Some recipes turn out good when adding more by accident
Sometimes “accidents” in the kitchen can be serendipitous. The first potato chips were the result of thinly cut potatoes that cooked for too long in hot fat when the chef became distracted.
He had no choice but to serve them crisp and crunchy to the delight of his employer.
The dressing I served at Thanksgiving was such an accident. My dressing (or stuffing) is usually well received.
This year, the flavor was commented upon by family members who thought it was especially tasty. There was just one difference from the usual recipe: the accidental addition of lots of fennel seeds.
While putting it together, I reached for the sage, grabbed fennel seeds by accident, and scattered them into the already mixed dressing.
After briefly picturing myself using precious time to pick them out, I decided to mix them in and cross my fingers.
The result was a bright, yummy flavor that was not only a complement to the traditional turkey, but helped the dressing stand on its own as a holiday side dish.
It didn’t have to be soaked with gravy to be really good.
“Don’t mess with success” is advice to take seriously in the kitchen. That said, sometimes when you’re short of time or a key ingredient, last-minute change can result in an improved result or a whole new “favorite” recipe.
You have to have intuit — or acquire — a sense of what ingredients go together. A changed recipe can serve as a learning tool for better or worse.
For example, eggs are not a happy addition to vegetable soup. (I will not attribute the soup experiment to one or another of my children — all of whom have grown up to be very good cooks and bakers. You know who you are.)
While the New Hampshire branch of the family (Ingrid, Gary, Garrison and Ethan) was visiting for Thanksgiving, they joined some of Ingrid’s friends from pre-college days for a casual dinner.
She contributed the dessert, a combination I’d never heard of, and reported every bit was eaten.
This is one to keep in mind for a cool, light-tasting end to holiday meals.
It went together fast, and used only three ingredients.
3 green apples (Granny Smith)
3 red apples (Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)
6 full-size Snickers candy bars
1-2 cups Cool Whip topping, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, cut unpeeled apples into half-inch dice. Cut candy bars into small pieces, adding to apples.
Add whipped topping and fold to mix thoroughly.
Can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated.
Serves eight to 10 for dessert.
Try sprinkling crushed nuts — your choice — over the top just before serving.
The low-fat version of whipped topping is fine for this, making the candy bars the only real indulgence.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.