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Are you a good cook? If so, do you stick to the recipe or do you improvise?

Rainwater · 96

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Offline Rainwater

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For dinner I made an old lasagna recipe, but I added a couple of my own staple ingredients, and it turned out to be the best I ever made.  Always filling...

When I make my spaghetti sauce with meatballs, it is always different, because I took someone else's recipe years ago and made it my own, changed it up, and
every time I make it I improvise a little bit.

Of course, I think there are some things you can improvise and some you can't.

RAINWATER


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Offline purpleshoes

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As a general rule, the first time I try a new recipe I will follow it as precisely as possible. If it turns out well, and I use it again, over time I will try slight variations.

For example, I don't think I've ever made two meat loaf dishes that were exactly the same, even though the basic ingredients never change. Taco salad is another dish that's easy to try different things with.



Offline Jed_

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I mostly use recipes for ideas and rarely strictly follow them

The exceptions are two-fold:

1. When baking, improvising much is not advisable.

2. For certain ethnic cooking, I try and adhere to the recipe to taste it as it was meant to be, at least the first few times I make it.  I’ve been trying various foods from China especially Sichuan.  One of my long time favorites is Gong Bao (Kung Pao) chicken.  Restaurant versions are good, but I wanted to try it as close to the original as possible.  I like the original even better, but now having made it several times I find myself eyeballing the ingredients instead of measuring.  Plus, I began adding more vegetables like celery and water chestnuts.  While American versions of Chinese food tend to have mixes of meat and vegetables, authentic versions tend to be mostly meat or mostly vegetables where one main ingredient is highlighted and other ingredients are to add flavor.  If I don’t make a vegetable dish, I add more vegetables to the meat dish or dishes.



Offline MintJulie

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1. When baking, improvising much is not advisable.


I agree.  I'm a baker and I have had success so few times, I don't even bother any more.  I've fed much too much of my failed experiments to the squirrels.
Speaking of baking.  This is what I'm up to today.  My favorite...https://www.averiecooks.com/best-lemon-loaf-better-starbucks-copycat/

And no, I'm not a good cook.  Just a good baker.   
Dan is an excellent cook.  Honestly, he could open a restaurant.

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Offline Shiela_M

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1. When baking, improvising much is not advisable.


I agree.  I'm a baker and I have had success so few times, I don't even bother any more.  I've fed much too much of my failed experiments to the squirrels.
Speaking of baking.  This is what I'm up to today.  My favorite...https://www.averiecooks.com/best-lemon-loaf-better-starbucks-copycat/

And no, I'm not a good cook.  Just a good baker.   
Dan is an excellent cook.  Honestly, he could open a restaurant.

Absolutely agree here. It does depend a lot on what I'm baking and if I can add or change anything.  I think ookies and brownies are a bit easier to change.  Cakes and pies are the hardest.  It all comes down to the moisture.  So generally if I really want to change up a flavour to a cake, and dont have time to do a lot of testing, I'll bake it as the recipe suggests and then add a different flavoured glaze of frosting.

The main type of improvising I'll so is take from tgua recipe, make some slight changes in the measuring, and add it to that recipe.

I'd like to think I'm a pretty good cook, there are some things I know I'm not that good at.  Cooking steak for example. It always end up way rare or over done.

"I'm a hazard to my health, don't let me get me"


Offline Jed_

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1. When baking, improvising much is not advisable.


I agree.  I'm a baker and I have had success so few times, I don't even bother any more.  I've fed much too much of my failed experiments to the squirrels.
Speaking of baking.  This is what I'm up to today.  My favorite...https://www.averiecooks.com/best-lemon-loaf-better-starbucks-copycat/

And no, I'm not a good cook.  Just a good baker.   
Dan is an excellent cook.  Honestly, he could open a restaurant.


A couple weeks ago I made pimento cheese biscuits, except the first batch I accidentally used regular AP flour instead of the required self-rising flour.  Those hockey pucks got fed to the dog.  The second batch were fine.



Offline Jed_

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I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch yesterday strictly following the recipe, half recipe anyways.  They came out well.  I last made them store bought for Christmas (and sugar cookies from scratch).

What I’ve learned about cookies is only way to keep them soft is to let them cool first.  If you move them, they fall apart.  So for Christmas I over cooked them, and they were too hard.  Problem is you need multiple cookie sheets to do this in batches so each batch cools before you try and move them.  I’ve only made cookies a few times, so just figured this out.



Offline Rainwater

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I must agree about all baked goods.  Unless you happen to be some sort of master pastry chef or my Aunt Aleta, RIP, who I think could have put out her own brand name of cookies (Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Ginger Snaps, Peanut Butter, etc...)  My God, when she knew we were coming for a visit she would start baking!!!


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Offline MintJulie

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I must agree about all baked goods.  Unless you happen to be some sort of master pastry chef or my Aunt Aleta, RIP, who I think could have put out her own brand name of cookies (Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Ginger Snaps, Peanut Butter, etc...)  My God, when she knew we were coming for a visit she would start baking!!!

That's the kind of Grandma I'm gonna be, quite a few years from now of course.  They're going to out on the playground telling their friends, "My grandma's Lemon Bread is the sh*t!"

Um, RW, you haven't said 'Hello' yet.   Go on now, click the link and introduce yourself.
http://www.kristensboard.com/forums/index.php?board=25.0

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Offline Jbird4

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I don’t bake, but I do cook a lot.  I don’t have a specialty or anything.  I cook everything from comfort foods to elegant meals.  I read recipes and recipe books all the time.   I keep my own recipes stored in an online folder.   To be honest I keep them mostly for family and friends who ask me how to make something.   And I occasionally update them when I make a change or two that sticks around.  I also keep them so when I open my restaurant some day, I’ll have them. 

For the most part, I don’t really follow a recipe, but now that I’m older I do pull them up for my ingredients lists.  That way I don’t get half way through and realize I need something.

When I am making something new I usually look at a few different sources for recipes.   I’ll look at a few online recipes and a few different types of cook books.  Then I usually take what I like from each to create a new version.  For example I occasionally will find recipes that try to shorten processes by adding cream or maybe flour to sauces for creaminess.  I usually change those to roux for better results.  There are always some ingredients that I don’t understand the fit, so those often eventually get left behind.   Sometimes I change the order to better build flavors. 

So my short answer would be, what recipe?



Offline ToeinH2O

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I inherited my grandmother’s cookbooks, and I was also a long time subscriber to both Gourmet and Epicure. But the truth of the matter is, after spending 40 years in the kitchen, I really don’t need to look at a recipe 90% of the time. Or I just read the recipe once, close the book, and go to work over the stove.


This is the way my grandmother cooked, and it always amazed me. But now that I’m older, I understand, once you’ve done something dozens of times, it just becomes second nature. Cooking is simply glorified chemistry.  It’s my job to turn lead into gold.



Offline Bittersweet

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I love food, I love to cook, i love to eat good food.. Don't forget love good drinks. I rarely follow recipes. Always try to write down what I do when I make things tho.



Offline Dudester

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I was a chef at one time, so I do have the type of training like "Oh, I need more flour" and so on. Don't follow recipes, except if I have to bake. Because I was cross trained, I know how to make a cake batter tastier, or more fluffy and so on.

I do make what I consider to be really great fajitas because I steam  the meat and vegies instead of frying. So many people are used to the dry fajitas that they don't like the steamed version.



Offline MintJulie

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I love food, I love to cook, i love to eat good food.. Don't forget love good drinks. I rarely follow recipes. Always try to write down what I do when I make things tho.

I grade my baked good that I get from cookbooks.  So every page has 1 to 5 stars.  If I try to make something that didn't rate very high the first time, I will change something, and as you say Bitters, write it down.

Woo for you.  Remember, I was your first.   :-*

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