I love when my cooking and baking projects, however experimental, go right. (Note: And who doesn’t?) In most instances, dinners I whip together from the three remaining foodstuffs in the fridge turn out well, or well enough to describe in a blog post. Baking projects, in my experience, do not bomb, but this might owe to the fastidiousness with which I follow the recipes. What I’m saying is that the stuff I prepare usually doesn’t suck.
This week, however, my routine broke. Hook and I made an absolutely wretched dinner of whole-wheat pasta tossed with herbs and sliced andouille. How terrible could that have been? you ask? Pretty effing bad. The pasta was overcooked. The sausages — a brand we eat frequently — were so rubbery as to be inedible. H. and I pushed the food around on our plates until I rose from the couch and dumped my dinner in the compost bin. (Note: I later ate a sufficient amount of candy to “make up for” the dinner I discarded. Fuzzy logic.)
The curse of failed dishes began earlier than this flub fest, though. On Monday, I had a grand plan to make two batches of pumpkin muffins — one for my coworkers and one for Hook’s — and a pot of tomato bisque. Piece of cake, right? The muffin recipe is an old standby in my repertoire; the bisque recipe, though I hadn’t made it, appeared really straightforward. I’m letting you know that the recipes themselves weren’t at fault for my heinous results: oh no. Nope, the failures were due solely to operator error.
I started preparing the muffins as I’d done countless times in the past when I had the bright idea to substitute applesauce for all of the butter in the recipe. No problem, right? Instead of using the full amount of sugar required, I used half, then squirted in some honey for good measure. Instead of using a greased muffin tin, I used cupcake papers. And, at the very end of the preparation process, I dumped in a little extra pumpkin. No problems here, right?
ASS WRONG! The muffins tasted great (very pumpkiny and not too sweet = just the way I like) but had the texture of those foam balls we used for wuss dodgeball in elementary school. Moreover, the damn things stuck to the cupcake papers so badly that Hook and I just bit the tops off the muffins, discarding the papery stems.
“Soup Fail” might be too harsh to describe the outcome of my bisque-making experiment. In this case, I followed the recipe
pretty sort of well, only changing a few of the seasonings, adding some chopped bok choy (see also: my plan to reduce food waste), and omitting the cream at the final stage of preparation. (Note: I realize that this omission might render the end product a soup and not a bisque, hence “Soup Fail” and not “Bisque Fail.”) The soup itself wasn’t an epic fail — it was just kind of bland. I could have added more salt, but I didn’t want to. I also didn’t want to throw out a pot of soup I’d just made. In the end, my solution was to add a bunch of grated pecorino romano to each serving of soup, which improved the taste dramatically.
I’ve learned my lesson (for now, at least): too much modification leaves one with vast amounts of so-so food and nothing to bring to the office snack table! Tune in next week when I actually follow the recipes I prepare…