"Burn your recipes!" If you’ve been following me for any amount of time now, you’ve heard me utter that statement time and time again. It’s not that I’m entirely against using recipes for home cooking, it’s more because I see cooking meals as a personal art form or your kitchen culinary expression.
In fact, home cooking recipes are especially useful if you’re looking for new ideas and flavor combinations. Recipes are useful for cooking meals if you want to try to duplicate something exactly.
Here are some of the things that recipes will tell you:
• The ingredients to use
• The correct weights and measures for the ingredients
• The temperatures and degrees to use
• How much time you should cook
• What steps to take and when
But, you can’t expect recipes to tell you everything that you need to know to make the meal come to life. I like to make analogies between cooking and music. Let’s take sheet music for example. There are things that sheet music doesn’t tell the piano player. There are variations in tone, pace, and interpretation. The musician has to bring the music to life through his or her own interpretation of the music that they are reading.
Here are some of the things that recipes don’t tell you:
• Variations in ingredients/substitutions
• Variations in measurements/ mistakes in measuring
• Variations in oven temps/stove temps
• Variations in time
• Why you are taking the steps you are taking
There are very few celebrity chefs that I enjoy. An exception is Alton Brown. I enjoy Alton Brown’s show because he also explains why he’s taking the steps he’s taking as well as how different ingredients, temperatures, etc. affect the food that you cook. One day when I was watching Alton, he was cooking a popover recipe that looked great. As I was watching, I thought that the amount of salt he used would make it too salty for me. But, when I tried to make the recipe, I used his exact measurements because, well, he’s Alton Brown. Turns out the popovers were WAY too salty!
Next time, I’ll take out some of my own recipe books I use for inspiration and point out some of the ways that I know the recipe book is broken. My goal is to help you to increase your kitchen culinary skills by using your home cooking recipes to cook meals that you can be proud of again and again.