It happens to most of us. You’re just about to serve dinner when disaster strikes . . . the rice burns, you’ve over-salted the dish, the vegetables wilt and the cream refuses to whip! But worry no more. Instead, do what great cooks do and use these simple tricks to save your culinary reputation and keep your sanity intact.
What great cooks do when things go wrong
1. Over-salting – Putting a peeled potato in the sauce attracts the salt. Before serving, take the potato out and taste it carefully. If the salty dish does not have a sauce, add a little vinegar and sugar, then taste.
2. Burnt rice – Take the rice immediately off the heat and tip everything that has not formed a burnt crust into a new pan. To get rid of the acrid burnt taste, simply cover the rice with some onion skins and cover for 10 minutes (off the heat).
3. Waterlogged rice – If your rice is cooked but there is still too much water in the pan, take the rice off the heat immediately. Give it a good stir, then place a clean folded tea towel on top of the pan with the lid firmly on top to hold it in place. Leave for 10 minutes. The towel will absorb the excess moisture as the rice cools down.
4. Cream that doesn’t whip – Chill the cream, bowl and beaters well. Set the bowl of cream into a bowl of ice while you are whipping. Add an egg white. Chill and then whip.
Dissolve grease and grime
5. Stale chips, cereals and biscuits – If potato chips lose their freshness, place them under the grill for a few moments. Ensure you don’t brown them. You can crisp soggy cereal and crackers by putting them on a baking sheet and heating for a few minutes in the oven.
6. Over ripened bananas – Quickly put them in the freezer. You can use them to cook with, or to make banana milkshakes when you want them in the future.
7. Dried out, leftover cheese – Don’t throw it away! Store in a freezer. Frozen, it will crumble easily. Slice it thin without thawing to use in recipes calling for grated cheese. In addition, if the cheese is covered with mould, wipe it off with vinegar soaked paper towels. Cheese flavour isn’t affected.
8. Slightly stale bread – Sprinkle bread with water or milk; wrap in aluminium foil. Bake at 180°C for about 8 minutes. If its hard-crusted, open foil for 3 – 5 minutes more.
Take a photocopy of this article and hang it in your kitchen – so you’ll never be at a loss when you are hit by a culinary disaster.