Best Failed Recipe Ever!

eggplant stuffI have so many stories related to this picture. Let’s start with the idea that the casserole is over three-quarters gone, and I’m just now getting a picture of it. That’s because I just now got a new smart phone with a camera to replace the last one, and this is all that’s left to take a picture of. Too bad you couldn’t see how beautiful it was when I first pulled it out of the oven and shaved cheese all over it.

The second story has to do with the olive oil pooled on the bottom of the dish. But that ties into the third story: how to botch up something that looked so easy on TV.

Have you ever done that? Have you ever watched an expert on TV do something and say to yourself, “I can do that!” After the bathroom wallpaper fiasco (please–don’t ask), you’d think I’d learned my lesson. Although I’ve successfully made several of the recipes I’ve seen on TV, they’re usually by home cooks. This one was by a restaurant chef, Italian Gabriele Corcos, and his actress wife, Debi Mazar. When I saw them make this on The Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin, I thought, I can do that!

Head smack.

The original recipe involved softening two eggplants (sliced length-wise) in hot olive oil and using them to line the bottom and sides of a spring-form pan. They’re supposed to drape over the sides a bit. A mixture of ground beef, marinara sauce, and cooked-to-almost-al dente ziti pasta goes inside the eggplant bed. Then you put a few more eggplant slices on top and fold the ends of the lining eggplant over the mixture, so the final product looks like a flower closed in rest. When it’s cooked and cooled, you’re supposed to be able to take it out of the pan and serve it like a thick, savory cheese cake.

It looked wonderful and so very easy to make, if not a bit time consuming. Actually, prep time took me over an hour (probably because of all the snags I kept running into). Then the casserole is supposed to rest, weighted down, for about 45 minutes, then bake for another 45-minutes to an hour. So I started making this sucker at 8 a.m. to have ready for lunch (we usually eat around 11). I had all the ingredients, or so I thought. Usually I keep a variety of pastas on hand, including ziti, but supplies were thin and the ziti was gone. Maybe MSB would run to the store for me . . .

Next, I discovered my mandolin slices the eggplant way too thin. After several slices fell apart in the hot oil, I gave up and sliced the rest by hand. Maybe it would work. Then, after I softened them in the oil, I tried to line them in the spring-form pan just like I saw on TV. Well, the problem with my hand-sliced eggplant was that some of the thicker slices didn’t want to drape over the sides, and one of the two eggplants wasn’t long enough to even reach over the sides.

By this time, the fact that I didn’t have ziti pasta was moot–whatever I made with all this eggplant wasn’t going to be what I set out to make anyway. Eggplant lasagna came to mind, but I didn’t have lasagna noodles either.

So what we have in the picture is the final servings of a Baked Eggplant Linguini. Same ingredients, different presentation. Pasta is pasta, after all; only the shape varies. The recipe is luscious beyond belief, even if it isn’t quite the same.

As for the oil coating the bottom of the dish: Do you know how much oil an eggplant can soak up? Yowzah! If that’d been lard instead of EVOO, we’d both be dead of heart attacks by now!


About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Cooking and Recipes, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Best Failed Recipe Ever!

  1. At least your disaster turned out edible and by your account now one of your favorite dishes. It sounds delicious. I have never watched a cooking show, never had the time. Now cookbooks? I have tons. However, my disasters happened while attempting to cook in a low blood sugar fog, and they were inedible disasters of the highest order, like using cinnamon instead of chili powder in the taco meat. Even the dog wouldn’t touch that. Did you know baking soda will foam when substituted for cornstarch in sauces? It looked something akin to Mt. Vesuvius the second the soda hit the pan. It also removed all flavor from the food, even after rinsing and re-doing the sauce. That dish? Oriental Pepper Steak. Then there was the same mix up with the tempura batter. My family wasn’t amused with the shrimp that seemed to bite back. Now all of my cooking and baking ingredients are separated – and I never, never cook when I am over tired. 🙂

    Great post, Linda!


  2. Joanne Sher says:

    I cook like you – just sayin. And that sounds absolutely delish. Thanks for the giggles (and did you save me any? The leftovers??)


  3. I used to bake a lot of bread–and used the oven set on low to rise. Don’t do that with a plastic bowl…

    And once, my daughter and a friend (maybe in junior high) decided to make chocolate chip cookies. But they accidentally substituted salt for sugar. The “cookies” melted together into one giant, glistening, crispy rectangle. Original sweet and salty. And yes, my husband and I nibbled at it.


  4. Sounds good – except for the eggplant. :p


  5. Lynn Mosher says:

    Loved this! Don’t you hate it when making something new and all goes kaphlooey? Ugh! I remember making bread in a bread machine my sister-in-law gave me. All the loaves were turning out great. Then, something happened. I still don’t know what. The dough just sat there, in a big lump. I threw it out. What I didn’t know was that I also threw out the blade! No more bread! Besides an exploding lasagna dish in the oven, I can’t remember (thank God) all the boo-boos. As long as it’s edible…


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Uh-oh! What do ya do without a blade?! I had a bread machine once, but I never got to use it. An older man I worked with teased me for having it–“If I make bread by hand, you should too!” After that, I felt guilty every time I even *thought* of using it. Finally gave it away.


  6. Gold Price says:

    Sprinkle the eggplant with salt. Place the eggplant in a colander, and let it drain for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant, and pat it dry. Cook the ziti al dente according to the package directions. Drain and rinse the pasta, and set it aside. Combine the oil and garlic, and smear it on the eggplant slices. Then sprinkle the slices generously with pepper. Broil the eggplant slices about 4 inches from the heat, turning them once, for a total of about 5 minutes. (You may have to do this in 2 batches.) In a large bowl, combine the ricotta or cottage cheese, all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, the parsley, basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Toss the cheese mixture with the ziti. On the bottom of a 2-= to 3 quart casserole, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, add half the ziti mixture, then half the eggplant slices, then half the remaining tomato sauce. Repeat the ziti, eggplant, and sauce layers. Top with the reserved 2 tablespoons of parmesan. Cover the casserole, and bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake the casserole for another 15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.


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