For starters, I would like everyone to know that there is an entire Buzzfeed post with photos of Guy Fieri in Renaissance paintings, like this:
In appreciation, this week’s post is about how I don’t need a recipe to get to “Flavortown.”
If I followed road map directions the way I follow recipes, I would never get where I’m going.
I cook like I’m prepping to be on Chopped (it could happen maybe, okay?!). Or like an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives—if it’s funky, I’ll find it (on my plate).
Years of eating experience, hundreds of hours in the kitchen, and a whole lot of reckless attitude have come together to form my cavalier view of recipes.
Sure, there’s a list of dishes where you need to follow a recipe to the letter (fresh pasta, anything French, baked goods), but for the most part I like to follow my nose and my (double-dipped) spoon.
For example, short ribs. You can find them on the menu at any trendy restaurant these days, and given how undeniably delicious and fall-apart tender they are, you would assume that you’d need Julia Child to walk you through the prep. Not so, see below.
Here are three of my biggest “buh-bye recipe” accomplishments:
- Short ribs- Most recipes will tell you to throw out the carrots, celery and onions at the end and just reduce the leftover sauce. If you hold onto those ingredients and add a little bit of balsamic vinegar at the end, I promise you’ll be happy. (If that all sounded like alien-speak to you, maybe read up a little bit before attempting the magical—surprisingly inexpensive—short rib at home.)
- Marinara- This is the ultimate “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” thing that I make. When you skip the store-bought sauce, you allow yourself the opportunity to experiment with all aspects of the sauce, from the type of tomato (fresh vs. canned) to the number of garlic cloves (never too much…)
- Sweet Potato Hash- aka the king of all “kitchen sink” recipes. All you need is a heap of cubed, cooked sweet potato, a fried egg, and whatever toppings your heart desires.
With all of that being said, I do have a list of “Whoopz, shoulda listened to Rachel Ray” moments:
- Turkey soup- Last year I made some post-Thanksgiving turkey soup with veggies and beans and homemade turkey stock. It was simple enough, I just wish a recipe had told me that putting the turkey in too early would lead to such a horrible, slimy, shoelace-y product.
- Almond cake- Never, ever, ever try to bake without a recipe. Period. It doesn’t work. Except if…no. No. It doesn’t work. Thank goodness no one in my family took photos of the separated, oily mess that was an almond Chai cake with almond flour that I ground myself. “It sounded like a good idea at the time.”
- Salmon- When I get to go home to Dallas, I try to pack in as much seafood as I can because frankly that isn’t something I trust up here in mid-Missouri. One year, I got a big ol’ piece of Salmon from Whole Foods, realizing when I checked out that it was over $50 because it was wild caught and it wasn’t the season. I then went home and marinated it for a couple hours. Big no-no. Fish does not need more than half an hour to marinade or else it falls apart, and not in a good way. So we ended up with $50-worth of pretty mediocre fish that night. Oops.
My cooking style is definitely creative, and definitely lackadaisical, but the results are usually pretty darn delicious.
In conclusion, recipes are lame. (we’re just going to forget about those few times that I have personally contradicted that statement.)