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Recipe Development: Techniques


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#1 Ericpo

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

I've been coming up with new recipes virtually since I could balance on a chair in my mother's kitchen so as to reach the counter. They run the gamut from adding an uncalled-for ingredient, to entire recipes from a random idea. I love new recipes, flavors, combinations of diverse ingredients...and from my short time on eG, so do most of you!

My question is this: When you are developing a dish, what are the best techniques you have come up with?

Do you always start with one ingredient and go from there? Cook a recipe exactly as stated, and only after experiment with it? Look at color? Do you write everything down as you go, or simply rely on memory? Do you open your fridge and say, "what is about to spoil?" (I do this constantly :wacko: )

Anything that has to do with HOW to develop recipes would be my hope for this discussion. Individual examples are OK, but the technique is what I want to know!
Do or do not. There is no try.
-Yoda

#2 Baselerd

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:57 PM

Starting a dish from scratch with no recipe, I usually will take inspiration from other dishes or popular combinations. For example, goat cheese and walnuts. Then I'll pick a few other veggies or major flavors to go with, making sure they each go well with one another. If in doubt, take a bite containing the combination in question and see how it works. For the cheese and nuts I might choose to have some figs and red sorrel, dressed with lemon vinaigrette. All these flavors work well with one another, so it's a start. Don't know if red sorrel and goat cheese go together? Smear some cheese on a sorrel leaf and taste it. This is where it helps to have some experience and familiarity with a wide range of ingredients.

Then I'll look at the ingredients and balance the textures - I like a bit of crunchiness and "squish-iness" in a single plate, so I'll choose how to prepare each component. For this, it's generally recalling techniques from your experience. Candied walnuts provide a nice crunch, and a fig puree or fluid gel would provide a nice soft squishy component. Next, balance the flavors - especially salt and sweet/sour (I'm sure I'm missing something...). For the goat cheese example, I could add some balsamic vinegar to the fig puree for a boost in the sour department, etc. At the end, I like to throw in raw or "natural" ingredients that tie back to any flavors used in the sauces (mainly for garnish, but also to make the dish more substantial). For this, I might throw a few sliced figs into the mix to accompany the fig puree (as well as some nice chevre).

Usually by this point the recipe is done. Next you cross your fingers and hope for the best...

Edited by Baselerd, 23 January 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#3 Twyst

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:05 PM

My question is this: When you are developing a dish, what are the best techniques you have come up with?

lately Ive been going to the market, picking out an awesome central ingredient for a dish, and then using the flavor bible to put together a dish. Cant speak highly enough about that book, it suggests flavor profiles Id have never thought of etc.

Edited by Twyst, 23 January 2013 - 05:06 PM.


#4 Ericpo

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:39 PM

Totally. One of my most referenced books, by far!
Do or do not. There is no try.
-Yoda

#5 Ericpo

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

Baselerd, you have described one of my favorite ways of starting from scratch. Going through that much, you often come up with an excellent recipe. But not neccessarily an Epic recipe. At the stage where it is good, but you feel it could be better, what then?

Personally, I look at what I have completed, then ask "what is it lacking". Tecture? Color? Contrasting flavors? Presentation?

This is a part of my process, but I am always interested to hear others tricks.

Also, during development, how is one to document what goes in to a recipe? I have tried writing things down as I go, but the act of documentation seems to stifle my creativity. Does anyone else experience this?
Do or do not. There is no try.
-Yoda

#6 Shalmanese

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:42 AM

I'm a bit unusual in that I have Synesthesia. Numbers are colors for me and flavors are shapes. When I'm developing a recipe, I'm mentally composing a picture in my head and adding or subtracting elements until I get what looks like a "harmonious" whole. This makes it really easy to improvise recipes from a disparate set of ingredients.
PS: I am a guy.

#7 ninagluck

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:11 AM

http://blog.foodpair...category/smoke/

check out that site! even being just registered as a light user, you do get a lot of information!

#8 Smithy

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:24 AM

Also, during development, how is one to document what goes in to a recipe? I have tried writing things down as I go, but the act of documentation seems to stifle my creativity. Does anyone else experience this?

I find it very difficult to document as I go, unless there's a period when something simmers, rests, or otherwise gives me some down time. Otherwise I have to wait until I'm done, then write it down to the best of my knowledge, then write impressions and suggestions for change the next time around. My husband has a good palate and often has suggestions for additions or changes. Since our flavor profile preferences are slightly different (he'll add sweet, I'll add sour) we end up with a pretty good balance.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown


#9 Ericpo

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:29 PM

Lots of cool ideas on this thread!

Shalmanese, I understand Synthesia, at least in a small way....I do the same thing with numbers, colors and letters...although not in any diagnosed way.
What does the finished picture look like to you? I know that's rather personal, but I appreciate whatever you are willing to share.
Do or do not. There is no try.
-Yoda

#10 Shalmanese

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:40 PM

Shalmanese, I understand Synthesia, at least in a small way....I do the same thing with numbers, colors and letters...although not in any diagnosed way.
What does the finished picture look like to you? I know that's rather personal, but I appreciate whatever you are willing to share.


When I'm conceiving of a dish, I can "arrange" certain flavor combinations in my head and see what they look like. Acidic flavors are sharp, buttery flavors are smooth, sweet flavors are round, earthy flavors are rusty/dirty etc. Once I have the flavors in my head, I can see if they're aesthetically pleasing or not and can add or subtract flavors until I get something I like.

When I'm tasting a dish, I can see the "shape" that taste makes. Then, I can either pull or hammer the shape until it looks better and, using that, I know how to adjust the dish.
PS: I am a guy.

#11 rumball

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:10 PM

i get inspired in spurts: from tasting smth new in the restaurant (usually a higher-end gourmet one) or reading/watching tv (again usually top chefs or indepth foodie programs, iron chef comes to mind). when i want to duplicate smth i try to find several recipes that appeal to me. i tend to read thru lots of recipes/books/online blogs. but mostly i will cook smth that is not too labor intensive.

i often combine several recipes into one. i tend to be very eclectic with mixing various ethnic spices from all over the world, which some people find 'not appropriate'. to me the only thing not appropriate is when it does not taste great. the more products you tasted/experimented with, the better you understand what goes together or not.

and yes i document - if you want to repeat it , you need to measure spices/condiments. when you have like 10 ingredients in some asian sauce - it's very hard to duplicate the taste unless you measure exactly. that is not to say i don't change sauces, but it's ... add this, then that, then a pinch more... and afterwards i write it down right away. even on a piece of paper, but eventually it goes into my computer food-files. and you need a good pantry with lots of spices/vinegars/sauces/etc.

often i find that in traditional ethnic cousines cooking is very rigid and heavy. so i have to adapt it to my tastes: light, lots of fresh produce, lots of strong tastes, lots of various condiments, spices, salads, low on protein,etc. sort of california type of cooking the way i think about it. so i take a recipe for a stew and turn it into a soup or even salad. salad as being mostly greens fruit/veggie combo but some veggies can be cooked/grilled/baked + some prote/nuts/cheese and dressing.

 actually i turn pretty much everything into a salad. like take chinese 'gai choy' - it's sort of a cabbagy mustardy green that chinese always wok. i use it as salad greens -it is  much better then mustard greens. and it's not a chinese salad either: baked mexican calabasa with goat cheese prosciutto and walnuts, dressed with old balsamico or pomegranate molasses and EVOO. so it's asian-italian-mex-cali? if i have them, i add chinese garlic chives, else just scallions. since i can't always get gai choy, i do watercress half the time, which is the only subs that combines in a similar way. it took probably 6 tries before everything settled to my taste.