Perhaps you've found yourself in this situation: you have guests arriving in 5 minutes and you're pulling a soufflé from the oven. It didn't rise quite like you thought it should but you know the flavors are stellar. You can't very well toss a dish with friends on their way, and frankly, it still tastes great. What to do?
Have you had a similar experience? Maybe your stuffed peppers collapsed for some reason. A family recipe for chocolate candy didn't harden. Or perhaps the cake your husband made was delicious but a bit puddly in the center.
I've had a funny experience in cookbook writing-land lately. I've had many successes that I can't wait to share with you all. But I've also had some recipes that end up tasting great but aren't quite what I expected them to look like. The gingerbread bars are really more of a cake. The clafoutis is far more of a custard.
So imagine my delight when Melissa Clark touched on this very phenomenon in her column in The New York Times last week. Her suggestion, when you get an unexpected result: keep the recipe, just rename it! If you get right down to it, your guests will never know. We often think they'll guess something went awry, but they really won't.
→ Read the whole article: A Dish Gone Awry by Melissa Clark at The New York Times
I always remember something my mom told me once when I was worrying about what to wear on my first day of teaching: no one is paying as much attention to you as you think they are, Megan. It's true, and it's largely true for the food we serve friends when they come over, too. A good dinner party at our house is so much more about the company than the question of whether the salad is over-dressed or not.
So forget the apologizing or pacing back and forth in disbelief that your soufflé has fallen, your stuffed peppers are flat or your cake seems a touch underdone. We can all settle in with our delicious-tasting recipes and rest soundly knowing that they'll simply find a new name and live on. In cookbooks and dinner parties all the world over.
Related: Thanksgiving Fail: Tales From the Front Line
(Image: Nealey Dozier)