Solving problems in the kitchen
HOW TO FIX (OR PREVENT) SLIP-UPS
We’ve all experienced the odd error or mishap in the kitchen and the YOU test kitchen is no exception. But there’s no need to panic, we’ve found there are quick and easy ways to fix or prevent most cooking problems. Here are solutions to a few common issues:
YOU’VE ADDED TOO MUCH SALT TO YOUR FOOD
Solution If it’s a stew, add potatoes or chopped carrots to absorb some of the salt. You could also add a can of chopped tomatoes. For other dishes, such as a quiche, try adding lemon juice to balance the salty taste.
STEW STUCK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE POT
Solution Do not stir. Carefully remove the stew from the pot without scraping the bottom. Transfer to another pot and carry on cooking.
DULL, COLOURLESS GREEN VEGETABLES
Solution Don’t boil green vegetables in water. Rather blanch quickly in boiling water then refresh immediately in ice water so it’s cooked but still firm and keeps its colour. And don’t cover the pot if you’re adding green vegetables to a stew (this will create steam which will cause the veggies to overcook). Acidity, such as lemon juice or vinegar, in a meal also makes green vegetables dull.
HOME-MADE MAYONNAISE THAT SEPARATES
Solution Beat an egg yolk and add slowly or beat a little of the separated mayonnaise with 5 ml (1 t) water and gradually add the remaining mayo while beating. Add a little more water if necessary.
YOGHURT THAT CURDLES WHEN HEATED
Solution Dissolve 5 ml (1 t) Maizena in a little water and stir into the yoghurt. Heat until it thickens.
PASTA THAT STICKS TOGETHER
Solution Place the pasta in a colander, pour over boiling water and rinse immediately with cold water. Serve immediately.
MEAT THAT’S BROWN ON THE OUTSIDE BUT RAW INSIDE
Solution Simply place the meat in a very hot oven so it can cook for longer (beef fillet for about 10 minutes and chops 5 minutes).
Solution No need to throw out the veggies, simply pulp with or without a small knob of butter to make a purée and serve with the meal.
Solution Put the sauce through a sieve or process in a food processor until smooth.
RED MEAT THAT DOESN’T SMELL COMPLETELY FRESH
Solution If it doesn’t smell completely fresh but has not gone bad rinse the meat with vinegar water to get rid of the odour and dry with kitchen paper before cooking.
Solution Prevent this problem by preheating the pan before adding a little oil – this way you’ll need a lot less oil as the food, especially meat, brinjals and mushrooms, will seal first then cook and not absorb as much oil. Preheating the pan also helps prevent food from sticking to the pan.
BUTTER ICING THAT’S TOO STIFF
Solution If it’s too stiff add a spoonful of boiling water and beat. The longer you beat butter icing, the fluffier and lighter it will become. To apply icing smoothly to a cake, dip your spatula in a little water.
LUMPY MASHED POTATOES
Solution Get silky smooth mashed potatoes by beating with a whisk.
Solution Flake the meat with two forks and mix with a sauce. Serve on mashed potatoes, rice or spread on pizzas. You can also use as a filling for sandwiches or tortillas.
CHOCOLATE GANACHE THAT SEPARATES
Solution Add a little boiling water or hot milk and beat rapidly until well mixed.
A CAKE THAT’S FORMED A DOME
Solution If the cake has risen too high and formed a dome, push it down or cut it flat and turn over to the level side before icing. It’s best to turn cakes over before icing as it’s easier to work with a flat surface.
A CAKE THAT HAS COLLAPSED IN THE MIDDLE
Solution Cut out the middle part and spoon in a filling such as cream cheese. Or fill with sweets – a great surprise for the kids. Cover the cake with icing.
CAKE CRUMBS IN THE ICING
Solution Place the cake in the fridge or freezer to set before icing to prevent crumbs getting into the icing.