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Not to use recipe books?

(22 Posts)
dollydoops Sun 07-Aug-11 11:43:10

I love cooking and cook for myself, dp and dsd about four times a week. Have been cooking since I was about 8 and am a real foodie, always reading food critics etc and am a bit porky because i love food so much!
I almost never use a recipe (except for things like cakes that I haven't made before). My colleague at work is also a big foodie but she says she always uses recipes- she thinks my not using them makes me very 'talented' as a cook. I think not using recipes is the default and doesn't make me 'talented', just normal. Who is right?

jenniec79 Sun 07-Aug-11 11:54:52

I use recipes mainly for inspiration. Day-to-day cooking, a few basics like cottage pie, bolognaise etc I make entirely off-piste, but if I fancy something different it's nice to go to a lovely cookbook for some ideas.

Having said that, other than for baking I rarely stick to anything verbatim. (Even my Christmas cake, while loosely based on Delia's complete cookery course, is different every year depending on what fruit I fancy, what sugar I have in and what booze seems right - but I do stick to her quantities for flour, butter etc)

I think it's a confidence thing. People convince themselves they can't cook, then maybe are convinced they can follow a simple recipe (like the idea for Jamie's ministry of food) but are scared to take that last step to making it all up themselves in case it all goes a bit pear-shaped.

So you're both right, sort of. Yes you are a talented cook, but most of that is attitude, the skill set is the same whether you have a book to hold your hand or not.

SmethwickBelle Sun 07-Aug-11 11:57:58

It depends how good your cooking is!

Tee2072 Sun 07-Aug-11 12:00:36

I usually use the recipe the first time I cook something new and then tweak it every time after that.

nomoreheels Sun 07-Aug-11 12:02:26

I'm an enthusiastic cook/foodie as well & I too wing a lot of meals from memory and/or ideas. Once you know certain things go together it's not necessary to track down a recipe just to confirm it!

I would say it means you are a confident cook, but talented is more subjective. Eg experimental cooks making basil strawberry sauce for salmon steaks might be quite confident in their abilities... but it's going to taste pretty grim to most people. smile (not saying you are one of those mind!)

I love to read the Flavour Thesaurus for new taste combination ideas, and then cook sans recipe from there.

squeakytoy Sun 07-Aug-11 12:04:02

Same as others, I cook a lot, so if I see something I like the look of, I can make it, but might tweak it. I use recipe books for inspiration mainly.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Sun 07-Aug-11 12:08:04

I graduated from the Bungitin School of Cooking.


It is far more interesting that using a recipe book.

Bunbaker Sun 07-Aug-11 12:08:41

I agree that it is all about experience and confidence. I do follow new recipes, but not slavishly unless it is for baking because quantities and proportions are critical.

I followed the recipe when I made Rick Stein's lentil dish the other day. Not rocket science, but I wanted to mkake it with the right ingredients the first time, although I used bacon instead of the more expensive serrano ham.

I would never follow a recipe for a bolognese or lasagne for example and making simple dishes, but am in danger of falling into a cooking rut if I don't look at recipe books or watch cooking on TV.

nomoreheels Sun 07-Aug-11 12:12:28

Bunbaker I am making that lentil dish from memory tomorrow! It looked amazing & fits with our "good" carb/protein diet in the week. grin

worraliberty Sun 07-Aug-11 12:14:49

Neither of you are right's just personal opinion.

I didn't know anyone used recipe books anymore now we have good old Google! grin

I tend to Google a new recipe and chop and change the ingredients around to suit our taste. Then again, I suppose most people do the same thing.

Bunbaker Sun 07-Aug-11 12:17:15

I liked it a lot and the lentils I used didn't blow me up either smile

nomoreheels Sun 07-Aug-11 12:19:36

Plus it means I need to buy a bottle of white wine & have a nice cold glass of the leftover vino... what a shame. grin

jenniec79 Sun 07-Aug-11 12:24:38

worraliberty I love my real cookbooks. Then again I love my ordinary books too.

Can't wait till my specs arrive next week so I can sit and read for hours again (splitting headaches on reading took me to optician yesterday for first pair)

nomoreheels Sun 07-Aug-11 12:33:04

I read Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries to relax... smile

squeakytoy Sun 07-Aug-11 12:42:15

I wouldnt normally use a recipe book for lasagne, but I bought Gino D'Campos book the other week and his lasagne recipe had pesto in the bechamel sauce, so I tried it, and it really was lovely.

valiumredhead Sun 07-Aug-11 12:59:34

I read them for ideas but rarely follow recipes.

SnapesMistress Sun 07-Aug-11 14:02:22

I'll use them the first time I cook something but don't follow to the letter. The first time I made stew I ended up blending 5 different recipies cos I couldn't decide which I liked the look of grin

valiumredhead Sun 07-Aug-11 14:03:45

Im envious of the fact you get away with only cooking 4x a week OP grin

dollydoops Sun 07-Aug-11 15:26:53

Actually, I suppose I do read cookery books, just not with a view to cooking immediately- I read them for pleasure! So I suppose I get ideas from there, which I adapt.
valiumredhead my DP is an ex-chef so it's a struggle to be allowed to cook 4 times! grin

tethersend Sun 07-Aug-11 15:30:27

I tweak recipes or freestyle for cooking, but for baking I adhere to the quantities and method.

Cooking's an art, baking's a science wink

Bunbaker Sun 07-Aug-11 20:45:06

Spot on tethersend

pointythings Sun 07-Aug-11 21:25:48

I like reading cookery books for ideas but tend to make up a lot of my own stuff - was confronted with an unexpected vegetarian at a BBQ last week and had to whip something up, worked out so well that I ended up having to write it down as a recipe...

I think once you know what will go together and accept that you will have a few disasters, you're away. Baking is another matter though, I will always follow the recipe at least once before tweaking, and anything Dan Lepard does is pretty much sacred.

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