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It’s Not Always Pretty in the FOODalogue Kitchen

January 21, 2010 by Joan Nova in Italian, Pasta, Vegetables | 19 Comments

Kitchen ‘disasters’ happen to the best of cooks. I doubt there is a cook alive who hasn’t had a mishap at some time. In fact, if you google ‘kitchen disasters’, you’ll get quite a few links. More than ‘disaster’ in literal terms, these mishaps are usually just a source of huge frustration and inconvenience. I had one recently…and it wasn’t pretty.

This meal didn’t start out pretty. It didn’t even end that pretty. But it was delicious and I wanted to share it with you.

I decided I wanted to make meatless-meatballs and set off without a recipe. (That was a mistake but not the cause of the kitchen disaster.) I don’t know what caused my magic bullet to explode when it was full of wet kale, leaving it all over my wall, counter, coffee pot and adjacent stove. Perhaps it was because the kale was warm or perhaps I just didn’t have it inserted properly. But it was mess.

Kale + Ricotta Cakes (or balls if you use the proper ratio of ingredients)

  • Chopped cooked kale (I wilted mine in chicken broth.)
  • ricotta
  • garlic
  • beaten egg
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • parmesan
  • breadcrumbs (I use a mixture of panko and ground almonds)

Blend all ingredients and form into balls. Because my mixture was wetter and looser than actual meatballs, I used an ice cream scoop rather than my hands. But, also because it was wetter and looser, it didn’t hold together as a ball when I set in the fry pan. That’s why I’m calling this Kale + Ricotta “Cakes”.

But they were delicious and I highly recommend them with the correct ratios of wet to dry ingredients.

Pan-Seared Tomatoes + Basil

Meantime, I pan-roasted grape tomatoes and wilted some basil leaves with a little olive oil and a dash of chicken broth.

Most kitchen disasters are a result of carelessness or rushing…”not being in the moment”. Sometimes, they’re averted and the meal survives after the clean-up like mine did. Sometimes it’s just an abort, like Elly’s “The Baked Veggie and Brown Rice Pilaf that Made Me Want to Punch a Hole in the Wall”. Her mishap was worse because it happened in the oven and the spilled food stuck and continued cooking.

I’m also reminded of a time when my sister was about 9 months pregnant and was taking a family-sized dish of stuffed shells out of the oven when…disaster! As I recall, the pyrex didn’t break so we scooped it up and ate it! Who wants to see a pregnant woman cry?

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. As long as the meal ends up delicious, it’s not really a kitchen disaster despite the mess in the process :)

    I should have taken pictures of my Salvadorian quesadilla disaster. It was both a mess and completely inedible. In retrospect, it would have made a funny post. But I was very discouraged at the moment and for a few days after that. In fact, I still haven’t cooked anything of substance.

  2. Arlene says:

    Oh, Joan, been there, done that. I’ve been guilty of not putting the top on the blender securely and putting in liquid that was too hot. The most memorable family catastrophe was the Christmas Eve my grandmother’s pressure cooker exploded tripe in tomato sauce all over her once-white kitchen. Kale and ricotta balls sound very tasty.

  3. We’ve all had them! At least your cakes turned out in the end. Or maybe the MAgic bullet has lost its magic?

  4. doggybloggy says:

    I dont think I want to even say how many disasters I have had -

  5. redkathy says:

    I almost caught the kitchen on fire once. Very well done bacon… Damn near caught me on fire! I took a peek into the pan, the air exposure caused a shot of flames that went into the ventilator fan and came out the exhaust vent on the front! At least your outcome was a good one, no harm, no foul. Those “cakes” look wonderful!

  6. peter says:

    All the matters is that it tasted great.

    As for the disaster…I firmly blame it on the Magic Bullet!

  7. All’s well that end’s well is what I say and it sure did end up gorgeous. I enjoyed reading that I’m not the only one with disasters in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Norma says:

    I think I mentioned that when I lived in Westchester I had my pressure cooker with black beans and i did not seal correctly. The lid blew and my kitchen was plastered walls to ceiling with little black beans. Ever since then no pressure cooker for me.

  9. RobinSue says:

    Oh I have had my share of diasters too. Some that have made me walk out of the kitchen! These remind me of Gnudi. Well thanks for sharing your disaster, now I know I am in good company!!

  10. Joan, sometimes new recipes are created from disasters… I blame many of them on popping the vino a little too early. In our house, anything that hits the floor is quickly cleaned up by a certain black lab:) (damn you magic bullet!)

  11. I am blaming the Magic Bullet too. The cook is always blameless and above reproach for even attempting to put delicious foods on the table.It turned out well Joan!

  12. Liliana says:

    My worst kitchen disaster in the history of my kitchen disasters is when a cornmeal butter crust that was baking seeped through the baking pan with the removable bottom I used and started burning in the oven. When I opened the oven door, the smoke caused the smoke detector (which is connected to our security system)to go off and three fire trucks were sent to our house. Talk about embarrasing!!

    Your ricotta and kale cakes look delicious!

  13. Erica says:

    LOL!!! That looks delicious:)My kitchen disaster was in Colombia…. cooking beans in my pressure cooker, when I opened all the beans jumped and they were all over the kitchen.It was funny.

  14. elly says:

    Yes, the disasters most certainly can be frustrating! Glad you were able to salvage yours and make these lovely cakes. They sound a little bit like gnudi, and look delicious!

  15. Maria says:

    Oh yes, we’ve all been there!! But as long as your stomach’s full at the end of it all … it’s all good!

  16. Xai says:

    i don’t want to see a pregnant woman start the waterworks either! but yeah, i bet they still turned out fine. i am now scared to put warm food in the magic bullet because it might explode on me too.

  17. :-) OMW…….I’m laughing – spot on and thank you for rescuing your sis!

  18. It may have been messy, but it looks incredibly good, Joan!

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