What makes a recipe a keeper for you? Let's face it, we're all "taste" people. But are you also a texture person? A scent person? A sight person? Maybe a recipe is a little bland, but the texture is irresistable, so you keep it for doctoring. What if it smells divine, but the taste really didn't send you over the moon--maybe you'll keep that one too. Sometimes, though, it's just best to move on...
To be dubbed a keeper in my book, it's got to make me sit back and go yum--I mean really close-your-eyes yum. If a recipe can't do that, it's not worth my time to make it again. Lately, I've been trying to figure out exactly what makes me (and others) go yum--once you figure that out, you start to unlock all sorts of recipe and cooking secrets. Soon, you'll almost be able to determine just by reading a recipe if you might like it, if you should add something or take something away. You start to learn tastes and how tastes blend, for better or for worse.
Last Sunday, I made a recipe that I thought looked scrumptious--a sure yummer. Alas, it was not. The recipe was called Braised Chicken Thighs with Peppers and Olives, from Fresh and Simple, Cooking for Friends. I made the recipe carefully--rinsed, dried, and browned the chicken, sliced the olives, used a white wine as the liquid of choice. But, in the end it was bland and the leftovers were even worse. I'm still stumped as to why this recipe didn't really work (but others in that book are quite good!) It turned out slightly dry, but also lacking in real flavor.
There's always something to be gained from spending a little time behind the stove, even if the recipe is a flop. In my case, I have not quite yet learned all there is to know about the yum factor, but I'm one bum recipe closer!