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Old 09-27-2010, 05:26 PM
 
Location: On the Edge of the Fringe
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How many of you use recipes like from a book as opposed to just making things up as you go along ? I am curious.

Most of what I make , I make up and the majority of "recipes" are my own trial and error. BUT If I have something new with which I am unfamiliar then I reference The Joy of Cooking or some of the other vegetarian cookbooks I own. Also, I don't really do breads on my own, I take those out of a book (like the bread machine book)

But for most things, I will just throw something together. If everyone likes it, I will try to throw it together again.
I just wondered how many other people taking this sort of approach to cooking ?
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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As a rule, I usually just create my own dishes without recipes. However, I use recipes sometimes to try new or unfamiliar dishes. I always use recipes when baking.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:08 PM
 
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Most meals are better without recipes because you will know when you are making the item how much of each ingredient you really want in there. But, as stated above, baking is the main exception. Many baked recipes will not work unless the recipe is followed pretty closely. I have a recipe for chess pie where it matters a whole lot if I use 1 jumbo vs. 1 extra large egg.
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
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I usually use recipes but not always. I love recipes with a complexity of flavors - especially mediterranean style food and asian food - the blend of spices and herbs and fresh ingredients needs to be just right. I disagree completely that most meals are beter without recipes. If you really think that is true, then you need better recipes.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cattknap View Post
I usually use recipes but not always. I love recipes with a complexity of flavors - especially mediterranean style food and asian food - the blend of spices and herbs and fresh ingredients needs to be just right. I disagree completely that most meals are beter without recipes. If you really think that is true, then you need better recipes.
Learn to cook and you won't need them.
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:50 AM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
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I taught cooking classes for many years. I have done catering and have large dinner parties several times a year at our home. Believe me I know how to cook.

Yes, anyone cook can make up recipes but the results are often mixed. I want each meal to be perfect and that is what my family and friends have come to expect from me. Food is too expensive to always be experimenting. Using recipes from respected sources serves as a guideline for even better recipes. Throwing in this and that is not something everyone can do with success.

A wiser and more satisfying way to cook is to perfect certain recipes to make them your own - i.e., the perfect roast beef, the best apple pie, a perfected bearnaise or method for roasting vegetables. Start with a recipe or two from respected professionals and then taste and tweak and develop your own repertoire of perfected recipes.

Often it is not the ingredients that make for the perfect recipe - it is the method by which those ingredients are combined....and often it is the professionals who do the research work for us thus making it easier for us to personalize and perfect our own recipes when we have a basic good recipe to start with.

You are confining your cooking to your own limited knowledge and experience when you do nothing but "make things up."
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:29 AM
 
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I think after reviewing my comment above, it sounded a little harsh. Sorry.

The point is that after 50years of cooking for large groups of family and friends, recipes just get in the way. I go to the market with an idea and am driven by what looks good. If the asparagus is new and local, it's likely to be an ingredient. If the tomatoes are those hideous pink things from Mexico, something else will have to do. And, at this point in life I don't need a recipe to tell me that I should use a teaspoon of salt or use some exotic ingredient that probably has little role in the dish other than setting the author apart from the 10000 oTher people who have a recipe for lamb curry.

So, sorry for being brusque but other than baking, recipes are for amateurs IMO.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Austin
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Hmmm...well you know what they say about opinions, they are like buttholes and everyone has one. I cook. I use recipes 98% of the time and I don't think it makes me any less of a cook.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:52 AM
 
Location: North Texas
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I have a lot of cookbooks but I use them more for inspiration than as a precise guide on how to cook a particular dish. If I'm making something that I have never made or rarely make (like baking a squash or steaming asparagus) then I may consult a cookbook for instructions on how to cook that particular item, but that's about all.

One exception is when I'm cooking for my diabetic mother. I have a diabetic cookbook and I follow the instructions precisely so she can have an accurate idea of the nutritional content of the food I've prepared for her. It's important for her to know how much fat, how many calories, how many carbs, and how much sodium is in everything she eats. So I do not deviate from those instructions at all.

The other exception is baking...I follow directions precisely when baking, at least the first couple of times that I make a particular dish. Then I will experiment with substitutes with varying results!
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:09 AM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,288 posts, read 17,894,127 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson1010 View Post
I think after reviewing my comment above, it sounded a little harsh. Sorry.

The point is that after 50years of cooking for large groups of family and friends, recipes just get in the way. I go to the market with an idea and am driven by what looks good. If the asparagus is new and local, it's likely to be an ingredient. If the tomatoes are those hideous pink things from Mexico, something else will have to do. And, at this point in life I don't need a recipe to tell me that I should use a teaspoon of salt or use some exotic ingredient that probably has little role in the dish other than setting the author apart from the 10000 oTher people who have a recipe for lamb curry.

So, sorry for being brusque but other than baking, recipes are for amateurs IMO.
No Problem - my original comment was a little brusque actually and I apologize.

I agree about letting fresh produce and ingredients drive your menu. I get bored with my own recipes or concoctions and I need fresh ideas and flavors to excite me about cooking every day. Plus it is fun to try new things - recipes that take you out of your realm of experience and even comfort zone and expand your repertoire.

Here is a recipe I made last week - it was so flavorful and delicious - I would probably not have come up with these exact flavor combinations and garnishes on my own. This recipe is a keeper and everyone really loved it. I included some tweaks I made or would make next time. The sauce is to die for and would be wonderful on chicken too.

Pork Souvlaki with Honeyed Apricots

Serves:
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
For the Souvlaki:
• 2 shallots, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I used canned diced
jalapeno – 2 rounded tablespoons)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-to-2-inch chunks
For the Apricots:
• Juice of 3 limes
• 1/2 cup dry rose or white wine (I think 1/3 cup would work better)
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 shallot, minced
• 12 to 14 plump dried apricots, chopped (the recipe calls for whole but the sauce thickens better when apricots are cut up)
• 2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
• 2 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
• Greek yogurt, for serving
Directions
Prepare the souvlaki: Combine the shallots, garlic, oregano, jalapeno, lemon juice and olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the pork, turn to coat, and refrigerate at least 4 to 5 hours or overnight.
Soak 12 to 16 wooden skewers in water, at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the honeyed apricots: Bring the lime juice, wine, honey and shallot to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the apricots and cook until the mixture is syrupy, about 15 minutes.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium. Remove the pork from the marinade and thread 2 pieces onto each skewer. Grill until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Fold the mint and pine nuts into the apricot mixture. Serve the souvlaki with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and the apricot mixture. (I serve this over whole wheat couscous and with a green salad).
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