I had been eyeing an interesting looking recipe in the weekly paper / advertising rag from Coop, one of the two big supermarket chains in Switzerland, for several days. The recipe was for a lentil loaf, with potatoes, leek, dried mushrooms, cheese and cream, held together with eggs. Since I have been on a sort of sort of lentil kick recently, it was something I really wanted to try.
Yesterday I finally had some time to do all the steps necessary to assemble this rather complicated loaf. The picture in the paper was so pretty, naturally in the back of my mind I was thinking, "I can blog this if it turns out well".
Well, it didn't turn out well at all. In fact, when I tried to turn the loaf out onto a plate, it sploched into a messy pile that looked like a dog's dinner. Cooked lentils don't look that attractive when they are mushy looking, surrounded by a small pool of liquid, with greyish looking leeks and limp potato slices sliding off it.
I wasn't too happy to say the least, especially since the whole process had taken a couple of hours to complete. The leeks had to be poached, the potatoes boiled and sliced, the lentils and mushrooms cooked, before the loaf was assembled. I re-read the recipe, and discovered that I'd left out the cream (2 dl of it, about 1/2 cup) but I'm not sure that was the cause of the disaster. We did eat it, since there was nothing else for dinner, and Max pronounced it "edible". So it didn't have to be thrown away.
I hate to throw away food, even if it is a disaster. One of the most frequent disasters that happens to me is burning stews and soups. If I forget to turn on the timer, or don't hear it because I'm in another part of the house or just because I'm concentrating on something else, then things can turn bad. Nothing is as awful as a bechamel-based sauce with a burned aroma. In such cases I try to recover it as best I can - adding a little butter, or cream, or something...but often it's not recoverable at all.
It's hard to deal with disasters. You may not always be turning out gourmet dishes, but you still want your family or spouse or guests to have a nice meal. I guess it's part of the pride of being the cook of the house. Some disasters can be quite funny in retrospect though - like the time I used salt instead of sugar in a banana cake recipe, and certainly stuff to learn from. And when you're trying a new recipe there is the increased risk of something going wrong - but if you don't try new things, your repertoire will never increase.
Will I try that lentil loaf again? Hmm, I'll have to think about that one.