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Old 01-26-2013, 09:45 AM   #11
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I most often don't use a recipe, I cook by taste or combine a couple of recipes to make a similar dish. I also plan meals around what I have on hand. I don't go to the grocery store with a list of things needed to make a dish.

For example, I prefer chilpolte chili powder instead of just chili powder. I have four different kinds of paprika (smoked, hot hungarian, sweet, and Spanish paprika). If I want to add a layer of "smokiness" to a dish that normally would include paprika, I'll use the smoked paprika (hmmm...maybe I'll add some smoked paprika to my corn-potato-shrimp chowder next time I make it). I love the curry powder a friend makes for me. I will add that and tumeric, some red pepper flakes to steamed green beans tossed with EVOO. I will add curry powder to cream of chicken soup. When it comes to meat, I generally just add salt and pepper (grilled steak, pork chops). I want to taste the meat. If I'm making something like pulled pork or sauerbraten or brining poultry, I will use more than just S&P. But, I do not randomly add spices and hope for the best (I usually do add garlic and often add some heat to dishes because I like a bit of heat). I know what layers of flavors I want to build into what I'm making and use the spices and herbs to achieve that. The only herb I'm a bit cautious about using is dried curry leaves. Too much of that can ruin a dish. There are definite combinations of spices used in different ethnic cuisine. Once you know these combinations, you can change a dish from one ethnic cuisine to another by using the spice combination found in the other cuisine. But no, I don't randomly toss in herbs and spices and hope for the best. I know what I like, fortunately, I like just about every spice and herb I've ever tried (except bananas, which are considered an herb plant).
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:46 AM   #12
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As much as I like to consider myself as creative, I adhere to a set of traditional rules as far as herbs and spices for certain foods. There are certain ones I like pairing with things and flavors that I just don't think I would like together. I have been trying different herbs with my traditional dishes as of late. But I have to like something before it goes in the pot so I guess it is never really random....
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:08 AM   #13
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I never throw any spices into a dish. Sprinkle, drop, grind, pour, and sometimes even dump. But never throw.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no mayonnaise View Post
I never throw any spices into a dish. Sprinkle, drop, grind, pour, and sometimes even dump. But never throw.
How can you expect to say, BAM!
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Old 01-30-2013, 03:29 PM   #15
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You want to cook 'Snow food' be my guest. When you're ready to cook incredible food you'll need to follow the culinary masters like Escoffier et. As they say 'It's a matter of taste'. IMO ignoring even a basic simple recipe and throwing in whatever you want is the same as making culinary 'mud pies'. Enjoy the results.
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Old 01-30-2013, 04:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
How can you expect to say, BAM!

Thanks for the laugh.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:15 AM   #17
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You want to cook 'Snow food' be my guest. When you're ready to cook incredible food you'll need to follow the culinary masters like Escoffier et. As they say 'It's a matter of taste'. IMO ignoring even a basic simple recipe and throwing in whatever you want is the same as making culinary 'mud pies'. Enjoy the results.
Blindly following someone else doesn't lend itself to innovation. I applaud OP for taking chances and being creative, coloring outside the lines if you will. If every cook and chef just followed the culinary masters you refer to, nothing new would ever be created. I'm sure even Escoffier created some mud pies in his culinary career.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:20 AM   #18
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well said, no mayo.

to answer snow's question, i have done that before with very mixed results. some very good, some bad. a couple of very bad, better order pizza.

i generally don't do it with existing recipes, though. i may modify a recipe somewhat to suit what i have on hand or a personal taste, but i don't try veer completely off course just for the heck of it. if it looks "like a recipe i want", i make the recipe, or at least something in the spirit of the recipe.

my best results were when i created non-recipe related things, or things that lend themselves to innovation. for instance, i've made really good rubs for pot roast, turkey legs/thighs(for the grill or smoker), roast chicken, or marinades for london broil that were pretty random and ended up working out better than i had hoped. i've also had success with making up my own stir frys, not trying to recreate a traditional asian dish.

my worst results were messing around too much with italian or italian-american food. the soul of italian food is simplicity, so adding too much ends up taking too much away in a sense. i especially don't like italian sauces that have like 14 different herbs and spices added to them.

i think the key to snow's success thus far was stated in the opening post. that the cupboard hasn't been built up too much, so success may be due to having a limited amount of herbs/spices that happen to go together naturally.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:20 AM   #19
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Quote:
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How can you expect to say, BAM!
I leave that to the pros on TV.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:07 AM   #20
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I have several shelves of cook books, that is to say at least a couple hundred. I rarely use one recipe. What I'm getting at here is that I look for a "spice family", don't just throw them in nilly-willy. In other words, I don't want my southeast Asian food coming out tasting Korean, and don't want my Greek food tasting Chinese. Just me.
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