In The Improvisational Cook, Sally Schneider helps home cooks declare their independence from recipes and set lists of ingredients and offers an invitation to a fun, more spontaneous way to cook with whatever is on hand. But how do you become an improvisational cook? Once you understand how a basic technique or a recipe works, you can then begin to improvise. Start with one of The Improvisational Cook's essential recipes, such as Caramelized Onions. A special "Understanding" section follows, explaining the internal "logic" of the recipe and its creative possibilities. With that in mind, a savory onion jam; a real onion dip; a quick bruschetta topped with the onions, anchovies, and olives; or a rustic onion soup with dried porcini mushrooms is just a step or two beyond. Sally's notated improvisations illustrate simple, clever approaches and can be followed as is or used as a jumping-off point. The possibilities are endless. Slow-roast fish at 300 degrees, along with some cherry tomatoes and olives for a sauce. Prepare a savory lemon jam to go with lamb or veal chops, or turn it into a cake filling. Roast a whole lobster instead of a fish in a salt crust. Add minced rosemary or Earl Grey tea to butter cookie dough. Turn a brownie batter into an elegant pepper-scented chocolate cake. Sally gives you the know-how to embellish, adapt, change, alter, modify, and experiment in your cooking with plenty of encouragement and helpful information -- the tools and insights you need to find your own voice and cook improvi-sationally. These include an exploration of the "inside" of improvisation -- the creative mind-set, where to find inspiration, how to deal with the unexpected, practical approaches to learning "what goes with what," including a chart of classic flavor affinities, and tips on organizing your kitchen to make improvising easier, from long-keeping pantry staples to makeshift tools. Using The Improvisational Cook, you'll discover a way of cooking that's fun, unfussy, and truly pleasurable. Everyday cooking can become creative every day.