One of the most terrifying things about cooking without a recipe is not knowing what goes together. Can I use basil and feta, dill and salami, or oregano and soy sauce? When I watch all my favorite cooking/chef shows, they all seem to have this innate sense of which flavors combine well and which won’t. I do not have this sense. I just follow the recipe and when I don’t like it, I cannot pinpoint what is overpowering, what is lacking or what is just not working well together. This is a skill I want to develop during the next year.
Clearly I need some direction in this area. Direction without a recipe. Fortunately, I think I have found a guide in Kathleen Flinn’s book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks. She lays out “A ‘Cheat Sheet’ to Flavor Profiles” that breaks down ingredients into regional categories. While I am sure that the recipes she gives in the book are fantastic, I cannot be wooed by them. Instead, I will use the cheat sheet to help me mix, match and flavor my food with some sort of order, at least in the beginning. I am hopeful that come June, I will be free of the cheat sheet and will be able to let my taste buds lead the way.
Here’s to a flavorful 2013.