I love experimenting in the kitchen. I love reading and trying new recipes. I have dozens of cookbooks and notebooks and scraps of paper with ingredients and measurements scrawled across, but I hate writing recipes.
And yet, here’s a list of recipes that I hope you read, try, and enjoy.
I know it seems crazy. A recipe is just a set of instructions for creating a dish that includes the required ingredients, but I find it challenging for two reasons.
#1 – Ownership. When I write down a recipe, 99 times out of 100, it started out as someone else’s. With cookbooks, food tv, magazines and the internet, ownership of a recipe or idea is hard to establish. No one cooks in a bubble, everyone is influenced by everyone else. My recipe for soft pretzels started as Alton Brown’s. My recipe for macarons developed after reading and experimenting with several online recipes and several by Pierre Hermé. I have tweaked recipes a little or a lot before putting them down, but not one came out of thin air. Because of that, I don’t want you to see these recipes as unbreakable rules. I sincerely hope you will use them as blue prints for making food that you will enjoy. If you want to follow the recipe word for word and ingredient by ingredient, please do. But know that I don’t do that. I substitute and change all the time, based on my mood and what is at hand. You should feel free to do the same, and if I’ve done my job correctly, I’ve given you the guidelines and structure to create delicious home-cooked food, even if you don’t follow word-for-word.
#2 – Accuracy. Many home cooks find it frustrating to see a beautiful picture accompanying a recipe and ending up with something that both looks and tastes nothing like they had hoped. It’s an unavoidable problem though, because to a certain extent, perfect accuracy in recipes is impossible. My oven may run hotter or colder than yours so my baking times may not be perfectly accurate. The humidity and temperature of my kitchen is most likely different than yours, so the time it takes bread or a dough to rise could be very different. High heat on an electric stove is different than on gas or on induction. Add to that the additional variables in tools and ingredients and you see where I’m going. To combat this lack of perfect accuracy, while I will give you times (sauté for 5 minutes) I will also be giving you the sensory clues (sauté for 5 minutes until the onions are softened and starting to brown around the edges) to help you out. Simply read the instructions once before you begin so nothing catches you by surprise, then start cooking. Again, if I’ve done my job, you should have a sense of where you are going, even if it takes you an extra couple of minutes to get there.
So get in your kitchen, get cooking, and let me know how it goes! If you’ve got questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section or just email me directly. I’m here to help.