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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Now What Do I Do?

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It happens to all of us.

I call them “kitchen mishaps” and they can range from the small to large. Sometimes they come in extra small and other times they might be XXL just like our clothes sizes. But as I said, they happen to us all.

An extra-large-kitchen-mishap could be something like accidentally switching the sugar in your mousse recipe with salt or forgetting to add yeast to the challah dough. And if it’s meant for a special occasion of say, 100 guests then, you’ve really got a L-A-R-G-E problem!

(This of course is no less of a catastrophe than having to buy an XXL sheva brochos outfit after dieting for almost half a year!)

But Baruch Hashem our daily mishaps in the kitchen are on a much smaller scale. Sometimes we “simply” overcook the pot roast or burn a batch of butterscotch cookies to a crisp. Or you might need a paint scraper to un-stick the scrambled eggs that kind of got stuck to your skillet. These minor mishaps can be pretty upsetting but I’m wondering what you do when you meet up with a mishap?

Do you throw in the towel and declare in despair “Never Again!?” Or are you among those who go for it until you get it right?

I’m sure you know that some of the greatest inventions were a “mistake.” Well, the same goes for kitchen follies. I know, because a good part of our favorite recipes were born from flops we learned how to fix the next time or two around.

Take for example my mother’s jawbreakers. Those unforgettable hamentashen were rock hard even though they tasted great. Mother, never one to give up, tried making them again the year after but alas, they almost broke our jaws. Until today we laugh when we remember those hamentashen! Like I said, they are unforgettable.

Something similar happened in our house the other day. When our margarine-less chocolate chip cookies came out of the oven, they reminded me of my mother’s hamentashen for some reason. Could it be because they were as hard as those jawbreakers, do you think…? In any case, we decided to try the recipe again with a little more flour and presto! They came out perfectly soft and chewy.

What I’m trying to say is “Don’t give up!” Be bold. Be daring. Try that recipe again and you’ll gain more than just a tasty pot roast. (Maybe the word “again” is short for “and gain”). Try to understand what might generate a bigger success next time. You’ll acquire a better feel for the process and probably notice a shortcut or two that will help you get it to your table quicker.

Experience is the best teacher. Do your homework and take notice of the do’s and don’ts while you’re at it. As a homemaker, you usually are the one to do the cooking. You might as well make your cooking experiences work for you. You can find the answers!Mindy-042613-Flour

Or, you can ask us. There’s always something cooking here!

Say the recipe you tried doesn’t look anything like the full color photo in the magazine. You’re willing to give it another go but don’t have an inkling as to what you did wrong. Just drop us a line explaining the mishap or a question about cuisine you’d like to know and we’ll try to solve your dilemma and answer your question.

We all make mistakes and it can be fun to learn from them. We’ll make delicious edibles here together. You’ll see, that with a little thought about “why,” the “how” will become a success. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even find your own solutions. We’d be happy to hear about those too.

But before we embark on our culinary journey, let’s not forget “Tefilas Haderech.” The recipe for a sure shot success in your kitchen (and in all other areas of life) is to daven. Request of Him hatzlacha in the dish you’re making so that your diner’s – big and small – will enjoy your labor of love and gain strength to be true Ovedei Hashem.

So what’s cooking today?

Let’s begin with a few common problems you might have met in your kitchen.

Q: How do I transfer the dough I rolled out, from the table to the baking pan, keeping it intact?

A: Cut a piece of disposable plastic tablecloth a bit larger than the size of your baking pan. “Stick” it to your workplace by wiping the counter with a damp cloth before spreading the plastic on top. Smooth out any “wrinkles” that may have formed. Roll out your ball of dough to the appropriate size. Lift the dough together with the plastic and flip it over on top of the pan. The dough shouldn’t slip off right away which gives you the chance to position it precisely where you want it before peeling the plastic away.

Q: When cooking for a simcha, how do I combine the large amount of ingredients for my vegetable quiche that don’t fit into a conventional size bowl?

A: For a clean and thorough mix, use your kitchen sink! Clean your sink well and keep it damp. Line the sink with a piece of plastic tablecloth or Saran Wrap, making sure it clings snuggly on all sides. Now you can “throw” all the ingredients into your new “bowl” and mix with ease.

When you’re done, make a quick cleanup by rolling up the dirty plastic and discard.

Q: I’d like to prepare some chicken cutlets for supper but I’m out of eggs. Do I have to think of a different idea for today’s menu?

A: No way! We make our cutlets without eggs and they are not only more delicious but more economical as well. Besides, anyone who has an egg allergy can enjoy our egg-less cutlets too!

Try the following method for juicy, crunchy and flavorful chicken cutlets in a snap:

Cut the chicken breasts to the size of your choice. Don’t tenderize, just bread them with a mixture of breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and spices. Drop each cutlet into a well-heated pan of oil and fry on each side for no more than 2-3 minutes. Frying them on a high flame for a short time is the secret to succulent chicken cutlets.

Mindy-042613-KugelQ: How do I cut a kugel into perfect squares before serving? Somehow my portions always look lopsided and sloppy.

A: All you have to do to solve that one is to wait for your kugel to cool off. I know of some cooks who even refrigerate their kugels overnight before cutting into portions. Warm in an oven before serving and you and your guests will enjoy hot, delicious kugel served in palatable portions.

This was just a warm-up… Keep on practicing till we meet again next time.

Your kitchen or mine?

About the Author: Mindy Rafalowitz is a recipe developer and food columnist for over 15 years. She has published a best selling cookbook in Hebrew for Pesach and the gluten sensitive. Mindy is making progress on another specialty cookbbok for English readers. For kitchen questions or to purchase a sample recipe booklet at an introductory price, contact Mindy at mitbashelpo@gmail.com.


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