Inspirational Cooking

farm-stand-2Lots of things inspire me.  Particularly with food.  This is exactly why my grocery lists are very vague.  I do not decide what I’m going to cook for the week until I get to the farmers market or grocery store.  I see what looks good–what inspires me.  This also helps me to cook seasonally, using ingredients that are at their peak at any given time.

Sometimes I’ll see an ingredient and it reminds me of a particular recipe…either one of my standby recipes or perhaps one I read somewhere.  But other times I’ll see something and my head will be flooded with ideas of what new things I could do with that particular ingredient.  This concept was the basis for a class I recently took at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.  “Advanced Recipe Research and Development” was a class I’d been waiting to take for over a year, because I wanted to take it from a particular teacher I admired very much.  Although I had to trek myself into the city on a weeknight and knew I wouldn’t get home until close to midnight, it was well worth the trouble.  The class proved to be everything I’d hoped it to be.  We discussed the process of recipe development and writing before being given our “challenges” for the evening.

Our first challenge was to come up with a recipe to pitch to an editor of a magazine we selected out of a hat.  My piece of paper said “Vogue Travel and Entertaining”.  Considering this is not a magazine I read, I had to ask for some hints as to who my audience would be.  “Wealthy, well-travelled people who are really into food” was the description, and I was to create an “apres ski” snack recipe for a story about a group of friends gathering at their fabulous chalet in the Alps.  A million things went through my head.  I wanted the recipe to be something warm and satisfying after a vigorous day of skiing, but it also needed to have some cache.  Buffalo Chicken Dip wasn’t going to cut it with this crowd (although I’d take it in a New York minute).  I decided to write a recipe for an Herbed Wild Mushroom Loaf which would be sliced up and served warm.  I incorporated fresh thyme both into the homemade dough and the wild mushroom filling, and created it so it could be completely assembled ahead of time and simply popped into the oven after a day of skiing.  Since we were just writing the recipes for that first exercise, I haven’t actually tested it, but will post the recipe as soon as I do.

The next challenge was to look through a selection of ingredients provided to us, and to create a recipe using those ingredients for an audience of our choosing.  Well, I chose YOU.  My blog audience.  An audience of people who love food, love cooking, but do not necessarily have the time to spend all day in the kitchen.  Stay tuned for that recipe next time….but I’ll give you a hint….it is simple, extremely healthy, colorful, and not just your average weeknight meal (although it cooks up in a flash).  Hopefully you’ll be as inspired to make it as I was to create it!

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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