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How uniform is your cooking style?

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What influenced your cooking style? and how uniform is it?

For example, my mom was a single mom, she made lots of fry-pan based one -dish meals, but always very healthy and full of vegetables.

My dad's italian and he is really incapable of making anything not vaguely meditteranean.his best dish: linguine with clams: steam clams, strain liquid, remove from shells and slice. cook garlic and olive oil in pan. add white wine, clam juice and reduce, emulsify in blender, add chopped parsley and clams. amazing.

I tend to make one-dish meals that are meditteranean style, though tonight I made a fish curry: onions, garlic, cilantro and butter, followed by sliced cod fish,curry powders, turmeric. remove the fish. add cream, cherry tomatoes, and sliced cooked potatoes. delcious served over jasmine rice from the indian grocery.
tommorrow i'm going to make ahead some pesto and some lamb burgers(bread,egg,parsley) for the week ahead. Yesterday I made ham,egg, and pea fried rice with a little anchovy at the beginning with the onions.

Point is, no matter what cuisine I make it's always the same steps, the same onion and/or garlic, herb. Once in a while I'll bake some vegetables or a pasta, but it's all essentially the same steps. Do you find this as well, or are people going at this from all differen directions?

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  1. This is so true for me! I always cook the same thing with slightly different ingredients.

    When I eat out, I love all kinds of food and cooking styles. But when I cook at home, it's always pan-seared protein (chicken, turkey, fish, whatever) with a highly reduced sauce of pan juices, onions, garlic, wine, and whatever addition strikes my fancy. Last night, it was chicken with melted quince paste and balsamic vinegar, plus tons of garlic and a splash of chicken broth and a squeeze of lemon. (And it was quite tasty, if I do say so myself.) Before that, it was pan-seared halibut with dijon mustard/lemon//honey sauce - a dish that rated a "Yowza" from my husband.

    Side dishes are always rice/couscous and steamed veggies/roasted veggies. And a fruit smoothie for dessert.

    I'm definitely in a rut! But there are lots of variations on this basic dinner. Anyway, I only cook once a week. I call for take-out so often that my local restaurants always ask "The usual?" when they see my number on caller ID. :-). So pathetic...

    I like to try other styles of dishes, but when I don't follow a recipe, I just fall back on my one and only cooking style.

    Anne

    1 Reply
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      We all tend to stay with what we are comfortable with, especially if we have fulltime careers out of the home. Who has time to really explore new ideas, cuisines, collect recipes, stock new pantry items and all that is necessary to basically develop and learn new culinary techniques...it is hard

    2. Foodies...
      sounds like you need some inspiration!!
      don't fret. most chefs (home and even restaurant chefs) have a "style". you know what tastes good to you... you know techniques that have worked/ currently work.
      that is normal...
      the good thing is that you realize that you are consistantly doing the same same same and your food (and mouth, and appetite, and guests and husbands) will be so happy to learn and experiment.
      take a class. take many cooking classes... from different chefs, see how everyone takes a different step to get to the end of the dish.
      look at it as an adventure... i do every day!
      you owe it to yourself to step outside the box.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodissexy

        I was agreeing with what the original poster proposed only as what I see in a lot of peoples homes. I am in the envyable position of working less than fulltime (I am 57 yr old who owns the company) and able to work in the home kitchen 20 or so hours a week. It does take effort, planning and the motivation to do and learn new things outside our comfort zone. I certainly encourage everyone who can, to do so. It is very satisfying....

      2. My cooking style is totally flexible. I usally shop on an almost daily basis for fresh items and buy what is ripe, in season, a good buy. I keep a well stocked pantry. I read cookbooks and articles as standard fare and love a variety of cuisines. So the randomness of what is from the market fresh that day, inspires in many directions.

        But, I was brought up in a "foodie" family, where trying new things was a delight and expected. We always ate local when we travelled. I was never given 'kid's food" nor allowed to dictate what would be served. Heaven forbid that a restaurant be chosen to suit my age or manners; and I was allowed to order my own meal even before I could read. But I was also expected to eat what I ordered. So I guess I was bred and brought up to be flexible .

        2 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          Both sides of my family are EXTREMELY food-obssessed, but no one calls themself a "foodie." Mom's side has had a butcher/market for over 150 years, one of my aunt's has a successful wholesale gourmet food business, mom has been a caterer, personal chef, and now grows organic food. Mom's known for her sushi and homemade phyllo pastries at holidays. Dad's side is the typical italian family that talks about lunch, dinner, and next day's meals right after breakfast. Dad reads lots of cookbooks -persian,afghani,etc. but basically cannot make anything with cream in it, or with a butter base, due to upbringing.
          I have lived in Europe, was brought up in NYC eating dim sum, indian, and korean from an early age. One of my earliest memories from childhood(age 4) is being shooed away from the raw clams on the half shell at my uncle's wedding. So I have been exposed to all manner of delicacies and high quality food - I forgot to mention my dad grew his own meat,vegetables,and fruit in addition to being a professor. But what did your family eat on a daily basis? I'm missing that. The point is, the most common types of meals for me growing up are what formed my cooking style. Forget that I grew up eating better than anyone I know - except you? - no matter what I cook I employ the same style - feel in a rut.

          1. re: fara

            There was no common type of meal on a daily basis, really. While a main ingredient might stay the same, how it was cooked or in what method changed. I am honestly giving this alot of thought and no one style comes to mind.

            In addition, we ran a non-chain fast food place in a busy summer resort, so at least have the year was spent eating meals on the fly ( cold, half eaten for hours). Even there, Mom always tried to have something different on the side for us to grab. Maybe that is where the flexiblity came from. In the face of cooking and serving hamburgers, hot dogs and cheesesteaks over and over for rushed long hours, you want something different to eat yourself?

        2. I seem to be incapable of cooking anything without garlic, onions, and peppers of some type! I really never thought about it, until I read this thread! LOL

          1 Reply
          1. re: jinet12

            My mother's family was French and Italian while my father's were German. My father's side did not play into things much because my my stayed home and cooked while dad worked. The best part is that my sweet mother always had something going on the stove and a treat in the fridge. I guess thats why I have a few pounds to shed.

            We sat down to family dinner every night. My mom's French and Italian background heavily influenced my love and style. Onions, garlic, bell peppers are staples along with a good variety of herbs and spices.

            Very little was kept in the freezer except deer from hunting. My mom would go down the street to the shrimp truck, pick vegetables from the garden or dad would bring home fish ducks or deer. They were very thrifty. Nothing like fresh crawfish tails or shrimp.

            I aspire to master cast iron frying like my mom. There is a true art to shallow pan frying. Hence, my mom and I still cook together on holidays and I do the chopping because she says I am still in training....

            With all this being sad I go to the store almost daily to see what's available and cook with family and friends. It's a social thing to some degree.

          2. I have personal "fads" that I follow - my current one involves putting meat or fish into a seasoned oil bath at room temperature for an hour or two before cooking it, usually by grilling. A while back it was swabbing on a mixture of oil and mustard, then coating with crumbs. A few months ago I was braising and pot-roasting everything I could get my hands on...and now that I'm facing a kinda lean month financially I can see pots of gumbo, beans and chili in the future!

            When I got my new grill pan I used it about three times a week. When I scored my second enamelled iron braising pot I found ways to use both of them for one meal (and the gas bill went down and the electric bill went up!). The gift of a five-quart nonstick sauté pan/pot got me into stovetop sautéeing/braising for the better part of a month (and the gas bill went back up). And then of course there was the time I finally got a gas grill...

            Seasonal ingredients are another big factor. The arrival of summer vegetables in the farmer's markets means a lot more roasted and grilled veggie medleys: last night I chopped up six different kinds of summer squash, two tomatoes and a red onion and roasted them all with oil and herbs to have with grilled chicken, which worked very nicely. The cover's going to stay off the grill for a while, and the salad bowl will probably be getting a good workout as well.

            1. I grew up eating Chinese-style meals and this is still my comfort food. I stir-fry vegetables a lot because I find this the most flavorful way to eat them. But other than that, my cooking style is eclectic. I like bright, intense flavors so I cook a lot of Southeast Asian and Indian dishes, quite different from Mom's home cooking. In summer I turn to Mediterranean recipes for tasty ways to prepare salads and lighter foods. We love to barbecue year-round so smoked meats and fish turn up regularly.

              Periodically I become obsessed with a particular cuisine. I discovered Middle Eastern foods last year and cooked a lot of Turkish, Tunisian and Algerian dishes. And last winter I explored Mexican cooking after discovering how tasty moles can be. When I first had my own kitchen I worked my way through Julia Child's books on French cooking, so I return to these recipes when I'm in the mood for something different from everyday food.

              My cooking isn't uniform at all, it's all over the place. I love new ideas and anything can grab my attention at any time.

              1. My wife claims that most of my recipes start with "peal a head of garlic". That said, my cooking is all over the map. I grew up eating eclectically and try to cook the same. I am guilty of cooking what I like and I tend to like spicy and strongly flavored dishes.

                1. My Mom really didn't cook, my Grandma did but didn't like to, Grandfather liked to entertain and would practically drag strangers in off the sidewalk and throw a london broil on the grill. On the other side, Grandma would make very simple middle American food with a German accent, very tasty, while Grandpa was at work. But Christmas, oh man, the cookies. Enough to plunge an army into a diabetic coma. And the neighborhood day care lady was French, with a wonderful garden and orchard!!! She grew brussels sprouts! She grew gooseberries! In NJ, in the 1970's! She could COOK!

                  With all that, I love to cook, I cook all over the map, Asian too, and am thankful to have a cast iron tummy so spicy, greasy, dairy, etc are no problem. Food, glorious food!

                  1. Interesting question, and I didn't really understand what you meant looking at the title. It hadn't occured to me whether I cook with the same techniques over and over for everyday food. I think I tend to get into a groove at times, but switch things up fairly frequently. I get bored easily and am always trying new recipes, and we eat a lot of ethnic food at home. I do tend towards routines when I'm on a deadline at work--rice cooker grains with a quickly cooked protein and veggie sides, or something along the lines of chikin raisu, oyaku or other donburi style bowls, because they're fast. Thankfully, that's not terribly often!

                    I tend to grill a lot in the hottest part of summer, and will sometimes serve that with noodles or pasta cooked in the morning and left out at room temperature, then sauced right before dinner, Asian style. I make a fair amount of Vietnamese style noodles with herb salad, various meats, and sauces, or wrap them up in salad rolls. Also, main course salads with cold boiled potatoes and grilled meats. So, the really hot parts of summer are definitely more consistent for my family, simply because of the weather.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: amyzan

                      I don't stir-fry well even though I can do quick sautes of pretty much anything. Seems like stir-fry would be the easiest thing in the world to do, but I've never been happy with the final textures of the various ingredients - invariably some are right, some are underdone, some are overdone.

                      That said, I'm pretty comfortable with most other methodologies, although I prefer the stovetop and grill to the oven (I leave turkeys and hams to my wife).

                      I enjoy cross-pollinization of techniques when I think it can add to the dish - e.g. since many of you are talking onions & garlic, the concept of "frying the spices" along with onion/garlic that is used in many Indian regional cuisines also adds tremendous depth to a simple chili.

                      I guess if there's one technique I do use 90% of the time, it's deglazing and reducing the deglazing liquid, whether called for or not in the finished dish... I guess because it makes cleanup so much easier.

                    2. My father was what he proudly proclaimed to be "Pennsylvania Dutch" and was a solid meat and potatoes kind of person. He was also an avid hunter/fisherman so Lots of different meat and potatoes. Potato "flannel" cakes, boiled, mashed, baked, fried. Also lots of eggs.
                      My mother was raised on Cal-Mex, and "one-pan" meals. Lots of fresh greens, tomatoes, peppers, corn and flour tortillas, fresh fruits, and avocado in everything she could add it into.
                      So my early cooking was a hodgepodge of their styles. Then I joined the military and wound up in Korea. I fell in love with the food and the country. Married a young Korean lady who was a fantastic cook (and beautiful as a delightful added bonus).
                      So now I do a lot of ethnic Korean, some Cal Mex, some "meat & potato", but mostly a fusion of everything. Kimchi & spaghetti, bulgogi & mashed potatoes, kimchi & rice omelets, etc.

                      1. I don't have a style, and I really never thought about this until now I have always tried to buy fresh produce, not canned nor frozen and proteins on sale. But I've always loved to cook, so my menu was determined for two weeks out depending on those things and the recipes I could come together with.
                        As for a style of doing things one pot method or frying, no. I always wanted to do something different, and I still do. I've always found that the ability to be creative in the kitchen very appealing and relaxing.
                        I cook what I love to eat, EVERYTHING!

                        1. I tend to be a one pan wonder, but that might have more to do with my (maximum) two-course kitchen than with my actual cooking style.