Your dinner dilemmas, solved
You overcook the turkey
We all know that gut-wrenching feeling: You’re preparing the perfect meal when you realize you’re missing an ingredient or misread the recipe. Luckily, there are easy fixes to common blunders, which means your mistake can be your little secret.
Don’t worry that the star of your meal is ruined. That’s what gravy is for, says Angela McKeller, an Atlanta-based chef and author of Passion on a Plate. Serve slices of turkey with the gravy already poured on top to moisten the meat. If only the skin is burned beyond the desired golden brown, peel it off. Your guests shouldn’t second-guess what happened, but if they ask, remind them how much healthier turkey is without the fatty skin.
You poured too much wine in the sauce
The result won’t be the same, but it can still be equally delicious. “If it's in a stew or braised dish, just let it cook down longer,” says Alejandra Ramos, a New York City-based cooking instructor and owner of culinary concierge service Alejandra Ramos Culinary & Lifestyle. “I guarantee you're only going to get a richer flavor from this mistake.” Making tomato sauce? Continue cooking and add another can of tomatoes to dilute the wine flavor. Or, if you're out of tomatoes, let the sauce simmer a tad longer than usual and call the dish "red wine tomato sauce." You may even discover a new favorite recipe!
You used baking powder when the recipe called for baking soda (or vice versa)
These two leaveners, used to help baked goods rise, are not created equal. Scoop out as much of the mistakenly measured ingredient as possible and remedy it. Or, better yet, start the flour mix over to ensure the recipe will be properly leavened. Marlene Koch, “Magician in the Kitchen” and author of Eat More of What You Love, breaks down the science behind these two ingredients: “Baking soda has four times the leavening power of baking powder. If you use baking powder, instead of baking soda, your baked goods may not rise enough. If you use baking soda instead of baking powder, your baked goods will rise too much, and then deflate. They may also have a strong salty, and perhaps soapy taste.” Didn’t catch your mistake in time? Your bread or dessert will still be edible but probably won’t taste as good.
You misread the measurement and your soup or gravy is too salty
If you have a raw potato, toss it into the soup and let it absorb the salt. You can remove the potato after the soup is done cooking. McKeller suggests keeping boil-in-a-bag rice on hand for this scenario. Puree cooked rice with a few tablespoons of water and mix with the gravy. “The rice will serve as a thickener and absorb that extra salt,” she says.
You forgot to buy buttermilk
Don’t run to the grocery store just yet. Try McKeller’s trick first: Substitute milk for buttermilk and add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or distilled vinegar to "sour" the milk. This DIY concoction works great in baking, or for soaking your chicken to tenderize it before frying, she says.
Bing: DIY buttermilk
Your bread dough didn't rise
Time to toss it and give up? “No way,” says McKeller. But keep an eye on the baking time to make sure the bread doesn't burn. When the dough is one-inch thick versus six-inches thick, it may bake very quickly. Check on the oven every 10 to 15 minutes and remove the bread when it looks golden brown on top. Even though it didn’t rise properly, you can still eat the thinner, crustier version with soup. Or, cut up the crispy bread and toss it with oil, garlic powder, and dried herbs to make your own croutons.
Your Recipe calls for fresh herbs but you have only dried ones
You forgot to soften the butter (or you over-softened it)
You blackened the chicken on the grill
You overcooked the veggies and they are a mushy mess
Turn them into a mini casserole! If you have 2 cups of mushy veggies, McKeller says to add one beaten egg, 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, then top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Another option: Mush up the vegetables and add 1/2 cup of broth, your favorite herbs, and garlic. Then blend like soup and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays to create small vegetable boullion cubes that you can later drop in soups for a boost of flavor.