7 Fixes to Cooking Fails
Don't panic: You can save your recipes in a snap.
Missteps in the kitchen? They happen, whether you're baking a birthday cake or making a one-pot meal. But don't despair: You may not need to toss the dish and start from scratch. Even less-than-stellar results can be rescued in time for dinner — here's how.
Mistake: Too Much Salt
The Fix: When it comes to too much salt, the key to rescuing the meal is re-establishing balance. For example, serving the dish with a starch such as rice can help absorb the salt, as can a more neutral or tangy sour cream- or yogurt-based sauce. Or you might be able to "cheat" the recipe. For example, if you're making chili or soup, double the recipe but leave out the extra salt. You'll have leftovers — and should create better balance in the overall dish.
Mistake: Too Much Sweetness
The Fix: A distracting level of sweetness may not be a mistake you've made; it may be simply the result of a particular combination of ingredients at a particular time of the year. For example, tomatoes vary in sweetness depending on the time of year, which means tomato sauce from scratch may vary, too. A bit of acid (apple cider vinegar or lemon) helps correct the proportions. For a savory dish, bold spices such as garlic, cumin, or crushed red pepper can help round out sweetness.
Mistake: Crispy Becomes Soggy
The Fix: The line between just-perfect crisp and appetite-killing soggy is pretty thin, especially with more delicate ingredients such as fish or veggies. Here's a different way to rescue them: Chop or shred, then add to tacos or a quinoa or rice bowl to complement the overall ingredient mix of the dish.
Mistake: Overcooked Meat
The Fix: Timing is everything, and even if a recipe calls for 30 minutes, a roasted chicken can quickly jump to "done" in just 20. Again, shredding the meat can help you transform the too-dry results into a palatable ingredient for dumplings, shepherd's pie, or a meaty pasta sauce.
Mistake: A Too-thin Sauce
The Fix: Stock your pantry with cornstarch and you'll have an on-hand rescue for recipes that seem too watery. Create a "cornstarch slurry" by mixing in equal parts cornstarch and cold water to thicken a sauce, curry, or soup. After adding the cornstarch mix, cook 2 to 5 minutes until the sauce reaches desired thickness.
Mistake: Soda Mix-up
The Fix: Your recipe calls for baking soda but you added baking powder? There's a fix for that, too. While baking powder includes baking soda in its list of ingredients, swapping one for the other can make a big difference. If you used baking powder instead of baking soda, triple the amount used in the recipe before you put it in the pan (and in the oven). And if you used baking soda instead of baking powder, add 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda that was added.
Mistake: A Flat Cake
The Fix: Don't scrap a cake that didn't rise. Roll tablespoon-size portions into bite-size balls and dip into melted chocolate for dessert that's an instant hit.
Ready to rescue your fridge from the bane of wasted food? Try these tips.
Grill to Oven Cooking Techniques
Grill to Oven Cooking Techniques
Indoors or out, enjoy delicious grilling techniques that can help you take your recipes from oven to grill and back again.