Barry and I went to Red Hook, NY yesterday in the quest for apple deliciousness. There are a number of farms along Route 9 and we chose one called Mead Orchards http://www.meadorchards.com/ in a little town called Tivoli, NY. It was charming and we came away with a half bushel of big beautiful Rome apples. And so last evening began my quest for ideas.
As you can see if you have read my posts before, I am not a stickler for recipes. When I bake, yes! I am more comfortable and more successful with cooking. When I cook, I function loosely on recipes, then tweak for my (our) tastes. Then I add a little, taste a little and end up with great flavors.
So here is how it happens. . .
I search online for recipes I might be interested in. For apples, I will literally search “apple recipes” first. What I found was a number of yummy ideas. So I have those ideas saved. Among the ideas are fried apples (with a pork or chicken dinner ~ delicious!), apple pie (of course), apple crisp, apple cobbler, and the first dessert, I believe, a rustic apple pie.
I found Ree Drummond’s http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/flat-apple-pie-with-perfect-pie-crust-recipe/index.html and I love her ideas in general because she is about simplicity and good flavor. I found other “rustic apple pies” and read the recipes, but hers had a great basic recipe that I could adapt to Barry’s tastes easily.
My first change is, of course, the apples. Barry doesn’t like the granny smiths because they are too tart. Romes will make everything the way he likes it. And I am really no good at pastry so I will buy ready made pie crust as a back up just in case I am unsuccessful with the “perfect pie crust.” I may also add a touch of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg for extra flavor, and just to send it over the top for Barry, this rustic pie may have some chopped walnuts. I also have to be careful with lemon. I used it in a pie last year and he didn’t like the noticeable flavor of lemon, so I am on a quest for an apple pie without it this year!
As I go through the other ideas, I may not make the recipe I found first, but will go back to my list of ideas, and with this big box of apples ~ I will make them all! I will probably make a crisp or a cobbler next. Why? Because those are desserts I can make and take more liberties. I can add and substitute even more flavors. And measuring does not need to be so precise.
I do not make those changes in the kitchen though! I read many recipes and decide upon changes in advance. Ordinarily, I will take a recipe that I am fairly happy with, save it to a document in my computer and make the changes I want in the document. When I am ready to bake, I print a copy on draft (save anywhere you can). I do this because inevitably I get oil, butter, and flour on it! LOL! This way I can just throw it away when I am finished.
When it comes to savory I take more liberty with what I find. For example, I am making sausage and peppers for friends this weekend. I am not a huge fan of sausage, but they are so I am indulging. I have both hot and sweet peppers and set out to look for a recipe to my liking, but also one that I thought would be familiar to them ~ because you eat with your eyes first ~ and suit their tastes.
I started by searching for “sausage and pepper recipes” There were too many to look through! I read about 2 dozen recipes. The first thing I found that surprised me is that some of the recipes had a tomato based sauce and some did not. That was the first choice and I decided that tomato sauce was a must. I also wanted onions as a predominate ingredient with the peppers. So now I changed my search to “sausage, peppers and onions in tomato sauce recipe.” This eliminated the other option and I could read only the ones I was interested in making.
I am going to start with Giada’s recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/sausage-peppers-and-onions-recipe/index.html, but right off the bat, I am not making sandwiches. This will be served in a large pot with dinner rolls. It will be a hot meal that can be put on a plate, or in a bowl, and eaten with the bread or not.
What I like in the recipe is the list of flavors she chose to use. First off, I am not using turkey sausage this time. (Though for just us, I would try that.) I have both hot and sweet pork sausage. And I am not a huge fan of Marsala wine so I will use a red wine, a pino noir. I really like the flavors she has chosen otherwise so for me I am going to have the list of flavors for a guide, but I will use amounts that I like and not measure. And as always I will add a little, taste a little . . .
Later in the week when I make the sausage, peppers, and onions, I will talk about it here. For now I was interested in talking to you about how I search, read, revise, and chose the recipe that works for me.
Pick a food and try this method for yourself. You will be delighted at the possibilities. And I promise you will make a perfect meal, because you are tailoring it to your own palate.
Go have some fun! Enjoy!