Recent Disasters

 All has not been well in Wendy’s kitchen these last few weeks.  An unprecedented amount of culinary disasters have resulted in a cooking confidence crisis.  The major lows are as follows:

1.)     Venison Stew with Chilli and Chocolate – Ah, this one hurt.  D and I watched The Wild Gourmets a couple of weeks ago and this dish was cooked for a ceilidh.  I thought it sounded fabulous, D thought it sounded minging, argument ensued.  A couple of days ago (after spending some serious time finding a butcher with venison in stock) I made the stew.  In a moment of sheer genius I decided to add cocoa powder to the marinade ingredients.  The result was chunks of meat floating in hot chocolate.  I refuse to tell D what happened.

2)   Toad in the Hole -Never ever EVER again will I write a blog entry before making the dish.  So sure was I that my Toad in the Hole was going to be fabulous, I had a post all ready and waiting to be published once my masterpiece had been caught on camera.  What should have been juicy sausages encased in a crispy yet moist Yorkshire pudding batter ended up being soggy meat in some kind of custard.  It wasn’t nice.

3) Leek and Goat’s Cheese Risotto – With no white wine in the house I used Chinese cooking wine.  It’s very sweet.  It’s much like sherry.  It didn’t work at all.  Moral of the story: always have wine in the house. 

4) Tablet – A Scottish sweet made with butter and sugar and condensed milk.  This was D’s disaster.  He just can’t get it to set.  Luckily, Alice-the-tablet-master is tutoring him and he reckons he’ll be on top of the situation in the next few weeks.

5)   Exploding aubergine – Fun but not planned.

It doesn’t look like very much now it’s written down.  Still, my parents are coming to visit this weekend and to err on the side of caution I’m going to make them my shepherd’s pie.  Everyone always loves my shepherd’s pie.  I surely can’t mess this up?  Can I?

If all goes well I’ll post the recipe later this week.  🙂

28 thoughts on “Recent Disasters

  1. Never mind Wendy, these things happen to us all (quite a bit in my case!).

    I’ll join you in admitting to using a bit of chinese rice wine when there’s nothing else available – sometimes it works and sometimes it is completely vile!

    Definitely share the magic tablet technique once D has perfected it (just the mention of tablet brings back lots of happy Scottish childhood memories!)

  2. Sophie – Will most definitely share the tablet recipe. Made myself a little sick the other night eating the non-set stuff with a wooden spoon. I don’t have much of a sweet-tooth but, man!, this was good. 🙂

    Teachingtheworld – I’d like to say I no longer take tantrums when something doesn’t work but I can’t! That said, I do know the value in failure. 🙂

    Urbanvegan – I just laughed so much cranberry juice came out my nose. My white t-shirt now resembles your kitchen!

  3. Ah, but I hope it’s all made you laugh. I’ve had a few myself recently and am all up for confessing when things go wrong, even if it is in a very public fashion. You do have my sympathy for the venison, though.

  4. Don’t worry, Wendy! We live and learn! There are some substitutions that just don’t work (I’ve discovered that recently myself, when trying to substitute icing sugar with caster sugar when making a pastry – awful experience).

  5. my mum says you have to take the risk – I think she is right, although sometimes it just seems a nightmare at the time.

    I emphathise with your disasters – especially the venison one – I have had some dalliances with trying to use chocolate in savoury dishes without success but hope that one day I will crack the code!

    Good luck with the shepherd’s pie!

  6. Really really wish I had seen the exploding aubergine – still laugh when I think about it.
    K had the same problem when making tablet – Tell D to beat the mixture for longer – however, it will feel like his arm may fall off! And also allow it to boil for maybe 5-10 mins longer mmmmmm! x

  7. Wendy, glad to see I am not the only one that has these Kitchen disasters. I think it just goes to show how adventurous a cook you are, willing to try new things. And from each disaster you learn something so they aren’t a total loss.

  8. ah, we love your honesty and humor, Wendy 🙂 Last month I attempted a sauce to go with my chicken dish, but it ended up tasting like burnt flour and bitter lemon. yum. I threw it away and made sure to wash the pan before my husband got home! Luckily he didn’t ask if the chicken had a sauce to accompany it! Well, on a happier note, I just linked to one of your successful recipes in my newest post!

  9. Now you know why I do not post a lot of food on my blog! I have more disasters than successes. That is why I stick with wine! And you did learn a good lesson thru it all, if a recipe calls for wine, do not substitue anything else. If you open a bottle and know you will not be using it up that day (never an occurance in my house) it will keep for a few days in the fridge. Just be sure to put the cork back in the bottle while storing. Cheers!

  10. We all have disasters, you learn from your failures don’t you? My husband will eat almost anything but even he would say no to venison in hot choc! Good one.

    I’ve had tablet that won’t set and used it as a sort of fudge sauce for ice cream, very nice but a bit sickening as you say. The key is the boiling it has to reach “soft ball” which I think is 122 C and the beating gives you that melting texture. A true scottish sweetie, nothing but sugar and fat, I wonder if you can deep fry it??

  11. Annemarie – My one consolation with the venison is that the meat wasn’t fantastic. Even if the stew had worked out flavourwise I wouldn’t have been pleased with the venison.

    Maninas – Will learn from your experience too!

    Anh – They are necessary, I know. 🙂

    Johanna – Your mum sounds like a wise woman!

    Pille – Brave or stupid, I wonder… 😉

    Gen – Wish you’d been there too. It was great!

    Pat – That’s what I tell myself. Don’t like hearing it for a couple of hours after the disaster though!

    Maryann – I will repeat that mantra for the rest of the night.

    Brianna – Maybe I’m too much of a blabbermouth. I can’t keep anything to myself – embarrassing or not!

    Deb – The concept of putting a cork in a bottle of wine and leaving it in the fridge is alien to me… 😉

    Nodwah – Deep fried tablet. Heart attack in a bag!

  12. I discovered that the secret to great Coq au Vin was a bit of cocoa powder…. I did say ‘a bit’…
    And, yes, always, always have wine in the house! It helps calm the nerves when everything else goes to H— Plus it’s good for the risotto!
    Good luck with the Shepherd’s Pie!

  13. It’s wonderful that you are so adventurous in your cooking! I’m sure that your shepherd’s pie would be delicious so long as there is no choc in the recipe 😉

  14. I like the kitchen photo.

    I’ve exploded aubergine in the oven, and baking potatoes. It’s an absent-minded thing (unless you have a more exciting way of exploding them, which I suppose is possible).

  15. Katie – Thanks! Have you posted that coq-au-vin recipe? It’s a favourite of mine.

    Nora – I’m avoiding chocolate altogether just now!

    Wheatless Bay – Thanks. 🙂 Find exploding potatoes messy rather than exciting…

    David – Managed to confess to my other half about the venison tonight and he was fairly gracious about it! 🙂

  16. How did I miss the exploding aubergine? That happened to me a little while ago but wasnt as lucky as you as it hit my eye – ouch! Luckily after a couple of days of pain it healed very well.

    I blamed Tesco’s though as it was a packet suggestion to cook it whole with no menion of pricking it. Though they have now agreed to modify their instructions!!

  17. Wendy – your post has really made me chuckle. So nice to see the ‘reality’ of cooking reflected in a food blog. Usually you just hear about the good stuff yet we all have our share of disasters!

    My most recent was a goats cheese and red onion tart that I was cooking for a vegetarian friend who came last minute to a very meat-orientated dinner party. So busy was I with catering for the omnivores that I burnt the tart to a cinder. Luckily I had enough pastry to make a second one, forgot about it in the oven and burnt that one too. In the end I had to whip up a rather dull-looking pasta dish with the few ingredients I had lurking around!

  18. Claire – Hope your eye’s better! I’ll look out for the modified instructions next time i’m in Tescos. 🙂

    Christina – Many thanks. I’m getting there slowly.

    Antonia – Hope your friend understood and didn’t think she was a neglected veggie! 🙂

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