b) Methodical: Talented cooks who rely heavily on recipes. The methodical cook has refined tastes and manners. Their creations always look exactly like the picture in the cookbook.
Of course there was a little:
a) Giving: Friendly, well-liked and enthusiastic, giving cooks seldom experiment, love baking and like to serve tried-and-true family favorites, although that sometimes means serving less healthful foods.
And a little:
c) Healthy: Optimistic, book-loving, nature enthusiasts, healthy cooks experiment with fish, fresh produce and herbs. Health comes first, even if it means sometimes sacrificing taste.
But mostly, I am a methodical cook. I almost always follow recipes. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that. And yes, most times, my creations do look just like the pictures (as much as they can without my hiring a food stylist). I pride myself on that.
But it's my goal to move into the more innovative category:
e) Innovative: Creative and trend-setting, innovative cooks seldom use recipes and like to experiment with ingredients, cuisine styles and cooking methods.
Why can't I walk into the store, grab a few things, and throw together dinner? Why must I always rely on some written guidance to make anything more complicated than grilled cheese, eggs, or pasta?
The other night, the usual "what should we have for dinner" question came up. I whipped out some books and magazines, started checking tables of contents and looking at pictures. My boyfriend, anxious to get to the store and get back home again, asked, "Why don't you just make up your own thing?"
I gave the lame excuse... "You know how I am. I just don't do that. I NEED my recipes." But it was getting late and nothing was jumping out at me, so I said, "Okay, let's just go then."
We stopped at the fish counter, decided on tilapia (which apparently men don't consider to be a real fish), gathered up a few other things, and headed home. I know I looked pretty downtrodden the whole ride back because my boyfriend kept asking me if I was going to be okay. I had it in my head that dinner was going to be awful, and I was upset that we hadn't planned any sort of dessert. It was a night I really could have used some dessert.
So what did I make for dinner? Tilapia and garlic-mashed potatoes.
I munched on slices of Paesano bread with butter as I cooked. By the way, have you ever had Whole Foods' 365 spreadable butter? It's addictive. So is the bread.
I simply dredged the tilapia in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. We thought we had a lemon at home, so we didn't buy one at the store. Sadly we didn't.
To add a little flavor, I sauteed the fish in the same pan I used to cook the garlic for the mashed potatoes (recipe below). Now the fish was pretty plain and simple, so I tried to be a little creative with the potatoes. Here's what I came up with:
Three-Times-The-Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2 with leftovers
10 cloves of garlic
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and toss the chunks into a pot of cold water.
- Peel 5 cloves of garlic and toss them into the pot with the potatoes.
- Boil potatoes until you can slide a fork into them.
- While the potatoes are boiling, peel another 5 cloves of garlic. Slice each thinly.
- Melt about 1 TBS butter with 1 TBS olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic slices. Saute them, flipping occasionally until brown on both sides. Set aside. (Reserve the olive oil butter in pan, so you can cook the fish in it.)
- Drain the potatoes and discard the garlic.
- Pour the potatoes into a medium bowl and blend (I used a hand mixer) with butter and milk. Add milk in splashes and blend after each addition until the potatoes are at the desired creaminess. Then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Take the garlic slices and dump them on top of the potatoes. Don't be concerned if some butter and olive oil land in your potatoes too. You can stir the garlic slices in or leave them sitting on top as decoration.
To make the tilapia, return the pan to the stove. Add more butter and olive oil. And take the fish (dredged in flour with salt and pepper) and saute it, flipping halfway through, until browned on both sides and cooked through.
All in all, it was a pretty good, if colorless, dinner. Scooping up some mashed potatoes with bites of fish imparted more of that buttery garlic taste to the fish.
I will continue to post new recipes I've tried because I'll never get away from dog-earing pages of my food magazines and making lists of recipes to try in my cookbooks, but I'm also going to try to get away from recipes a little bit too. So maybe you'll be hearing about more things I've just walked into the kitchen and whipped up... all on my own.
Do you have any suggestions? Are you reliant on recipes too? Are you someone who just walks into the kitchen and throws dinner together? Would love to hear your thoughts!