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Old 07-31-2006, 06:02 PM   #1
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How does one develop new recipes?

For all the years that I've been cooking, none of the recipes I have used have been mine. I have used recipes that I've found on the Net, in newspapers, in this forum or family hand me downs and I don't know the originality of those. I have not been brave enough to develope my own original recipe for fear of having to discard something that did not turn out right and because I still need lots of experience in mixing and matching ingredients. I have modified or improvised existing recipes for various reasons. So now I'm wondering where do the rest of the forum members get their recipes. Has anyone created their own unique recipes and what's involved in such a process?

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Old 07-31-2006, 06:41 PM   #2
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Trial and error is your friend. It took me a long time before I felt confident enough to make something up myself. When I finally did I realized that it was not really that hard. Sometimes I had great successes and other times horrible failures. I learned from the failures. That is what it is all about.

I will give you the example of my dinner tonight. I had a hamburger patty that was leftover from the weekend. I had a nice squash that I pulled in from my garden (the first thing from my garden this summer). I wanted to use the squash, but how?

What I did was break up the hamburger and cook that in a fry pan. I drained the fat and threw in a little butter then threw in the squash which I had chopped up. While that was in the pan I cooked up some whole wheat pasta. When the pasta was done I drained it and tossed it into the meat and squash. I found some parmagiano regiano in the fridge and grated some of that on top. My wife walked in the kitchen and I asked her if she wanted some spice or not. She said yes so I reached for my crushed red peppers and put some in. To finish I went to the garden and got some basil which I tore up and put in, then I poured a little extra virgin olive oil in and served. It was delicious.

Basically I just though of flavors that would work well together and saw what I had on hand. I tried something and thankfully it worked.
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Old 07-31-2006, 06:56 PM   #3
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Oh I forgot about the vermouth that I poured into the pan with the meat and squash.
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Old 07-31-2006, 08:55 PM   #4
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I develop soley from insperation a quality ingredient gives me. I like to play with the contrasts that accentuate, and highlight whatever it is I am working with. If you are firmiliar with your pallate, and flavours, the sky is the limit.
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:30 PM   #5
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Developing your own recipes consists of experimenting basically. I first started tweaking my recipes then became comfortable enough to create my own. Your preferences is what makes you your creator of your own dishes. i.e fresh ingredients vs. canned, homemade vs. processed, the sky is the limit...
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:33 PM   #6
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You MUST also remember, recipies, unless pastry or baking, are not blue prints, just recemondations. Don't be scared to try to substitute something. The worst thing that can happen is the dog gets fed well.
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Old 08-01-2006, 01:29 AM   #7
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My mom was one of the best home cooks I ever knew (or knew of) and I don't believe she ever made up" a recipe. She either followed a recipe or she cooked from memory those dishes she'd been making forever.

These days it seems as tho every cook wants to make up something new! and that's cool, but I'm not sure why it's such a goal. There are so many GREAT recipes out there to try.... form so many different cuisines. It is certainly possible to be a truly accomplished cook without ever making up recipes.

Restaurant chefs, on the other hand, are always being challenged to come up with "something new" -- to have "signature dishes" that set them apart from other chefs. IMO, that's a horse of a whole different color.
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Old 08-01-2006, 02:05 AM   #8
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Well, in cookery you only have so many methods ... and you only have so many ingredients ... and how you combine them makes up all the different dishes we find in a kazillion recipes.

Are you looking to create dishes that have never before been created - or do you just want to cook a meal without having to break out a cookbook?

It's a matter of experience, a little time spent looking at recipes and understanding how they work, knowing your ingredients, and the guts or inspiration to try something that you don't have a recipe for.

When you watch something like IronChef America - or the other "home cook" cooking competitions for something like "best chicken recipe" ... it still is all based on the basics.

Taking a recipe and making modifications to it to make it taste the way you want - you have already made steps into creating your own recipes!

It just takes time, experience, inspiration, intuition sometimes, and the guts to try it! You also need to taste as you go along ... and write down exactly what you did/used if you want to create a recipe that you or others can reproduce.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:09 AM   #9
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My sister is one of those annoying people who can eat something while she is out and then cook something similar at home without a recipe! I am not confident doing this myself...It tends to just flop when I try!! She can tell you what the main ingredients are and how a dish was put together quite often. Mind you she did play with her food a lot as a kid :)
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:00 AM   #10
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Think Michael is right, there are just so many ways to toss together just so many ingredients. So even though there are a kazillion recipes, many seem just to be a variation on a general recipe or theme.

To get a feel for how you can take a general 'basic' recipe and tweak it you might try to find a copy of Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without a Book (I think that is it, cannot find my copy right now).

But as GB aptly pointed out, many times we have ingredients and don't know what to do with them, they just don't seem to make the fixin's for a recipe we can recall. And then we punt.

Someitmes it is out of necessity (gotta get dinner on the table and no time to hit the market), at other times we buy something interesting and don't know exactly what to do with it, sometimes it is the leftover problem, and sometimes we just want to have some fun.

On thing I will do on occasion is look at the list of ingredients in a recipe without looking at the name of it or the directions and see what I can come up with.

I think it is much harder for those of us who have not been formally trained in cooking to do so, but we can always do our best.

And sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

Give it a try, you might have some fun.

Take care and God bless.
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:45 AM   #11
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By reading recipes, you'll get a idea of ingredients that go together and how they are treated. You cna use that kind of background as a way to kick off your own recipe creations.

Maybe, you'll just modify something you've seen or eaten before. Maybe, you'll throw something together from what's on hand.

Don't be afraid to experiment and insist on truthful criticism from the folks you feed. Then accept that critique as information that helps you improve the next time.
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:53 AM   #12
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My girls were never afraid to experiment as young children and teens, they ended up with many flops and we did not let that discourage them. Many times we ate what they created, and we were all honest about what we felt.

Today they can pretty well throw together nice meals with whatever they find in our cupboards/fridge/pantry and they seldom make mistakes. We always told them that we have made mistakes too and continue to make them, and as long as we learn from them they are not really mistakes, they are learning experiences.

I know what you mean about not wanting to waste any foods, being on a limited budget that has always been important. We had to weigh the advantages, having young girls in the house who love to cook as opposed to them being afraid to try new things. Their friends often end up here as well and they all cook up a storm together, now that they are older, they also do some of the food shopping.
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:28 PM   #13
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it's all about individual tastes and then you build from there. You need a few basic principles that you probably already know from following all those other recipes. From there, you just add the things you like.
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:34 PM   #14
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I get ideas from cookbooks and the net but I often modify the recipe. It takes experience. I have made some major mistakes while experimenting but it is worth it and fun. Most things I cook are modifications of family recipes. Especially the arabic ones.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:37 PM   #15
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Everything that everyone has already posted is true, but so you don't get discouraged, and to give you another perspective, think of cooking like playing music. It's something that you have to practice at in order to become proficient in. After awhile, you may be able to play on your own without any sheet notes and you may be able to improvise, and become good at it. But not everyone can become a Tchaikovsky, Mozart, or even the family "musical prodigy". Some people can become great home cooks and yet go most of their entire lives without creating a recipe that could be construed as being original. There's nothing wrong with that. Some people can play beautiful music only by using sheet notes, some can create an entire concerto just by ear. Experiment and discover your own limitations.
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:49 PM   #16
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As just about everyone else has said, it is experience. I have a few things I use a recipe for (not much). But the reason I can just go to the fridge and come up with a meal is that I'm 51 years old and have been cooking since I was a child. AND I Don't Bake (more science involved). The other thing is tasting, tasting, and taking one more taste. You cannot develop your own recipes if the way you cook is to take a recipe from a book or web site, throw it in a pot, and hope it will come out OK. You need to taste at every step of the way. Will raspberries work in a blueberry recipe work in your own recipe? Will French rock salt work where you usually use Morten's or Kosher salt? Will fresh ground telicherry pepper work where you usually use plain old pepper from a can? Needless to say, I can go on forever. You need to do it, and you need to taste it often while cooking if you're hoping to develop your own recipes.

I also agree with those who have said they bring out several cookbooks before figuring out how to cook something. I can only get live clams and lobsters once a year (my parents send them to me). So I pull out about five cookbooks to compare methods and recipes. Let the experts help you, but don't act like it is a bible, the cookbooks are guidelines. There are some things I only cook every year or so, but I still don't necessarily use a recipe. I use many recipes to come up with my own.
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Old 08-02-2006, 10:57 AM   #17
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I have a computer cookbook Allen and in that cookbook are some 1700+ recipes that I'd like to try and until I get through those [which I'll never do] I just continue trying other people's ideas. I NEVER follow a recipe to the letter unless it's a cake or something like that and then only the first time. My last birthday someone wished me that I live long enough to prepare every recipe I wanted to, my response was, "Oh heavens, please don't make me live that long!"
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Old 08-09-2006, 10:39 AM   #18
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I agree with all the postings, but here is something that I know a great many professional Chefs and and Foodies use for inspiration. "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dorneburg and Karen Page. This is NOT a cook book but a book of pairings and matches for almost every type of food.

What the book does is offer natural parings of seasonings to a product, and accompaning sides to particular products.

I found it a great aid in menu planning and dish creation.

Cost is about $20 bucks.
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Old 08-09-2006, 10:43 AM   #19
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Get a good instructional cookbook and read it cover to cover. One that explains the whys of food and has recipes, like "The Best Recipe," "Cookwise," "The Making of a Cook," or "The Professional Chef."

Make some of the recipes, letter-for-letter, until you know how they should come out. Then experiment.
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Old 08-09-2006, 10:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silvercliff_46
I agree with all the postings, but here is something that I know a great many professional Chefs and and Foodies use for inspiration. "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dorneburg and Karen Page. This is NOT a cook book but a book of pairings and matches for almost every type of food..
Andrew Dornenberg & wife, Karen Page, have written several excellent "foodie" books (esp. Becoming a Chef) I really like Culinary Artistry, but it might be aiming a bit high for someone who is reluctant to ever go off recipe. An excellent second step, though. Good recommendation.

Here's Dornenberg and Page's website
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