Using recipes to inspire you
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
I love recipe books, they take up a whole shelf on our bookshelf. We now have a rule if a new one comes in an old one has to go out. But at least once a week I take out one or two, looking for a recipe or just looking for inspiration.
I was chatting to one of my friends who is a very good cook but not very confident. She said she finds using a recipe a bit daunting. She gets stressed that her dish isn’t a perfect replica of the recipe. She feels she has to follow the recipe to the T and because of this will go out and buy special ingredients for that recipe that then languor at the back of the fridge.
Now I am all for having lots of useful ingredients to hand, it gives me more scope in what I can cook. But I think there is a way to use recipe books that should make cooking a fun and creative process.
The part of cooking that I really love is finding a new recipe and feeling inspired. Then knowing what I can leave out and add in, or change the cooking technique to make it my own. Sometimes I have something in my fridge that needs to be used up and then I dive into my books or onto the internet looking for new ways to use that ingredient.
The important thing is to figure out what you can leave out that will not change the recipe too much, and what you can add in that will go with the existing ingredients. In my case usually more vegetables. So if a recipe calls for chives and I don’t have any I don't panic unless it is a core ingredient. I may try it with spring onion instead.
You may not crazy on cumin but still add it in just a little less and then a little more of something else. Adjust things to your tastes, don’t just ditch the recipe because of one ingredient you don’t like. It is often the herbs and spices that leave us feeling unsure, play around, you may just find a unique flavour combination that blows your tastebuds away.
Having lots of basic ingredients on hand is very helpful for allowing spontaneous creations. I do have lots of organic dried herbs and spices. I also have a few different delicious vinegars and oils. And then in my fridge they are some things that are handy to have: mustard, soya sauce, green curry paste, tomato paste, olives and anchovies. And in the pantry always a tin of organic coconut milk and tinned tomatoes.
Don’t ever be afraid of trying new combinations, of cooking out of the lines and having fun along the way.