Finding Inspiration and making the leap from good to great.

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Joined Mar 5, 2017
Hi guys,

I'm an avid cooker at home. I LOVE cooking awesome dishes and trying new culinary techniques and flavors. My issue is, it's beginning to take longer and longer to find a recipe online I want to make, or even a genre of food I want to research. I know I'm good, from my palette to my technique. I'd even use the word "great", but I think that's more my ego talking. I'll put it this way, on the rare occasion I go out to a nice restaurant ($50-$60 a plate) I usually finish the dish and think to myself, that was good but I can do it better or at least just as good. I feel like I've hit a ceiling (hopefully a glass one).

Is there some treasure trove of recipes professionals go to look at? I think my next step is fusion foods but aside from experimenting all day in the kitchen, which I don't have the time or budget to do, I'm not sure how to dip my toes into that world. I'm continuously watching food shows such as ATK, Good Eats and others to get better but find them beginning to lack in education.

Like, what's something new I can do with boneless, skinless chicken breast? It's the Ford Taurus of the food world, but is quite ubiquitous and can be used in ANY genre of food, but I feel like I've tried them all. Of course I haven't, I'm just stuck with what the internet has to offer me. All the recipes online just seem too similar to something I've made before or IS something I've made before.

Thanks,

Mitch
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
Welcome to Cheftalk.  Searching the web can be tedious.  Most sites are advertising and paying to be at the top of the list.  On this site if you go to recipes and ask for ideas you will get some.  Try ask for an ingredient, method, of region.  With chicken what sauce can you use?  What sides?  good luck
 
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Try researching traditional cuisine and cooking techniques from different parts of the world.  Indian and Pakistani foods are a great source of inspiration for me.  Not so much because they are exotic to the American pallet, rather, they encourage me to think outside of the box as far as cooking techniques and the use of herbs and seasonings.  But, that is just my method whenever I get into a creative rut.  In doing this, I have developed many excellent ideas that I have turned into recipes along with the occasional not so great ideas I would rather not talk about.  Lol!  Even if the dish inspires some new combination of herbs or seasoning that I would never have thought of on my own, it is time well spent. 

Good luck. 
 
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Unfortunately boneless skinless chicken breast is a fairly american invention.  The rest of the world uses the rest of the bird and the breast is usually the last pick.  There are countless of good and great and amazing dishes that can be made with a whole bird or even just legs and thighs which are the preferred culinary treat.  Maybe your time with BSBs is done and you need to venture out to tastier parts of the bird.  

As far as online sources I'm quite happy with tastespotting.com.  It is a compilation of food blogs from all over the world.  I plug in an ingredient into the search bar and it gives me page after page of interesting dishes from across the globe.  Beautiful pictures too.  

Some home cooks challenge themselves by cooking through a cook book.  I find myself doing that with my latest favorite books Plenty and Plenty More by Ottolenghi and in the past I did it with all of Jamie Oliver's books.  Pick a book that will challenge you and inspire you..
 

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
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I suggest hitting more technique focused books. 

Pepin's New Complete Tehcniques

Peterson's Essentials of Cooking  This is more simplistic than the others, but gives good simple basic techniques. 

Gisslen's The Chef's Art

These books have some recipes, but it is much more about understanding how to do something. You sound like you're at a point where you can step free of recipes by improving your understanding of not just how, but why. 

Deeper understanding of what happens in cooking.

McGee's On Food and Cooking   This is the book Alton Brown and ATK use to give their explanations. 

Corriher Cookwise and Bakewise. I think her recipes are  poor, but there is plenty of useful explanation. 

And if budget is no object 

Modernist Cuisine
 

norcalbaker59

Banned
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Joined Feb 16, 2017
Do you have a culinary school in your area? A lot of them offer classes and workshops for the home cooks. You learn technique and get the opportunity to work in a commercial kitchen. Most schools will convert recipes to the home cook. Over the past 20 yrs I've participated in everything from one day classes to 5 day workshops.

Some retail outlets offer classes too. But I found chefs who teach at places like William Sonoma and Sur La Table copy recipes from sources like Bon Appetit. A cake class I took at Sur La Table used and handed out recipes straight out of The Cake Bible. I think they do it because the recipes are already scaled for the home cook.

Also consider networking with other cooks and baker's in your area. I joined both cooking and baking groups through Meet Up. The baking group I belong to is a mix of amateur and pros, so the professionals bring a lot of knowledge to the table; the amateurs a lot of enthusiasm. Nice way to meet people too.
 
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