Cooking Creativity: Four Tips to Start Experimenting in the Kitchen
One of the great things about cooking is that it’s something creative that everyone can do. Even if you can’t paint or sing or play the guitar, you can experiment with new recipes and flavor combinations.
Here are some simple ways to start getting creative in the kitchen:
Tip 1: Try Substitutions
You can easily experiment with recipes by adding, subtracting, and substituting ingredients. It may sound intimidating if you’re used to following a recipe to the letter, but it’s easier that you think. Don’t like peas? Add broccoli instead. Or stir salsa into spaghetti sauce instead of plain diced tomatoes.
If your experimental dish comes out too dry, just add additional liquid, like chicken broth or water, even if it isn’t listed in the recipe. Conversely, if it seems too soupy, just simmer it longer and the extra liquid will evaporate off.
Tip 2: Experiment in Small Doses
Not sure if you like a certain spice? Try scooping a little of what you’re cooking into a separate bowl and then adding a dash of the seasoning to it. That way, if you don’t like how it tastes you haven’t ruined the whole batch.
Tip 3: Seek out New Flavors
Try looking online or in cookbooks for exciting new flavor combinations—venturing outside of your flavor comfort zone is a great creativity motivator. For example, who would have thought that coffee and roast beef would go so well together? Or that an avocado milkshake could be so good? Reading other people’s comments on recipe websites (like allrecipes.com) is a good way to come up with ideas, too.
Tip 4: Take Notes
Let’s face it: the directions listed in some recipes aren’t very clear. If you have to figure out a step the hard way (like, “let the pan cool from high to low heat before adding the cream so it doesn’t burn”) make sure to write it down. Some websites even let you save your notes online.
You’ll feel more confident the next time you go to make the dish. And over time, the more confident you feel, the easier it will be for you to get creative with your recipes.