Foodie Failure

While going through my pictures on Flickr, I came across this. Just wanted to post the picture quickly to show you that even us foodies have recipes that come out as an epic fail.

Blueberry/Juneberry Tart

This blueberry/juneberry tart ended up with a crust of sugar on top because the recipe I used called for it to be mixed directly in with the berries before putting it in the oven. For whatever reason, all the sugar migrated to the top where it proceeded to form a hard crusty lump in the center. Think Mt. Sugarmore. Needless to say, this one wasn’t salvagable.

Do you have any memorable kitchen failures to share?

OLS Week 2: A Comedy of Errors

onelocalsummer

It’s the second week of One Local Summer, and despite many attempts at making a local meal this week, I’m lucky I have anything at all to post. Murphy was living in my kitchen this week, because anything that could go wrong absolutely did.

I had the best laid plans. I was going to make an all-local frittata, using local goose eggs, chorizo, potatoes, onions, and cheese. I tried to make it twice.

I have a confession to make. Even though I’m a good cook, I have trouble making some things that even a child can make. Pancakes from pancake mix is one. They come out blackened, every time. Absolutely disgusting. The other bane of my existence? Frittata. In theory, it’s simple. In execution, not so much. I’ve made crustless quiches before, which aren’t that different. So why all the problems? I haven’t given up yet, though – and have a frittata pan set on order from Amazon.com.

The first attempt was with a nonstick pan in the oven. And it…stuck. Never made it to the oven. I didn’t want to ruin my pan. So attempt #1 got thrown out. After checking some blogs, I had the bright idea of doing attempt #2 in a nonstick pan with some oil. But…because said nonstick pan has plastic handles, it’s not oven safe. which required flipping the thing over and back into the pan. It gets in the pan – not sticking at all. The bottom was browning beautifully. Then I have the bright idea of using a cookie sheet to flip it over near the sink, and splat…all over the countertop, sink, and floor. I laughed, harder than I’d laughed in a while, big giant gut-busting belly laughs, because I knew I’d cry if I thought about it too hard.

So, screw the frittata. I was out of chorizo and potatoes and goose eggs anyway. I had bought a loaf of white bread at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market, and had the bright idea to make french toast with it. I was going to sweeten up some Blue Jacket Creamery local lemon quark and whip it with a little local cream, and spread it in between two slices of said bread, which I would then dip into a mixture of local cream from Snowville Creamery, eggs from 2Silos, and vanilla, and fry in local Amish butter, and then serve it with strawberries and serviceberries from Rhoads Farms, mulberries from my backyard, and some local whipped cream. It looks pretty enough, right?

Lemon Quark Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Berries

One small problem – the bread. It just wasn’t good at all. It was dense and dry and crumbly. I soaked it in the cream mixture for a half hour and it didn’t even saturate into the bread but 1/8 inch. It was so dry it was crumbling apart in the frying pan. It was downright inedible. But at least the berries were good. Live and learn, I guess. Not everything that is local is good.

So new week, new fridge of local food, new ideas. Even though it’s an old standby, I’m thinking a local B(E)LT is in order. Stayed tuned for the continuing adventures…well, you get the idea.

Taste & Create: Kits Chow

tastecreate

Trying to get my Taste & Create entry posted this month has been a complete and utter comedy of errors. First, stupid me waited until the last minute to get this done. Mistake #1. Partially because there were so many awesome recipe on Kit’s Chow that I had a hard time deciding. I had finally decided on making her Sweet and Sour Caramelized Pork Spare Ribs, even went and got the stuff I needed to make it, then my husband read the recipe and nixed it because of the part of the recipe that said “the only drawback is that the kitchen will smell of grease and smoke. So be sure to turn on the range hood and open alll the windows” – with guests coming on the weekend, I guess the last thing he wanted was a kitchen that smelled like a kitchen. So I got overruled.

So then I had decided on making the Wok Fried Mac recipe – again, even made sure I had all the ingredients. Since I was running really late already, I had planned on making it Friday night for Paul’s family when they got here. Then (somewhat due to food dislikes of our guests) we ended up having to change the menu completely, so it got taken off the menu in lieu for something more to their liking.

I even played around with the idea of making the Spinach with Garlic, but then decided against it because I felt it would be a cop out to make such a simple side dish and call it my entry. But time is ticking along, and at this point, I wanted to make SOMETHING good, just nothing that would take a lot of time or effort in shopping for (in other words, whatever I made, I wanted it to be something I already had all the ingredients for).
So in the end, I decided on her Microwave Chocolate Pudding. Let me just apologize in advance for probably the most unappetizing photo you’ll ever see here on Columbus Foodie. I honestly debated about whether I was going to post it or not. But I figured that you all like reading about the mistakes as well as the successes, so here it is in all of its glory. It tasted much better than it looks, I promise.

Lumpy Chocolate Pudding

I think my mistake was that I followed the recipe (microwave included) rather than making it on the stovetop like she did. It met the same fate that almost all of my attempts at chocolate pudding face – it was so very, very lumpy. But the flavor was good (make sure you use a good brand of cocoa powder – I used Penzey’s), similar but so much better than what you get at the supermarket. Now, if I could just get the lumps out…

Bear in mind that this reflects completely on us and not on her recipe. Hers came out smooth as can be. I’m a pudding disaster waiting to happen. Give the recipe a try, but make sure you follow her modifications when you do. :)

Whisk Wednesdays: Veloute Agnes Sorel

Whisk Wednesdays 150x120

As usual, I’m bringing up the rear for Whisk Wednesdays, a day late and a dollar short. And I’m convinced that my luck with French soups is nil. I wouldn’t have thought that making a cream of chicken soup would be so difficult, but…

Cream of Chicken

Let’s just suffice it to say that we weren’t pleased by the soup. We followed the recipe to the letter, but ran into multiple problems. The first? The soup was BLAND. I mean really, really bland. When I make stock, it usually requires roasted bones, chicken feet, and tons of aromatics. I should have known something was up when the recipe said to boil the chicken for 1/2 hour. Let’s just say that the resulting broth tasted like a chicken was chased through it and took a crap on the trip through. We took to calling it “chicken water”.

Second problem – the soup just wouldn’t thicken. At all. We even tried the blonde roux method. Nada. Drippy. Not creamy. Yuck.

Third problem – it separated like crazy. We were going to keep it around and try to salvage it, but it separated into a cream layer and a chicken water layer and just looked gross. So another soup down the drain. :(

Next week is a Langoustine Bisque – not a big fan of langoustines, so not sure how or what I’m going to do to get around that problem. All I do know is that so far this cookbook sucks. :( And is responsible for a lot of expensive disasters. I hope things turn around soon, because I can’t afford to keep throwing the results into the disposal.

Whisk Wednesdays – Clam Soup

Whisk Wednesdays 150x120

I really, really, REALLY should have trusted my instincts. I’ve known for the past couple of weeks that this week’s Whisk Wednesdays dish was Mussel Soup – and I loathe everything about mussels, especially the texture. So I convinced myself to substitute whole shelled and cleaned clams and hoped for the best. Yesterday, I realized that a big part of the cooking process was extracting the juice from the mussels for flavor. Clams from a bag don’t usually come with said juices, so someone made a suggestion to substitute clam or some other kind of stock. Big, big, BIG mistake.

Clam Soup

It looks pretty, but there are few things I’ve ever tasted that were quite as foul as this. It reminded me of swallowing a big gulp of polluted salt water from the ocean at the Jersey shore. More briny than it had any right to be, the salt (in the stock, I guess) made it so salty that I spit it out almost immediately. And the texture of the clams?? :::shudder::: Let’s just say that the first thing that came to mind is boogers (not that I would know, mind you…).

Let’s consider this one a very expensive failed experiment. The whole pot went down the garbage disposal. Luckily, I’ve scoped ahead a couple of weeks and the next two don’t have any unpleasant surprises. Let’s hope my (or rather Paul’s) technique does them justice.

Whisk Wednesdays: Salade Messidor

Whisk Wednesdays 150x120

We can just call this one “the salad that damn near ended my marriage”. After last week’s artichoke debacle, when I found out that this week’s Whisk Wednesdays also incorporated artichokes, I kind of curled my lip and procrastinated all week, because last week I discovered that I don’t like artichokes unless they’re an unidentifiable ingredient in another dish (still don’t know what I’m going to do about next week’s soup, which have one of the things I loathe most in the world – mussels). And since initial reviews of the other Whiskers was “meh” at best, I really wasn’t looking forward to it.

Salad Messidor

So needless to say we waited until the last minute to even start, planning on making it Wednesday night as part of dinner. Mistake #1. Knowing my history with artichokes, I decided to forego the whole boil/pluck process and instead just opened a can of artichoke bottoms. My husband fine honed his knife skill by chopping the tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, etc. Let’s just say that my husband’s knife skills, while precise, are snail slow. He was done chopping by midnight. And I don’t know about you all, but a heavy mayonnaise dish doesn’t sound appetizing right before I go to sleep. So we decided to hold off on finishing the dish until morning.

Making the mayonnaise was tedious. Almost a half hour of whisk whisk whisking, always having to do it drop by drop lest the emulsion break. We took turns whipping and dripping, and by the time we got ready to add the vinegar both of our arms were sore. And here’s where things went really wrong.

Knowing that the mayonnaise recipe, as written, makes a ton, we decided right off the bat to scale it down to half. My husband goes looking for a tablespoon measure to add the vinegar, and makes it clear to me that we needed to add a tablespoon. So, with that in mind, I grabbed the half tablespoon measure and added a tablespoon of vinegar to the emulsion. It looked kind of watery at that point, so I asked him “you did scale down the vinegar, right?” and the next thing I hear from him is “aw shit”. My head spun around faster than Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. And at that moment, I channeled Satan. Visions of another half hour of that whipping hell went through my mind and I flew off the handle. He made things worse by blaming the whole thing on me. Wrong idea. The mayonnaise tasted beyond vinegary, and at that point I was ready to throw the whole kit and kaboodle, including my husband, right out the back door. Let’s just say that this led to a fight of epic proportions, one of the worst we’ve had in a long time.

We never did remake the mayonnaise. The salad, frankly, was awful. But I kind of expected it to be, because the combination of flavors just didn’t sound good to me. We kept it around long enough to photograph, and then tossed it, along with the leftover vinegaraise. So sorry about the delay in getting this up, but I had to calm down first.

Let’s just hope that mussel soup next week doesn’t land us in divorce court. ;)

Taste and Create: The Spiced Life

Taste & Create Logo

I’m really getting my Taste & Create entry in at the last minute, because tonight has truly been a comedy of errors. My partner for this round was Laura of The Spiced Life – I was extremely delayed in getting this done because I changed my mind about what I wanted to make about 5 times, finally settling on the Summer Blueberry Crumble Bars when I realized I didn’t have quite enough time left to pull off the multiple step lemon cake. :)

Summer Blueberry Crumble Bars

So, since I had the big dinner I had to prepare for Whisk Wednesdays (check back tomorrow to see what happens when we try to make Bernaise Sauce), I delegated and left it up to hubs to make dessert. Bad idea. I should have had him make the Bearnaise (since he is the king of sauces). Because he just up and forgot one of the most important ingredients in the crumble – the oats! After having a mini-meltdown, I decided to let it bake and see how it would come out – it’s not like I have enough ingredients left on hand to give it a second try, and the clock was tick tick ticking away.

So, my judgment of the dish isn’t accurate – it’s missing an integral component that I’m sure makes a huge difference in the final result (both with taste and texture). Having said that, I’m sure if I made it correctly it would be delicious – with the caveat that next time around, I’d cut down on the cinnamon – it was a little cloying (but then again, the oats may have tempered that as well). Also, I didn’t have quite enough blueberries so I went outside to the mulberry bush and used about a cup of them to the 2 cups of blueberries.

I still want to try her lemon cake one of these days. The pic on that entry is droolworthy. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy what’s left of the bars (nay, let’s call it what my version is – a crumble) with some ice cream on top. I think it would be delicious in cheesecake ice cream. Check out her recipe, and don’t forget the oats!

SHF: Black Forest Cherry Cake

This month for Sugar High Friday, we were challenged to make our favorite dessert – I find it difficult to pick just one favorite, as my choice would change with the season. My favorite is seasonal, made with the fantastic cherries I picked up at the farmers market this past weekend.

I present to you Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, more commonly known as Black Forest Cherry Cake – a multilayered cake with layers of chocolate and kirsch-flavored white layers, with a kirsch buttercream and cherries in between layers. Finished with chocolate shavings and whipped cream and more cherries.

I had some setbacks, so the recipe needs tweaking, thus the delay in posting. Expect this entry to be updated tomorrow with the modified recipe and some pictures of the innards.

ETA: my experience, the recipe, a pic, and my modifications

Well, I’ve got one thing to say – it tastes awesome. Especially the kirsch buttercream. It doesn’t cut too cleanly, but really, who cares? As long as the piece comes out intact who cares if it’s pretty or not? I’m sure someone who has far superior baking skills than I do could probably decorate it better than I did. I gave it my best shot. :)

When I first checked out this recipe yesterday, I misunderstood it. Big time. I looked at the recipe, and it really looked wrong. It didn’t call for any leavening agents, at all. Childhood baking experiments showed me what no leavening does to a cake. So I went to look at other kirschtorte recipes, to see if I could get an accurate amount of leavening to use. None of the other recipes had leavening either. So I basically just said “to hell with it” and proceeded anyway. I should have really sat down and thought through what they meant about “beat until fluffy” – if I had any sense about me, I would have thought merengue – but of course, I had no sense yesterday. I’m guessing that if done right, the texture comes out like an angel food cake. Needless to say, mine didn’t come out that way. Let’s just say that I ended up with 3 pucks. Three pucks that when stacked one on top of each other, probably ended up being the height of a single layer of cake. The flavor was good – the kirsch one was very crepelike, and was really tasty with cherries and whipped cream rolled in it. But a failure nonetheless. So I took the easy route – I used the alternate instructions in the recipe that called for cake mix, adding the amount of milk and kirsch it recommends. The layers came out nicely the second time around, and if I ever make this cake again, I’ll probably use the same shortcut. So, I’ll present the recipe in its original form, but just make sure to not make the same mistake I did if you decide to try making the cake from scratch. Note, the asterisks were in the original recipe, the only one I followed was using the cake mixes – plus I doubled the amount of filling and topping as well.

Bavarian Kirschtorte
origins unknown

Cake:*
6 eggs, large
1 cup flour, sifted
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons Kirsch liqueur
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Kirsch liqueur

Topping:**
2 cups sour cherries, drained; pat or air dry***
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
8 ounces semisweet chocolate bar (shaved pieces)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Cake: Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla together until fluffy. Fold flour into mixture. Divide mixture in 3 parts. Fold baking chocolate into 2 parts. Into the other 1/3 batter fold in the Kirsch. Pour batter into 3-8″ prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes; turn out onto racks to finish cooling.

*Being very short on time, I used two cake mixes: one chocolate and one white. I substituted milk for the water in both mixes. I added Kirsch to the white cake mix. Since only one white cake layer was needed for this recipe, I froze the unused layer to be served at another time.

Filling: Beat sugar and butter together until blended. Add egg yolk; beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Fold in Kirsch.

Assembly: Place 1 chocolate layer on dish. cover top with 1/2 of the cream filling. Spread 3/4 cups cherries evenly over filling. Place white layer on top. Repeat filling/cherry procedure. Place last chocolate layer on top. Fold powdered sugar into whipped cream. Cover sides and top with most of the whipped cream. Press most of the chocolate shavings on top and sides of cake. Place remaining 1/2 cup cherries on top of cake. Finish decorating with remaining shavings/curls and whipped cream. Chill until ready to serve.

**I used twice as much whipped cream and half as much chocolate shavings.

***It was not cherry season when I made this dessert, so I used canned sour cherries.  

Tempura Squash Blossoms with Herbed Goat Cheese

The final outcome of the recipe was not exactly what I expected, and as I’m not afraid to include my failures as well as my triumphs, figured I’d still put this out for public consumption as a public service announcement on how not to ruin a perfectly good bag of squash blossoms. You see, it looked awful when I was done, and didn’t taste much better.

squashblossom

Let me just say that squash blossoms are kind of hard to work with. The petals are quite delicate and easily damaged when you try to remove the stamen. And they’re pretty diffucult to clean, too. I had the bright idea to stuff them with an herbed goat cheese, and then dip them into tempura batter and fry them. Although it sounds great in theory, in practice – even with following the recipe exactly, the goat cheese mixture was too fragrant and herby, and totally overpowered the delicate flavor of the blossoms, and the tempura batter clung too much and puffed up too much and totally obscured the beauty of the blossoms – all pictures I’ve ever seen of tempura fried squash blossoms have just a thin coating of tempura here and there, but you can see most of the blossom. I *must* be doing something wrong, or else it just isn’t a very good recipe. If you decide to make this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you.

I think next time around, I’m going to try something different – there are two other recipes that sounded good. One was a crab stuffed squash blossom sauteed in butter, the other was this Emeril recipe. We’ll see – at least now I’m a little more familiar with the ingredient.

Tempura Squash Blossoms with Herbed Goat Cheese
courtesty Earthbound Farm Organic

Serves 6

Squash Blossom Stuffing:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
6 ounces plain goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 fresh squash blossoms
Canola oil, for frying

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until the moisture has mostly evaporated and the onions have just begun to caramelize. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Place the herbs and goat cheese in the bowl of a mixer and blend at low speed until the herbs are evenly distributed. Add the shallot-garlic mixture and blend again. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Carefully stuff each blossom with some of the herbed cheese. Set aside.

Tempura Batter:

1 1/2 cups soda water, plus more if necessary
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of soda water in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cayenne pepper. Add the remaining cup of soda water and stir to blend. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
Fill a deep frying pan or pot with 2 inches of canola oil and heat to 350 F over medium high heat.
Dip each blossom into the tempura batter. Transfer to the hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer blossoms to paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.