Transform your meal from oops to amazing.
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Getty ImagesEver mess up while cooking? Food & Wine Editor in Chief Dana Cowin shares her culinary mishaps—and the fixes she got from famous chefs.

Oops! My soup wasn't soupy

For a dinner party, I made lentil soup and inadvertently cut back the liquid. By the time it had simmered, the lentils had consumed the water and broth—leaving me with a side dish instead of soup. Tina Ujlaki, Food & Wine's executive food editor, gave me embarrassingly simple advice—just add water. Another soup tip: Season at the end. As soup simmers, some of the liquid evaporates. If you add salt too early, before the liquid cooks off, you may end up with a salt bomb.

Oops! My vegetables burned

In winter, I roast vegetables a lot. Sometimes they come out perfectly, but sometimes they burn on the bottom and are still raw on the top. Chef April Bloomfield (of five popular restaurants, including New York City's The Spotted Pig) offered her advice for even cooking:
Slice denser vegetables, like carrots, into smaller pieces than you do lighter ones, like Brussels sprouts.
Stir all vegetables occasionally while they are roasting.

Oops! My salads were blah

In the course of becoming a better cook, I had to learn how to make food prettier—especially my salads. As my chef coaches constantly reminded me, we eat with our eyes first, before having a single bite. Inspired, I took a simple kale salad and included many shades of green. Another way to beautify yours: Go ombré. Make a plate of chopped raw vegetables, layered in increasingly darker hues: cauliflower, yellow wax beans, yellow squash and orange peppers, with a vibrant roasted red pepper dip.

Adapted from Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin, with permission from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.