I am not a cook, and I am not even very experienced in cooking and preparing food, but I love food! And on some rare occasions that I did cook, (well, actually not that rare), due to lack of mentors (I was mostly on my own, just wanting to prepare something to eat), I was forced to experiment and try different things. And my experience was mostly positive. So, my message is… don’t be afraid to deviate from established recipes and to add some of your own new ideas into your cooking. Most of the time the result will not be horrible, and sometimes it will be more than satisfactory. Of course, that’s under assumption that your ideas have at least some reasoning behind it… as not all random ideas will be good.
Anyway, here are some of my episodes of food experimentation. Some were great, some not that much, but they will illustrate the process of culinary creativity.
Risotto With Oats
This is how it looks like: just like real risotto.
It was a regular risotto, but I decided to use oats instead of rice. It’s worth noting that I used whole uncut oat groats, not cut groats, nor rolled oats. So, it is very much alike rice, and therefore a great substitution for it. Another important thing is that oats are best if they are soaked in water overnight before cooking. Anyway, the type of risotto I made, was with meet (you can use pork or beef) cut in cubes, some peas and vegetables, but you can make it whatever way you want, with any recipe, just put oats instead of rice. Also remember that oats need to be boiled for at least one full hour if used in such way, so you need to put oats at least one hour before the end of cooking.
The result: It was delicious, and it had even fuller taste than regular risotto, and it comes with additional upside of being more nutritious than rice (higher protein content, more vitamins) and therefore you can put maybe a little less meat than you would put in regular risotto. The only downside is that it needs to be soaked overnight, and longer cooking time.
Various Derivations of Gianduja
The original Gianduja is an Italian chocolate spread made from 30% – 50% hazelnuts and 50% – 70% chocolate. That’s it, you just mix finely ground roasted hazelnuts with melted chocolate (or more liquid types of chocolate), and the result is an extremely tasty chocolate spread that was the inspiration for creation of Nutella.
Now, I played with that idea, to create tasty, Gianduja-like sweets in solid state. I used various types of finely ground nuts, most often roasted hazelnuts or roasted almonds, but also walnuts (though walnuts are better not roasted) and roasted, unsalted peanuts, and combined them with melted chocolate (the type that is quite solid, when it’s not melted) in various proportion to form a consistent mass. Then I would put the mass in the fridge to solidify and later I would cut it in pieces that can be eaten.
The result: Quite good, but the satisfaction with the final product depends a lot on personal taste and on nut to chocolate ratio. My personal preference is to add more nuts and less chocolate, because chocolate is sometimes too sweet. It also depends on the type of chocolate used… I mostly used dark chocolate or milk chocolate.
Pasta With Scrambled Eggs
As a huge lover of both pasta and eggs I have two rules:
- Pasta is good in all ways and with anything.
- Eggs are good in all ways and with anything.
So, one day, I was hungry and didn’t have much food items around, so I decided to combine those two rules, and see what happens. I just cooked some pasta quickly, and made scrambled eggs. Then added them to pasta and mixed it… Added some ketchup as well.
The result: Not a delicacy (well, obviously) but quite good tasting and satisfying meal, especially if you don’t have time or ingredients to prepare something more complex.
Eating Bananas and Nutella Together
Well, if they make chocolate banana desserts, why wouldn’t it be a great idea, to just add some Nutella to your regular banana? Well, I tried it, and I didn’t like it. It spoiled both Nutella and banana, and it’s just proof that not all experiments are successful.
Bonus: Coke and Beer Cocktail
This is added as bonus, as it’s not my idea, but it’s unusual enough to be worthy of inclusion.This is actually a very popular cocktail in Germany. Sometimes they add also a bit of cherry liqueur to it. I tried both variants, with or without cherry liqueur, and I must say it doesn’t taste bad. It’s not very appealing to me either, but I managed to drink it all without ill effects. 🙂
When it comes to food any experimentation has an element of risk to it, but it’s usually worth trying and the results are often very good and usually better than expected. So, if you think that something can’t be combined at all, or that recipes are to be followed to the letter think twice. If you do try some new ways of preparing or combining foods, you might be on your way to creating some new delicacy.