Recipe. There it is. That word. I hate that word. For me, its like a contract. Like a “chaining down” to one particular way of doing something. I am a huge believer in promoting thinking for yourself. And, that is partially the topic of today’s blog entry. Which most of you probably already understand.
This issue has come up with me on several occasions. Someone says, “Can I get your recipe?” And I usually come up with some guesstimate of how I put something together. But, the truth is, you can follow that recipe to a “T” and it will never taste like mine. (not saying that is always a bad thing, lol) And that is because I simply don’t do anything the same way twice, and with good reason.
Let me explain. Think about an ingredient. Say, onion for instance. If onion is in your recipe, its for good reason. You get a lot of flavor and aroma from onion. Now, there are several different types of common onions. Red, white, yellow, sweet… All taste differently. Now even beyond that, lets take red onions. Say you have a red onion that was grown in California and a red onion that was grown in Louisiana. They will taste totally different. Why? Well every element in the soil, every extra second of daylight, every ounce of water, etc. has an effect on the flavor. And that is just flavor. I’m not even talking about texture, aromatic potency, water content, all of which can drastically effect a “recipe”. And then, that is just onions. You can apply that same train of thought to peppers, apples, beef, chicken, beans, peppercorns, grains, water and so on and so on. If you factor all of these variables in the ingredients, plus the temperature of your stove and oven. If a recipe says cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, there is no way to know what kind of stove the person used and what temperature exactly is medium. Plus air temperature and humidity. You see? Thousands of variables. So, the chances of you following a recipe exactly and it tasting the same as the writer’s are slim to none.
Bottom line is recipes should be used as a guideline only. The most important thing to take from “recipes” is not the ingredients and amounts, but the technique. You should know how to dice, or saute’, or stir a roux, or whatever. It really doesn’t matter how much of what you put in there. Which leads me to my point…o yeah (ramble much?!?!).
That is why, in my opinion, the most important gadget in any kitchen is not a gadget at all. Its just a simple, standard, humble spoon. Nothing fancy required here. No wires or guards, no buttons or levers. Just a soup, table or tea spoon straight out of your silverware set will do just fine. You see, because the secret to cooking well, and its really not a secret at all, is taste your food. Taste well…taste often. Again, recipes are meant to be used as a guideline. You should enjoy cooking. You should care for the dish, whatever it may be. If it doesn’t look like its enough onions, add more. If it needs more salt, add more. Have an idea of what it is supposed to taste and look like before hand, and you can figure out what your version needs or doesn’t. That way, at least you know what you are serving.
Always remember, cooking should be an art, not a chore…