And a very Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Hopefully, even those of you who do not celebrate Christmas took the time to celebrate family and friends.
We had a very nice time, with the children, partners and grandchildren down for lunch on Christmas Day. I took the opportunity to catch up with my father and step-mother a couple of days beforehand, and had lunch with my mum a couple of days after. And, of course, I cooked up a storm.
I love taking the opportunity of family gatherings to try new dishes. I know people say you should stick to the tried and true at those times, but I love to push the boat out a bit and try new stuff. Here in Australia, it’s Summer now. Some people stick to eating hot food and traditional Christmas puddings here, but really, it’s generally just too hot! Even with air conditioning there’s nothing worse than eating a heap of heavy food, and then trying to stay conscious for the rest of the day. So cold meats, salads and nice cool deserts are the go.
In case you’re interested – here is my menu for Christmas 2017:
Fillet of beef, wrapped in pancetta and roasted (the only hot dish)
While I was preparing all this I did make a few boo-boos along the way which got me thinking about the content of this month’s blog. If you’re like me, you occasionally make a mistake in the kitchen and then wonder how the heck you can rescue whatever it is rather than throwing it out. So I thought I share with you some of my tips I have accumulated over the years to fix my own kitchen disasters.
You’ve overcooked the meat: Slice the meat thinly and put in a thin layer in a shallow dish or plate. Combine 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plenty of salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves. Pour over the meat. Turn the meat in the dressing to check that each sliced is coated and serve.
The gravy is tasteless: Add a tablespoon of either Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar.
The garlic is burnt: This one can’t be saved – throw it out and start again.
You’ve overcooked the steak: This won’t work if it’s like rubber, but it can save the day otherwise. Make a quick pepper sauce by crushing a couple of tablespoons of peppercorns. Pour a cup of red wine into a saucepan and reduce it to a couple of spoons. Add the peppercorns and a cup of cream. Boil until sauce is thick. Season well and pour over the steaks.
The roast is cooked the the veggies aren’t: Remove the meat from the oven, loosely cover with foil and drape with a tea-towel. It will stay warm this way for up to an hour. Finish the veggies.
You have roasted the chicken, but when you go to serve it you realise it is not quite cooked: Never serve under-cooked chicken! Place it on a china plate and zap it in the microwave for a minute or so. Leave it to sit for another couple of minutes for the heat to equalise.
The risotto has overcooked and the rice grains have blown apart: Turn it into arancini or suppli.
The lasagne is overcooked and dry: Pour over some extra milk and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Top with fresh cheese and herbs for serving.
The mayonnaise has curdled: Add a spoonful of boiling water and whisk.
The mayonnaise won’t thicken: Slowly add another well beaten egg yolk.
The Hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce has split: Put it in the blender with a couple of ice cubes and blend.
The salad greens are limp: Fill a bowl with iced water and put the salad veggies in there for as long as possible.
The sauce or soup is too salty: Add a chopped potato or two and simmer for as long as possible. Throw away the potato afterwards.
You’ve burnt the rice or potatoes onto the bottom of the saucepan: Strain the rice and tip it into a new saucepan. Don’t scrape the bottom of the original pan. Add fresh water and top with a slice of white bread. Bring back to the boil, then throw away the bread.
The melted chocolate has seized (gone solid): If it’s burnt throw it out, otherwise whisk in a tablespoon or so of mild flavoured vegetable oil. It won’t be as good, but it will be useable.
The cake has collapsed in the middle: fill the hollow with cream and fresh strawberries or other fruit.
The sauce has started to lump before it’s cooked: Remove it from the heat and beat vigorously for a couple of minutes. Then put it back on a lower heat to finish cooking. This only works if the sauce hasn’t boiled. If it’s already boiled your only other option is to push it through a sieve to get rid of the lumps.
The jelly hasn’t set: Remove it from the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. Get tablespoon of gelatine and dissolve in just enough hot water to get it to properly dissolve. Whisk it into your jelly, then put it back in the fridge.
So there you go – hopefully you never actually need any of these, but they’ll always be here if you do.
The very best wishes to you all for the coming year, and I’ll be back in a month with another couple of delicious recipes for you.
For now, take care and eat well.
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