Kitchen Confidence: From Failure to Successful Save
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From My Kitchen to Yours

Kitchen Confidence: From Failure to Successful Save

So you're frustrated because something you made didn't turn out like you thought it would?  You think you are the ONLY one that this every happens too?  Let me reassure you that you are not alone, every the most experienced chefs run into to challenges in the kitchen.
I have been baking and cooking since I was old enough to stand on a kitchen chair and reach the counter.  (I still have the vivid memory of me with my Ernie and Bert overalls standing on a chair in my mom's kitchen to reach the mixer to bake a cake.) I can tell you that I have had many frustrating moments in the kitchen over those many years -- from using baking soda instead of baking powder to grabbing a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon.  However, over the years, I have grown to having more successful moments than failures.  Continuing to learn and grow is part of what keeps me in the kitchen.   
Being able to adapt and adjust recipes on the fly is a skill that you learn over time and with practice.  I truly believe that anyone can cook but as with most artistic or sporting activities, it takes practice.
For example,I was inspired a few weeks ago use some leftover salmon spread from the tasting I did and turn it into something else so it would not go to waste.  My concept was to turn it into a salmon bisque.  I thought to myself, the ingredients and flavors are already there and all have to is add some broth and cream and...Presto! I will have a tasty soup. It was not quite that easy....
I began my experiment with some finely diced red onion, garlic and carrot in a skillet to add a bit of depth to the bisque, just like I would normally do.  The smell of the onion and garlic was delightful giving me confidence that I was on the right track.  Then I add some chicken stock to start the soup base.   From there I thought all I needed to do is add the salmon spread and blend it in and finish with some half and half.
Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.  When Blended the salmon spread into the soup base, the texture was grainy and almost stringy.  Not good.  I was about ready to call the bisque attempt a complete failure.  But then, I paused for a moment. (And poured myself a glass of wine to console my disappointment.It was after 5 pm by the way and happy hour somewhere after all.)  It was in that moment to reflect that Renewed my determination to turn this attempt around.  There must be a way to save it!
Then the definition of a bisque from culinary school came back to me. Most bisques are pureed and some are even strained to get the proper texture. I knew what I had to do: strain the soup!!!  I pureed the soup with my immersion blender and then strained it through a mesh sieve.  Although I was still disappointed in my attempt, I had renewed faith that I could salvage it when I tasted the nicely seasoned broth was collecting in the bottom of the bowl.  It was quite flavorful and had nice depth of flavor with salmon imparted into every taste.
From there, I resumed my plan of making the bisque adding cream, some chive &onion cream cheese and half and half that I had in the fridge to give it richness and flavor and then I made a roux to thicken it to just the right consistency.   And, then I remembered that I had still some basil pistachio salmon that had been leftover from when my step-daughter and daughter had visited in the freezer.  I thawed it out, flaked it a part just a bit and stirred it gently into the bisque.  Adjusted my seasonings with a bit of salt and pepper and a touch of garlic powder.
The result, a rich and creamy bisque with nice flakes of salmon running throughout.  Although I was still frustrated that my original plan failed but I was now proud of the fact that Didn't give up and I was able to save the dish. I was able turn it around from a complete disaster to a tasty bisque that I was happy to share with some friends that night for supper.  We topped with a bit of sherry and a few chiffonades of fresh basil before serving. It received good reviews.
My advice to aspiring cooks out there:  Don't give up, keep trying. If  you don't like the way something turns out, take a step back and think how you might still save the dish or if that is not an option, what changes you will make next time.  If you do this, you will build on your experiences in the kitchen and I promise you, over time, you will have more successes and saves than you have failures.
Add if you'd like to try to make salmon bisque, I would recommend using the recipe link below as a base as my concoction was a one-time experiment that I would not recommend duplicating.  :)   Substitute jarred roasted red peppers and leftover salmon for a quick and easy weeknight supper.
Cook, eat and learn!!
Chef Jen 

6 Comments to Kitchen Confidence: From Failure to Successful Save:

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Dad on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:50 PM
you are sure don't give up do you. try,try again. i am glad it turned out well.
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Chef Jen on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 1:45 PM
Thanks Dad. :)
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