When Good Recipes Go Bad


I tend to view recipes more as insipiration rather than instructions to follow to the “T.” That is of course, unless I am baking, in which case I measure meticulously and never stray from the recipe.  I like to experiment and improvise and use recipes to learn techniques and methods that I can use with a variety of ingredients.  There are some exceptions however and tonight’s dinner was one such example when I followed the recipe as written.  Or I should say tonight’s attempted dinner, as it turned out inedible.


I had a notion of making fish dumplings, which were a childhood favorite of mine and are generally quite popular in Scandinavian home cooking. I have a recipe for fish dumplings in a beautiful Finnish cookbook that really tries to create upscale versions of Finnish home cooking classics.  This was a recipe for fish dumplings in a lovely creamy white wine sauce served with spring vegetables.  I was just planning to make the dumplings with a basic white sauce an serve it woth mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. This was mainly as an experiment to see how they’d come out and and whehter the kids would even eat them.


The recipe seemed straightforward enough: mince some fish fillets in a food processor, mix in some spices, egg whites, and cream, and then form into dumplings and cook them in simmering broth.  When looking at the recipe, one thing both my mom and I noted was the lack of any type of flour to bind the dumplings. But I thought, “Well, it’s a recipe published in a book, written by a person who used to own a restaurant with a Michelin Star. It has to work.” Then I thought, “Hey, if this works, it’ll be a great gluten free option.”


Well, I’m sure you know where this is going.  The dumplings were a disaster.  They just fell apart in the broth.  I made beautiful little canelles of minced fish and carefully lowered them into my simmering broth and then watched as they just disintegrated. If you can imagine what it would look like to put wadded up lint from your dryer vent into some water, that’s what was happening to dinner, with a three year old hanging on the gate shutting the kitchen off from the living room whining about how hungry she was.  My mom came in to see the mess and even attempted to make a dumpling herself but of course it just fell apart too.  There was just no conceivable way to rescue this disaster. What was I supposed to do with a bowl of raw minced fish and and saucepan of simmering broth with bits of fish floating about in it?


Only minutes earlier my hubs had asked my mom, who’s been visiting us and leaving in a few days what she’d like to eat before leaving.  Without hesitation, she said, “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” because you can’t get it where she lives in Finland.  It is definitely a guilty pleasure and one that we don’t have often (actually, only when my mom visits).  So, having nothing of substance to serve and frustrated with having essentially wasted a bunch of time that I could have spent with the family in the kitchen, I sent the hubs out to pick up a bucket of chicken.  And what about the floating fish bits?  I cooked up the rest of the fish and stored it along with the broth to see if I can infact make something of it.  If I do, I’ll definitely let you know.  I’m also going to play around with the dumpling recipe to see if I can get it to work. And I’ll let you know about that too.

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2 Responses to When Good Recipes Go Bad

  1. Jane says:

    Ha! I love that your mom’s dining request was KFC. It’s like when Scott and I go back to NYC — he just has to have White Castle.

  2. It’s funny how we all have nostalgic food memories. Lucky for me the once a year or so visit to KFC with my mom is enough to feed my cravings too… Hopefully your visits to White Caste aren’t anything like Harold and Kumar’s!

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