I read somewhere that successful cooks (you know who I mean, the ones who actually think up excellent recipes good enough to make millions in wonderful books with their photos on the front page) pay professional (home cook) testers to try out the recipes to make sure they work.
So if you are like me and you have bought a book from one of these lofty idols and tried out several of their recipes, you will know that they certainly DO NOT always work and that you may be left feeding your unfortunate family a meal that tastes kind of… well… nasty!
It could be vinaigrette that is way too vinegary, or a tart that ends up with a very soggy bottom, but some of these recipes most decidedly DO NOT work!
I would love to be one of those home cooks that is paid to test out a famous chef’s recipes before they come out to the general public, but more even than the responsibility of the chef themselves, it is these home cooks that must ensure we get recipes that are successful first time, then over and over again.
If I buy that recipe book at great expense, I want to be damn sure that every recipe I try is going to be a knockout and the very epitome of the photo I wish to copy in the book.
There must be two schools of thought here:
- Follow the recipe exactly – For these happy folks, they rely on the chef entirely. If anything fails, it must be the chef’s fault. They give up all responsibility for the outcome of the meal and it’s like they let another person into their kitchen to cook the meal. I have used this method and it works sometimes, but not all the time…
- Follow the recipe, but use your own cook’s intuition – This is the way I tend to cook. On one hand, it makes it harder to blame the chef when it all goes wrong, but on the other, isn’t cooking about creativity? Who wants to be following a recipe to the n-th degree? You may as well go out to eat!
There’s got to be some happy medium. Half of cooking is taking inspiration and ideas from what you see around you, but if you don’t have one ingredient for a recipe, take some artistic license and substitute another that you think will taste good. If you like lots of garlic and chili and the chef seems kind of stingy, throw some more in! Nothing will ever taste as good to you as the food that you prepare and season for yourself. You are the expert on your own palate!
Unfortunately, I don’t have a team of home cooks waiting on standby to test my recipes before publishing. Luckily (I guess) none of you are ever likely to sue me for a recipe that turns out bad in your own home. But to date I have only put on recipes that are tried and tested. Ones that I enjoy cooking and eating and feature regularly on our kitchen counters and ones that dinner party guests rave over and beg for the recipe for…
But my absolute favorite thing is getting feedback from my friends or complete strangers telling me they tried a recipe and liked it. The same goes for folks that read my posts and send me comments. It’s unbelievable that people read my stuff and that it resonates or connects with them. Kind of makes my cooking and blogging life worthwhile, y’all…