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Is there anyone else out there...

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who cooks without recipes?

One of my kitchen experiments is bean and barley soup. The ingredients include at least 2 kinds of dried beans, lentils, split peas, several aromatics, leafy green vegetables, barley, canned whole tomatoes (hand squashed like Mario Batali), mildly pungent chiles, and any meat gravy leftover from stuff my wife prepares. The gravy is stored in the freezer until needed for the soup.

The soup is always different from the previous batch. Most of the ingredients are not measured. It always has a good flavor, and usual is like a thick vegetable stew. The soup is prepared in a 5-quart stockpot resulting in about 8-10 servings.

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  1. of course! and most often it is when I'm making beef & barley soup, chili,...mostly soup/stew type things. but then again, I make a ton of marinades for chicken & fish with random ingredients & no recipes. Baking is where the recipes are really needed for me, but I end up tweaking them too.

    1. Anything ingestable is fair game when the soup pot comes out!

      I like to expirament. Hubby likes recipes.

      1. I've been on a chicken wing kick lately. I like buffalo wings but would prefer them not deep fried like at restaurants. The other night I made some in the oven and went to make the sauce. I didn't have any Frank's hot sauce. I improvised with a small amount of butter, emptied a Mexican style hot sauce (about a 1/4 bottle) and about 3 tablespoons of bbq sauce into a pan, heated it up, tossed the wings in after they came out of the oven, boy they were good! Not Buffalo Wings, but pretty good none the less.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jackrugby

          I am a great cook, but not a great baker. The reason? I don't have patience for following recipes, and have been cooking with whatever I have on hand for nearly forty years. I went to a cooking class last week, with Master chef James Haller, who never cooks with a recipe. He made a wonderful fish soup.
          Here is what he did. He put oil in a large pot, browned 6oz of tomato paste (not burned). He added a sliced fennel bulb, 2 slliced carrots, 1 chopped red & yellow pepper, added water half way up to the pan's height.
          Added a tablespoon or two of Better than Boulioun, Lobster Bisque (?). And simmered for 10 min or so. Chopped up some fennel tops, threw them in, with two chopped, fresh roma tomatoes. Put four filets of tilapia, brought it to a simmer. Took out a bit of the broth, added 2 tablespoons of flour, added it back to the soup. Let it cook another minute, and voila. Oh, he checked the seasonings at the end, and added a bit of S&P. It was wonderful.

        2. that soup that you have mentioned here sounds really good. I have a version of this
          I call it my refrigerator soup. I use all the leftovers for the week that will fit into it.
          and you have cornbread.

          1. Thanks for all the replies. Glad to see that there are others out there who like to experiment.

            I claim to be from the "What if..." school of cooking specializing in "Cuisine impromptu."

            1. I never really use a recipe either and it makes it so hard when someone asks me for a recipe! I will gladly write it out for them from what I remember doing- more in essay form, but I know it will not come out quite the same!

              1. It seems to me that cooking does not require a recipe, but baking often does. Unless I am very familiar with a dough or a batter, I need to watch amounts closely. Even when I cook something for the first time, I go to the internet and read several recipes to see the ingredients and their relationship to each other, then "make it up" with the ingredients I have on hand.

                The downside to this is that our "fans" often like continuity. When people ask for recipes(which I take as a compliment), I say, "I can tell you what's in it, but I can't re-create it exactly."

                On Top Chef, one question that came up several times is, "Do you cook for yourself or your guests?" I believe that us recipe-less cooks prefer variety to continuity and are constantly trying to outdo ourselves. I always want to cook something that I will like, but without family and friends to enjoy it, I probably wouldn't enjoy the process as much.

                1. It took me years to understand why I love cooking and hate baking! I finally figured out that baking is too "exact" which makes me crazy. I love to throw in a little more of this; a little less of that and see what happens!!! This is not something you can do with baked goods. My friends insist I'm holding out when they ask for recipes and all I provide is a list of ingredients and tell them "you have to feel it" More often than not I cook by taste and inspiration!