1/2" in the dough does it spring back (let it rise more) or does it barely or slowly respond (move on to the next step)? No knead is different but, of course, you've had success with that. Yay for you!!

                  As for cakes, I'd suggest a scale. If you're having bad results it may be the hydration of the flour. Nick Malgieri says home bakers can get as good results with a measuring cup as a scale (a heresy that engendered a significant thread here once before) but if you need better accuracy than your instincts and experience can afford you a scale will compensate for more or less moisture absorption by your flour. It will also make it effortless to bake from American and metric recipes.

                  While you're at it, get a good instant read digital thermometer. It will help you choose the time when the structure of the baked goods is set to prevent falling or gumminess and to avoid drying things out. Breads are done at about 205˚. Cakes are done at about 195˚.

                  Pastry is different than both cake baking and bread baking. The important thing about it is to handle the flour as little as possible. Muffins, quickbreads and pancakes, similarly, don't want gluten formation so the minimum stirring is important.

                  Finally, the flour matters. For bread you'll get the best results with a bread flour that readily forms gluten. Cake and cookie recipes are written for all-purpose flour. Pastry is made with all-purpose flour as well tho there may be other ingredients like vinegar or an egg to interfere with the gluten formation. And for bread, stick to white bread for a while. Low gluten flour like whole wheat and gluten breaking flour like rye add additional challenge.

                  Meanwhile, get yourself a baking buddy or look for an adult ed class and get some observation going -- you of them and them of you -- to find out what's missing in your technique. Williams-Sonoma also does some classes. I think they may actually be free.

                  Fresh from the oven is so close to bliss for you and your loved ones I'd hate for you to be missing out on that if you have the time and the inclination to do it. Best of luck with it.

                  1. re: rainey
                    CapreseStacy Aug 28, 2010 11:24 AM

                    Thank you SO much, Rainey, for taking the time to give me some guidance! I will definitely employ these instructions on future endeavors.

                    I do have a scale in my cart on Amazon, waiting to for me to bite the bullet and buy. So I'll go for it! We also have an instant read thermometer, but I never thought to use it on baked goods, because the recipes don't give me internal temp guidelines like you have provided. And I do get in the weeds with flour because even though I know it doesn't respond like AP flour, I keep trying to use whole wheat flour to make my stuff a little healthier. I did learn that you generally can't sub ALL the flour for whole wheat, so I'll ease back on that for a while until I get back on track. I am getting pretty good at pie crust using the "cold ingredients and very little handling" techniques.

                    Again, I am very appreciative of your tips and the time you spent to offer this struggling baker some help! Best wishes!

                    1. re: CapreseStacy
                      r
                      rainey Aug 28, 2010 11:37 AM

                      Happy to!

                      If you want to use whole wheat and are ready to risk about 75 cents worth of ingredients and some of your time, keep in mind that a good place to start is 1 part whole wheat to 3 parts of all-purpose flour and work for a 1/2 ratio OR add wheat gluten (available separately as an ingredient at health food stores or Whole Foods) to boost gluten production. King Arthur recommends 1 tablespoon gluten in the bottom of the cup before you measure 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

                      BTW, King Arthur's website is a GREAT place for information about baking as well as super recipes http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/ . Their hotline (802-649-3717) will provide a baker to answer individual questions and they have a team that travels the country doing baking demonstrations http://www.kingarthurflour.com/baking... .

                      Meanwhile, keep in mind that there are a lot of breads in this world. Some are flat and some, like Eastern European whole grain breads, are very dense. I bet some of your "failures" have some great flavor. Slice them very thin, put some cream cheese and lox or thinly slice cucumber and dill on them and tell everyone that's *exactly* what you were going for! ;>

                      I admire your indomitable spirit. Keep it up. You'll get there!

                      PS My daughter has been baking since she was a teen. She *refuses* to use a recipe. She says someone developed baking techniques without recipes and she means to as well. She's had some pretty spectacular failures. But, at 33, she's developing into a very fine intuitive and creative baker and cook.

                      1. re: CapreseStacy
                        mcel215 Aug 29, 2010 03:35 AM

                        I agree with Rainey, little things in baking make a big difference. I use my little digital scale for everything.
                        And if I am going to make something, I google it a lot. I watch videos and gather tips from from them and read blogs.
                        Yesterday, was my first attempt at making bagels, here's a picture.

                        And just so I do not hyjack this thread, I have been cooking for about 45 years and made a blueberry-lime tiramisu and left out the limeade spreading on a layer. Needless to say, it was a little boring.

                        Good Luck to you and have fun!

                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: mcel215
                          DiningDiva Aug 29, 2010 01:14 PM

                          Bagels look good!

                      2. re: rainey
                        ZenSojourner Aug 28, 2010 04:50 PM

                        It's pies I've had a lot of trouble with. Though I haven't yet tried much in the way of bread, maybe that'll turn out to be problematic as well. But maybe not - I used to make really good pizza dough. Unfortunately I can't find the recipe I was using. Like a lot (nearly all) of my other recipes.

                      3. re: CapreseStacy
                        DiningDiva Aug 28, 2010 01:14 PM

                        San Pasqual...patron saint of the kitchen
                        Sometimes also called San Pasqualito

                        Google search and you can probably find some artifacts you could order that would be good for tucking around your kitchen. Very prevalent in Santa Fe, NM. I've got a wood statue (not in the kitchen) and a couple of refrigerator magnets. Don't have a lot of failures ;-)

                      4. tzakiel Aug 28, 2010 06:35 AM

                        I did a roast chicken last night with soggy skin after resting it... it was so brown and dry in the oven... plenty of salt... dunno.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: tzakiel
                          alkapal Aug 28, 2010 07:55 AM

                          did you tent it as it rested? (steam?) that is, was the skin crispy when it came out of the oven? did you roast it like usual -- same moderate oven?

                          1. re: alkapal
                            tzakiel Aug 28, 2010 09:26 AM

                            I don't cover or baste my chicken at all during cooking or resting. It's Keller's recipe. I've made it before with crispy, wonderful results. The only difference this time is that I made two in the same oven and used a cheap roasting pan holding both birds instead of my usual saute pan. I noticed a lot of spattering this time too.

                            http://www.jonvandalen.com/lte/2010/0...

                            1. re: tzakiel
                              alkapal Aug 29, 2010 04:21 AM

                              ok, there's the problem -- two birds, crowded (cf. with usual method), and lots more moisture in the air of the oven. ergo, soggy skin.

                            2. re: alkapal
                              r
                              rainey Aug 28, 2010 09:40 AM

                              I just stick resting meat/poultry in the microwave. It's a small insulated cavity that's about the right size to let it breathe without losing much heat.

                              (And I don't use a disposable material. I really try to avoid that.)

                              1. re: rainey
                                alkapal Aug 31, 2010 05:27 AM

                                i rest food in the micro "cabin" too.

                                1. re: alkapal
                                  buttertart Aug 31, 2010 10:38 AM

                                  that's a great idea, how come I never thought of it?

                                  1. re: buttertart
                                    alkapal Aug 31, 2010 10:46 AM

                                    'cause rainey thought of it! one great idea per hound..... the gub'mint is rationing.

                                    1. re: alkapal
                                      buttertart Aug 31, 2010 11:24 AM

                                      I ain't thunk mine up yet.

                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        alkapal Sep 1, 2010 06:54 AM

                                        me neither! http://media.photobucket.com/image/ga...

                          2. r
                            rainey Aug 27, 2010 01:45 PM

                            I'm not sure I'd call myself a "fabulous home cook" but I've been cooking at home for 40 years and I should know what I'm doing my now. Still, I really blew meatloaf just a couple days ago. Meatloaf! I never use a recipe and I never make it the same way twice but it's generally pretty good. I always make twice what we would eat at a meal so we can make meatloaf sandwiches afterward. But the last meatloaf I made was just awful. It resembled that food that they feel to prisoners as punishment. Have you heard about that stuff? About as devoid of flavor and texture as they could make it. And I'm sad to say that's about what my meatloaf was like. ::hangs head in shame::

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: rainey
                              alkapal Aug 27, 2010 08:24 PM

                              you'll find this amusing i think, rainey: http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfi...

                              1. re: alkapal
                                r
                                rainey Aug 27, 2010 09:24 PM

                                I wonder if they're talking about this which is what I was thinking of when I was descriibing my embarrassing meatloaf.

                                http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Mag...

                                The article you provided may be being kind to Nutriloaf. ...and I could only wish this particular meatloaf had been as good. ;>

                                1. re: rainey
                                  alkapal Aug 28, 2010 05:27 AM

                                  nutraloaf, yes that was it!!!!

                                  how could yours have gone so wrong to be worse than the "neutral" nutraloaf?

                                  1. re: alkapal
                                    r
                                    rainey Aug 28, 2010 09:15 AM

                                    Damned if I know. It was all the things I like. Mushrooms, caramelized onions, rolled oats. I might have left out the tomato sauce. I just hit the proportion of things that adds up to zero.

                                    Maybe, if I could repeat it, I could sell it to the government at an exorbitant price. ;>

                            2. d
                              Dcfoodblog Aug 27, 2010 12:33 PM

                              I have containers of frozen chicken stock AND meyer lemon juice in the freezer. Guess who picked thw rong container while making Italian wedding soup?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                mariacarmen Aug 27, 2010 12:56 PM

                                ahahahaha! oh no..... turned out to be avgolemono instead!

                              2. rabaja Aug 27, 2010 09:14 AM

                                Mayonaise. After an initial success earlier this summer I got cocky and made a mess of it.
                                I think I added too much water at the beginning, and my friend says he doesn't add any water until the end, and only as needed at the end to thin it. It was flavored well enough, and didn't break, it just wouldn't thicken! It is in my fridge, in a pint glass waiting for me to fix it. I just couldn't bear to throw away a cup of olive oil.
                                I will say a prayer and try to save it later today.
                                In the end, everyone said Best Foods was the best for the BLT's we were having anyway. Shouldn't have bothered!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: rabaja
                                  mariacarmen Aug 27, 2010 10:17 AM

                                  I CAN'T MAKE MAYO. i had a big cup of unemulsified mayo in the fridge staring at me for a week before i finally threw it away.

                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                    rabaja Aug 27, 2010 07:23 PM

                                    yeah, mine is still staring at me too...

                                    1. re: rabaja
                                      rabaja Aug 30, 2010 11:36 PM

                                      Tried to fix it today. Twice.
                                      First, I started with a fresh yolk and tried hand whisking in the soupy mess. This went no where.
                                      Second, tried the immersion blender trick I read about here on Chowhound. Something about starting with ingredients at the bottom of a tall, narrow container and whizzing the blender in and slowly moving it up...blah., blah, blah...no go.
                                      I'm sure if I'd followed this method CORRECTLY it would have worked, but I gave it a half hearted attempt and was pretty sure this concoction was going down the disposal.
                                      What it DID do was emulsify the mess, which meant I had an excellent garlicky shrimp marinade for my friends shrimp tacos.
                                      Still, I tossed most of it, and will be trying mayo again soon.
                                      Maybe next summer.

                                      1. re: rabaja
                                        eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 02:47 AM

                                        Do you own "How to Cook Everything"? I've followed Bittman's recipe from there for years and always made creamy thick goodness with no trouble.

                                2. s
                                  shaebones Aug 27, 2010 01:32 AM

                                  Tried a new eggplant parm recipe.Had eggplant from my CSA and roma tomatoes from my garden. Made the sauce from scratch but was multitasking and burned the eggplant in the oven. Removed the charred eggplant and thought I could salvage some of it, hide it in the delicious homemade sauce.. I couldn't . We choked it down. Next time I'll pay more attention. :/

                                  1. mariacarmen Aug 26, 2010 10:51 PM

                                    i think I already posted this somewhere else... just a few weeks ago i made tomato soup with tasteless tomatoes and added marjoram which i don't really like and the whole thing just tasted like tomato sauce. in the same meal, i made stuffed peppers with corn/bacon/pesto stuffing and they were not only dry but tasteless. how do you make bacon tasteless? there was something else in that meal that went wrong, but i've apparently blocked it out.

                                    pork chops: i usually lightly bread them in seasoned crumbs, and sometimes spread chop with dijon mustard first, then pan fry. brining sometimes works ok, if they're really thick chops.

                                    salt: at least once a week i oversalt something. i'm tasting all the way through, and then something makes me think - that's not salty enough so i'll add salt before it finishes cooking rather than after, and it's always the wrong move!

                                    1. operagirl Aug 26, 2010 09:12 PM

                                      Well, a few weeks ago I tried to make pizza dough, substituting whole wheat flour for all of the flour. I think my yeast was a little past its expiry date, too. Needless to say I ended up with a leaden lump of dough that had no plans to rise, much less turn into pizza. Into the trash it went, along with my mood for the rest of the evening. I get so grumpy when I have a cooking failure!

                                      1. monavano Aug 26, 2010 06:27 PM

                                        I made a favorite cookie recipe of mine that calls for chocolate chips and nuts. I decided to use the basic recipe, but add white vs. chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Totally forgot the nuts.
                                        Way, way too sweet.
                                        DH is eating them, but I'm having none of it.
                                        Last night I made Greek Shrimp Capellini, and damn if I didn't overcook the pasta. Again.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: monavano
                                          goodhealthgourmet Aug 26, 2010 07:15 PM

                                          solution: get out a jar of nut butter and start dunking ;)

                                        2. pikawicca Aug 26, 2010 06:25 PM

                                          I think that if you've cooked for years (and paid attention), you're not likely to "ruin" something. You have a lot of knowledge stored up, and can avoid pitfalls. Not everything you cook will be up to your expectations, but after 45 years in the kitchen, I'd be surprised if I ruined a dish.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                            ZenSojourner Aug 26, 2010 06:54 PM

                                            I've spent 45 years in the kitchen, and I ruined some cookies just the other day. At least I did it in a novel way that I'd never done before - I overbeat the batter.

                                            I'm just not perfect, LOL!

                                          2. thew Aug 26, 2010 06:20 PM

                                            today i undercooked a whole snapper on the grill

                                            skin stuck to griddle. center underdone.

                                            i hang my head in shame

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: thew
                                              alkapal Aug 27, 2010 05:31 AM

                                              well, thew, that's better than overcooking! at least you can remedy "undercooking."

                                            2. Chocolatechipkt Aug 26, 2010 06:01 PM

                                              Cinnamon bread ... started making it this afternoon, but it never rose, even the yeast appeared to be fine after I added it/the temperature was right/etc. All the conditions were right, and yet the dough just sat there like a big lump, not even pretending to get bigger. I will conquer it tomorrow, however.

                                              1. w
                                                WeekendChowDown Aug 25, 2010 02:27 PM

                                                A few weeks back I was making a recipe for my blog. I was making pork piccata and grabbed a batch of chicken broth from the freezer. I put the frozen cube of stock on the rear burner so it would thaw. When everything was done and I went to make the pan sauce I noticed the frozen cube was actually water chestnuts. Lucky I didn't use the liquid, however by the time I found the real broth and thawed it, dinner was dry and cold.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: WeekendChowDown
                                                  mamachef Aug 25, 2010 02:44 PM

                                                  Was making dinner for four in the clients' home about 6 years ago. One of my automatic things to do the minute I walk into a kitchen is twist the dial on the oven immediately to get things pre-heated and ready; it can always be adjusted later.
                                                  Airplane pilot + very social couple + fairly small apartment w/ no really good storage. Mr. Client had made a habit of storing the duty-free wines and liquors in the oven, because Mrs. Client didn't cook at all, ever.
                                                  The explosions began less than a half hour later; the fire followed shortly, and was followed even more shortly by the fire department. I did manage to get close enough to the range to turn it off, but was scared to open the oven door for fear that the oxygen would cause a sudden blowout. As it was, glass and liquor were everywhere. F/Dept got things under control and left me there to clean up while Mr. and Mrs. Client and their guests went out to dinner and returned home drunk. I couldn't blame them, but I could charge them double for my trouble, and I did. However, a valuable lesson learned; to this day I never turn on an oven without looking inside first, and I have, to this day, continued to find things like plastic mixing bowls being stored there, or a frying pan full of grease that people didn't want out and forgot about.

                                                  1. re: mamachef
                                                    mariacarmen Aug 26, 2010 10:43 PM

                                                    ding ding ding! we have a winner.... Fire Department = you beat everyone else! ( :

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                                      goodhealthgourmet Aug 27, 2010 01:26 PM

                                                      have you ever read Caroline1's fire department story?

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                        mariacarmen Aug 27, 2010 02:20 PM

                                                        no, do you have a link to it?

                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Aug 27, 2010 04:53 PM

                                                          here you go!

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5390...

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            mariacarmen Aug 27, 2010 06:23 PM

                                                            oh my god, that's amazing! she was so lucky no one got hurt! wow.....

                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                              buttertart Aug 31, 2010 10:37 AM

                                                              And can Caroline1 tell a story! I feel as if I'd been there.

                                                    2. re: mamachef
                                                      ChristinaMason Aug 27, 2010 10:05 AM

                                                      oh. my. god.

                                                  2. ZenSojourner Aug 20, 2010 06:43 AM

                                                    Ruined an entire batch of peanut butter cookies because I wasn't paying attention and overbeat the batter - a LOT.

                                                    1. RealMenJulienne Aug 10, 2010 02:38 AM

                                                      Nah I have no pride when it comes to cooking, I'll confess any mistake to get a laugh.

                                                      Had some friends over for dinner recently, and I was slicing a loaf of bread at the table. Slipped a bit and the serrated bread knife gashed a nasty wound into my left thumb. I immediately bled all over the end of the loaf, but luckily everyone happened to be looking away at that moment, so I sliced away the bloody end, threw it away in the kitchen, wrapped up the thumb, and carried on serving the meal with no one the wiser.

                                                      On a severely hungover morning I tried to make some sausage gravy on toast. Browned the sausage, cooked the flour, so far so good. As soon as the milk hit the pan I realized it wasn't milk, it was Chinese DRINKING YOGURT. Only the thought of accidentally killing someone in a shower of congealed pork goo kept me from hurling the pan out out my sixth-floor window.

                                                      1. bushwickgirl Aug 10, 2010 01:46 AM

                                                        Too much liquid in the pilaf, need I say more...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                          ChristinaMason Aug 27, 2010 10:03 AM

                                                          oh, yuck. I hate it when I make rice pudding by accident.

                                                        2. Hank Hanover Aug 9, 2010 03:32 PM

                                                          It is hard to believe so many people are having trouble with pork chops. brine brine brine! At least 3/4 inch thick. Sear in a hot pan and finish in the oven with a probe. You could also bread them (my favorite). You still brown them in the pan and finish in the oven. Take them out at 148 degrees f or so... just a little pink.

                                                          I pretty much ruined a beef pan sauce. Somebody must have hit my elbow when I put dijon mustard in it. The wife and son were merciless!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                            eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 02:30 AM

                                                            People have trouble with pork chops because (1) chops are incredibly lean (so they go from underdone to dry in a flash); (2) chop thickness varies so much (making it hard to find those "tried-and-true" rules for consistent success we home cooks so love); and (3) the range of "acceptable" doneness is so narrow---anything more than a mere blush and half your guests will think you're trying to kill them, remove that blush (which, again, is awfully easy to do on accident) and the other half will think you're hopelessly out of touch with current tastes and practices. Also, not everyone seems to love the flavor of brined chops. And because of that narrow window for acceptable doneness, I think people poke away with meat thermometers, which of course just increases the likelihood of a dry and chewy piece of meat.

                                                          2. greedygirl Aug 9, 2010 02:49 PM

                                                            I am having problems with my no-knead sourdough at the moment. I don't know whether it's the starter, or the unusually warm and humid weather we're having, but it's coming out flat. I don't think it can be the starter, as it's still doubling in size fine. Maybe I need to add less water?

                                                            I also made a walnut sponge cake on Sunday for a cake sale on my street which didn't rise properly. I'm not a very regular baker, but I think I didn't beat the eggs and sugar thoroughly enough. I had to run out and buy more butter so I could make something else, which did turn out right, thankfully. The cake still tasted good, once I sandwiched it together and iced it, and my work colleagues enjoyed it!

                                                            1. j
                                                              jvanderh Aug 9, 2010 12:42 PM

                                                              Bread. I tried to make whole wheat, but I don't have a stand mixer, and I don't think I kneaded it enough. Either that or my starter wasn't full force. It came out dense and flat. Yuck!! I totally agree with the person who said your mood comes out in your food. Sometimes I know I'm too cranky and distracted to be cooking. I know I'm going to end up with something I don't want to eat, but I keep cooking anyway.

                                                              1. thew Aug 9, 2010 07:28 AM

                                                                chicken on the bbq/grill remains my nemesis

                                                                1. jfood Aug 9, 2010 06:12 AM

                                                                  Since the thread was re-started.

                                                                  1 - the quinoa was really mushy the last time, total screw up by jfood
                                                                  2 - phone call..."there has been some unusual activity on your american express card..." Well 40 minutes later there was some unusual activity on the grill where jfood had some chicken breast incinerating away.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Aug 9, 2010 03:41 PM

                                                                    you should have asked AmEx to credit you for the chicken ;)

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                      jfood Aug 9, 2010 03:49 PM

                                                                      They did better. ;-)

                                                                  2. 4
                                                                    4Snisl Aug 9, 2010 05:50 AM

                                                                    I burned the quinoa yesterday. I was going for toasty and fluffy.....overshot and ended up past edibility. :)

                                                                    1. alkapal Aug 9, 2010 04:41 AM

                                                                      dangit! i oversalted my baby limas from the farmers' market. ;-(.

                                                                      1. hala Jan 14, 2010 06:09 PM

                                                                        Was making 2 muffin recipes, one savory one sweet and I mixed up my mise-en-place. The sweet muffins with lemon curd ended up being made with whole wheat flour and Olive Oil. They were actually good. I might repeat that mistake again.

                                                                        1. babybat Jan 13, 2010 11:03 AM

                                                                          I think reading this thread jinxed me. I was reading it while my cornbread-topped chili con carne was baking, went to get it out of the oven, and managed to drop the whole dish. The cornbread didn't break up, and a little voice inside my head shouted "I AM NOT WASTING THE LAST TWO HOURS I SPENT ON THIS!" Thankfully, I'd mopped the kitchen floor earlier that day. It's now back in the dish, and when hubby comes home I'm not going to tell him - this one goes with me to the grave!

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: babybat
                                                                            l
                                                                            LolaP Jan 13, 2010 11:44 AM

                                                                            Hah, I would have done the same thing! At a casual dinner party in December I accidentally drained pasta into a too-small colander, which meant half of it went into the sink. I had a hungry crowd waiting, so I swiftly scooped the pasta back into the pot. Your secret is safe with me!

                                                                            1. re: babybat
                                                                              bythebayov Jan 14, 2010 04:29 AM

                                                                              lol your secret's safe with us :-)

                                                                            2. k
                                                                              k_d Jan 13, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                                              My latest disaster was Chinese egg tarts (daan taat). I've made them before without any real problem. Pulled my homemade puff pastry dough out of the freezer, thawed it, and went to cut the tart pastries like usual. Filled with a really nice egg custard and put in the oven. All the pastry shrank and drew in on itself so quickly and dramatically that the egg custard went spilling over the edge of every single tart shell, filling the baking sheet they were on with a 1/4 inch layer of egg custard. The pastry did eventually puff, but it went all soggy from having the egg custard on all sides. How nasty. And how sad, because you know how much time it takes to make the puff pastry to begin with. I think my son ate one, and my daughter another, each commenting on the tremendous sog factor. But the rest had to be chucked. boo hoo.

                                                                              1. mess Jan 13, 2010 08:17 AM

                                                                                Last night actually, didn't "ruin" it but since it is one of my favorite things to eat and make, it was not at all up to my standards... I was attempting my glorious chimmichurri, ended up making it in a blender because my food processor was giving me attitude, didnt have near enough garlic, ran out of olive oil and ended up using melted butter, had to add extra red wine to get it to blend and even though it actually tasted damn good, it was no where near the consistency or flavor that I normally whip up, oddly enough, the night before, my husband messed up one of his dishes too. Bad start to this cook week. Hah ;]

                                                                                1. Honeychan Jan 12, 2010 09:38 PM

                                                                                  i'm mad at myself for making a Swedish split pea soup so horrid that I THREW IT OUT after a small bowl I could barely choke down it was so salty!

                                                                                  I stick in gorgeous hambone from New Year's dinner. It cooks away and at 2 hours, the flavor of the broth was -so- heavenly, I thought I would swoon. The peas (having soaked for 15 or so hours!) were still hard a BB's and the shells had not split yet. I cooked it for another 2 hours. OHGOD!!! The saltiness was just so gross!

                                                                                  I was spitting mad for wasting all that soup. Ohwell, you live, and learn!

                                                                                  1. l
                                                                                    LolaP Jan 12, 2010 09:29 PM

                                                                                    Poo, I am currently feeling dissatisfied with a cake I made tonight for my boyfriend's birthday. I have never used cake flour before and have been getting curious lately. I subbed cake for regular flour in a trusty cake recipe (following Swan's Down instructions to add 2 Tbs per cup) and it just came out really...squashed down? It wasn't dense exactly...just kind of deflated and non-fluffy. He loved it of course (I love to cook for him--so appreciative!) but it wasn't up to my standards. Trying to decide what to do with the leftovers. I might toss them.

                                                                                    1. ms. clicquot Jan 11, 2010 02:01 PM

                                                                                      I cooked dinner for 7 at a friend's house on New Year's Eve. I was really hoping everything would turn out ok because you never know what variables you'll encounter in a strange kitchen. To my relief, everything went off without a hitch - until my friend and I were prepping dessert to go in the oven when he smelled something burning. He opened the oven door and lo and behold, the baguette I had put in to warm up was completely charred through! I think the free flowing wine may be partly to blame... :)

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: ms. clicquot
                                                                                        mcf Jan 11, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                                        LOL, that's a lifetime tradition of mine, forgetting the bread until it's been charred while we ate.

                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                          eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 01:26 AM

                                                                                          Used to be a problem for me, too. Nowadays I rely on the timer for broiled items or things like warmed bread if I have company over that wants to chat while I cook; if I'm feeling off my game; or if I'm indulging in more than a single beer/cocktail/glass of wine while cooking.

                                                                                      2. d
                                                                                        dmd_kc Jan 11, 2010 12:19 PM

                                                                                        I am still pretty much rotten with the slow cooker most of the time. Last week, I made an absolutely dreadful vegan vegetable soup. It had an almost-metallic flavor that I attribute to too many onions, I think. But it was totally bad.

                                                                                        1. iluvcookies Jan 11, 2010 08:38 AM

                                                                                          Silly me didn't check my oven thermometer when I put in the meringues. They browned. A lot.

                                                                                          They did, however, have the taste of toasted marshmallow, which I found particularly pleasing. So I got the whole batch and my guests got a different dessert.

                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                            jeanmarieok Jan 10, 2010 04:42 PM

                                                                                            I've been doing the BBA challenge - to cook Peter Reinhart's entire book. We hit the bagel recipe back in May, and man, mine were so awful, they were inedible. I boiled them in the baking soda water, and they turned into mushy, doughy, salty sponges. I tried them again over Christmas, and still, nothing we could eat. And both times, I made this really good salmon/cream cheese/ horseradish spread, and had to send my husband out for 'good' bagels. Everything else I've made during the challenge has been delicious, and edible, so I think I have a block on how to make a good bagel.

                                                                                            1. jfood Jan 10, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                                                              jfood made a couple of lasagnes for the freezer. He decided not to boil the pasta dough before assembling. It did not come out perfect.

                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: jfood
                                                                                                r
                                                                                                RGC1982 Jan 10, 2010 04:40 PM

                                                                                                You mean you do it the old fashioned way? Like when my Nana used to make lasagna? Geez, jfood, even my aunts were using no-boil lasagna noodles as of 20 years ago.

                                                                                                I am impressed. I am also curious, because I recently froze lasagna leftovers for the first time in 20 years on New Year's Eve, as there is never a need to freeze it since we eat it all over two days. Is it going to be awful because I used the no-boil stuff?

                                                                                                1. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  southern_expat Jan 11, 2010 01:46 PM

                                                                                                  Is it going to be awful because I used the no-boil stuff?

                                                                                                  ----------------

                                                                                                  NO! I took the plunge a couple of months ago and made Emeril's "Manly Man Lasagna" He irritates the crap out of me, but searching for a new lasagna recipe to try, I stumbled across it. It's expensive and a two-day cooking affair, but truly divine.

                                                                                                  It makes enough for an army, and I divided it into four catering pans, cooked two and froze the rest. The half-pan that was already cooked came out great from the freezer. The other two pans, frozen before cooking, were even better.

                                                                                                  No-boil lasagna sheets are the greatest. They soak up the yummy liquids from the sauces, instead of just blobbing around in mix. I'm now on a quest to perfect a homemade pasta dough that I can sub for the storebought ones.

                                                                                                  1. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Jan 11, 2010 05:44 PM

                                                                                                    RGC, i think jfood may have been saying that he used *regular* uncooked pasta sheets (not the no-boil ones) and neglected to cook them first. that could certainly be a problem ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                      mcf Jan 11, 2010 05:46 PM

                                                                                                      A lot of folks use those without boiling them, too, just adding extra sauce. For my money, not only are they lower carb (important for me), but Barilla no boil lasagna noodles are very tender and delicious.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                        bythebayov Jan 13, 2010 04:15 AM

                                                                                                        didn't know they were lower in carbs, that's great, was eating better without even noticing! I love that!!

                                                                                                        1. re: bythebayov
                                                                                                          mcf Jan 13, 2010 05:25 AM

                                                                                                          They're very thin. Three whole ones add up to a net of 34 grams. I peel them back and eat the filling except for the top with the melted cheese. But still, an entire three layer third of a 9x13 pan would have only 38 noodle carbs, plus the lactose and tomato sauce grams.

                                                                                                  2. re: jfood
                                                                                                    coll Jan 12, 2010 11:50 PM

                                                                                                    I messed up our Christmas Day lasagna, made the traditional way but I had a hunk of gorgonzola in the fridge, and some pesto in the freezer, and thought, why not jazz it up a little? Well everyone ate it, but it had a really weird taste, and I am still regretting it. Then again, I was in a weird mood this holiday, and I firmly believe it shows in your cooking.

                                                                                                    1. re: coll
                                                                                                      roxlet Aug 9, 2010 04:22 PM

                                                                                                      We once went to a friend's house in the country at the end of a fairly long car ride with my then fairly elderly father. He was very hungry and she kindly offered us some lasagna. We all almost puked. She had put curry powder in the lasagna and was surprised that we could taste it. Known forever as that cat food lasagna.

                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                        coll Aug 10, 2010 02:59 AM

                                                                                                        I've been learning to tone down my curry powder additions, it definitely is disgusting to many people when they can really taste it. And especially when it's in something where it's not expected, like chicken salad. Or lasagna.

                                                                                                        Don't think I'll be experimenting with basic lasagna in the near future myself. When someone says "lasagna" I think there are certain expectations that must be fulfilled or you risk funny names being attached. Wonder what my guests called mine afterwards? Stinky lasagna? Green garlic lasagna?

                                                                                                        1. re: coll
                                                                                                          roxlet Aug 10, 2010 05:34 AM

                                                                                                          You're right, coll. Lasagna does come with expectations!

                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                            alkapal Aug 10, 2010 06:01 AM

                                                                                                            ah, cheesy, creamy, meaty.... those are mine! ;-).

                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                              roxlet Aug 10, 2010 06:07 AM

                                                                                                              I absolutely agree, though I will jump through hoops for a good béchamel based lasagna like the kind you get in Italy.

                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                alkapal Aug 10, 2010 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                true. ok, i'm a sucker for just about any lasagne -- but it cannot be dry! lasagne is about comfort, oozing goodness, cheeeeeese! oh, right, noodles.

                                                                                                                (bonus points for homemade pasta lasagne noodles!!!).

                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                  coll Aug 10, 2010 07:07 AM

                                                                                                                  What makes it worse is I did do bechamel, that's what I mixed the pesto into. And Bolognese sauce, with homemade noodles, what a waste! Well live and learn.

                                                                                                                  1. re: coll
                                                                                                                    roxlet Aug 10, 2010 08:54 AM

                                                                                                                    I don't usually do the bechamel myself, but in Italy.... oh, my!

                                                                                                                  2. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                    mcel215 Aug 25, 2010 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                    Mostpeople like lasagna firm, but not me. I love it oozing too!

                                                                                                    2. DiningDiva Jan 10, 2010 12:50 PM

                                                                                                      Masa. I couldn't get to the local Mexican market to pick up some prepared masa for tortillas on New Year's Eve because I had to take a sick cat to the vet. I thought, ni modo (not important) I've got masa harina at home I can make masa from that. Wrong. I couldn't get the consistency of the masa from masa harina right. The first few tortillas didn't press out correctly. Ultimately, I wanted to make quesadillas (empanadas) using masa. By trial and error I eventually got the masa pliable enough to press, but the quesadillas were pretty bad. Too thick with a gritty, masa harina texture and taste.

                                                                                                      I've worked with masa quite a bit and usually don't have problems with it. But it had been a while since I'd had to make masa from masa harina. Never again. I'll find the time to go get prepared masa.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                        sdnativa Jan 11, 2010 01:51 PM

                                                                                                        I hope the kitty was ok.

                                                                                                        1. re: sdnativa
                                                                                                          DiningDiva Aug 27, 2010 10:16 AM

                                                                                                          Kitty was fine :-). Thanks for asking

                                                                                                      2. capeanne Jan 10, 2010 10:35 AM

                                                                                                        DH is the cook in the house and he has lost his Mojo with gougeres..This was the perfect weekend lunch ( some sav blanc and a bunch of the cheesey fluffy thingys) Well the last 4-5-6 times he has tried he tossed the batter ( too wet, too something) and we resorted to frozen samosa's...there is a batch in oven as we speak so we got beyond the toss phase and now lets see if they rise...I love me my gougeres...

                                                                                                        1. corneygirl Jan 10, 2010 10:15 AM

                                                                                                          Refried beans. I salted the beans in liquid as if I wasn't going to mash and simmer. The liquid cooked down, the salt concentrated, inedible.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: corneygirl
                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                            dtremit Jan 10, 2010 11:14 AM

                                                                                                            Mine's the opposite. I forget to salt food. I'm getting better, but I made a mess of what would have been a wonderful huevos rancheros the other day. With heirloom beans, no less.

                                                                                                            1. re: dtremit
                                                                                                              corneygirl Jan 10, 2010 01:30 PM

                                                                                                              At least you can add salt, I don't know how I do this since I don't like salty food to begin with.

                                                                                                          2. g
                                                                                                            Gatsby1 Jan 10, 2010 05:24 AM

                                                                                                            I burn grilled cheese sandwhiches so often I've come to enjoy them that way.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Gatsby1
                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                              southernexpat Jan 10, 2010 06:44 AM

                                                                                                              burned tortilla chips with the nachos are good, too. I have them quite often.

                                                                                                            2. lulubelle Jan 10, 2010 05:21 AM

                                                                                                              The lemon meringue pie I made for a dinner party last night looked spectacular. It actually tasted pretty spectacular too, only you had to eat it with a spoon because the filling never set and ran all over the place when I cut it. I'm not sure if I didn't cook it long enough or what. I've made it before, and while it is never as firm as the pie you get at Bakers Square, it usually doesn't run off the plate.

                                                                                                              1. g
                                                                                                                givemecarbs Jan 10, 2010 12:18 AM

                                                                                                                Was frying up some packaged tortillas tonight and burnt the first one because I hadn't gotten a spatula or tongs out ahead of time and my kitchen drawer jammed. Kept tugging frantically on the ends of utensils thinking one would pull free in time. My dogs love my mess ups.

                                                                                                                1. Azizeh Jan 9, 2010 10:27 PM

                                                                                                                  Fudge. I can't make fudge. I tried right before Xmas and threw away 3-4 batches. Considering the price of good chocolate, I'm a little weary to keep practicing.

                                                                                                                  Used a Le Creuset pot, 2 different candy thermometers... I have no idea what my problem is.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Azizeh
                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                    jvanderh Aug 9, 2010 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                    Have you tried the lazy version? I never tried making it the candy thermometer way because it used to drive my mother to tears on a regular basis. I'm crazy about this one though:

                                                                                                                    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fudge/De...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Azizeh
                                                                                                                      DiningDiva Aug 27, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                      Could also be due to the amount of humidity in the air on the day you make fudge. If it's really wet outside, fudge tends to crystalize.

                                                                                                                      I've gotten really, really good at making the Fantasy Fudge recipe on the jar of marshmallow fluff. Somewhere along the line I purchased a 4-qt. heavy-bottomed All-Clad stainless steel saucepan which has turned out to be perfect for candy making as it conducts heat so well and so evenly. I do use a candy thermometer. There are 2 other things I do when making fudge that I think are key...1) I have all the ingredients prepped and ready so that once the sugar mixture hits 238* they can go in immediately, and 2) I have a helper (preferrably one with some upper body strength) do the beating while I add the chocolate, marshmallow, nuts and vanilla.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        sarahNC Aug 31, 2010 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                        I also use this recipe as my go to choice - in fact, I don't even bother with the thermometer. I've made it so many times that I do it almost by feel, but about 4 minutes, 30 seconds from a full rolling boil in my "fudge pot" (4 quart calphalon), it's exactly right!

                                                                                                                    2. goodhealthgourmet Jan 9, 2010 10:15 PM

                                                                                                                      i've over-cooked a couple of things lately that i can typically turn out perfectly with my eyes closed. i'm blaming it on a new stove & oven, in a new house - i haven't adjusted to this kitchen yet :)

                                                                                                                      the two worst victims so far:
                                                                                                                      - a beautiful organic grass-fed burger that ended up medium (maybe even close to medium-well), and i like my burgers RARE.
                                                                                                                      - a gorgeous frittata with tons of fresh veggies and goat cheese. i couldn't find the flame sweet spot when i was sauteing the veggies - it was either to high or too low the entire time...and then when i stuck the pan in the broiler drawer it wasn't hot enough so it sort of steamed the eggs instead of giving it that lovely crusty exterior. boo.

                                                                                                                      i miss my old kitchen!

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                        eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 01:16 AM

                                                                                                                        Yeah go easy on yourself. We've moved around a bunch the last decade or so and the home-cooked food always suffers a bit for a month or so after each move---especially as in the last few years I've encountered my first electric coil and glass/ceramic stoves.

                                                                                                                        1. re: eight_inch_pestle
                                                                                                                          goodhealthgourmet Aug 31, 2010 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                          thanks, actually, i've since moved again, and my new place has a better stove - still gas, and a *real* broiler instead of a drawer. hooray! of course now i just have to USE it - new job has me *swamped* with very little kitchen time.

                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                            eight_inch_pestle Aug 31, 2010 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                            Twice in 8 months? Yikes. Not envious. Hope things settle down soon so you can get back in the saddle.

                                                                                                                            1. re: eight_inch_pestle
                                                                                                                              goodhealthgourmet Sep 1, 2010 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                              if you only knew my moving history...

                                                                                                                              but thanks for the kind words :) the move was for a great job,and fortunately i'm actually going to be developing and testing plenty of recipes at work, so it's all good!

                                                                                                                      2. RetiredChef Jan 9, 2010 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                        For December

                                                                                                                        Crystallized a caramel sauce (in front of 2 other chef’s, try living that one down)
                                                                                                                        Burnt a mirepoix (distracted by a phone call)
                                                                                                                        Made a Sacher Torte and forgot the apricot jam (senility)
                                                                                                                        Overcooked some baby back ribs so the bones were falling out. (more senility)
                                                                                                                        Burnt to smithereens 3 baguettes (neighbor came over and we started talking)

                                                                                                                        That’s all your getting out of me, you’ll have to waterboard me for more info.

                                                                                                                        1. nofunlatte Jan 9, 2010 02:59 PM

                                                                                                                          I ruined honey-vanilla frozen yogurt. I made my own yogurt (w/2% milk, half-and-half, and greek yogurt starter), strained the yogurt (which was fabulous), warmed some honey, added vanilla extract, combined the honey w/yogurt, chilled the mixture, and then churned it after chilling. At that point it was fabulous--perhaps the best froyo I ever made! I should have eaten it right then and there. How did I ruin this? By FREEZING IT. Yes, my delightful yogurt turned icy and harder than any centuries-old, non-shrinking alpine glacier. Left it out to warm up, but that wasn't successful. Tried microwaving it a bit--also unsuccessful (it was either molten or still solid and icy). Lesson learned--churn and eat right away!

                                                                                                                          1. Bryn Jan 9, 2010 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                            I made a fritatta the other night and just made up the recipe as I went along. I used too many onions and didn't cook them long enough and added sundried tomatoes because I thought it would go well. It didn't. Beautiful frittata, tasted wrong. I was able to choke down half a piece before I poured myself a bowl of cereal.

                                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                                              southernexpat Jan 9, 2010 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                              Took the two outer wrappings off of a ham (it was amazingly clean), stuck that sucker in the oven, then soon noticed a horrible smell. Two seconds later the fire detector went off. Turns out there was another plastic wrapper on it.

                                                                                                                              Lesson learned.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: southernexpat
                                                                                                                                r
                                                                                                                                RGC1982 Jan 9, 2010 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                I have never seen THREE ham wrappers, unless you are counting a mesh, foil, and then plastic. No way you could miss the plastic on one of those babies. I don't think it was you.

                                                                                                                                1. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                  southernexpat Jan 10, 2010 06:40 AM

                                                                                                                                  RCG!!! Who else would it have been?!? Honeybun, you have absolutely MADE my day, I am giggling so hard. Bless you, darlin!

                                                                                                                                  To be honest, I was more than a little tipsy at the time. Mid-afternoon martinis are the ONLY way I can get through cooking dinner for my sister-in-law's parents.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: southernexpat
                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                    RGC1982 Jan 10, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    Pitchers of vodka martinis were needed back in the days when I had to cook for my in-laws. I even tried getting my MIL drunk, but she never really drank enough to do it, so I started drinking more instead.

                                                                                                                                    As for you ham wrapper, maybe you just forgot to put your glasses on?

                                                                                                                                    Now I'm giggling!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: RGC1982
                                                                                                                                      bermudagourmetgoddess Sep 9, 2010 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                      Old post but had to comment...Pitchers of Dirty Martinis are the only way I can deal with my MIL and SIL...thanks for the in laws martini support club!

                                                                                                                              2. t
                                                                                                                                truman Jan 9, 2010 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                I ruined a huge batch of turkey and black bean chili. Not sure what happened, but the meat was all mealy and gross, and somehow the seasoning (chili powder, ground chiles, and cumin) made it taste like, well, something on the wrong side of the trash can. I've made this a zillion times before with very happy results. Unfortunately, I created this monster as part of the "pre-kitchen-remodel freezer-fest" and so I didn't taste it before freezing (it was 11 pm, I'd been cooking for 9 hours, and I really didn't feel like eating chili right before bed). We defrosted one portion and barely managed to eat it. The rest got tossed, and we ate out a few extra times during the remodel.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: truman
                                                                                                                                  susancinsf Jan 9, 2010 09:45 PM

                                                                                                                                  I'm curious: had you frozen it before? Could that possibly have been the problem? I ask because when I saw this thread I thought immediately of the chili I made recently: I used the same recipe I always use, and then froze it right away (no kitchen remodel, but a long holiday break from work so I decided to stock the freezer).

                                                                                                                                  anyway, we took it out the other day and defrosted it for dinner: while it wasn't as awful you you make yours sound, it wasn't good. Bland, bland, bland and blah. And my chili is *never* bland. All I could conclude was that the freezing/defrosting process somehow screwed it up.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                                    truman Jan 10, 2010 05:19 AM

                                                                                                                                    I might not have - the recipe makes ~4 servings so we don't usually have leftovers after two dinners - so that's a possibility. I can attribute the "tastes funny" to pregnancy hormones wreaking havoc with my senses of smell and taste, but DH agreed it tasted funny, and the turkey texture was all wrong. At least we didn't get sick... and maybe it was just a diabolical parting gift from the ugly old kitchen. :)

                                                                                                                                2. Will Owen Jan 9, 2010 11:37 AM

                                                                                                                                  I simply cannot get bok choy to cook right - it's either mushy and watery or burnt, and sometimes BOTH, which is extremely weird. I love the flavor, but it's one of the few things I avoid cooking for company. I think I'm just trying too hard.

                                                                                                                                  Tough pork chops are a common problem - today's pork loin is so lean it's worse than turkey breast, something I would have thought impossible. I've given up trying to pan-fry boneless ones after making some that defied both the sharpest knives and the strongest jaws...

                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                    mcf Jan 9, 2010 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    You need some heritage pork, it's moist even though not greasy. Conventional pork is dry as heck above 150-155 F. Well done is inedible.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                      susancinsf Jan 9, 2010 09:41 PM

                                                                                                                                      I think I need to give up pan trying them also. I made some the other night: grilled and then pan sauteed along with some cabbage and apples. I couldn't believe that the cabbage was still a bit firm (perfect actually) while the pork chops were overdone and tough, after just a short bit of time...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                        mcel215 Jan 10, 2010 02:54 AM

                                                                                                                                        I have always had tough pork chops, then gave up and now do pork tenderloin. Instant read thermometer must not go over 140 and they come out perfect.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcel215
                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                          mandycat Jan 11, 2010 07:26 AM

                                                                                                                                          I, too, have given up on pork chops. Either you cook them quickly and they take on the consistency of a doggy chew toy or you cook them slowly and they dissolve into mush. Costco sells pork tenderloins in a two-pack, each one the right size for two people and plentiful leftovers. I cook them at 325 until they reach 150 F. I made one New Year's Eve by giving it a nice relaxing olive oil-garlic-rosemary massage and letting it rest in the fridge for four hours before cooking. Yum.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mandycat
                                                                                                                                            mcf Jan 11, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                            I buy Berkshire, Duroc or Dubreton chops, preferably extra thick. Seasoned, pan seared then roasted at high temp, they're very juicy and have much more flavor than conventional feedlot pork, which I'd given up on years ago. I've had them thin and they've been juicy, too.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                          rockandroller1 Jan 10, 2010 04:12 AM

                                                                                                                                          My pork chops are always tough too. I resigned to only do them in the crock pot, it's the only way they get tender.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                            v
                                                                                                                                            vcavett Jan 10, 2010 06:58 AM

                                                                                                                                            I'm so glad I'm not the only one with problems with bok choy. However, it keeps appearing in my csa box, so I keep trying. Best results so far for me - use the stalks like celery in a soup, add the chopped greens towards the end, kind of like kale. This was really good with beans and leftover chicken as the other major components.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                                                              LolaP Jan 12, 2010 09:25 PM

                                                                                                                                              I very much recommend rubbing the chops with salt and whatever herbs you like and letting them sit, covered, in the fridge for a few days before cooking. Works wonders!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LolaP
                                                                                                                                                bythebayov Jan 13, 2010 04:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                just saw in food and wine that you can brine chicken in pickle juice, sure you could do the same to porkchops...I would let them sit overnight and then pan sear them, make sure not to overcook and top w a sour cream dill sauce or simply serve "naked" was an aha moment for me and I bet it'll be delish!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                weewah Aug 30, 2010 11:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                I cook mine in a super-heated cast iron pan and cook them super fast. After flipping them and they get a sear on that second side, pour some water into the pan, cover it and turn the fire off. When you think they've sat long enough to cook through, they will still be juicy. The dog will love that meat juice and you will have de-glazed and cleaned your cast iron pan.
                                                                                                                                                I think most people over cook pork as they're afraid to undercook it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                                                                  lidia Sep 1, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Re: pork chops. My DH has gotten (from our butcher) pork neck steaks, and they are great on the grill: a little bit darker meat and some extra fat that makes them tastier. The slight downside is more veins, tendons, etc., but nothing dramatic.

                                                                                                                                                2. mcf Jan 8, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I can't believe I'm making this public, but I often screw up instant pudding. Seriously. I buy the sugar free stuff and for a low carb quick fix in a house with no sweets, I often get the heavy cream/milk/water ratio wrong and it's either thick like almost dry mortar or grout or unset. I'm a long time accomplished home cook, really I am. I just don't think about what I'm doing and forget what worked in the past each time.

                                                                                                                                                  1. monavano Jan 8, 2010 12:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I made tagliatelle with mushrooms and spinach in a white wine and cream sauce. Topped with grilled chicken. The chicken was just fine. It was the pasta and sauce.
                                                                                                                                                    First, the sauce was so bland due to really, really crappy parmesan that I had to settle for at our crappy neighborhood Safeway.
                                                                                                                                                    Second, the pasta kept on absorbing the sauce. The leftovers had no sauce left in the container.
                                                                                                                                                    Bland, boring and once the chicken was gone, it was heated up with some water to give my dogs a "treat" wit h their meals.
                                                                                                                                                    The loved it, so it wasn't a total loss!
                                                                                                                                                    Oh well-mistakes are good learning experiences. I think I went wrong with the pasta. I've used regular spaghetti and linguini with far better results. I think I'll save my next batch of tagliatelle for when I make Marcela's bolognese.

                                                                                                                                                    1. m
                                                                                                                                                      Meann Jan 8, 2010 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I turned a couple of nice pork chops into leather the other day. And the braised onions and cabbage were way too sweet. I just couldn't get any of the flavors to balance. It just got worse the more I fussed.

                                                                                                                                                      1. rockandroller1 Jan 8, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Last week I ruined fried chicken. I am newly on a mandated dairy-free, soy-free diet so I decided to cook it at home, which I haven't done for, oh, at least 15 years. It was bland as f*ck. At least it wasn't burned on the outside and raw on the inside I guess. We ate it anyway, with a lot of salt. :-/

                                                                                                                                                        My most famous screw up was a sausage-cornbread-pecan dressing for Thanksgiving that I talked about making for weeks. I burned the f*cking pecans, then threw them in anyway thinking they would mellow out with the sausage. Wrong. And the cornbread never set up, so it was like mealy, vaguely wet cornmeal and sausage with a burned pecan taste. Mmm, yummo.

                                                                                                                                                        1. bythebayov Jan 8, 2010 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                          undercooked my broiled Tilapia with a chive cheese gratin last night, was tired and nothing seemed to work right....have made this dish a thousand times but must have been distracted. I make mistakes at times and always seem to learn from them, that's how I learn and grow as a cook. Am terrified of baking thoug because I am MUCH more likely of messing the whole thing up!

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