Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cooking Mistakes From Hell

It looks so innocent...
Look at this soup. Looks pretty innocent, doesn't it? Just sitting there, in a bowl, some nice buttered bread on the side, sitting on a little square lap tray just waiting to be gobbled up.

It is THE DEVIL'S OWN SOUP.

We've all made mistakes while improvising recipes - how else do you end up with perfection? But my attempt at a groundbreaking new butternut squash and ginger soup went down so many horrendous avenues that I had to share it with you in the hope that you might have made an improv error along the way, and we could all hold each other and sob quietly. Let me know in the comments. And only ever make Laura's amazing butternut squash soup recipe in future.

It started with my internet grocery shop. For God knows what reason, I came out of that with a kilo each of onions and fresh root ginger. You what now?

Ginger doesn't last long enough, so I roasted up the two butternut squash I'd bought and set about chopping onions...oh, and some celery, because I'd bought loads of that. Oh, and some carrots, because see the last reason. And, um, six cloves of garlic that my friend Polly had brought me back from the south of France because why use two cloves when you have enough garlic to kill Dracula?

All the recipes I'd read said to add anywhere between 2 to 6 teaspoons of grated ginger. I put in 200g. "It's delicious and healthy!" I enthused, "More ginger can only be good ginger!"

By the time I'd added my chicken stock, cooked, and then blended it, I had ended up with an absolutely unholy butternut squash and ginger soup. The ginger had overpowered everything else to the extent that all I could taste was that bit-wrong kick you get when you've just eaten a massive piece thinking it was chicken.

So, then I set about trying to rescue it.

1) Lea and Perrins
Lea and Perrins can tame pretty much anything. It could not tame this soup.

2) salt and pepper
Oh honey, no. Your time was about three ingredients ago

3) cocoa powder
Don't ask why. I think I thought the flavour would balance - no. I have literally nothing for you.

4) the juice of a whole lime
I basically turned this into really thick tom yam soup

After all this, the soup was at least edible, but that bit-wrong mouthpunch from the ginger remains.

To top it all off, I forgot to take it to work for my lunch, meaning I will now have to eat it for breakfast and dinner instead. This is awful.

So, tell me, while you browse through our archives of tried-and-tested perfect soup recipes: how have you tried to rescue a calamitous bit of cooking? Did it work? Did it make you stronger? Should I have added an orange?

37 comments:

  1. Oh lord, you poor thing!

    I burnt an entire sunday roast (vegetables, meat juices for the gravy - the lot) a few weeks back and decided to 'fix' it by throwing extra red wine at the gravy. Much like you fix, it didn't kill the over-powering taste (of charcoal) but at least made it edible!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so sorry, but this made me HOWL with laughter. What a nightmare...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been there on many occasions - being an experimental cook one only realises the need for recipes at moments such as this... Your tom yam idea is inspired though - how about watering it down with some coconut milk too? Or is that just throwing good ingredients after bad...?

    ReplyDelete
  4. So ... the conclusion drawn from this is: Lime solves everything?

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is not normal behavior in my office to burst into laughter whist sitting at your desk in the afternoon, so thank you for causing me to do so! I think I may be ostracized for causing undue disruption...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Too much ginger has happened to me a few times, it's easy to underestimate the power of such an innocuous-looking root!

    My stand-out worst experience was trying to rescue gram flour cookies with chocolate (instead of binning them while I had the chance), the result will forever be known as "sausage biscuits".

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can offer no advice as regards this soup, but in general I believe you can freeze root ginger so maybe that'd be the way to deal with a surplus in future.

    Also, I have a recipe for ginger cupcakes from Martha Stewart that calls for 9oz of ginger, which would be 250g or so anyway (that somehow ends up not overpowering but delicious. No idea how!). So that's also an option if you over-buy in future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Freezing root ginger! Helen, this is why you are my culinary goddess! I actually bought it to make tom yam with, then the supermarket didn't bring me any chicken and that's when the bad began to happen. Wail.

      Loving the stories so far. I feel marginally less awful. And craving a proper sausage.

      Delete
    2. Yes, freeze it and when you need some, just grate it off the frozen lump (remembering to hold it with a cloth to avoid numb fingers!)

      Delete
    3. You can get grated ginger frozen into icecube-sized pieces, so you can dip them straight in from frozen without risk to fingers! Can remember the brand, but ASDA stocks it, along with frozen chapattis etc.

      I'd just peel, roughly chop (across the grain), then blitz in food processor. It may not be as pretty as nice little cubes, but I bet you can dollop the blitzed ginger onto a piece of grease proof paper,

      Delete
    4. (sorry) ...put in the freezer, then peel the dollops off the paper & put them in a freezer bag once frozen.

      Delete
    5. This is incredibly helpful, thank you all so much! I'm going to chuck a head-sized portion of ginger in there when I get home tonight.

      Delete
  8. I tried making a carrot and lentil soup once but didn't have anything other than green lentils. It turned out really quite vile so I added ginger, chilli and garlic in an attempt to make it a sort of dhal. I ended up with hot khaki wallpaper paste. Forever known as 'Camouflage soup'.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I did eat a cupcake at a friends house that had been made with the cheapest, nastiest margarine and sweetener instead of sugar and i had to do the whole "mmm, lovely" face whilst gagging inside. I may be on a diet but when i'm cooking for others its President non salted and the full monty, straight to your thighs, unrefined caster sugar. oh and cheesecake with slightly off cream cheese - yeah. not good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. buttercream betty24 October 2012 13:46

      Hmm, speaking as a professional baker, real butter is generally considered the worst thing one can do to a sponge! Don't get me wrong, it has to be Stork not some cheapo marge, but proper butter tends to both overpower and bog down delicate sponges, its just not light enough for the job. People always think they're using the best when they use butter, but in most cases its just not up to it. Except in buttercream frosting, then it has to be the real deal... Mmmmmm...

      Delete
  10. I made some Nigella kind of BBQ inspired chilli or something. It required a nip of bourbon. I didn't have any and was living in Singapore where booze costs a bomb. So instead of just leaving it out I used a big slosh of Glenmorangie from the back of the cupboard. whiskey/whisky: same diff right? Never ever ever EVER do this, it was mingin.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Little Macaroon you remind me of the beef in beer where the cook didn't have any beer, so made it with lager. Ick

    ReplyDelete
  12. I once discovered that bread soda and baking powder are not, in fact, interchangeable. Imagine ruining scones. :(

    ReplyDelete
  13. To be honest, your soup sounds tasty and delicious compared to my boyfriend's "experimental" gnocchi dish....I am not sure on what planet it would ever be a good idea to coat already cooked gnocchi in left-over pancake batter (which itself resembled half-set concrete, aforesaid boyfriend having used an entire bag of flour in the mix)and shallow fry it. In his head, I think he had some sort of crispy tempura batter; in reality, he had oil-slicked, half-raw unpleasantness. If only he had never professed to be able to "teach me a thing or two" in the kitchen on our first date....

    ReplyDelete
  14. An over helpful friend was insistent in being useful as I finished off a beautiful boeuf Bourginon which had been cooking for hours for our supper. I suggested that she could just grind a little black pepper for me - seemed a simple enough job (I hate helpful friends in the kitchen, but don't want to appear too rude too often!). The top came off the grinder and my lovely stew was literally peppered with whole peppercorns as they tumbled in. I had to pick them all out....All wasn't actually ruined, but we did get some fiery mouthfuls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This reminds me of the first meal I cooked for my other half - peppered steak in red wine sauce. In my attempt to salt the sauce, the top came off the grinder and large amounts of salt crystals fell in it which I frantically tried to fish out with little success. I tell everyone this is why I don't cook for him, and it's partly true - I can feed myself perfectly well but when I have to cook for others it's just too much pressure!

      Delete
  15. This puts me in mind of the 'duck in the hole' that my late mother-in-law (god rest her soul!) created for us from the leftovers of our Christmas dinner. We had bought an eye-wateringly expensive duck and cooked it al la Delia with prunes and armagnac for the main event - lovely. But come Boxing Day MIL wanted us to have a rest and offered to cook. Thus emerged from the kitchen all the ingredients from the previous day's roast encased in yorkshire pud batter. It was ghastly. Luckily she wasn't too precious and we were able to laugh about it. That dish still haunts me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I once made a soup with so much chilli (powdered, not fresh, alas) that just sticking my head over the boiling soup brought streams to tears. Lemon juice, potato, everything later, I refused to give up and ate it...cue swollen lips and tears...

    My grandmother once gave my mother a cup of coffee. Halfway down the cup my mother saw something...a lump of, now coffee sodden, mashed potato. They hadn't had mashed potato for weeks...she is adamant grandmother did it deliberately

    ReplyDelete
  17. Agree with everyone else who suggested freezing ginger – for some reason it seems to grate better when frozen too!

    As for cooking disasters I've had way too many – the first time I ever made soup at uni I put in way too many oxo cubes and basically had to eat veg stock for a week. More recently I made coleslaw for a friend's bbq that tasted like pure onion – no matter how much of every single other ingredient I added (yoghurt, mayo, creme fresh, lemon, sugar and more) I just couldn't get rid of that horrible spikey taste!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Throw loads of veg/chicken, spices and coconut milk oh and some fresh coriander and you will have an ace curry, basically if all else fails...curry it :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. After your recent musings on popcorn, it's become my go-to snack. Garam masala popcorn, yum. Cinnamon sugar popcorn, great. But my favorite was caramel with mixed spice.
    But then I ran out of mixed spice... weeell, chinese 5 spice is pretty similar right? ...I mean, sure, it's a bit more savoury, but savoury and sweet works together, right? Like salty-sweet popcorn? NO. Not this one. 5 spice has garlic in. Salt and sweet, sure thing, but garlic and caramel will never, ever be friends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the bright side - hurrah for popcorn as the perfect snack (so is).

      Actually, there is no downside. This is hilarious.

      Delete
  20. I'm feeling slightly smug as the worst thing I've done was overcoat the steak and kidney in flour then in sufficiently brown it... Tasted fine but was slightly grey... Never mind, I was the only one eating it!!

    But I will say I have actually laughed out loud reading this so thank you all (comments made it even better) for brightening up my day ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. All of these stories have made me cackle.

    ReplyDelete
  22. i'm fairly adept at cooking, but i once made the mistake of using smoked paprika in the same way (i.e. used liberally!) as normal paprika in pasta sauce for a visiting friend. after shaking about 1/4 of the tube into the sauce (i was making it in bulk to last me, but still..), it tasted okay, if a little hot. cut to halfway through our bowls of pasta, and we're both sweating and tearing up from eating sauce which feels like it's extracted from the bowels of the sun itself. the worst thing was that i then had to go re-apply my makeup, i'd sweated so much! (i now love smoked paprika, but a little pinch goes a loooong way)

    ReplyDelete
  23. My husband, when we were students, decided to whistle up a shepherds pie at about 11pm at night when all the shops were closed. He thought he had all of the bog standard basic ingredients in the cupboard, went to add chopped tomatoes (we both like them in pie) only to find we were completely out. Improvising in the good student way he whacked in two tins of baked beans, reasoning that the tomato flavouring would have the same effect. I have never tasted anything quite like it and do not want to again.

    Moral of the story. Baked beans are not an appropriate substitute for tinned tomatoes.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Recipes for to try on your cheating partner/the mother in law from hell/ your worst enemy?!!! X

    ReplyDelete
  25. My dear husband made sausage korma once. It was so minging, I wouldn't even try it. And I'd tried his chicken jalfrezi pasta bake. He is now banned from fusion cooking.

    On a separate note, raw tomatoes stirred through cool spicy food down.

    ReplyDelete
  26. hahahahaha, it hurts to laugh. I feel so much better now. I think I shall go and have a "slightly caramelised but nowhere near carboniferous" meringue to make myself feel better.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Heh. This is still funny.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All content © Domestic Sluttery | email: prettygirls@domesticsluttery.com
Design Robyn Wilder | Template Our Blog Templates | Cocktail Hour image Hallie Elizabeth