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The Secret To Cooking Without A Recipe

confused_recipe_smallDo you feel intimidated by the idea of cooking without recipes?

Don’t worry you are not alone!

Last week I encouraged you to take baby steps with your home cooking. Here’s an easy first step for you:

Learn how to make one simple dish from memory

This is a fabulous way to start. It doesn’t matter what dish you choose so long as you enjoy the finished product. A pasta dish, a soup, a stir-fry, a salad, a risotto, a curry, whatever you like – just make it over and over until you can do it by heart.

Knowing how to make one dish beautifully is a tremendous confidence booster, being good at something feels good.

You can get to the point where you are an absolute master at one basic weeknight supper within a few tries, and at that point, you’ll get a taste of how awesome it feels to be able to dance through the preparation sans effort.

Once you have one dish down then you can tweak it to create an infinite number of dishes. Say you master mushroom risotto, using the exact same technique but simply changing the stock and add-ins its now very easy now to make an asparagus and parmesan risotto, butternut squash and sage risotto, spinach and goats cheese risotto, sausage and red wine risotto, you get the idea.

Most classic dishes can be tweaked in this way. In my Zero to Cook course I give students recipe formulas to help them to easily create dozens of different dishes using the same basic technique.

Once you have mastered one dish you can then move on to another and slowly build up your repertoire.

Meal planning becomes a cinch because you can designate days of the week to types of dish, for instance stir fries on Mondays, pasta on Tuesday, risotto on Wednesday, curry of Thursday and Friday is pizza night where everyone makes their own topping.

I challenge you to commit to learning one new dish this week.

If you need inspiration start with my creamy leek and potato soup.

leek and potato soup

Once you’ve mastered this simple soup recipe you can substitute the leeks for another onion-y vegetable, such as scallions, shallots or onions, and substitute the potatoes for another vegetable.

The possibilities are endless, just use whatever you have on hand, carrots, butternut squash, turnips, beetroot, it doesn’t have to be a root vegetable hardy greens like kale and chard also work well.

Spice it up with herbs and spices, add proteins such as lentils and beans if you want to make it a main course, and make it even heartier by adding grains (barley, farro, spelt, and brown rice all work well).

Allow yourself the freedom to be creative and experiment.

What simple dish are you going to learn? Post your commitment in the comments so that we can give you encouragement and accountability



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