I have heard many times that there is no such thing as a bad cook, only bad recipes. I remember when I went off to Le Cordon Bleu. There was a lot of fear that I wasn’t a good cook. How was I going to survive in that environment? Hint…I went down the pastry path.
Not that it is easier, but it worked with my math mind and need for precise and accurate measurements. But during all that time, I learned to not be afraid in the kitchen. I can whip out any mother sauce now with the best of them! It’s amazing how cooking everyday boosts your confidence. Once I learned the basic techniques, then came the creativity and imagination to improvise and add onto the recipe. That’s where the love comes in.
Off to America’s Test Kitchen
After culinary school I headed to Boston to work with America’s Test Kitchen. Here is where I learned the painstaking process of working with horrible recipes. But it all made sense. How do you improve on something and make it the best it can be without knowing what is wrong with other recipes out there.
The Recipe Testing Process
So to this day when we create recipes I still follow the America’s Test Kitchen way of doing things. I start with 5-10 recipes of what I’m looking to create.
I cook all of them, exactly as stated in the recipe, even if I know it is wrong. I round up the taste testers and we decide what is good and what is bad about the recipe. Then my goal is to take all the good things from those 5-10 recipes and create a brand new fabulous one.
Practice Makes Progress
After all these years I’m getting pretty good at just looking at a recipe and knowing something is going to go wrong with it. Or that it is just poorly written and the average cook won’t be able to figure out what they are talking about. Or a huge pet peeve is when an ingredient is listed, but it is nowhere to be found in the directions! Ugh, yes that happens, and it happens a lot!
This week we are in the process of testing and creating a bunch of recipes for boozy desserts. This is where we started. Following a really bad, horribly tasting recipe that is really kind of ugly for popsicles. More to come as we are headed back out to the grocery store to improve on what we have already started with.
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