Everyone has a different style in the kitchen. Some more measured whereas others are a bit slap dash.
Maybe you’re like Nigella, adding a ‘glug’ here and there, as opposed to a bake off contestant crying over consistency of their lemon curd. I suspect Nigella’s secret to ‘confident cooking with casual flair’ is that even if she over seasons a dish she knows how to fix it.
But being able to rescue a dish from the brink of disaster is often easier than you think. Having a few handy tricks under your belt will improve your cooking ability immensely, not to mention save time and money.
So, channel your inner Nigella and take note of our top fixes for the most common kitchen mishaps.
1. Fix a dish that’s too salty
If you over salt a dish add in some raw peeled & cubed potato as this will soak up some of the extra salt. When the potato is just soft (test with a skewer) remove from the sauce and discard.
2. Rescue a split mayonnaise
If your mayonnaise separates you can rescue it by placing an egg yolk with a little squeeze of lemon juice into a clean bowl. Begin to add the split mayonnaise a little at a time, whisking in well with each addition (ideally use a balloon whisk). Continue to add and whisk until a thick sauce forms.
Note – often the mayonnaise can split especially in warmer weather when using a food processor or blender as the sauce overheats (from the appliance motor).
3. Prevent burnt butter
If your butter always burns when you are pan-frying, add 1 teaspoon of oil with the butter at the beginning and this will prevent the butter from burning.
4. Cool down a dish that’s too spicy
If you have a dish that’s a little too “spicy hot”, there is a way to fix it. If it has a coconut milk base add a little extra to the sauce. First remove about 1⁄4 cup of the spicy sauce then add the extra coconut milk. If it’s a tomato based sauce add some extra tomato such as tomato passata with chicken stock or water. Add gradually and taste test. If the sauce is too thin simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens slightly.
Next time add the chilli a little at a time and taste before adding more. Some pastes are extra hot and fresh chillies vary in heat depending on the variety. The hottest part of the chilli is the seed so ideally remove these (best done with a small teaspoon not your finger tips). Then add the chopped flesh then a few seeds – taste after each addition and add as you go.
5. Clean a Burnt Saucepan
If you burn a sauce or the rice catches on the bottom of the saucepan you can save your pan. First remove the contents then fill with hot water add a good layer of table salt (about 1⁄4 cup) and heat until simmering. Leave pan to cool overnight. Repeat 2-3 times if required. A good scrub and elbow grease may be needed to remove the remaining black layer.
6. Save a Lumpy Sauce
If your gravy or white sauce is lumpy pass it through a fine strainer placed over a clean saucepan. Use a spoon to apply pressure and push the smooth sauce through the strainer. Gently reheat sauce and serve.
There you have it! Go forth with the knowledge you can rescue your sauce, spicy dish, casserole and many other common kitchen mishaps. Here’s a handy infographic for you to print out and keep in the kitchen for easy reference. In the meantime, we’d love to hear about any cooking mishaps you’ve had, and your tips and tricks for solving them. Share your stories in the comments below so we can all learn from each other…
*Recipe suggestions and tips are courtesy of Anna Phillips, food editor and recipe stylist (August 2014).