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When are you satisfied with a recipe?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
In a hurry, stopped at the market last night and, lo and behold, organic spinach is on sale two for one! Guess what we had for dinner?

Due to budgetary considerations, I determined to make a hearty spinach salad out of whatever we had in the cabinets and fridge, without buying more stuff. So into the mixing bowl, went a squirt of Dijon mustard as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar, then I whisked in extra virgin olive oil until it started to look like a salad dressing, but I guess it was more like an aioli. Once that came together, I grabbed the last three pieces of pancetta from the fridge, fried them crispy, chopped them up, and dumped them in the bowl along with a minced garlic clove, a couple of chopped sprigs of thyme from the yard, and a little salt and pepper.

Mrs. Blue and the roving houseguest who shared the salad with me raved about the salad until the cows came home, which made me feel pretty good. However, being the born tinkerer, I wound up wondering "what else could I do to this salad dressing to give it more wow?" Short of doing something ridiculous, like adding a jalapeno, I came up short.

I guess the point of creating food is to satisfy those that are going to eat it, so if everybody's raving about the salad as it is, then that's great. I guess my question is, when do you stop "tinkering" with a recipe?
post #2 of 11
Never! :D Isn't tinkering all the fun of cooking??
  1. I rarely write down what I've done, so I can't replicate exactly even if I want to
  2. I'm usually using up dribs and drabs of sauces, cooked vegs and grains, etc., and can't be sure to have the exact combination ever again

That said, if I really like something I've made, I'll try to keep the outline of it in mind -- or even write it down -- but I know it won't be quite the same. :p

And of course, I rarely follow a printed recipe to the letter. Baking is the exception because of the chemistry involved, but even then I'll play with flavors, spices, etc.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 11
Like Suzanne, I am never satisfied. Rarely ever do I get up from a meal without thinking of what could have been done to make it better. I do have a few recipes that I follow to the letter but most times I wing it when I cook.
post #4 of 11
A recipe can go dormant once it's as good as or better than the best of that I've had. Once I taste something even better, the recipe becomes active again.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 11
Never really. There is always something I can do different with a recipe....I could change something just because of the people that are coming over, or because of something we are going to have as a side.....Sometimes as well, I am just in the mood to do something a little different. That's all a part of what makes cooking so much fun though.
Athena Foods - Cook Like a Goddess
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Athena Foods - Cook Like a Goddess
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post #6 of 11
I rarely use a recipe either unless it is new to me, or just to quickly remind me of the ingredients so I don't forget something!

However, in answer to your musing "What else could I've done with this dressing to snap it up?" I would have gone for the pancetta wilted spinach salad route!

doc
post #7 of 11
No matter how good it comes out, or how much I and others like it, I'm always thinking of ways to improve it.

But it did remind me of my former chef, who was raised in Marseilles.
He had a quaint saying for when he made something that he tinkered and tinkered with, never quite satisfied, but decided it would have to do.
"If it doesn't make a turd, it'll push one".
I'm sure it sounds devine in French.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #8 of 11
Never! Isn't tinkering all the fun of cooking??

I rarely write down what I've done, so I can't replicate exactly even if I want to
I'm usually using up dribs and drabs of sauces, cooked vegs and grains, etc., and can't be sure to have the exact combination ever again

That said, if I really like something I've made, I'll try to keep the outline of it in mind -- or even write it down -- but I know it won't be quite the same.

And of course, I rarely follow a printed recipe to the letter. Baking is the exception because of the chemistry involved, but even then I'll play with flavors, spices, etc.
__________________

oh so true.

blue or gorgonzolla cheese, possibly some green onion, maybe some dried cherries or fresh orange supremes to cut any bitter, wilt some red onion in pancetta oil.....possibly some orange zest in the dressing.....none, any or a combo of the above

many a new idea has come up from what's around.....albiet the pantry and fridge are generally well provisioned but there have been times where we used what was on hand and came out with a WOW!!!

not all ingredients are the same, spinach can be mild even slightly sweet to really bitter.....so having one way of dealing with both extremes really does not sound like good cooking practices.IMPO
Ditto Olive oil.....evo can be fruity, peppery, strong, mild, grassy, etc.....
Vinagers, wow, well there's a reason why there's a shelf in my home with possibly 20 vinagers. That's not even the bottles at the catering kitchen.

ah....salt and pepper....there too can be many differences.....gris, fleur, kosher, pickling, blue box with chemicals,.....all the various peppers/grinds

Mustards...well the you've got the idea by now.

It's the alchemy of food that makes cooking an ongoing joy. Learning new techniques, finding new ingredients.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 11
In pretty much total agreement with all the above - variation on a recipe/theme is good fun...BUT...never add tooooo much. The flavours have to fight it out on your tastebuds and then in your stomach...and everybody gets confused!! :)

What's the saying - 5 ingredients on a plate is enough? Tweak away but never overdo it is my opinion. Ok one in a million you'll create a masterpiece, and they need to be made, but consider those who have to taste the other 999,999 tries at perfection.

Take all the above with a grain of salt and in the light way it's written - I'm no professional. Or maybe that should be more pepper, or rub it with sumac, or add some rosemary to a desert....sorry :) I'll stop now!
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #10 of 11
I'll throw in my bid for (mostly) never satisfied enough. And another for not writing enough down to remember next time, so it is never the same. I kick myself for this a lot and have started to work on that.

If you really liked a dish or sauce and it didn't seem like it was missing something (esp something in particular), keep it the same. I have tried to 'improve' on a dish and can end up going too far and messing it up.

But always try a variation if you feel like you're in a 'spicier' (or sweeter or lighter or richer - add your own) mood that day!
post #11 of 11
I'm with just about everyone else on here and, with a wild guess, will have the same answers for the next several posters. I never stop tinkering, tweaking, playing around with recipes. I have fun doing so and I'll sometimes discover something really cool. I found replacing sugar with honey in my apple pie filling was totally awesome but not so when I did the same with the pie pastry. It all goes into my book and I know better for next time.
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