Sunday, February 3, 2013

Conveying Creative Cooking

I've been trying to think about how to write about my cooking in a way that helps people to approach their own cooking with more flexibility and creativity. Although we all start out following recipes somewhat blindly, as we accumulate more experience--especially if we pay attention to technique and flavor combinations--we become more able to see what threads underlie and connect different recipes. We can see that, oh, carrots take longer to become tender than, say, cabbage, and therefore we want to start sautéing them earlier or parboiling them first in whatever dish we're putting together. Or that browning onions first in this soup develops its flavor and gives the end soup more depth, therefore we might want to try adding some onion-browning before we make this other soup or stew we're playing with.

Just looking at recipes as they are commonly written these days, however, we only get walked through the steps and little of the underlying reasoning and theory. What would be great is if we could have a combination of the two--the steps and the theory. Now, visually, this is difficult to present together on a page; there's just too much information to convey, and maybe you just want to follow the instructions to get food on the table. America's Test Kitchen walks through their testing and technique in long write-ups before they present their final recipes. However, this can be rather cumbersome, and each technique point isn't presented linked to those parts in the recipe.

Ideally, we'd have some kind of interactive recipe where you could click/touch parts to link to more information on technique/theory. But, of course, that would require coding and development skills.

Anyway, first things first: I know I'm no chef, but I'd like to get a clearer idea of how to write about and structure things to better convey the more "theoretical" thinking underlying cooking more creatively. There must exist some writing by real cooks and chefs on this. My question to you is whether you have any recommendations on books/writings to look at. Tom Colicchio's book, Think Like a Chef, looks like an example of something I should take a look at. Any others?


  1. ☾ Good theorizing. I'm no cook book collector myself, but tend to play with/tweak a recipe I like over time until it conveys perfection on a plate - to me at least. ☽

    1. Thanks, Cook. Playing with a recipe over time is a great way to do things, right? And sometimes you end up liking multiple approaches--so I end up tracking variations that I like, too.