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Intuition in Cooking

One of my greatest fears in cooking, before I knew how to cook, was making something incorrectly. What if roasting a beet would make it poisonous? (It won’t.) What if I accidentally failed to cook that chicken for long enough? (A greater fear should have been overcooking.) If I was unfamiliar with an ingredient, I would read as much as I could in cookbooks and online before even starting anything. And if I couldn’t find the exact process, I wouldn’t make it. So, I typically stayed within my comfort zone of foods.

That fear, coupled with a lack of knowledge of ingredients, led to dozens of soups with different add-ins that tasted strangely the same. It was a sad, sad time for my culinary endeavors.

So, I understand the fear of using new ingredients. I really do. But embracing new tastes and techniques will not only enrich your recipes, but your life. There is a wide world of flavors and tastes and textures out there just waiting for you to explore.

No. Everything won’t work. As a close friend, Virtual Frolic, recently said to me:

Well, if we got things right in the first try, we’d all be famous chefs =)

She couldn’t be more right. Don’t let the what ifs prevent you from opening up to new ideas and processes and experimentations. I encourage you to take some raw ingredients and play with them. Mix them up. Try unexpected combinations. That’s how delicious new dishes are born. You can cook by intuition too, if you let yourself learn to by trial and error.

There is no harm in seeing what other people do with something and then forging your own method. Try it!

As for the pasta above, it was pretty simple. So simple, in fact, I am just going to give you an approximation of how i made it: I chopped up about a cup of fresh arugula and two plum tomatoes and mixed it with some gorgonzola cheese, lemon olive oil, salt and pepper.

It was quick, easy and (most of all) tasty. Paige couldn’t get enough of it.

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Sarah Caron

Wednesday 15th of October 2008

Maris, I once was so nervous about cooking chicken that I baked strips for like 40 minutes, creating a stinky mess. Blech. Live and learn.

VF, I had wondered what tartare was like...might have to 'accidentally' order it myself sometime!

Candelaria, you are so right (and I say this as I recall all the times I have experimented on guests ... lol).


Monday 13th of October 2008

Intuition, experimentation and necessity have all led to great culinary (and other) discoveries. The other night because I hadn't gone cooking and the refrigerator was down to the bare basics, I put together some fresh green beans, fresh broccoli, frozen corn. After steaming these, I sauteed onion in a little olive oil with fresh garlic, added the veggies, seasoned and served. It was incredibly tasty. And all because I just hadn't gotten around to food-shopping.

I must say, however, that I won't experiment with various combinations except on my husband. Unless you're really certain, a new dish when you're having people over is a crazy, zany thing to do.

Virtual Frolic

Wednesday 8th of October 2008

I am the worst - I always overcook chicken because I'm so paranoid. It's true though - sometimes your risks can turn out gross or they can be fantastic. Also - it's worth trying new things too! I had steak tartare because I got it confused with tataki which is slightly cooked - but MAN - from a reputable restaurant, tartare is AWESOME. You can't even tell it's raw.


Saturday 4th of October 2008

Sounds delicious! I'm ALWAYS afraid of undercooking chicken too - haha! Sometimes our biggest "mess ups" can lead to good ideas though.

I have a chocolate chip biscotti recipe that I once underbaked and though it wasn't as crispy as biscotti should be, it was still delicious!