Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Salvaging a “Meh” Recipe

We’ve all screwed up a recipe to the point of making it inedible – accidentally going overboard with the nutmeg in a béchamel sauce, burning tortillas (two of my most recent mishaps). But what about when food is still edible but missing that zing or element that makes it worth the calories? Luckily, the power of the Internet can save the day. I recently made two “meh” recipes – Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Sheppard’s Pie and Roasted Banana Bars from Cooking Light. Admittedly, I made my own modifications, but the end products were largely ho-hum and not worth writing out below. Online reviewers to the rescue! Had I read the RR recipe reviews before making the dish (as I am typically wont to do), I would have learned that 9 out of 10 reviewers find it bland and tasteless. I had tried to amp up the spice level with poultry seasoning and a can of turkey gravy (I used ground turkey as the base), along with liberal amounts of salt and pepper, but it was not enough. So, taking a cue from reviewers, added extra Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes and rosemary. But perhaps the best suggestion was to add a healthy amount of shredded cheddar on top of the mashed potato layer. Was it the best casserole ever? No, but cheesy potatoes can salvage almost anything. The banana cake was a prize winning recipe, but in an effort to cut calories, I originally decided not to bother with the frosting. But the reviews won me over and the browned butter cream cheese frosting was the best darn part of the dessert. Moral of the story – the next time you make a recipe, remember to read the reviews and take the time to leave a comment yourself. Someone with a “meh” dish will thank you for it.

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