Recipes are guidelines, not rules

Keeping along with my theme of “freeing the mind” (have you seen The Matrix? There is no spoon!) from the rigidity of recipes, this photo is proof that you don’t need to follow them as hard and fast rules. Use them as guidelines. And perhaps for base knowledge for those of you who are still building that foundation. But…

be freed from the mentality that you need every ingredient that the recipe calls for or that you even need to necessarily follow all its measurements.

(By the way this post applies solely to cooking and not baking – I readily admit I know nothing about baking as it generally requires strict adherence to measurements and my lazy rebel little heart just can’t handle all that.)

The above image features my take on Cooking Light’s beef ragu with polenta. I don’t remember what the recipe called for, but I do remember the picture on the page – a very lickable picture I recall. And that’s really the most important part of a recipe for me anyway: the picture of the dish, not the recipe.

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Tip #3: The Order of Things

The order of things matters. And it generally consists of this simple thought process:

#1: You need to prep (ex. peel and chop your onions, potatoes, and carrots, etc.) before you can cook. Prepping to me also means having certain things laid out/in reachable distance so that you’re not scrambling to find or measure out broth/turmeric/etc.

#2: You also need to think about timing. Ask yourself what takes the longest to cook, or what can you get started first which will take little to no “looking after.”

#3: You also need to be aware of what cooks fastest and how to ensure you don’t overcook it.

#4: Lastly, you need to decide what blend of flavors you want in your dish and how you’re going to accomplish that.

Tip #2: Don’t be shy of bad breath – you can take a mint later.

Ok, now that we’ve talked about not being afraid of salt, let’s also make sure we don’t rely solely on it either. There are many ways to add gusts of flavor to your meal without salt! Probably the most basic way that comes to my mind for me are to add minced garlic and/or chopped up onions. You can add this to almost anything – and it will add so much flavor. And oh, the smell of these two cooking in a little bit of olive oil…just makes you want dinner to be ready in 30 seconds.

P.S. If you’re one of those people that won’t eat garlic because you don’t want to ruin your upcoming magical kiss after dinner, you should know that Some things are worth having bad breath for.

P.P.S. This is one of them.

Make Something Great Out of….Not Much

The above featured photo is what I affectionately refer to as “The Africa Dish.” Africa, you say? Yes, Africa, not because it’s African, but because the idea of it was born in Africa – South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, to be specific. And the reason I’m sharing this particular dish’s story is because it has shown me 1) how to make something damn delicious with pretty simple and limited ingredients, and 2) how to fancify (like my made up words?) that same dish when ingredients are not limited.

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Tip #1: You shouldn’t be afraid of salt.

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Guys and gals – salt does not have to be the bad guy. I see two extremes of people’s take on salt all the time: the health nut who heard that too much salt is bad for you and now doesn’t use salt at all, and the average American who throws salt on every meal before even tasting it first. Let’s find a happy healthy place in the middle somewhere.

Salt is not bad for you. Too much salt is. There’s quite a difference.

Continue reading “Tip #1: You shouldn’t be afraid of salt.”

Take an Old Recipe…

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Yep, what it says. This particular photo will serve as my example of how to make a recipe your own. You should take this anecdote and be able to apply it to your general approach toward cooking any recipe.

Here you are looking at my most delicious Coconut Curry Chicken Stew yet – I add the word “yet”because this dish has gotten better and better with changes I’ve incorporated each time I’ve made it. I’ll walk you step-by-step through what I mean exactly.

I first tasted this goodness as a kid. My dad is a phenomenal cook and I was blessed enough to have mouth-watering dinners served on a daily basis.

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