Many of us learn to cook by following recipes – maybe alongside a more experienced family member or while watching a celebrity chef on TV. Then when we want to prepare something, we find a recipe for it and make it. But all too often the left-brain task of following the steps in a recipe leaves us completely clueless about how to actually prepare the food. After following a recipe for balsamic vinaigrette dressing, do you know how to make a vinaigrette in general? Or only that specific balsamic vinaigrette?
Most recipes can be boiled down to a framework of cooking techniques and food groups. Understanding this framework for a dish can make it simple to revise and personalize, bringing creativity into the kitchen and rendering cooking more fun and gratifying.
Although spring is near, there’s enough chill left in the air to enjoy at least one more winter stew, which is good because stew is probably one of the best dishes to try your hand at this new concept of intuitive cooking. It may sound intimidating, with so many ingredients and steps, but the long, slow and moist cooking process actually makes it an incredibly forgiving dish on which to cut your culinary teeth.
Fine Cooking magazine has a feature called Create Your Own Recipe, which is a fantastic tool for learning the framework of standard dishes. From breakfast frittatas to, that’s right, winter stews, they break down the steps and ingredients while offering educational tips so you can easily form your own creations and build your skills in the process. My girlfriend and I recently took a stab at creating our own stew. To be honest, we may not be winning any James Beard awards any time soon. But it was pretty tasty… and we made it up… and that feels pretty good!
If you give it a try, let us know how it goes in the comments. And don’t hesitate to share your creations.
Photo Source: FineCooking.com – Southwestern Beef Stew with Squash and Beans