Category Archives: Whoops – FAIL!

Marmalade III

I’m slightly miffed as the season’s first batch of marmalade has failed to set, and is sloshing around those oh-so-carefully sterilised jars, as neither liquid nor something you could get out of the jar with a knife.

Why did it fail? A couple of reasons. It was done with the “whole orange method”, which seems superficially reasonable, except you can’t tell when the peel is properly cooked, and it wasn’t. Also, the squishy peel is much harder to shred. On top of that, I really didn’t cook the bag of pips and pith for sufficiently long, so there simply wasn’t enough pectin on hand.

However, it’s very tasty, and can still be used for cooking: in between the layers in bread and butter pudding, filling pancakes, or maybe one of these.

Once more unto the breach.



Sometimes you feel good about cooking. One moment, you’re fresh from a string of gastronomic hits; a culinary demigod. Things cannot fail. You can do no wrong. You become incautious. Temperatures are not read carefully enough. Consequences are not considered. And then there is now.

Things have gone wrong tonight. So horribly wrong that I’m embarassed to relate.

But it could be worse. For a proper classical Hubris, one must not only be enamoured of one’s own abilities (what we used to call “a capability:ambition mismatch” at my old shop) one must publicly scorn the Gods. The culinary equivalent of this is inviting guests to dinner whilst trying out a new recipe.

Not this little black duck. I am alone in my kitchen, and Nemesis will not be dining here tonight.

Burnt Porridge

Never attempt to cook breakfast until the first cup of coffee is well on its way to your nerve endings.

This morning’s little disaster involved me making the first coffee of the day, and getting the porridge going at the same time. Needless to say, faffing with the espresso machine, and the subsequent caffeine induced pleasure caused me to take my eye off the ball. The pleasant smell of roasting oats with undertones of Something Burnt brought me back to my senses, and a quick inspection showed a layer of intractable black stuff upon the bottom of the saucepan. Deglazing with a splash of vermouth will not solve this, nor indeed would all the steel wool in the world.

The Heretic’s Kitchen is used to problems like this, and has the solution. One or two tablets of “biological” washing powder, some warm water, and a few hours is all that’s required for the enzymes in the powder to gleefully munch away the organic deposits.

Onion Soup Experiment

I have some brown miso paste, which makes very odd miso soup. It’s too dark, rich, and vaguely reminiscent of beef stock.

Hmmm. Idea.

A load of onions got cooked slowly in the sauté pan, with some butter, a single clove (crumbled), a teensy bit of sugar, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. For about an hour, ’til they were a deep golden colour. The pan was then deglazed with a teensy splash of Madeira.

After this the onions went into a saucepan of hot miso. Looked right. Smelt right. Tasted awful. Just didn’t work at all.

Fortunately, there was another saucepan full of run-of-the-mill Marigold boullion, and I had only sacrificed half the onions. So the remainder went to the other saucepan, and disaster averted.

Croutons, Comté, and an overhead grill completed the happiness.

Still not sure what you do with brown miso paste.

Raspberry Idiot

This is a very similar dish to Raspberry Fool, but occurs when your raspberries – despite being soft, dark red, and unctuous – turn out to contain no flavour.

Make as usual, but loads of lemon juice, and the dessert cooks’ secret weapon: the vanilla sugar. My stash has about a kilo of sugar, and has had up to four pods lurking in it at once; it’s potent stuff.