I am definitely no Susie Homemaker. Or Martha Stewart for that matter. Especially not Martha Stewart. My kitchen and I are not great friends although it’s not for lack of trying. I am a much better baker than I am a cook although I’ve been making a conscientious effort over the past few years to improve my culinary repertoire. And there’s no question that over time I have improved! If I have a recipe and the time to execute it, I can generally pull something together that’s more than edible.
But if there is one thing I really struggle to do it’s create a meal from nothing… I can’t cook off the cuff. Some people have that knack of knowing which flavours go well together and can throw in a pinch of this and a handful of that resulting in a gourmet meal made out of green beans and a chop bone. Nope, that’s definitely not me. I struggle at the best of times, even when I follow the recipe to a T! But tonight I thought I would have a crack and creating a new meal out of some leftovers!! And I actually I took dinner to a completely new level!
Of wrongness! Let me paint the picture for you…
Last night, I’d cooked a corned beef (silverside) for dinner and as it was just the girls and I, there was plenty left over – perfect for dinner tonight. What I should have done is simply cooked some more veges, heated up the meat and called it done. But what I actually did was make an attempt at mixing it up a little. I googled to see what people did with left over corned beef and decided that I’d give corned beef hash a go. Now if you check out the recipe I used you would see that it’s not a complicated one as is essentially the meat, potato and a few veges and seasonings fried up in a frying pan. Sounds simple enough right?
Er WRONG! I truly wish I took some photos of the results but it wasn’t until I sat down this evening to write this post that I decided to write about the disaster that unfolded. And it’s now that I realise what my problem is. For some reason I feel compelled to do it my way, especially if I’m in a hurry and tonight I was a little behind the eight ball in getting dinner started so I can pin point why I deviated from the recipe. I’m not sure if I do it to prove a point to someone somewhere or if it’s just that I’m subconsciously reinforcing the myth that I’m a shithouse cook but whatever it is something gets lost in translation and things turn to cactus!
So how did I stuff up such a seemingly simple recipe? Well stick with me here and I’ll explain.
With potatoes on the boil, I took my left-over corned beef and in my infinite wisdom, thought that I could chop it a bit quicker using the Thermomix. There was my first mistake. A few seconds later, the corned beef was chopped to a fine dice and the potato was cooked and ready to be chopped too. So I thought, why not throw the potato in with the corn meat and give it a little chop too. Yup, there was the second mistake. Three seconds later I had created a corned meat and potato paste.
Surely that’s a sign to give up and figure out something else for dinner right? Nope, I still thought I could salvage things at this point. So if I just add a bit of tomato sauce and few tablespoons of flour then I’ll have the perfect consistency for fritters as opposed to hash cakes was the thinking in the next step of my plan. So that’s what I did and during the frying stage I realised that some reason the fritters just would not set and remained a goopy consistency with a crispy outer shell. Game over yeah? Look, I’d forgive you for thinking that it might be time for me to chuck in the towel and get to work on Plan B. Well, I kind of moved onto Plan B, but I took the meat paste with me. Another mistake for sure! My brainwave at this point was to turn them into sausage rolls – everything tastes better with pastry and surely they would firm up once cooked longer.
I’m pretty sure you can see where this is going so to cut a pathetically long story short, Miss B and I sat down to a meat paste sausage roll for dinner that hadn’t set despite 30 minutes in the oven.
Surely things couldn’t be as horrible as I’m making out right? Well, I tried to find something on the internet that might be indicative of what this meat paste looks like. And without a word of exaggeration, this picture pretty much sums it up!
The only difference is this picture lacks the pastry, which was the only nice thing about this meal at all. Although surprisingly, Miss B didn’t actually mind it and was happy to chow down on the not-so-firm sausage roll but I could not get through more than a bite or two. So I conceded defeat and gave the rest of it to the dogs. They loved it!
Of course it goes without saying that I wish I could cook better than I can but at least I know I have the ability to put a meal on the table that is relatively tasty most of the time. I’m sure there are people out there in the world that can’t even do that. But regardless of the disasters, the one thing I do know for sure is that I can make a mean ham and cheese toasted sandwich when I have to!
Are you culinary challenged? Or do you have a $2000 kitchen appliance that still doesn’t turn you into a domestic master chef?