Create your own recipe: a 12-step plan
This past Wednesday I agreed (with a 24-hour notice) to do a radio interview with one of my dear friends, Julie Motz. She has two radio shows on KWMR, Marin and needed a fill in for a cancelation. She requested that we talk about my forte: creating a recipe. I’m honored she thinks so ……..thank you, Julie. Some how, and luckily, for me, working under pressure produces great products, and this time was no different.
Enough info for a book
In the past, articulating my process of creating recipes has been daunting, an unreliable and an inert task requiring self observation, brainstorming, research, and more. …. i.e. too burdensome to stick to it. Thankfully, I did it, I was able to succinctly recite my process. And was pleasantly surprised to see that my one hour of free-flowing journaling revealed 11 steps, wow! Could I really make so many decisions so effortlessly? Apparently so, and the realization put a welcomed feather in my cap for this reliable talent.
I now had plenty of material, enough to fill a book, short chapters, yet nonetheless I acquired quite of bit of notes. The 30-minute radio interview will be the condensed version. And, I will produce said book, I’ll keep you all posted.
11 just won’t do
Now, those of you who know me will understand that 11 just won’t do. It needs to be an even number… could I merge two items into one to make 10? … no. So, there must be one more to make 12 components. AND YES! the one I missed is pretty much the first and foremost component that I think of, that I keep in mind throughout the whole process: the audience, the participants in the meal. So, it’s listed here as the first component to building a recipe.
Since writing this post the day after the radio show, I realized I omitted a key component: RATIOS. So, I am revising my list –and yes– I put two items together (rather than having a total of 13 steps). Twelve, an even number, a dozen is much better than ’13,’ — don’t you think? I put flavors and aromas together, not-so-much of a stretch, for the greater population. Those with a discerning nose and tongue, and alchemy recipe makers, would beg to differ, yet my artillery to their steadfast ways is that tasting is 70-90% with the nose so I think that it’s fair enough to put the two together.
A shortcut to being fluent in the kitchen
Julie gave an observation and posed a question to me in the radio interview: that success in the kitchen is similar to learning a language, and wondered if there is a shortcut a person can do.
- get to know the vegetables, condiments, the ingredients (spend time at the Farmer’s Market and at the grocery store)
- have a basic understanding of cooking methods, cooking techniques (read Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking”)
- have a basic understanding of herbs and spices (read Jill Norman’s “Herbs and Spices”)
I suppose many of my recipes come to fruition from just these 3 main steps.
Radio interview: How to Create a Recipe
Here are my….
12 components to making a recipe
Each of the following will, eventually, sooner than later, have its own detailed info. And, will be a foundation for a book.
This list is not in any particular order, except for the first component. The first step, below, will invariably always be the first thing we think of when creating a recipe, it’ll always be required to know who you are cooking for, how many, the time of year, etc. This is what I call the ‘magic touch’ … it isn’t tangible, yet is a major component of what goes into the making of a dish.
The rest of the steps will have varying degrees of importance. Depending upon the situation, each step may or may not have an important role. Meaning to say for instance that #4 Flavors — would likely be the second-most important factor when you are making a specific ethnic dish. Or – it could be that #6 is highest priority because you want to make a creamy soup, for example.
1.The magic touch: taking into account, knowing and/or anticipating the audience – who will be participating in consuming the food, the ambiance, the weather, season, time of day, etc
2. Food, the ingredients: the roots, tubers, stalks, stems, leaves, heads, bulbs, buds, berries, fruit, flowers, nuts, seeds, grains, and meat, fish, poultry, fowl
3. Ratios: how much to put of one ingredient vs others in the dish
4. Flavors and aromas: The flavors, such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, unami. And the aromas, such as: citrus, bouquet, aromatics: garlic, ginger, onion… and so much more
5. Colors: mono-color, multi-colors, dominate color with sprinkles of a contrasting color
6. Textures: creamy, crunchy, chewy, gooey, crispy, juicy, runny, soggy, squishy, slimy, solid, soft, firm, fatty
7. Shapes: rounds, rough cuts, cubes, triangles, half moons, slivers, match sticks, diamonds, squares
8. Sizes: minced, diced, chopped, bite-size pieces
9. Visual presentation: composed with bite-size pieces, versus mashed, or tossed with multi-colors
10. Temperature: hot, steaming, chilled, cold, spicy, refreshing
11. Cooking method: high heat versus no heat, wet vs dry, short term vs long term
12. Energetic value of the food: expansive vs contractive, upward vs downward, stimulating vs calming
Flavor wheels of the world:
The 6 tastes:
Cooking with ratios: