Tricks to fix common cooking problems

LOS ANGELES Well rather than toss it, take a look at some recipe rescues.

Dessert doesn't have to be cloyingly sweet. Too much sugar can drown out the true flavor of your cookies, cake or pie.

Chefs mention vinegar, lemon juice or a bit of salt as ways to tone down a super sweet concoction.

Maybe your pie filling or salad dressing is too tart. No surprise sugar will help, but go lightly here. A dash of agave syrup, molasses or honey are nice rescue remedies.

What about a food that is just plain bland? Foodies suggest citrus juices as a way to flavor food up, and even a touch of sugar in a savory food or salt in a food that is intentionally sweet, like cookies.

Then there's bitter, which is one of the hardest to mask. In food that is savory, experts suggest a combo of olive oil and a dash of salt. If it's a dessert that is bitter, milk and sugar is helpful, especially if dark chocolate is involved.

If by chance you let something burn, remove from the heat immediately! Don't stir. Put the pan into cold water to stop the cooking, pouring the top 3/4 of it into a new pan, leaving the burned part behind. Chances are you've saved it.

Finally, even though you've beaten it to death, you just can't get the lumps out of your gravy? The solution is to pour your gravy into another sauce pan through a sieve. The end result? Lump-free gravy.

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