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Monday, August 26, 2013

About my cooking style...

Since I've been in the recipe business for quite awhile now - I wanted to share with you a little insight into my cooking style.

I'm sure you've noticed that I don't write recipes in the traditional manner - ingredient list followed my nice concise instructions... It's just not my style and my brain doesn't think that way.

I like to write my recipes as if you were sitting in my kitchen cooking right along with me - I'm also a huge fan of substitutions and using what you have currently in the fridge.  So maybe you're making a caesar salad and you don't have romaine lettuce - who cares just use that almost wilted spinach you have left over... it still works and you don't have to make a special trip to the store!

Conversational recipes are more like a story than a cold instructional piece... this just seems warmer to me even though sometimes I look back through my recipes because I want to make something and get frustrated because all I need to know is the amount of one ingredient I can't remember - so I get if you find this style frustrating :)  Perhaps in the future I will work better at adding recipe cards to the bottoms of my post.

Being able to cook from what you have is something important to me and I love looking at recipes and seeing how I can tweak them number one to make them gluten free and number two how to make them fit with what I have or what I like.  This is a skill that takes time to develop - I have no real culinary training except many years spent taking 4-H cooking classes at the county extension office and taking family and consumer science classes (home-ec) in high school.  I always loved our cooking labs in FCS because each team (we had four kitchen set ups) would make a recipe - for instance: pudding - but would alter the recipe so we could learn how different ingredients and techniques affected the outcome.  One group might use whole milk, another skim milk, another group might only cook the pudding for a shorter time, and the other group would use cornstarch as a thickener.  Then we all got to taste each batch and see the science behind cooking - these are skills I will never forget!

Also if you're reading this blog and don't happen to be gluten free - all my recipes use gluten free flour cup for cup regular flour - so you can easily transition them back to a glutonous delight.  You can also always add meat to the recipes or change which meat I used - ground beef for chicken or turkey... really you can sub anything.

I have many many recipes that I create that don't turn out - I end up eating a couple bites and thinking wow - I really missed the mark here and that's ok!  Not every recipe has to be cookbook presentable - just try to think through what maybe could be changed and don't be afraid to try the recipe again!  I made an indian spiced rice and it tasted terrible - well not terrible it just didn't have ANY flavor, so now I know I need to up my spice level and try it again because the idea of the recipe was great.

Cooking is flexible, substitutable, and forgiving - baking however is science.  That's the only time where I really measure correctly and follow instructions.  It's even more crucial when baking gluten free because you're relying on other ingredients for structure since you don't have the gluten protein in the flour.  I will admit, I'm a bit lazy when it comes to gluten free baking because I hate hate hate mixing gluten free flours (which are super expensive) and I have used Domata Flour for years.  Domata Flour is already pre-mixed and includes the appropriate ratio of xantham gum as well as a balance of brown rice flours, tapioca flour, and some other things.  I love Domata Flour because you can use it cup for cup in any existing recipe you have.  After baking with it for years, I've definitely discovered some of the negatives (well not negative but undesirable effects) this flour can have and I've considered trying other flours whether I try another mix or mix the flours myself.  Someday.  This is really on necessary when you're looking for a specific texture and it would help to have a different ratio of flours.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy my recipes and they give you the confidence to try gluten free cooking and baking yourself.  I usually try my recipes at least twice before I post them - but feel free to call me out on any mistakes or let me know if a recipe turns out terrible for you!  I'm more than happy to offer suggestions! -and of course fix my mistakes!!

Happy Cooking!

Always, J