Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't let the recipe be the boss

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about good cooking is that it follows the recipe word for word. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Good cooking is about making the recipe yours, adding the spices you like to enjoy, and substituting ingredients and their amounts depending on your tastes and what you have in the kitchen.

For example, here's the inspirational recipe for my Italian hummus:

  • 1 cup non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • The comments for the recipe said that it was too watery and more like a soup, and that it had too much basil. I wouldn't know if these are true or not, for I just took inspiration from the combination of ingredients and started adding things together until I came up with my own recipe. Even in my recipe the measurements are just an approximation, you have to add or subtract what tastes right to YOU. Here's my version again so you can compare them:

    1 can cannellini beans
    1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
    1/3 cup of canned tomatoes
    1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
    2 tablespoons of sour cream (or more to taste)
    1 garlic clove
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    One simple substitution for this recipe, was the sour cream for the cottage cheese. We didn't have cottage cheese, and that wasn't going to stop us, so we decided sour cream would taste better anyways. We also added canned tomatoes instead of grape tomatoes, fresh ingredients are great, but we're on a college budget here, so let's get real.

    Conclusion: A cook using recipes is like an architect using blueprints, it's a guide but the building is not set in stone yet. Use your creative freedom. Remember, cooking is an art.


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