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Gifted Gourmet

Worst mistake you ever made while cooking

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Okay, I was having a couple of food writer colleagues over for lunch, and decided to make truffled risotto. all the ingredients were lined up next to my stove so i could chat and do the occasional stir thing. in fact, i had the rice and onion sauteed/toasted in butter already, so stirring and adding stock and white wine was all i'd really have to do, then finish with butter and truffle.

we drank wine, and i started stirring and added a half cup or so dry white white. it sizzled into the pan, i stirred, the rice absorbed. i had lots of meze/antipasti things on the table, and i noticed a smell of vinaigrette, oh lovely i thought.

then i poured more wine into the pot, stirred and cooked, and thought: god that vinaigrette smells strong.

halfway into the risotto i realized i had been pouring white wine VINEGAR into the simmering rice!!!! instead of white wine.

i saved the risotto, sort of: thankfully a risotto needs a relatively long cooking time, the vinegar sharpness dissippaited pretty well, so started adding stock, and the vinegar ended up more a saucey note as in the french chicken in vinegar sauce.

i served it with a lot of unsalted butter and truffle oil, shreds of parmigiana, and i hate to say it: it was mighty good. my guests said that perhaps it could use just a touch less vinegar but otherwise quite tasty.

i was mortified. and always check the labels of bottles when i use em now. (the bottles of the white wine and the white wine vinegar were almost identical!).

marlena


Edited by marlena spieler (log)

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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Ok long story short.

I was supposed to be replaceing the baker of this catering company

I was to work along side the baker for a few weeks then take over when she left.

well with 3 days left to go her new job called her to tell her sorry we changed our mind........

She told me not to worry she would still be leaving but just not yet

the owner and the chef both told me they did not want to loose me since i was a good worker... If i wanted to they needed someone to work the veg cook /prep I said ok.

One morning I came in 5.30 and the baker was not there yet (she starts at 4)

It seem she was in an accident and was in the hospital.

I did what I could working both stations to get the breakfast stuff ready pretty close to being on time.

but lunch was harder I was going crazy going back and forth my station and the pastry.

we needed 200 desserts for the lunch orders so the chef said make something easy and he helped me make tiramisu, when it was done he said portion it out and get back to your station ...ok

I got 20 cups on a sheet tray and I need 200 orders so I made 5 trays of 20.. put them away and got back to my station that was getting slammed....

I was ok till about halfway into lunch when I realized my mistake ( anyone else see it yet)..

I did not know what to do... i was thinking i would say nothing and infer that maybe the guys sending out the orders where sending out more then they needed.. or just flat play dumb... instead I went right to the chef told him what happend and set about trying to fix it...

he was mad but not as mad as i had seen him before..

later he told me he was glad i went right to him did not give him bullshit stood there and took his wrath like a man and them went about fixing it the best we could

and what I learned was we are all not perfect... we all make mistake so just fess up take it and then focus on fixing the problem.. lying will only make it worse...


I bake there for I am....

Make food ... not war

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This incident is not embarrassing because I was young - just taken a HomeEc class. I made Christmas cookies and decided to decorate them with colored icing, and in my enthusiasm, got carried away with the amount of coloring and icing put on top of the cookies. Anyway, my dad sometimes had a hard time limiting himself in the amount of food he ate and consumed about a dozen of them at once.

That night when he got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, he forgot the bathroom door had been pulled to and ran into it headfirst, giving himself a nice slit on his forehead. He then proceeded to pee, and lo and behold, it came out green! At first he thought he was seeing things because of the bump on his head but then realized, no, he really had green pee! It took a few minutes for him to realize the source of the color, and in the end was grateful that he'd eaten mostly green-decorated cookies instead of the red ones!

Not sure what the moral of that story should be...


Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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This is not my mistake, it's my grandmother's, but it's a favorite family story.

My grandmother's family ran a "teacherage," which in the Old South of the 1920s was a house where unmarried teachers lived to avoid wagging tongues. It included room and board, and my grandmother thus never really learned to cook; they had cooks.

When she was still a young bride, she invited guests for dinner. She was going to have roast chicken. My grandfather was a restauranteur and did lots of the cooking; he asked her "can you do it?" "Of course I can, you think I can't roast a chicken?" was my grandmother's indignant reply. "Okay," he said, and went to work.

When he came home, the house was filled with the smell of roasting chicken...and something else. Something smelled terribly wrong. He checked the chicken...

In the 1920s, when you bought a chicken, it wasn't cleaned and gutted; you had to do that yourself. My grandmother hadn't done it. So her chicken was "pre-stuffed au naturel" as it were...my grandfather ran back to the restaurant and brought something else home for dinner...


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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Okay, here it goes:

It was about 2 years ago during the summer, and I had 20 family members visiting from various places...Canada, Chicago, San Diego...and I wanted to throw a nice BBQ for them. Seven-hour smoked ribs, beer-can chicken, etc.

I must have been really really sleepy the night before when I was seasoning the ribs, cuz I put WAY too much salt on them. I think I salted them in addition to dry-rubbing them (the rub had salt too). I also decided to try something new that time, and applied a "mop" sauce. These three applications of salt on the ribs, combined with 7 hours of cooking made for some SALTY ribs.

What I had to do was get my sister to bring everybody in the house while I rinsed and washed the ribs (as if I were washing clothes.) I think I had to wash them 3 or 4 times. In the end, they were a actually ok. They did look kind of dull, however, from all the water treatment, so I brushed them with a THIN coating of sauce to make them aesthetically appealing.


Edited by Macarons&Mozart (log)

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I can't believe I'm telling you guys this...

I had a craving for freshly baked bread. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to bake bread at the time. Easy - I have cookbooks... no problem!

Problem. I read 3 or 4 recipes to get the gist of the process, gathered my ingredients, and made 2 lovely perfectly risen loaves of bread dough. I prepped the pans while waiting for the oven to pre-heat to 425 degrees. I recalled that the recipe instructed me to 'butter the pan', so I buttered the pans with... butter!

10 minutes after I popped those babies into the oven, the smoke alarm started howling and smoke was pouring out of the kitchen. My beautiful loaves of bread were reduced to ashy hocky pucks with a doughy center.

Not my finest hour.


Anna

------

"I brought you a tuna sandwich. They say it's brain food. I guess because there's so much dolphin in it, and you know how smart they are." -- Marge Simpson

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Speaking of Green Pee reminds me of a Boy Scout dinner we attended when my boys were small. I made a lovely sheet cake and made the icing (you guessed it!) bright Boy Scout blue. Later one of the boys went to the bathroom to make - ahem - what we called #2 (as opposed to #1 which is pee) It was bright blue.

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OK, OK , I'll fess up to this one:

As a young lad at Johnson and Wales in the mid 80's, I was doing my Practicum semester at one of the schools restaurants called The Chef and Apprentice. The chef instructor had a VERY heavy French accent that was often difficult to understand. Me and 2 other guys spent something like 6 hours deboning around 100 quail. We had them on sheet pans on a rolling rack. The chef told me to take them downstairs and put them in the WARMER. The clueless(and often hung over) budding chef that I was didn't think twice about this request. It was the next morning that the class was greeted with the thunderous question "WHO PUT THE QUAILS IN THE WARMER?" I swallowed my heart and stepped forward and said that I did. It was then that I found out that he said WALK-IN not WARMER. As I proceded to explain what I thought he said, he cut me off and said "This is my kitchen, you don't think in my kitchen. Oh well, 100 quails in the crapper. I'm sure my tuition paid for them 10 fold.


President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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My big mistake came a couple of years ago on Thanksgiving. I have a great recipe which involves brining the turkey, and I was in a hurry, so I didn't bother to carefully re-read the recipe-- which said to brine the turkey for a couple of hours, then remove it from the brine, pat it dry and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

I remembered "brine" and "overnight" and forgot all the rest.

The turkey that year was quite moist-- but did not need any extra salt!

The mention of green icing reminded me of something that was more a faux pas than a mistake. I make a great carrot cake, and usually decorate it with tiny orange carrots and green leaves. I must have put more than the usual amount of food coloring into the icing the time I made the cake for my big 40th birthday party. The whole afternoon, guests were walking around with green and orange teeth.


Author of the Mahu series of mystery novels set in Hawaii.

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(1) Sauteeing sliced radishes for an omlet. Truly bitter and revolting.

(2) I suppose everyone has done this: Coffee is good. Tea is good. Therefore, dipping a teabag into coffee should be good. NOT!

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I was about twelve years old and had somehow contrived to get a subscription to Gourmet magazine. One month, they featured a recipe for maple-glazed chicken breasts. This sounded great and the photo looked delicious, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I grabbed four chicken breasts out of the freezer and defrosted them, figuring I'd surprise my mom by making dinner for the whole family.

Let's just say there's a world of difference between real maple syrup and Hungry Jack.

And I had to eat all of the chicken.


Jennie

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Everyone loves a good roasted marshmellow right? Roasting them on a natural gas stove doesn't work. Well it works, the do brown but they taste....well...like natural gas!

Other bad mistakes include leaving the pot on the stove, forgetting, taking a shower, and then walking into the kitchen, lifting the pot only to have the pot come up and the bottom of the pot stay glued to the stove element followed by terror as smouldering metal began to ignite and smoke followed by a lot of screaming followed by taking said pot and throwing it in the sink thereby causing the sink (its made out of something but it's not metal) to smolder...well you get the idea. Lots of screaming tho.


"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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I'll play . . .

This probably isn't my worst but Smurf blue chicken and dumplings were pretty funny. (Go to the last paragraph.)

This one isn't mine but from a gumbo "pupil" that I was coaching over the phone. He was trying to achieve a really dark roux and kept me on the phone as it progressed. He kept saying that it didn't smell as good as mine. As it got darker he proclaimed that it smelled absolutely vile. After some discussion, he finally fessed up that he had used extra virgin olive oil and whole wheat flour to make it "healthier." :blink: Do not try this at home. :laugh:

Yes Alinka . . . I have also seen a long simmered pot of stock go right down the drain.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I'll play . . .

This probably isn't my worst but Smurf blue chicken and dumplings were pretty funny. (Go to the last paragraph.)

Oh please please please tell me you have a picture! :laugh:


"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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You've come a long way baby!

1) Never, I repeat, NEVER try to steam frozen peas with the water that melts off of them in the defrost process. Really not good. I forgot to put water in the bottom of the pan, popped the peas in the steamer pan, snapped the lid on and started watching something on TV. Well, after 10 or 15 minutes we heard, "tsss, tssss, tssss." and couldn't quite figure out what the sound was. And something smelled horrible. The peas were defrosting from the heat of the bottom non-stick pan radiating up, the water was dropping into the very hot empty pan and turning into steam immediately. Ruined the pan.

2) My MOM's: she decided to make divinity in the microwave (she makes fudge in the micro all the time) and was using a plastic tupperware bowl. She microwaved the sugar and water to make the syrup for about 10 minutes on high and when she went to pull th bowl out, only the rim and handles came out, she strung hot mustard-yellow plastic across the stove, formica counters and linoleum floor. Not pretty.

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I'll play . . .

This probably isn't my worst but Smurf blue chicken and dumplings were pretty funny. (Go to the last paragraph.)

Oh please please please tell me you have a picture! :laugh:

No such luck. That was pre-digital camera days. It was so weird that I have threatened to duplicate it, partly to get that amazing picture, and partly to play a practical joke on my kids or nephew. The idea is to just serve it up without comment that there is anything strange and see how they react. :laugh:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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No such luck. That was pre-digital camera days. It was so weird that I have threatened to duplicate it, partly to get that amazing picture, and partly to play a practical joke on my kids or nephew. The idea is to just serve it up without comment that there is anything strange and see how they react.  :laugh:

The collective denizens of the Dinner II thread demand it! :laugh:


PS: I am a guy.

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While one is multi tasking (read, taking care of a bloody nose with one kid) instruct a child to put the bread in the oven, when the rising dough has plastic wrap on it. What a mess. Kids need step by step instructions.

Oh, and BTW, newly sharpened knives are really sharp (I should be buying stock in band-aids and steri-strips).


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I worked in kitchen of a summer camp when I was in high school. In spite of the fact that it was a not for profit religious camp, we really produced good food made from scratch. It was entirely high school aged girls from church that assisted a head cook, in this case, a elderly lady from Tennessee named Libby. Libby was about 4 foot 8 inches tall and every bit as wide as she was tall. Libby also had a somewhat formidable edge to her. One minute she'd be the southern belle as sweet as pecan pie and the next she'd cut you off at the knees for asking a stupid question, thus you did everything you could to avoid asking. Not a good plan when you are dealing with high schoolers.

One afternoon while a bunch of us were rolling up dinner rolls she asked one of the girls, Peggy, to make her some boullion. She told her to use about 12 cubes. It was a hot summer day and Libby was in one of her moods, so Peggy looked at her blankly and meekly wandered off in search of the boullion cubes. The rest of us continued on with our dough rolling with Libby. A while later we started smelling something odd. There on the stove was a frying pan with 12 flaming boullion cubes evenly spaced in the pan. It was sort of like the flaming sugar cube they used to serve on top of Cherries Jubillee, except brown and smelled horrible. We all stood frozen, afraid to breathe, waiting for the tirade to burst forth from Libby. Peggy was as white as a sheet and looked like she wanted to crawl under the floor tiles. Libby walked over to the stove, turned it off and wandered over to the kitchen table where she sat down, threw her apron up over her face and laughed and laughed and laughed. :laugh: We thought she was gonna have a heart attack she was laughing so hard. We never let Peggy forget it and she never forgot how to make boullion again.

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I've learned the hard way that no amount of grandkid-induced Thanksgiving stress can excuse starting a turkey at 425 degrees. (I must have lost a month and thought it was our Christmas prime rib!) I caught my mistake about a half-hour later, but I was one red-faced cook when that sizzly, burny smell overran the house!

Our favorite family story involves one of our teen grandkids and a box of brownie mix. His brownies looked beautiful, but as our daughter told it, they tasted . . . different. When she asked him what he'd put in them, he said, "Well, you always say extra virgin olive oil is the best cooking oil there is, so that's what I put in them."

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I had my first apartment at age 19. Boyfriend at the time brought over two beautiful steaks for dinner one night. Remembering how my Mom would cook steaks, I placed them on a broiler pan, opened the oven door a bit and turned the broiler control to full throttle.

After about five minutes I peeked into the oven, only to see that the top element wasn't burning-like-the-hinges-of-hell red. Said boyfriend picked that moment to come into the kitchen to check on how things were going.

I mentioned, what I thought was, a defective broiler element. In a more-than-slightly panicked voice, he asked what I kept in the drawer below the oven. My answer: just stuff like oversized pans and tupperware, but I added that nothing was in there at the moment. Why on earth would that matter?

It was at that point, he kindly reminded me that I had a gas -- no electric -- stove and the broiler was on the bottom. :blink:

------------

A recent stupid human trick -- while making batter for fried onion rings last night and simultaneously chatting with my mother-in-law, I poured ginger ale, instead of club soda, into the batter. The end result was edible, but a little weird.


The Wright Table

Becoming a better home cook, one meal at a time.

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I substituted white wine vinegar for white wine and had disastrous results (shocking, I know). Um, and also substituted imitation crab for real crab meat in the same recipe. Probably worst "valentine's meal" I've ever had... Alright, hands-down worst thing I've ever made in my life. I blame it on the fact that I was maybe 20 at the time and didn't know what I was doing.

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I’m new to eGullet so I figured the best way to start things off would be a confession to my biggest kitchen disaster. Here goes…

Once, in college, I had decided to make blackened tuna steaks for my girlfriend and myself. I had prepared them a few times before but never in my new apartment which had an electric stove. I had little experience with electrics and didn’t particularly enjoy the experiences I had. Anyway, I set the stove on high and placed my trusty Wagner iron skillet on the burner. I was home alone and I left for a few minutes and came back to realize I had not put the cooking oil in the pan. Apparently, "HIGH" on an electric stove, or at least on this one, was damned hot. Pouring the oil into the pan it was as if I had dumped rocket fuel on a Bunsen burner. In an instant the entire pan was engulfed in flames. I immediately reached for the fire extinguisher, which was hung, quite conveniently, at the end of the counter. Only in a college apartment complex would this unsightly yet life saving device be located so accessibly. I grabbed it off the hook, took aim with the hose, and gave the handle a firm squeeze. Nothing. Not even a puff of flame smothering whatever-they-put-in-those-things. Memories of a recent beer pong tournament rushed into my head like a thought bubble that would appear above a cartoon character faced with similar circumstances. In a drunken stooper my roommates and I thought what fun it would be to spray each other with fire retardant while we all laughed like flour-dusted idiots. I knew water was out of the question so, feeling as though my options to extinguish the fire in the house had run dry, I thought the next best solution might be to just remove the fire from the house. I dropped the extinguisher and, in a panic, grabbed the pan...bare handed. WRONG!! I’m certain the four-letter expletive that followed could be heard at least a mile away; nearly loud enough to silence the fire alarm that had begun blaring a few second earlier. At that point this whole mess evolved into a sort of outer body experience. The immense pain in my hand presented me with a moment of relative clarity and I grabbed a dish towel, picked up the pan and set it in the breezeway until the flames died out on their own as I ran my throbbing hand under a cold tap.

At the time this was decidedly not-funny but looking back, the whole incident is pretty hilarious. The scar on my palm, barely visible now, is a reminder that the kitchen can be a dangerous place…particularly if you are a bumbling idiot.

Incidentally, the tuna steaks were a big hit that night. I did pretty well preparing them with my left hand after I’d aired out the apartment for a few minutes. :biggrin:


I thoroughly disapprove of duels...If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet retired spot...and kill him. ~Mark Twain

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Welcome, PBHokie!

Great story :laugh::laugh:

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