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Mar 24, 2005 01:23 PM

Combining/altering recipes

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Often times when I either try to make something new, or just a different way to do an old dish, it occurs to me that often don't just use one recipe when I want to cook something.

Instead, I will look at many different recipes and "distill" the essence of the recipes into my own version, keeping the ingredients/flavors that I am looking for and excluding methods and flavors that don't work for me generally. When it comes out very well and I am not totally lazy I might even record my own version of the recipe.

Sometimes it can be tough, subtle or even not so subtle differeences in cooking temperatures, times, etc can be difficult to pull together. Usually the recipes will be somewhat similar though definately distinct.

This sometimes drives my wife nuts because she is a strict "by the book" cook - especailly since she bakes so much.

Anyone have rules of thumb on doing this? So far I have generally always gotten pretty good results when I do this in a well thought out manner... though much better with cooking than with baking of course. Is this a common thing?

Sorry in advance if this is the wrong forum or this is discussed ad naseum already.

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  1. I do this all the time---even with baking. As long as you substitute similiar ingredients (I dislike rosemary, so I usually substitute the same amount of basil or tarragon, for example), you shouldn't have any trouble. Be sure to keep the finished product in mind---you don't want to add too much or too little liquid, for example. I'm not very good at noting my changes to a recipe either. What I do like is finding what I refer to as "formula" recipes. The basic (necessary) ingredients are listed in their needed amounts, with the door wide open for variations. I recently posted a scone recipe like this. Another favorite of mine is "my" quiche recipe: In a 9" piecrust in a glass pie plate, spread 1-1/2 cups of "stuff"*. In a measuring cup, thoroughly whisk together 1-1/2 cups of half 'n half, 3 eggs, salt & pepper and "appropriate seasonings"**; pour over "stuff" in pie crust. Bake at 350F approx. 40-45 mins. until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
    * "stuff" can be diced or shredded vegetables, (cooked)meat (or seafood) and/or cheese. Examples include ham & swiss, bacon & cheddar, spinach (frozen chopped, thawed a drained to almost dry) and feta or swiss, asparagus (with or without cheese) and Mexican: chopped tomatoes, onions, bell peppers (or hot, if you like), corn, etc.
    **"appropriate seasonings" include about 1/2 TBSP. Dijon mustard in ham & Swiss, 1/2 tsp. each ground nutmeg and garlic powder in spinach & swiss, 1/4 tsp. each cumin, ground oregano, garlic powder in the "Mexican", or whatever else strikes your fancy!!!

    By the way, if you want to reduce the fat/cholesterol of this recipe, it is very forgiving---you can use milk instead of half 'n half, and/or egg substitute (or two egg whites for each whole egg) to replace the eggs.

    Have fun experimenting---cooking is a great hobby and CREATIVE outlet---and it's rare that the outcome will be inedible!

    1. How great that you can do this! You must know that everyone can't! US experimental cooks seem to have a "knack" for what works together and TASTES GOOD! I am happy that you can do this. I have been doing it for years in SE Missouri.... I have cooked in 50 gal cast iron pots and the best restaurant ware and served many, many folks lots of fine meals. My deceased hubby was a penultimate "homeboy" meat chef. He cooked prime rib that folks lined up for and smoked more meats than I can remember. Our local lodge is still using his recipes. But he always said, "just cook it so that it tastes good to you, and everyone will love it"... He was right, and "Creative" cooking - like you can obviously do - is a treat for most folks! Enjoy your hobby - realize that not everyone understands the "kitchen physics" like you do, and "just cook it so that it tastes good to you!"