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Cooking disasters

Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:37 pm UTC
by Zohar
Last weekend I bought a bunch of chili. I didn't want it to rot so as usual, I chopped it all up and froze it. Then I had an idea - put some in a jar and make chili oil! Today I opened it for the first time and it stank to the heavens - turns out it fermented while in that jar, so I had to throw everything away.

What did you make that didn't turn out right? Can you give advice on what went wrong?

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:10 am UTC
by voidPtr
Hah. Perfect timing with the learn to cook thread. My worst cooking moment..making a thai -inspired coconut milk-based soup a few years back. I was pressed for time so I decided to do it an a slowcooker (all ingredient including the coconut milk) while I had a nap -- bad idea. I woke up and the house smelled like vomit. I opened the pot, the coconut milk had separated, and the soup looked like vomit too. The smell made my eyes water. I said what the heck and tried it anyways..it tasted like something you would be making a fertilizer bomb with rather than be serving for dinner.

So what did I learn from this..I'm not sure if I learned anything but here's what I took from it: Thai food is cooked hot and fast for a reason. Don't boil the coconut milk all afternoon

Zohar wrote:Last weekend I bought a bunch of chili. I didn't want it to rot so as usual, I chopped it all up and froze it. Then I had an idea - put some in a jar and make chili oil! Today I opened it for the first time and it stank to the heavens - turns out it fermented while in that jar, so I had to throw everything away.


I'm not sure how you made the chili oil, but I'm under the impression that if you're not using sterilized air-tight jars, chili oil is a perfect environment for botulism and is not something that is meant to be stored.

As for saving the about-to-be-rotting chilis... There's only one place I know of near me that I can buy fresh red chilis and they come in a size too big for my needs, so when it's time, I either freeze them or dry them out and use them as crushed chilis.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:08 am UTC
by PAstrychef
too many to remember. From pouring my pork stock down the drain yesterday when the container tipped as I was trying to get a lid on it (at least it wasn't all over the floor) to having the shelves slip in the oven so that my cake layers came out at a 45o angle, to scorching the onions in a beef stroganoff I've dealt with plenty. And a few injuries as well, over the years.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:51 am UTC
by Bakemaster
Well, since injuries were mentioned... When I moved out of my mom's house, after my next birthday I took some of the money I'd gotten from a relative on the opposite side of the country and bought myself a knife block. My mom was horrified and didn't want me to ever talk about it because she was sure I'd cut myself all up. Funny thing is, I've never cut myself with any of those knives. But later that same year, I managed to take a chunk out of my finger with a garden-variety butter knife...

So did you guys know that if you hold a banana horizontally in your fist, skin on, and give it a swift whack with a butter knife, it splits really cleanly in half? Well, if you forget one time to keep your index finger tucked under your thumb when holding the banana, the butter knife will go through that, too.

Also there was this one cake night where it was right after or around Easter, and I had kind of been out having fun all day, maybe drinking a little, and I asked some people (Meaux_Pas among them) to give me some suggestions or requests for cake, 'cause I had no idea what I was going to make that night. Nobody was giving me suggestions, so I threatened to compress a bunch of donut holes into a cake-shaped mass with a springform pan and pour liquor all over it and call it a cake.

Long story short, I was expecting someone to bring me applejack or rum, and they brought Bailey's Irish Cream. I had already finished preparing and applying the lime creme fraiche. So did you guys know that Bailey's will curdle in the presence of citrus? Apparently this happens. Worst cake ever. I named it "Oh Fuck, It's Easter" and topped it with bunny-shaped Peeps.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:07 am UTC
by PatrickRsGhost
Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo.

When I lived with my grandma we ate at Red Lobster one day for lunch. We were driving back home from visiting my parents (we did it weekly), and I saw a billboard for Red Lobster coming up on an exit for the town we lived in. I was craving some shrimp, Grandma said same. We pulled in, ate, and headed on home.

While at Red Lobster I had ordered the Shrimp Trio, which has fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, and the shrimp fettuccine in alfredo sauce. I loved it. I decided to try to make it at home.

A couple of days later, I finally tried to make it at home. I had bought precooked shrimp, the fettuccine pasta, and thought I'd make my own alfredo sauce. I figured it was milk-based, so I poured about 3 to 4 cups of milk into a saucepan. Brought it to a boil, added butter, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and stirred until it all melted. It needed some flavor. I knew it had garlic in it (was basing everything on memory of how the alfredo at Red Lobster tasted), so I added some garlic. Didn't taste right, so added some more. And some more.

The end result was a half-thick, half-soupy alfredo sauce that was very powerful in garlic. Grandma liked it, I liked it. The people I worked with at Maxell didn't like it when I took some to work the next day. We had to unpack, unwrap, and repack some video and audio cassette tapes. After I had eaten, I was sweating out garlic profusely. I will say this: I managed to drive away any and all vampires, sparkly or not, that were within a 500-mile radius.

Lesson learned: Don't try to clone a restaurant dish, unless you find a decent recipe.
Lesson learned part the second: If you want to try a new dish, don't try to ad-lib it. SEARCH FOR A RECIPE.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:54 pm UTC
by pooteeweet
Bakemaster wrote:I threatened to compress a bunch of donut holes into a cake-shaped mass with a springform pan and pour liquor all over it and call it a cake.

Long story short, I was expecting someone to bring me applejack or rum, and they brought Bailey's Irish Cream. I had already finished preparing and applying the lime creme fraiche. So did you guys know that Bailey's will curdle in the presence of citrus? Apparently this happens. Worst cake ever. I named it "Oh Fuck, It's Easter" and topped it with bunny-shaped Peeps.


LOL! Oh god, I'm actually tempted to try making something similar. There is obviously something very wrong with me.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:31 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
Hey, I don't think anything has to be wrong for someone to think that donuts and liquor might be a good idea.

I mean, temporarily, anyway.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:48 pm UTC
by pooteeweet
Would the liquor absorb into the donut holes? It seems like that might be an issue if they were glazed.

Oh, I just remembered one of my earliest cooking mishaps. I was about 10 and I was making nougat (looking back on that, it seems a little insane). I learned that you should not throw a bunch of sugar into a hot, empty pan. Why should you not do this? Because instead of a pan full of melted sugar you will get a pan full of raging fire.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:33 pm UTC
by Zohar
That reminds me how, also when I was about ten years old, I tried to fry a mellawach. For the purposes of the story, it's shaped like a big round pizza base and you fry it in oil. I didn't want to burn my fingers when placing it in the oil, so I dropped it from about 30 centimeters high. Also, I guess it was hot because I was cooking without a shirt on. I got 2nd degree burns on my torso and had to walk around with bandages for a couple of weeks.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:53 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
pooteeweet wrote:Would the liquor absorb into the donut holes? It seems like that might be an issue if they were glazed.

Shouldn't be a problem if you poke holes in, as you would with a rum cake.

I actually ended up using regular donuts cut into pieces, because everyplace was closed for Easter and I ended up having to go to a CVS or 7-11 that only had regular donuts.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:36 pm UTC
by pooteeweet
Bakemaster, you've done a bad bad thing. If I have a heart attack after gorging myself on pakoras and donut-cake, it is on your conscience.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:23 am UTC
by PatrickRsGhost
Bakemaster wrote:cake made with donuts and liquor


Sounds almost similar to Monkey Bread.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:25 am UTC
by <nyssa>
A coke-cake. I bake a lot, and so (this was a while ago) my boyfriend at the time asked me to make him a cake using coca-cola, as he was (and presumably still is) fairly addicted to the stuff. So, I found a recipe (on the coca-cola website, no less), threw it all together, and shoved it in the oven. After the 45 minutes recommended cooking time, it was still not fully cooked, so I left it in. Over an hour, and probably more than an hour and a half later, it was still quite soggy. More like pudding, or at least the sauce you get with self-saucing puddings than cake. Tasted pretty ok seeing as it was predominantly chocolate, marshmallows and coke, but I still haven't lived it down. I must have mis-read or mis-converted the measurements or something.

And related to Zohar's post above, I still have scars on my chest from a time when I was cooking and the oil spat at me.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:28 pm UTC
by Bakemaster
PatrickRsGhost wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:cake made with donuts and liquor

Sounds almost similar to Monkey Bread.

I can see it. Monkey bread having far more sugar and lacking the alcohol, anyway.

If pooteeweet never posts again, I hold no responsibility.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:55 pm UTC
by Nath
So it goes.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:02 pm UTC
by PatrickRsGhost
Bakemaster wrote:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:cake made with donuts and liquor

Sounds almost similar to Monkey Bread.

I can see it. Monkey bread having far more sugar and lacking the alcohol, anyway.

If pooteeweet never posts again, I hold no responsibility.


Perhaps still use liquor, just not Bailey's. Maybe use brandy or rum. If I made it, I'd probably call it "Drunk Monkey's Balls" or some such name.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:35 am UTC
by poxic
Fresh garlic does not improve Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, in the way that being dipped in melted dark Belgian chocolate does not improve a Twinkie.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:29 pm UTC
by Sheikh al-Majaneen
One night I saw a box at wal-mart for cheap which just required me to cook some chicken for some mediterranean or whatever dish. A few days later, I made it. I had never pan-fried chicken so perfectly before, and was pleased with the result, except for the part where the contents of the box smelled like feet and was way too oily.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:42 pm UTC
by Brother Maynard
Back when I was still pretty new to cooking ( I was maybe 12-13), I managed to ruin the only pan that I've ever had to throw away. A recipe told me to add oil to a hot, empty saute pan.

Cue inferno.

Fortunately, my dad managed to smother the fire with only some minor singing to his hands, dinner wasn't ruined, and the only permanent consequences were a mildly blackened exhaust hood and the ruined pan.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:34 pm UTC
by Thesh
When I was a kid, my mom cut up stuff for tomato sauce and put it in a pot. She told me to put it on the stove when I got home from school and turn the flame on low. I did. Apparently, she was expecting me to look at the flame and put it on a low flame, not turn the knob on the stove to the point where it said "lo."

Apparently I ruined her pot.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:06 pm UTC
by Coffee
When I was about 12 I was visiting my dad. We were in the apartment of one of his friends. I decided to fry some jalapeño slices in butter; what could go wrong, right? Well, if you do it over high heat and leave it unattended you have an apartment filled with eye-scorching vapor! Had to evacuate the place; everybody out! I wasn't allowed to cook again for quite a while.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:13 pm UTC
by Sheikh al-Majaneen
Coffee wrote:When I was about 12 I was visiting my dad. We were in the apartment of one of his friends. I decided to fry some jalapeño slices in butter; what could go wrong, right? Well, if you do it over high heat and leave it unattended you have an apartment filled with eye-scorching vapor! Had to evacuate the place; everybody out! I wasn't allowed to cook again for quite a while.

That vapor doesn't scorch my eyes...it scorches my right eyebrow. Wtf?

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:41 pm UTC
by Zohar
I think today was one of my worst yet. I tried to make red velvet cake. The sponge cake part turned out perfectly, though not very red. The frosting, however, oh how I loathe thee. The recipe I used said to make frosting from cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar.

First time I made it, the butter was a bit too cold so there were still small bits of butter in the mixture. So I turn the mixer on high speed, hoping to get it to a better consistency. Of course I forgot about it for a minute and suddenly something churned and it got completely lumpy, like some weird cottage cheese. Threw that away, ran to the supermarket, got some more powdered sugar and cream cheese.

This time I melted the butter a bit in the microwave on low heat, just to get it very soft. Then I mixed everything up. I put the frosting on the first layer, but it was very runny, and still a bit lumpy. So I put it in the freezer, hoping to get it to solidify a bit. It did, but after a second it still melted and ran off the cake. It ended up looking like it was covered in snot. I ended up throwing it away. It tasted very good, but I couldn't serve it to anyone. I was pretty upset, then went out and bought a couple of cakes from a local store. It was very frustrating...

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:34 pm UTC
by AntonGarou
I'm lucky- I tend toward doing crock pots and such, and they don't have spectacular failure modes. But every time I do stir fry in my new wok I fill the house with smoke. One of the times I used cornflour to coat the chicken pieces It actually caught fire in the pan.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:27 am UTC
by Nath
Timely bump, given my latest cooking adventure. Not so much a disaster as a failed experiment (excuse me -- a 'negative result'): coffee chili. I often throw a bit of cacao powder into chili, and generally coffee and chocolate tend to work well with the same things, so tonight I figured I might as well try making chili with coffee in the braising liquid.

I didn't have it for dinner, what with the caffeine and everything, but I did taste it for seasoning. Apparently there is such a thing as 'too much coffee', at least in this context. It picked up some of that burnt, bitter taste you get from coffee that's been sitting on a heating plate for too long. Might still be edible if I smother it in pepper jack and add enough Sriracha to stun my taste buds into submission.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:40 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Coffee makes a great braising liquid for short ribs, but you do need to limit the amount.

As for the frosting problems-
The butter needed to be as soft as the cream cheese, as you discovered, but not so liquid as to make the confectioners sugar (hereinafter called 10x) dissolve.
Butter is about 96-98% fats that are solid at room temperature and milk solids and 2-4% water. When you beat it too long it separates and goes grainy and ugly. You can often fix this-if you have a string arm or a stand mixer-by letting work some more. It will eventually all come back together into a smooth creamy mixture. But it takes a while.
10x dissolves very readily-that's why it's powdered in the first place-so it doesn't take much liquid to make it runny. Melted butter is both liquid and warm, which only compounds the fluidity problem. Melted butter, chilled, separates into fats and liquids, thereby making your frosting look even worse. (Melting butter and pouring the liquids off once it's chilled is how you get ghee.)
In general, chilling stuff to help it set is better done in the fridge than the freezer. (unless you need it frozen for a specific reason)
Cream cheese frosting is wonderful stuff, keep trying until you get it.
Red velvet cake batter should be a very deep red before it's baked. Just add more food coloring until it looks right. You can get a flavorless red color from Wilton (if they sell in Israel) to avoid the odd flavor too much color can sometimes leave. Beet juice also works for this and a sweet cake hides the beet flavor very well.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:18 am UTC
by Nath
PAstrychef wrote:Coffee makes a great braising liquid for short ribs, but you do need to limit the amount.

Actually, it came together reasonably well after sitting in the fridge all night. Still a step down from the usual cocoa version, but quite passable chili in its own right.

I just remembered that there was another ingredient that could have contributed to the initial weirdness: I threw in a bit of mirin as well.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:27 am UTC
by cerbie
So, I sometimes whip up a cream and cheese sauce, for simple pasta. Instead of working on a bechamel, I'll toss in ricotta with the pasta. It seems to thicken up and keep the sauce from getting too runny. The results aren't too great looking, but are tasty. Well, I got out this ricotta, and it looked like micro cottage cheese. Hmm. I figured I'd try it anyway. Certainly ricotta can have different appearances by maker, right?

Well, now I have a cream soup, with some pasta and cheese in it, that isn't all that great. I tasted this new ricotta by itself...yuck. Not rotten yuck, but neutral and almost detergent-tasting yuck. Hmm. Check ingredients. Check ingredients online.

I come to the conclusion that I have now wasted perfectly good cream, and that from now on, I need to make sure that my ricotta is made from whey, not milk.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:21 am UTC
by PAstrychef
It could be that brand, it could be that batch, or that tub. I'm sorry your pasta was ruined. I like a whole milk ricotta for things like cheesecakes and tortes, and a skim one for pasta stuff. But it should still be made from the whey of other cheeses.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:57 pm UTC
by semicharmed
On cream cheese frosting: my favorite, traditional, had-it-every-year-but-last (extenuating circumstances) birthday cake is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And we (my mom and now my sister) always make it with honey.
Leave the butter & cream cheese out until they're soft, and then cream them together. Add the honey by 1/4 cups (or large spoons or really anything that will let you control the amount) and keep tasting until it's sweet enough. I usually do the mixing by hand, just to avoid separating the butter.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Fri May 27, 2011 4:11 am UTC
by Vellup
My cousin's idea of an omelet is spilling an entire dozen of cracked shell-ridden eggs into a pot and mixing them with coconut milk and rice, and then leaving the mess to burn.

...or actually that was my idea when I was ten, which I blamed on said cousin.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:30 pm UTC
by El Spark
Vellup wrote:My cousin's idea of an omelet is spilling an entire dozen of cracked shell-ridden eggs into a pot and mixing them with coconut milk and rice, and then leaving the mess to burn.


Holy screaming hell.

In other news, I'm a big fan of toast with peanut butter, and I have been for a long time. Apparently, at some point five-year-old me felt that it would be a good idea to put the peanut butter on the bread BEFORE toasting it in the electric toaster.

It wasn't.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:18 am UTC
by PAstrychef
Just had to clean a toaster where jelly played a similar role. The joys of babysitting.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:29 pm UTC
by Zohar
Rise from the ashes, thread!

Made some brownies the other day and figured "Hey, the usual chocolatey sweetness could really use some salty crunchiness!" So I bought some pretzels, hoping they're strong enough not to become soggy (my brownie batter is not super-wet anyway). I proceeded to crush the pretzels, mix them in the batter and bake it. I also put some pretzels on top of the batter.

Well, it's not *terrible*. But any pretzels that were inside the batter got soggy and have zero crunch. The ones on top actually turned out well!

I thought of using salted nuts but they didn't have any when I went to the store, other than peanuts, to which my husband is allergic.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 3:12 pm UTC
by Quercus
Zohar wrote:Rise from the ashes, thread!

Made some brownies the other day and figured "Hey, the usual chocolatey sweetness could really use some salty crunchiness!" So I bought some pretzels, hoping they're strong enough not to become soggy (my brownie batter is not super-wet anyway). I proceeded to crush the pretzels, mix them in the batter and bake it. I also put some pretzels on top of the batter.

Well, it's not *terrible*. But any pretzels that were inside the batter got soggy and have zero crunch. The ones on top actually turned out well!

I thought of using salted nuts but they didn't have any when I went to the store, other than peanuts, to which my husband is allergic.

Oh, you mean the hard crunchy mini snack pretzels - I was staring at your post thinking "who puts bread in a brownie and expects it to add crunch?"

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:15 pm UTC
by Zohar
No no, I meant the bread. ;) Yeah I used the tiny crunchy ones.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:45 pm UTC
by mathmannix
Are soft pretzels the default "pretzel" in Europe? Or at least the UK?

In America (or at least the part of America I am familiar with) there are several types of pretzels sold in stores in bags (or sometimes jars or cans): all are crunchy. [Default] Pretzels are about three inches across and look like this:
Spoiler:
643px-Pretzel.jpg
There are also mini pretzels (about an inch wide), which are usually shaped similarly, but can also be shaped like windowpanes, or wheels; pretzel sticks, which are about two or three inches long I suppose; and pretzel rods, which are about a foot long and a half-inch in circumference.

Then there are soft pretzels, which you get at fairs, movie theatres, and places in the mall like Auntie Annie's. But since hard pretzels* are the default, they don't need the modifier; soft pretzels do.

* - that sounds redundant! Unless you were talking about pretzels that went bad.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:03 pm UTC
by PAstrychef
Yes, in Europe the soft pretzel is the "normal" pretzel.

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:30 pm UTC
by Quercus
PAstrychef wrote:Yes, in Europe the soft pretzel is the "normal" pretzel.


There's nothing I like better than a good Dunkel lager and a warm (soft) pretzel with butter (a friend of mine from Alsace introduced me to this, in Alsace pretzels with butter fulfill the same salty-beer-food role as peanuts).

Re: Cooking disasters

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:08 am UTC
by Bakemaster
Sounds good to me. Only time I encounter soft pretzels is at a concession stand or in the mall. Sometimes a hot dog cart has them. Never had one with a beer.