Saving the last bite
> Mishaps in the kitchen need not mean the end of the world – with a few simple tricks, your lunch or dinner can be rescued
FOR my birthday this year, No. 2 bought me a non-stick frying pan and a card which shows a burnt toast. Inscribed on it: “Just scrape off the burnt bit, it’s still good. Thanks for all the advice mum.”
With a toaster that is slightly wonky, we do get our fair share of burnt toast, especially when we toast sweetened bread with dried fruits such as apricots and raisins.
The card was a precursor to a baking misadventure by No. 4. She had made a batch of chocolate chip cookies which got burnt as she left them in the oven for too long.
I tried to scrape off the burnt layer with a knife but it crumbled when I exerted a little pressure.
Using a tip gleaned from Google, I then tried to scrape off the charred parts with a grater. It was slightly easier, but still the cookie crumbled.
I threw away the burnt bits and kept the clean grated morsels as an ice cream topping.
I’m glad that No. 2 remembers the lesson of the burnt toast; she can make good use of the advice in her own home to salvage scorching disasters.
In fact, there are a few other kitchen rescue tricks that are handy to know.
As soon as your nose alerts you to cooking accidents, immediately take the pot off the heat.
Plunge the bottom of the pot into cold water to stop the cooking. Do not scrape the burnt food, as that would contaminate the rest of the pot with the burnt bits.
Use a ladle to scoop up the top portion which is not burnt and transfer it to a clean pot. Ditch the charred stuff.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the potato trick – put in some sliced raw potatoes into your soup or stew to absorb the burnt smell.
If you have over-salted your food, the superb spud can save your dish too.
Where drier food is concerned, for example, meat that has been scorched in the grill, cut off the black parts. Slice the meat into thinner pieces and drench with barbecue or black pepper sauce to make them more palatable.
To get rid of the burnt smell and taste, you can always do a little magic. The type of ‘potion’ you use would depend on the type of food.
For instance, chicken stew or tomatobased gravy such as spaghetti sauce can be salvaged with a bit of peanut butter or cinnamon powder.
For clear soups, you might want to try vinegar. Put in a little at a time and test as you go along.
A disclaimer here: I haven’t tried the peanut butter, cinnamon powder and vinegar tricks as I only discovered them recently. Besides, it’s been a long time since I’ve burnt my food.
I’m not blowing my horn, it’s partly because I’m cooking less nowadays. But should disaster strike, I would not hesitate to use these remedies.
There’s nothing to lose. Of course, I would try them out first on a small quantity before I go the whole nine yards.
Lydia Teh is a mother of four and author of nine books, including the latest, Cow Sense for Young People. Send comments to lifestyle.lydia@thesundaily. com.