Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Cook Without a Recipe

Some people think that it takes some sort of talent to be able to make a meal without going by a recipe, but I'm going to tell you the secret. It doesn't take talent at all. The key to throwing a dish together without a recipe is starting out small.

First, start by using recipes. That's how you learn amounts of ingredients to use in the future, things that go well together, and flavors that meld. Using recipes helps you learn what 2 tablespoons of olive oil look like in a pan and how much salt it takes to flavor a dish.

Read up and research. You can find a recipe for anything and everything online. And even better, you can read up on all of the hints from other bakers and cooks who have already used that recipe. Often these hints and suggestions come in handy on other recipes down the road.

Notice and remember interesting and unexpected complementary flavors in recipes and at restaurants (mango & chili, nutmeg & cheese, balsamic & dijon, ginger & lemon, bacon & well, everything). These are the touches that will make your meals taste extra special.

Go off recipe. When you make something, make notes about what you liked and what you didn't like. The next time, leave out the red pepper flakes or add extra lemon juice.

Experiment! This advice might be intimidating, but tasting as you go means that you can control how the dish turns out. And if it bombs, it's honestly not a big deal. Don't experiment before important events or when you're having guests, of course. You want this to be fun, not stressful! Again, be sure to make notes or even write whole new recipes so you remember for the next time.

Talk to others. Ask about ingredients you've never used, talk to people about their favorite techniques, ingredients, or dishes, and ask for advice on things you've had trouble doing.

All photos from my instagram @hannakinsey.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips Hanna! I wish I was more adventurous in the kitchen. Maybe its time to try some new recipes!