No matter how good a cook you are or how much time you have to prepare a meal, you can never guarantee that everything will go to plan. Whether you look away for a moment too long, are trying to wrangle your kids to get them to behave or running around doing everything at once, you might find that the easy dinner you were whipping up has suddenly become a disaster.
This doesn’t necessarily mean everything needs to go in the bin, leaving you trying to make something out of the random ingredients in your cupboard, as you may be able to save the day and your dinner.
To make sure you have quick and easy fixes up your sleeve for when everything seems to go wrong, as well as good recipes to turn to, our next Tefalphabet tip is all about rescuing your kitchen efforts. Here’s what you need to know to avoid disaster and keep everyone happy:
We all know the importance of seasoning your food as you’re cooking, after all, there’s nothing worse than a bland and flavourless meal, unless it’s a super salty meal. It’s pretty easy to over-salt your food, especially if you’re reducing a sauce.
You may have heard the old trick about adding a potato to a sauce or liquid if it is too salty, but sadly this doesn’t really do the trick. Instead, remove some of the liquid and add in unsalted stock, more tinned tomatoes or even water. This will balance things out and make your food edible.
Alternatively, you can add a competing flavour, which will help to balance out the saltiness, Something like sugar or vinegar works well, although you might not want to sprinkle sugar on your chips.
Overcooking your rice can mean it ends up a white, mushy mess, which is far from appetising. While in some cases it might just be best to pop your gooey rice in the bin, rinse out your pan and start again, you might be able to rescue it by frying it.
This won’t go with every meal, but quickly frying your rice can crisp it up a bit and add some extra flavour. Simply rinse it off under cold water before throwing into a saucepan with a spoon of oil. You can add egg – which should be cooked in the pan first – soy sauce and vegetables to totally transform the rice and make dinner a bit more interesting.
Overbeaten egg whites
If you’re being brave and making something with whipped egg whites, you need to make sure the consistency is perfect. While you might be patient and whip them by hand, most of us prefer to avoid the inevitable arm ache and use an electric alternative. Unfortunately, the extra power can mean your egg whites go from fine to clumpy in a matter of seconds if you aren’t careful.
You can correct this by simply adding some unwhipped egg whites. A good rule to follow is one egg white for every two over whipped ones. Simply whisk them in carefully and you’ll get the smooth consistency you wanted in the first place.
The only difference with rescued egg whites is that you need to use them pretty sharpish, so don’t let them hang around for too long.
Ideally, when you’re cooking vegetables, you want them to retain a bit of crunch. Mushy carrots are far from appetising and will probably end up in the bin unless you do something with them.
While you can’t magically make them crunchy again – even we can’t give you a fix for that – you can turn them into an alternative side dish. Why not use your overcooked sprouts to create a creamy vegetable dish or puree your carrots with a touch of seasoning?
You’ll probably still want to add some extra texture to the dish, but at least this way everyone will probably still eat their vegetables.
You’ve made the perfect cake batter, got it to rise well and turn a lovely golden brown and then when you’ve gone to tip your baked masterpiece out, you discover the cake is stuck in the tin. You can either try and shake it out and risk half of the cake sticking to the pan, or you can use an alternative method.
There are a couple of options when it comes to unsticking cake, so it just depends on how much time you have before you want to serve it to people. If it’s just stuck a little bit, wrap a damp teatowel around the entire cake pan and leave it on the side for a while. This should help you pop the cake out.
If this doesn’t work, cover your cake with clingfilm after it’s cooled and put it – pan and all – in the freezer for between six hours and a full day. When you take it out, carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake and then use two forks – one at either end and inserted into the cake – to push the cake away from the tin.
In the instances when your cake stays stuck fast, you might have to just try and hide the damage with extra buttercream.