Cooking To Taste With Beyond My Recipes

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crostini trio

When I prepare a dish, my key ingredient is creativity. In my opinion, limiting yourself to a list of instructions is not always necessary.  My philosophy is simple: cook a dish the way YOU think it should be prepared, with ingredients that you love. The idea of leaving the recipe book behind is an older approach to cooking, an approach I learned from my parents and grandparents.

I was first introduced to this philosophy when I was 7. The first dish I ever made on my own was egg salad. My mom gave me the mayonnaise and spices, showed me how to peel an egg, and the rest was up to me.  I asked: “How do I know how much to put of each ingredient?” Her response sounded somewhat obvious: “Add a little at a time and keep tasting until you think it tastes right.” Simple, right? Well, 19 tasting spoons later I finally got it to taste flavorful. Now I make the same egg salad and only need one spoon to taste it- the “measurements” (in this case, how many times I shake a spice, and how many spoons of mayo I add) are almost second nature to me.

Everything I cook is “to taste”--that’s why I’m not a baker.  This might seem difficult to some people if they are beginners in the kitchen. You might not get it to taste the way you want the first time but learning from your mistakes will only make you a better and more confident cook!

Wise words my dad (and one of my teachers) loves repeating: “Don’t be discouraged if the first time you cook something it doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to; the second time around it will taste better (but not as good as the third!)”

Crostini Trio

Crostinis are one of my favorite appetizers. Crostinis should not be confused with bruschetta which is also made with bread, rubbed with garlic and olive oil, and is usually topped with tomato and basil. Crostinis are generally made with smaller pieces of bread that are toasted in the oven, while bruschetta is toasted over a grill and is charred. Both can be topped with your favorite toppings. Feel free to turn my crostini recipe into bruschetta!

grilled chicken and arugula pizza

Nothing says summer like a grilled pizza. I loved using my barbeque this summer, I used it any chance I could. Grilling the pizza dough on the que gives the pizza a sturdy crust, with a soft center. Don’t be afraid to create your own pie with unusual toppings!

Grilled Chicken and Arugula Pizza

Grilled Pizza with Eggplant and Chopped Meat

Grilled Dessert Pizza with Chocolate Spread and Bananas

quinoa stuffed grape leaves

Quinoa Stuffed Grape Leaves

The idea for this recipe came to me while lunching by my mother in law one Saturday afternoon. She was serving a dairy lunch with many delicious salads, one of which was a quinoa salad with artichokes, mint, and corn. As I was eating the quinoa salad I couldn’t help but notice how familiar it tasted, then an idea occurred to me- This quinoa salad tastes like something I would find in a stuffed grape leaf!  After tasting the quinoa the ideas just flew in my head, why not stuff grape leaves with something other than rice!

My method of no measurements is supposed to inspire the cook to toss out the recipe book and think on your own! What kind of mixture would you use to stuff a grape leaf?

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