Disasters (Volume One of Many)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the kitchen, it’s that failure is real. It happens a lot. I share a lot of my successes here, and I have more on the way, but I want to make sure you all are perfectly clear that I do suffer some total, utter failures in this little kitchen of mine. Sierra has been lobbying me for a while to do a post on these disasters, so I sifted through some of my unpublished recipes this week to find the best worsts.
I keep all the photos I take when I shoot recipes, sorted into folders, and let the folders sit in an “Unpublished” folder until a recipe is posted on the site. It turns out that I have almost as many unpublished recipes as published ones. Sometimes they sit unpublished because the photos are hideous, sometimes because their moment in seasonal cooking has passed, and sometimes they are abandoned on my hard drive because the recipe itself (or my execution of it) was a total failure. Here is a sampling of some of those disasters.
Maple Pecan Muffins
Pretty, right!? Ooooooh I was so looking forward to this recipe. Maple syrup, chopped fresh pecans, a thick, warm crumb supporting a pat of melting butter… how could they possibly be bad? This is one I wanna try again because seriously, I still don’t know what happened. The muffins were far too dense, flavorless, hard as hockey pucks on the outside, and crumbling to pieces when removed from the wrappers. See how the batter is sitting far below the top of the muffin wrap? They hardly raised at all! Things only got worse the second day, at which point the whole batch was virtually inedible. So much for the world’s best muffin I was hoping for.
Simple Winter Fruit Salad
I suppose, in terms of scope, this doesn’t totally qualify as a disaster. Just more of a meh. When I discovered that someone at my farmers market grows kiwi that ripens in early December, I flipped out. How could such an exotic fruit grow somewhere that I live? In an effort to use up fruit already in my fridge before heading to Colorado for Christmas, I decided to feature the kiwi in a little fruit salad. And in truth, it didn’t taste bad. But it was way, way, WAY too acidic. Kiwis, I discovered, are used in some areas as a substitute for tomatoes in salsas. Pomegranates and apples, of course, are also fairly tangy and acidic. The combination of the three, with nothing like a peach or banana to break them up, made this a really, really tart experience that made my mouth feel the way too many Warheads does. Not a condition I would wish on anyone else.
Stuffed 8-Ball Zucchini
Wait. Don’t be fooled by this tasty-looking little dish. It does NOT taste good. I’d been wanting to try a stuffed zucchini recipe for a while, and as I was considering it, these crazy-shaped zucchini appeared at the farmers market. Seemed like the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, this round zucchini does not have the same flavor as the standard and was difficult to cook all the way through despite quite a long time in the oven. And the filling, which I based on a number of different recipes, tasted neutral at best. In an attempt to be fancy, I used artichoke hearts in the mixture, but it did not go well. Finally, to really top off my day, it was nearly impossible to eat. My first attempt to cut into the zucchini tipped the whole thing over, spilling kind of gross rice and cheese and artichoke hearts all over the plate. Ugh.
Is gnocchi supposed to be smooth and satiny? Yes. Was mine? Nope. Not even a little bit. My first attempt at potato pasta was a total bust. Though it was fun to grate up purple potatoes.
Strawberry Orange Smoothie Pops
Ew. Just ew. Strawberries, orange juice, carrots, greek yogurt, and milk. I was nervous about the carrots, I admit, and then all my worst fears were realized. I might be able to blame the blender: there were still little gritty bits of carrots that made this smoothie more like a grittie-chunkie. Gross. And grittie-chunkie aside, it just tasted bad. Not at all the fruity, quenching flavor I was hoping for. I probably should have stopped once I tasted the mixture itself, but I pressed on to make popsicles. They froze, but they definitely still tasted bad. Woof. I guess I need a little more practice tossing fruits and veggies into a blender to produce something worth eating.
Pesto Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella
Okay, this actually tasted good. I took advantage of my bushy basil plant and made a batch of pesto. Coupled with a tomato from the garden and a knob of fresh mozzarella, I wanted to try a really green pizza. The disaster here really was more of an issue for my oven than the palette. The moisture in the mozzarella, combined with probably a little too much pesto, melted ALL OVER the place, leaking off the edge of my pizza stone and sizzling on the piping hot base of the oven. Also, this pizza, while delicious, was so ugly. Pesto, like apples, turns brown when exposed to air, but it blackened in the oven. And the melting mess of cheese sliding around on top of the pesto didn’t help matters. Oh well. Sometimes all you have is flavor, I guess.
So yeah. Kitchen disasters are for real! Does it make me a bad person if I want to hear about your disasters too? Solidarity, or something? What have you tried in the kitchen that went horribly wrong?