Your recent Food Fails

My man friend and I were comparing our “Food Fails” last night over dinner. A dinner that he’d made which was…not the finest thing he’d ever turned out (we’ve been experimenting with slow cookers at our respective domiciles with varying degrees of success). Our skill levels differ but we generally make great food. I have a long foodservice/hospitality background, so I really have no excuse other than not paying attention for the most part. He’s been cooking for about 10 years and does a great job; pores over his Bon Appetit and diligently follows the recipes. He’s starting to do some freestyling which is educational, as it should be, and occasionally successful.

Anyway, here are our crap meals of late:
His pork dinner last night, man I had such high hopes…until he told me it consisted of a pork loin, carrots, green beans and cauliflower. My heart sank, my vision of slow-roasted barbecue dissolved, and sure enough - when we got home, the house smelled like a tyrannosaurus fart. The vegetables were grey and lifeless, the pork was dry, the cauliflower was hideous gray mush. Hey, it was dinner, we ate it. Live and learn! He’s going to go back to recipes rather than freestyling next time.

Mine was what coulda shoulda woulda been a lovely hunters-style beef ragout, full of grass fed short ribs, mushrooms and onions, tomatoes and wine. I had nice buttered noodles to go with, sour cream, side of buttered broccoli, everything looking real good. Around the last hour, I adjusted seasonings, and thought “This is coming along great, but some of that Hungarian paprika would seriously max this shit out.” so I opened up the little baggie, spooned in a bunch, and…HOLY CRAP turns out that was some type of incindiery chili napalm that should probably not be introduced by the tablespoon. :eek:

We were sweating, snotting, dumping on more sour cream. Couldn’t taste a thing. We had seconds of noodles and I wound up giving the rest of it to my dad’s Ghanian caregiver who eats habaneros like jelly beans. I gotta label that bag. :mad:

I also had a slow cooker freestyle failure - having no background with these things, I smugly thought “I don’t need to read no stinking instructions!”. I threw in my half-assed concept of some kind of bogus Polynesian chicken (onions, poblanos, pineapple, soy sauce, ginger, chicken breast) and cranked it up. On high. For eight hours. That chicken actually turned out just like wood; dry, nasty fibers coated in this brown sludge that didn’t taste anything as I’d imagined. I guess we’re going back to the drawing board with the slow cooker.

Got any culinary duds you’d care to share?

For reasons I probably shouldn’t document, all my pan sauces end up tasting exactly the same and only about half the time are they even palatable.

Long story short, if in the heat of preparation I announce, “I’m going to make a sauce with the drippings”, it’s best that you put a bottle of A1 or whatever else is handy in the fridge or pantry on the dinner table.

There was a time I made a spicy shrimp soup. You start by sauteing shrimp shells with chunks of ginger in some oil. Eventually your need to strain it all of that out.

Out of cheese cloth and lacking time to get some, I figured I’d sacrifice an old t-shirt to the cause. The soup tasted strongly of laundry detergent. I didn’t quite think that one through.

I found eggplant on sale and decided to make eggplant parmesan. Turns out bargain basement priced, past it’s prime eggplant it tough as shoe leather.

I tried making Prudhomme’s lamb curry recipe last weekend, from his Louisiana Cooking recipe. I failed to note that he felt this was pretty spicy. This, from the guy who usually puts at least a teaspoon of pepper per serving. This was more like a tablespoon. Almost inedibly hot, and I like hot food… Also, about 2/3 of a stick of butter per serving. That’s just too much butter.

Oven-ready lasagna isn’t, as I found out last night.

LOL…come on, give us the details.

I used to work with a chef who was supposed to be really good at what he did. I couldn’t figure out why, whenever he’d excitedly call me over to taste his latest sauce, I’d give it a go and think “WTF, this tastes exactly like all his other sauces. Tarragon.”
I guess he was kind of a one-note herb guy, very stuck in old school Frenchy stuff.

I suppose that could have turned out worse…tasting strongly of, say, armpits.

That reminds me, though, of a batch of white sangria I made to take to Scrabble night with some friends. Delicious white sangria with peaches and raspberries and Cointreau…and, fricking dish soap, apparently. I’d put it in one of those plastic picnic jug for transport, and I guess it hadn’t been rinsed properly last time. Full of foam, tasted like soap. :mad:

“Oven-ready” as in “no-boil noodles”, or something premade that you stick into the oven, along the lines of refrigerated pizza?

The only problem I have ever had with no-boiling-required noodles is when I don’t put enough sauce on the topmost layer and part of it ends up crisp.

I actually do this all the time.
I use shirts I’ve never worn I’ve bought when they go on sale and then use them specifically for making stock.
The key is to hand wash the t-shirts really good with detergent that doesn’t have any scent, rinse them out really good and hang then to dry so you don’t ret any dryer sheet residue on them from the inside of the dryer.
I always hand wash them and air dry them and reuse them until they start to fray and then they get regulated to wiping up kitchen floor spills.

Nothing as dramatic or poisonous as soapy sangria or soup, but last night, we had the idea to extend barbecups into a barbepie. The basic concept is to take whomp biscuits and press them into cupcake pans and fill the resulting cups with sloppy joe meat, top with cheese and bake. Easy enough…how about making a 9" pie this way?

This did not scale up well at all. By the time the dough on the bottom was cooked, it became almost inedibly tough, and the dough on top was almost black.

Guys, you know that cheesecloth is really cheap, right? :wink:

Mine are only sorta fails. I’ve been making the same bread for years and last week started trying random recipes off the net. None have been horrible (though this sourdough I tried was close), but none have been “wow, this is much better than your old bread.”

My family are Philistines, btw - I actually got a comment that the sourdough wasn’t sweet.

Or, just a fine sieve in a pinch. What’s a little shrimp shell? Shows it’s home made.

True, but a t-shirt actually works much better for stock. Look at the weave in even a cheap t-shirt, it’s much tighter in a single layer than cheesecloth is even in 3 or 4 layers.

I have to admit that my wife bought me a book just on making sauces. All kinds. So I’ve no-one to blame but myself for not picking up at least a few sure and easy ones.

So it starts with a pan of common drippings, be it chicken, pork or beef. While on heat and stirring I start adding shallots and garlic, add wine or cognac, reduce, add some dijon (grainy or fine)… and here is where it all goes wrong … I add stock or water, start adjusting seasoning, add fresh thyme, taste… nope… add worcestershire?.. taste… nope… add mustard?.. taste… nope… add cream?.. nope… more pepper? no!.. reduce some more, taste, still bad and now too salty… FUCK! <dump in sink and swear I’ll never try again>

I tried making homemade ravioli with wonton noodle wrappers as the dough, as I had heard was possible. I guess you’re supposed to double up on them or something, because those things are not robust enough to withstand being stuffed and boiled. What we ended up eating were bowls of ravioli filling and tomato sauce, with bits of dissolved wonton noodles mixed in.

Learn to make an espagnole sauce, one of the “mother” sauces. Add some butter to your drippings and saute some minced veggies (a mirepoix) like onion, carrots and celery. When they’re tender, add flour and cook on low, stirring until the roux browns a bit (five minutes), but without burning. Whisk in stock and tomato puree, bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add an herb sachet (like bay leaf, parsley and thyme), then simmer it until it reduces by about a third. This could take upwards of 45 minutes, so stir often so it doesn’t scorch. Remove the sachet. For quantities, there are any number of recipes online.

Just to confirm, you took canned biscuits like pillsbury grands or whatever, and lined a pie pan with them, poured sloppy joe filling on top, sprinkled with cheese and baked? Or did you do a second topping of biscuits?

I have a couple of suggestions if you ever want to try again. You might try using crescent rolls rather than biscuits as they’re thinner. Alternatively, something I’ve done when I wanted to do personal pizzas at a dinner party is to roll the biscuits out into 9 inch circles. You could do 3 biscuits, one for the bottom crust, one for the top and one that gets sliced to make an ersatz side to the pie and bake the rest normally to serve as dinner rolls for sopping. Either way, throw it in the oven for 10 minutes to prebake. That way, there’s a crust already to keep the liquid from the sloppy joe filling from seeping into your pastry. Fill the prebaked crust with your filling and cheese and bake until the center is hot.

I made a delicious chicken pot pie with curry the other night. I wasn’t confident in my store-bought puff pastry (it had been in the freezer for quite a while) and I didn’t have the inclination to make my own crust, so I topped it with an unrolled tube of crescent roll dough. It was great (although the curry made the filling kind of an unappetizing color).

But as for FAILS - I made tres leches cake last night (Alton Brown recipe). The cake and glaze were perfect; it’s an easy recipe that’s hard not to get right. I had just bought the whipping cream to top the cake with earlier – oops, left it out on the counter. Well it’s still pretty cool to the touch, and the metal mixing bowl is cold; it’ll be fine.

Wrong. The cream started to set and then blam, just fell apart and totally separated in the bowl. I had to throw it out and buy a tub of Cool Whip on the way to the office (it was for a work party). Still tasted good though.