Skip to content

The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Recipe Following

I cooked Chicken Indienne using the recipe in a  different way than I usually do. Usually, I take plastic sleeve with the recipe out of my recipe notebook, (see: Meal Plan 101) prop it up on the toaster and follow it, line by line, while I’m cooking.

This time, I read the recipe before I cooked it and closed the notebook. My intention was to learn how to make it without having to refer to the recipe. It’s a recipe of my mother-in-law’s and I really like certain things about it. For instance, she gives nice proportions for flour, salt & pepper when dredging and browning the chicken. Reading it to memorize it made me read the recipe differently. It allowed me to make a mental note of the order in which she does the obvious stuff (brown chicken, saute onions, add spices, chicken stock & cream), and to focus on memorizing the few measurements I wanted to get right: salt, pepper, curry, candied ginger. I’m pretty sure I could make the whole recipe next time without looking.

By all accounts this was my best batch ever of Chicken Indienne. I don’t think it was a coincidence. I think I have finally learned to pay attention while cooking in a way that takes advantage of all my senses and does not rely solely on sight: ie, my ability to see a recipe.

Now the pilaf recipe, on the other hand, came out of the notebook while I was cooking. This is a Cooks Illustrated Rice Pilaf recipe that is so delicious and so absolutely reliable that I wasn’t going to do any guessing. However, I think I could memorize it too and I did, at least, perform the multi-step process with more ease than is customary.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tonight I did something I’ve always wanted to do: I made homemade croutons from stale bread. Really stale bread. As in, I have a blister from sawing through it.

I’ve had a recipe for croutons in my recipe notebook for a long time and I’m proud to say that I followed it as a guide, not gospel. The great thing is that the bread cooks at the same temperature as the chips we make, 375°. I can remember that and won’t need to refer to the recipe again.

To make the croutons I cut the bread into squares, put them in a bowl and added olive oil & spices: salt, pepper, oregano, marjoram and garlic salt. Then I baked them on parchment, for just over 15 minutes, stirring half way through. Using up stale bread appeals to the obsessive side of me that hates to throw anything away. I’m thinking of saving the leftover croutons in the freezer to use with the leftover onion soup…

Tags: , , ,