I’ve never been keen on following recipes. Probably because I’m impatient!
Recipes are a great way to learn how to put together ingredients, however. They can also serve as a template that I can tweak and make my own. What’s worked the best for me is just winging it. Thinking on my feet and grabbing what’s in the kitchen. That’s about it. I know that can be intimidating for some.
Taking risks in the kitchen has helped me to do two things:
1) I have confidence when I throw together a meal.
2) I have created recipes that I can now fall back on and share with others.
I call this the Ali-Oops Way because I put together a bunch of things I have in my kitchen, and then….oops!…something wonderful is created. Now, there may be times when my creation is more like a 5 out of 10 instead of an 8 or 9, but hey, that’s part of the process. We have to make mistakes to learn. I’ve broken down this winging it trick into 5 easy steps to show you how it works for me.
The Ali-Oops Way…5 Steps
1. What do I Need? Do I need a snack, a meal or do I need something simple like a salad? This helps me through the next step.
2. What’s in the House? Basically, I look in the fridge to see what I’ve got on hand. Generally I know what’s in the cupboard (staples like quinoa, rice, pasta, beans, canned goods, oil, vinegars, spices, etc.). Usually, I don’t have a lot of time, so I want to keep it simple. I use what I’ve got, instead of trying to pull up a recipe and then ending up without some key ingredients. Once I see what’s in the fridge, I grab a few things that I think will go together. Next, I go to the cupboard to see what might go with the fridge items. Don’t be afraid to takes risks…be creative.
3. What will it Taste Like? Next, I look at flavours. Do I need spices, herbs, or maybe some other flavourings like lime juice, red wine vinegar, soy sauce or tobacco sauce? I select the ones that might work.
4. What’s the Big Idea? Here, I need to pull it all together. I start to peel or chop what I need. I then put things together in a bowl or a pot/pan, depending on if it is a cooked dish. Then I add any cupboard ingredients and throw in some flavours. I don’t measure for any of this. If this is a cold dish, like a salad or a dip, then I just toss or mix and serve. If it is a hot dish, then I might stir it, simmer it or bake it, depending on what I think will work the best. I just do this by trial and error, based on what I’ve tried in the past. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Take a risk.
5. What will it Look Like? In the end, I may add a few more flavourings or garnishes, like cilantro, basil or parsley and then dish it up. Maybe a bowl…a plate? Then I transfer the food to the dish and arrange it in a pleasing way.
That’s it! This is the way that works best for me.