Recipe Should it Stay or Go?
New to cooking about a year, starting to collect a lot of recipes that I like. Putting them in catagories but one question I have is what do you guys do with similar recipes?
For example,lets say you have about 3 or 4 pot roast recipes you like, one with wine, one with a friends, one cooked slighly different. Now suppose they are all equally good in different ways but you dont like pot roast that much. Maybe at most you will make it once or twice a year.
What is your thought process or criteria on what should stay and what should go?
Trying to avoid 1000 recipes syndrome to no more then 365 total or days in a year.
Yes, if you're only making pot roast a few times a year, and don't like it that much, the thing to do is get the technique for making pot roast down, then you can riff on it anyway you want. No need to keep recipes around for things made infrequently or not enjoyed much. Technique is more the name of the game, when the mood strikes.
But there are dozens (hundreds?) of ways to cook a slab of meat in a pot. A French daube, an American pot roast, and Chinese red cooked pork come to mind. I haven't made red cooked pork for a few years now, but if I were asked to bring a meat dish to a picnic, it's something I might consider. Do I remember all the things that have to go in? Nope, not after making it for so long a time, so I rely on grabbing a cookbook off the bookshelf.
We have a couple of shelves of cookbooks at home, a cover holding hand written recipes, and my wife has been intermittently putting them on the computer. (And geez, with storage so cheap now, why not store 1,000 recipes? They'd probably fit on your iPhone.) If it's something I remotely like, I want to keep the recipe around, even if I don't make it all that often.
But I do agree with your basic point about riffing. Sometimes I throw in canned tomatoes and load it with basil and tarragon; other times it's wine and spuds, still others it's broth and root vegetables. I rarely measure any more; you get a feel for what amount of spice and liquid looks about right.
Then again, I like pot roast. .
Sure, hundreds of ingredient possibilites, but the braising technique is pretty much the same across the board. For someone who just makes a particular dish once or twice a year, why not get a basic one in your head to start with and expand from there. When you just start out in cooking, building strong technique is everything. Recipe variations will come later.
I agree, I have massive recipe files and lots of cookbooks, "just in case" I think of something specific I want to cook. I like to cook and eat just about everything, so I need all those books and files for reference. Sometimes I think it's futile, I'll never get to all those recipes in a lifetime, but can't bear to throw them out.
Most days I just riff, though, or do my favorites, striving for as little repetition as possible.
If the recipes are only slightly different, I keep the one I like the best and add footnotes listing any variation in ingredient9s) and/or process, and what the results may be.
Then, sometimes you want diffenent recipes. I have at least ten variations on your simple basic chocolate cake; some call for sour cream, some call for mayo, some call for dutch process cocoa, some for chopped unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate. I keep them all because when I need to make a cake, sometimes I'm out of sour cream and need the mayo recipe, or I want to make a sheet cake or cupcakes vs. 2-layer 9". Or sometimes I need a dairy- or nut-free recipe, in which case, I have all my options covered. (Obviously, if I'm not happy with the results of ANY recipe, I ditch it).
Thanks, I guess I am getting hung up on specifics. Which kind of leads me to another question. I have tried combining recipes and methods with some success. I usually make a note Inspired by, or adaped from but at what point do you call it your own?
I know Tyler Florence or Ina Garten didnt invent pot roast, yet thier minor twists seem to be enough to call it that. If I am referencing 3 recipes into one, it starts to get a little long. I am just thinking in terms of if I ever hand down or share the recipe. Not writing a book.
I know you are trying to avoid collecting 1000 recipes, but in my experience that is kind of part of the process! :) I agree with others that you can combine, or just save two and jot down variations, etc.
When I started cooking I saved wayyyy to many recipes but weeding them down was part of my education- with time you compare and contrast and eventually it gets easier and you dont even have to reference them too much.
Have fun and get spontaneous as soon as possible to keep it all from getting too rigid.
I don't really cook from recipes anymore; I rely more on technique, but I do still read cookbooks for ideas and tend to combine recipes; that is, I use ingredient suggestions from a few different recipes to come up with my own version, via trial and error, mostly just trial.
Perhaps you can do a similar weeding out. Get your list down to two favorites, say, of pot roast, that you've developed, culled from four variations on the theme, that are specifically yours.
I usually try them all and pick the best one to keep. Sometimes I add a short remark at the bottom of the recipe to include a variation of that recipe. Like say, substitute wine for broth. Most recipes of the same thing have basic ingredients as does with pot roast.
At some point in time you will remember how to do it by memory and make your own variation.