Ways to fix common cooking disasters

Sometimes unexpected things happen in the kitchen and you panic.

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Sometimes unexpected things happen in the kitchen and you panic. But before you throw everything out and start again, find out if there is something you can do to save the situation.

* If you’ve added too much salt – to the sauce, soup or water for cooking – simply double the quantity and don’t add any more salt. Or while it’s cooking, add a raw potato, that has been cut into large pieces, for 5 to 10 minutes to absorb the excess salt. As a last resort, try adding a little sugar to cancel out the salty taste.

* If your soup or sauce has become too fatty, add a few ice cubes and stir them so that the fat adheres to the ice. Pick them out again before they melt. During cooking, you can also place a lettuce leaf on the top of the soup and remove it when it’s covered in fat.

* Tear a paper towel into strips and drag the strips across the top of a soup or sauce, one at a time, to absorb fat floating on the surface.

* It often happens that an egg cracks during cooking, but it can be avoided by placing a steel spoon in the water or by adding a pinch of cooking salt. If it has already happened, quickly pour a little vinegar into the water: this will make the white coagulate.

* To save a stew or a ratatouille, or any other dish of the same type that has burned, the best thing to do is to quickly transfer the mixture into another saucepan, without scraping or even touching the bottom. If necessary, add a little water and continue cooking, and keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn the second time around.

* Got a bechamel sauce that’s being difficult? To make it smooth, stir it with a fork that has a piece of raw potato on the end of it. If you aren’t entirely happy with the result, put the mixture into an empty bottle and shake well. (The easiest way to obtain a creamy sauce on the first attempt is to blend all the cold ingredients together in a blender before heating them gently. For a roux, always mix the flour with cold water.)

* If your mayonnaise has curdled or won’t thicken, put another egg yolk in a different bowl, then gradually start adding the curdled mixture, a little at a time, beating vigorously after every addition.

* When pasta is sticking together, plunge it into hot water to unstick it instead of drowning it in oil. Or take 3 tablespoons of the cooking water and tip this into the dish.

* If you have tossed a salad and the dressing has too much vinegar in it, remove the crusts from some bread and allow the bread to absorb all the dressing. Then discard the bread and make a new dressing.
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