Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Disappointing Recipes......

Have you ever looked at a recipe, thought it sounded amazing and the picture made you want to lick it?  (Wait, what?  I would never want to lick a picture.  That's crazy!)  And, after seeing the recipe, you decided that you had to make it right away, if not yesterday?  Of course you have.  We all have.  Most of the time, I think they live up to the hype, but every now and then, well...........  Sometimes we can be fooled and the recipe turns out to be such a complete disappointment, or even a total flop.  Who knows how or why this happens.  It doesn't mean that we are bad cooks, but something was definitely faulty with the recipe.  It happens to the best cooks every now and again.

Has this ever happened to you?  If not, then you are very fortunate but you might be in the minority.  For everyone else, I think you'll be able to relate to this post, all too well.

I just had one of those experiences.  I came across this recipe that was called a Peaches and Cream Crumble.  It promised to be a combination of peach crisp and cheesecake.  The pictures looked amazing.  So good that I decided to set aside my issues with cooked peaches, I don't like how slimy they get when cooked, and try the recipe.  From the photos, it didn't look like the peaches cooked all the way through; and I thought maybe it really would be like fresh peaches and cream, which I adore.  Okay, I was in.

I ran through the ingredients and thought I had everything, except peaches, which I remedied on Saturday.  Sunday afternoon I set out to make this, thinking it would be a nice treat for my husband when he came home from his pheasant hunting weekend.  I pulled out the recipe and realized that I didn't have peach jam or preserves.  Shoot!  I missed that the first time I read the recipe.  But, being resourceful, I googled "Small Batch Peach Jam."  I mean, this recipe looked too good to wait until I could buy some from the store on Monday.  So, I found some recipes, looked through them, and chose one that seemed simple and straightforward enough.  It involved macerating the peaches for a couple of hours, which meant that it might not be done before Chris got home, but that was okay.

I got the peaches going, and went about some other tasks.  Soon enough it was time to start the jam.  I had gotten the first part done, and was waiting for it to cool a little, when Chris came home.  We were talking and I had begun that day's post, when I started the second part of the jam.  It was putting the cooled fruit mixture in the food processor to puree, then cooking again with the remaining fruit.  You were supposed to bring to a boil then reduce to low, but by this time, I was way too sidetracked.  My head was definitely into writing the blog, and not cooking, and I suddenly realized that I had left the jam on HIGH!!  Okay, I realized it because of the stench of burnt food and the smoke hanging in the air.

For those of you who may not know this, if you burn a jam-like substance, I mean REALLY burn, it becomes like black concrete in your pot.  Take my word for this - no need to try it for yourself.  I immediately put hot water and soap in the pot and brought it to a boil, thinking it would loosen the black gunk cemented in my pot.  I let that simmer for quite some time while opening every door and window to let the smoke out.  That trick did NOT work.  Back to Google for tips about getting burnt-on food out of a pot.  I tried baking soda, vinegar, baking soda and vinegar together - all to no avail.  That stuff was not coming out.  I let it sit overnight with soapy water.  Nope, that didn't do anything either.  As a last ditch effort, I tried one of the hardcore wire scrubbies.  It actually made the wire stick to the pot!  I am NOT kidding!  It was at this point that I gave up.  I had to throw the pot out.  Yes, you read that right.  I burnt the jam so badly that I HAD TO THROW THE POT AWAY!  Nice, right?

But, that didn't have anything to do with the original recipe.  That was all me.  I was still determined to give the recipe a chance.  So, this time, I picked up peach preserves from the store.  I can safely say I will never, not ever, attempt to make peach jam again in my lifetime!

Now, I had everything for the crumble, and the time to make it, since I was home during the day because my son had pink eye.

The first step seemed odd to me, and I almost skipped it, but decided for once to try a recipe as is without changing it.  It said to line a 9 x 13 pan with foil, then grease all sides.  Well, if you are going to grease it, why line it with foil?  The crust was shortbread, which usually doesn't stick if the pan is greased.  I flipped to the end of the directions to see if you used the foil to lift out of the pan once it's done.  Nope, that wasn't it, but I followed the directions and lined with foil.

Then I made the shortbread crust.  The recipe called for butter and sugars to be creamed.  Check.  Then you add flour, incorporating it slowly until it becomes a ball of dough.  That never happened.  There was too much flour and not enough moisture.  No matter how long I mixed it, it wasn't becoming a ball.  So I added some water until it seemed the right consistency.  Next, I tried to spread this out in the foil-lined pan.  That was a joy, and it was at that point that I started wondering about the validity of the recipe.  But, again, I had committed.

I baked the crust, which took twice as long as it said to get done.  Then I spread the jam over it and layered the peaches.

Next was the "cheesecake" filling.  I am no novice at making cheesecake, in fact, it's a specialty of mine.  I love making, and eating, cheesecake.  It was one of the things that drew me to this recipe.  When I looked at the ingredients of the cheesecake, they seemed right - cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, flour, but the proportions must have been off.  I should have paid closer attention to that.

Finally, I made the crumble topping.  It tasted good, and did what it was supposed to do - crumble.  So, that was one good thing.

I put it in the oven to bake.  It smelled wonderful.  My husband came home and commented on the aroma wafting from the oven (my words, not his). 

It took half an hour longer to bake than directed, but it looked good, so I was hopeful.

After all of the trouble, I expected great things.  Anything that put me through that much hassle should taste amazing.  It did not.

Because of the foil, the crust didn't get crisp, but remained soft.  Plus, the foil was getting in the way as I cut the bars and I had to make sure none got in the food.  One of the only good things about the recipe was that I sliced the peaches thicker than what was recommended so they wouldn't cook all the way through and get that slimy texture.  That worked.  They still maintained their firmness, to a certain extent.  The "cheesecake" tasted like what you would get from a box.  It was not creamy or silky, and I was incredibly disappointed.  The crumble was very good, I have to admit.  Nice and crisp.

However, when I covered this, after letting it cool completely - for several hours - everything had become soggy by today.  The crust that was soft to begin with, had gotten more so, probably due to the peach jam spread  over it.  The cheesecake was mushy.  And, the only really good thing, the crumble topping, was no longer crisp.

What a letdown this recipe was!  I had such high hopes - it looked and sounded so good!  I ruined a pot for it!  No two ways about it, this recipe was a huge disappointment.

Okay, I shared my failure with you, now it's your turn.  I'd like to hear some of your recipe disappointments or failures.  Was it something small, where you can fix it and give it another go, or something big, like mine, where you say, "No way in hell will I ever make this again!"  Share your cooking foibles in the comments below.  No judging.  We might laugh, but it will be with you, I promise.