Photos by James Ransom and Sarah Shatz
- Your roast is dry. This is nothing a little (or a lot of) gravy can’t fix. Pour it on generously, and make sure your mashed potatoes have healthy doses of cream and butter in them.
- Those mashed potatoes came out gluey or lumpy. Make a well in the top of gluey potatoes, put a pat of butter in it to melt, and sprinkle on a little paprika. This will hide all ills. And, as with the aforementioned roast, don’t forget the gravy. For a lumpy mash, push them through a strainer or sieve – it’s messy, but it works.
- Your cubes of roasted vegetables are over-salted. Assuming the vegetables are not so salty that they’re inedible, add them to an unseasoned soup, or save them for the morning and make your guests an impressive frittata. If the roasted vegetables taste good together (e.g. sweet potatoes and parsnips, not sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts), try puréeing them together with unsalted stock and serve as a starter.
- There’s not enough gravy. Stretch the gravy you have with premade stock and reduced wine, and toss in other flavorful additions – like fresh herbs and a big heap of caramelized onions – to amplify the volume.
- There’s not enough room in the oven. Steam, pan-roast, or pan-fry vegetables instead of roasting them, or cube them and set them underneath the roast to let them soak up all the roasting pan juices. Bake all desserts the day before.
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Before she and Merrill started Food52, Amanda Hesser was a reporter at the New York Times and the food editor at Times Magazine. She wrote the award-winning books Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener, and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Her last book, a Times bestseller and the winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Amanda is a trustee of Awesome Food and an adviser to The Spence Group.
Merrill Stubbs graduated from Brown and Le Cordon Bleu. She went on to work at Cook’s Illustrated and behind the counter at Flour Bakery in Boston’s South End. In addition to her work with Amanda on The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Merrill has written for the Times‘s T Living, Edible Brooklyn, and Body+Soul, and she was the food editor at Herb Quarterly. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.