Thousands of cookbooks, millions of recipes, so many ideas. But to cook, to really cook, I want you to move beyond following a formula. If you constantly have to go back to the book to check if you put in the right amount of this or that, that’s fine if you’re just getting started. In pastry especially, it is important to follow recipes closely.
In savory cooking, you have a lot more leeway to interpret things as you like. A 1/4 teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon of thyme? More wine or less? These are the judgment calls I’m going to ask you to make. Please don’t slavishly adhere to my ingredient amounts, because if you do so, you’ll never make the food your own!
Always taste your food as you go along, and if you think it needs more or less salt or pepper, go ahead! I’ll never tell you how much salt or pepper to use, especially not those. But if you like your dish with more garlic, with less garlic, or some more of this or less of that, go ahead and try it out. You learn by making mistakes, and we’re here to give you guidelines, parameters, within which you can work. If you stick close enough, it will be hard to ruin a dish, but easy enough to put your own spin on it.
Once you’ve mastered some basic techniques like sautéing, braising, roasting, and grilling, it’s easy to start to play with common flavor combinations, and that’s what is going to make each and every dish your dish!