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How to Create Your Own Recipes

Updated on April 26, 2013
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Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" & "Taste of Home" magazines. She belongs to "Cook's Recipe Testers" for Cooks Illustrated.

Creating Your Own Recipes

Did you know that cooking is a lot like writing?

There are two types of writers on this planet: Seat-of-the-pants (SOP) writers and Outliners. SOP writers have a rough idea of what they'd like to write, but prefer to get on with the process without much ado. Outliners meticulously plot out every scene and detail of their characters before beginning the hard work. SOP writers say their method allows the greatest creative expression and spontaneity; Outliners claim their method saves both time and energy.

There are also two kinds of cooks on this planet. Outliners carefully plan what they're going to prepare, jotting down grocery lists and buying all the necessary ingredients before they begin their culinary ventures. SOP cooks, on the other hand, head to the kitchen when they feel inspiration. After rummaging through the cupboards and refrigerator and pulling out ingredients, they create under a haze of flying flour. Sometimes they achieve that orgasmic moment: a dish so wonderful they'd only tasted it in their dreams. More often than not, an inexperienced cook will be forced to consume an unpleasant plate of food or toss their failed creation into the garbage can.

No matter what category you fall into, you are no doubt interested in saving time and money in the kitchen. What can we learn from the Outliner's method? How can it help you create your own recipes?


Cherry sauce dresses up chocolate mousse
Cherry sauce dresses up chocolate mousse | Source

Visualize

If you feel your creativity is blocked, please see the article "Get Inspired to Create Your Own Recipes" for information on education and inspiration. But if you have in mind what you'd like to cook, what's the next step?

Visualization! Imagine the final presentation. What does it look like? If too monochromatic, how can you amp up the color? Imagine a roasted lamb chop nestled in a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. A shocking splash of crimson might be just the thing for a show-stopping creation. Why not add a drizzle of sweet pomegranate sauce?

Now break down your dish into main and complementary elements. Make sure you've chosen seasonal ingredients for best results. Is your meal built around a fillet of grass-fed beef? Or a perfectly ripe mango? Or both? It's time for a mental "taste test". What are the predominant flavors? How can you best balance those flavors? As mentioned previously, the four basic flavors recognized by the human tongue are: sweet and sour, salty and bitter. You might add spicy and umami to that list.

So if your concoction is too sweet, add something sour to create balance. For instance, the tang of lime juice tames mango's cloying sweetness. Umami is the flavor that rounds out everything. Many chefs use soy sauce to boost umami in beefy dishes.


Technique

Cooking method plays a major role in success or failure. For example, would you prefer pan seared or boiled lamb chops? Why? Often it comes down to not just flavor, but also texture or "mouth-feel".

Method is especially important when cooking proteins. Obviously, grilling would be out of the question for a tougher cut of beef such as chuck roast. But braising will break down the collagen and transform the meat into that juicy, flavorful pot roast we know and love. Some proteins, such as fish, can benefit from a variety of methods. Would you rather poach, sear, bake, fry or grill that salmon fillet? Think about the flavor and texture each technique will bring to your dish.

There are other ways to improve flavor and texture. Poultry may benefit from brining, which plumps up and tenderizes. Marinating is a popular option because it tenderizes and adds flavor dimension to beef, poultry, fish or even tofu.

What spices will you use? Think outside the box. We may consider rosemary a savory spice, but it can add a flavor explosion to traditional butter cookies. And what about finishing salts? Besides salting bland foods, finishing salts can provide a delightful final crunch. Have you heard of Andean pink sea salt? How about Maldon or Halen Mon? Imagine the visual appeal and texture they can bring to the table.

For more information, leaf through Julia Childs' Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking. A fun read, it's also a great reference book to stash on your library shelf.


Now Get Cooking!

After you've finished outlining, it's time for the hands-on work. The kitchen is where you gain real experience, and as we all know that's what counts.

Measure as you go, recording quantities and temperatures. How thick is that lamb chop? Take lots of photographs to document the process. You might need to refer to them later or publish some of them with your recipe.

Let your creativity flow. An outline is just that: an idea of how to move through the process. But don't let that stifle you. Is there a better way to season or present this dish? By all means, follow your instincts. And be sure to taste and balance flavors. Jot down the adjustments you make in your notes.

After all that work, you will find many recipes aren't up to publishing standards. Don't get discouraged. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Children don't learn to walk without tripping and falling many times. Even a seasoned chef will experience "failure". Whatever you do, keep cooking!


Source

How to Stand Out

There are thousands of recipes in cookbooks and on the internet. How can you stand out in the sea of food writers?

  1. Develop your own unique writing style. Tell stories about the recipe. What makes it special to you?
  2. Develop a trademark technique. For example, Cooks' Illustrated is known for a "geeky", analytical approach while Julia Childs made French cuisine approachable for the average American home cook.
  3. Find a niche and make it your specialty: ethnic foods, vegan or gluten-free recipes. You could narrow it down even further. How about gluten-free Mexican food? Now that would be a challenge. Or specialize in a certain method such as the grilling/barbecue. Add your own flare. How about Chipotle duck, Szechuan trout or a sushi-style jelly roll cake?

In conclusion, never lose sight of your goal. Get in the kitchen, create delicious food and have fun doing it!


Make Money Writing Recipes Online

Writing at Hub Pages means instant gratification. You can publish as often as you like, when you like and earn money on the side. You receive plenty of support from the friendly community and learn to polish your writing. Hub Pages provides tutorials that walk you through the world of online publishing. And the longer you’re with Hub Pages, the more confidence you gain. Interested? Please click here to quickly and easily create your account: New Member Sign-Up


Comments

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  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 18 months ago from Peru, South America

    Thank you Mayberry Homemaker! How nice that you publish community cookbooks.

  • MayberryHomemaker profile image

    Thelma Raker Coffone 18 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

    As a marketer for organizations that publish community cookbooks, I particularly enjoyed your article. I look forward to following you. Great job!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 18 months ago from Peru, South America

    I agree, one must have a knack to cook well, breathing. Training will only take you so far.

  • breathing profile image

    Sajib 18 months ago from Bangladesh

    Cooking is an art. Not everybody can master it. Learning it from the correct person or source is very important. This hub can be a great training material for the ones who want to learn cooking. As you want to learn cooking, you can develop your own style of learning. Yeah there are many rules of cooking you will find in books. But it is you who is the ultimate decider about which style is the most suitable one for you. If you can learn cooking in a self-decided style then you will feel great enthusiasm for trying on new items.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Deborah-Diane, what a nice comment. I would love to publish a Kindle book someday...but it's hard to find the time. Maybe someday! Thanks for coming by.

  • Deborah-Diane profile image

    Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

    Great instructions on how to create your own recipes. What a fun idea! Then you could turn it into a Kindle book!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    GetitScene, glad you enjoyed this information on creating recipes.

  • GetitScene profile image

    Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

    Good advice here.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    ktrapp, I'm glad you found this interesting. I think most of us are somewhere in between SOP and outliner. I agree that it's important to gain experience in the kitchen before experimenting. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • ktrapp profile image

    Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

    Vespa - This is really interesting; I like how you compare the way one approaches writing to the way one approaches cooking. I'm probably more of an outliner who needs to be more of an SOP when it comes to cooking, but I think that's because I don't trust my judgment when it comes to flavors of the non-dessert variety. I'm trying to become a better cook so hopefully as I get more confidence I can be more experimental. Thanks for the food for thought.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    WiccanSage, how nice that you make your own recipes. I find cooking to be a creative outlet and yummy as well. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  • WiccanSage profile image

    Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

    Interesting. I love making my own recipes. I used to have a very hit-or-miss rate, but I've improved over the last few years by doing more research on cooking methods and how ingredients interact. Nice work.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Nifwlseriff, whether the recipe work or not, it´s all part of the creative process and the fun. I´m glad to meet another recipe creator. : ) Thanks so much for coming by!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Prairieprincess, I´m glad this inspired you to try your own recipes. It really isn´t difficult if you´re disciplined throughout the process. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • nifwlseirff profile image

    Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

    Great tips for creating new dishes!

    I love coming up with my own recipe creations, and always tweak the recipes I try in some way - I'm very much an experimental cook. The experiments don't always work, but I always have fun!

  • prairieprincess profile image

    Sharilee Swaity 4 years ago from Canada

    Thank you for this! I really want to get more disciplined about writing down what I am cooking, and taking pictures as I go! Thanks and have a wonderful night.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Yes, especially young cooks need lots of explanation and measurements to duplicate a recipe. Writing it down while cooking can be tedious, but then you can make a hub out of it! Don't forget lots of photos, too. Thanks for your comment, Dolores Monet!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Well you've made me think about both writing and cooking. I think that if you cook, early on, you must be an outliner or follow a recipe to understand how it all works. Then, you can fly by the seat of your pants. A young friend of mine has asked for several recipes. I will have to make them, but this time, measure and write down the ingredients. I can tell her what goes in something, but not how much.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Victoria Lynn, I hope you realize your dream of writing a cookbook someday! It really is fun to play with dishes and create recipes. Thank you for taking the time to read.

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I love making up recipe. They're usually spur of the moment and just happen. I love your idea of attaching a story to the recipe. I would love to write a cookbook! :-)

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    DeborahNeyens, it{s so nice to hear from you! My friends who are SOP cooks create some of my favorite dishes! And you can't lose when using fresh produce from the garden. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

    I love to create my own recipes. As I gardener, I'm more of a SOP cook. Dinner so often is created out of what is ready in the garden on any particular day. I love to find new ways to use all my fresh veggies. Some day I will collect them all in my own cookbook.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    I know what you mean, unknown spy. We all need inspiration as a place to start. After that, it usually falls into place. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  • unknown spy profile image

    IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

    love to make my own reipe but dont know where to start..just like writing an article.. :)

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Yes, creating recipes is a lot of work btrbell. I don't know how many times I've set out to cook, record and take photos but have forgotten something along the way. It takes a lot of concentration! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    Well, after this new hub challenge I just completed, I have new found respect for the whole idea of creating a recipe. I was always of the "wing it" variety!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Eddy, I'm glad you enjoyed this information. I look forward to the recipes you create! : )

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

    A brilliant share ;so interesting and useful !!!

    Eddy.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Loveofnight, I'm glad you enjoyed this information and took away some ideas. I look forward to reading your new recipes in the future! Thanks so much.

  • loveofnight profile image

    loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

    A well written Hub, you have a lot of great ideas in here. I do love to cook so maybe I will put some of your pointers to work for myself and see if I can really put pen to paper as well as I can create a dish in the kitchen.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Denise Handlon, it's nice to hear a success story from a self-taught cook. Cooking really is a creative outlet. Thank you for coming by!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Tammyswallow, I'm glad you found this interesting. We hope to see your recipes on HP someday!

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

    This is a wonderful hub that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and could completely relate to. I've gone from 'can cook' to 'improved cook with outline' to 'innovative and loving it' ! Thanks for sharing-rated up/U/A

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

    Very interesting. Makes me think. I don't ever use recipes unless I am baking or trying something new. I never considered turning the things I cook into recipes. May be a great suggestion for my little one. Great idea!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    That's a nice compliment! Thank you, NA the great. : )

  • NA the great profile image

    NA the great 4 years ago

    Informative hub reminded of Master chef

    hehe

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Deborah, it sounds like you're just the right balance of outliner and SOP, depending on the occasion. It's great to hear from you! Thanks for coming by.

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    most of the time if I am having a dinner party especially ..I will outline what I am going to serve and then the grocery list and yes I do outline.. if I am on the computer too much and I do not have time then it is hit and miss..lol

    this is a great hub

    Debbie

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Letitia, I've also had a hard time specializing since it would be somewhat limiting. I just love your recipes and look forward to your next creations!

  • LetitiaFT profile image

    LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

    Think I'm somewhere in between SOP and outliner. Wish I could specialize but I'm afraid I'm kind of eclectic. Your suggestion of chipotle duck has my mouth watering.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Anglnwu, I think most of us fall somewhere in between SOP and outliner. I can tell from your recipes that you're a great cook. We're on vacation now but in a few days I'll head over and see what's new in your neck of the woods. Thank you for coming by!

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 4 years ago

    I'm definitely a SOP cook, though, on occasions I can be an outliner as well. I love to play with ingredients and what I've on hand. I agree visualizing helps. Usually, I think of how I want my food to turn out and go from there. Great tips from a great cook--score!!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Btrbell, I'm glad you found the information useful. Thank you for coming by!

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Thank you, penlady. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    lrc7815, the best cooks do it their own way! It is cumbersome to take the pictures. That's probably part of the reason I've lost my motivation to do new recipes lately. My husband helps sometimes with the photos which makes it a little easier. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Carol7777, thank you for the vote and comment! Yes, that is a good thing about adding your own touch each time. I like your positive attitude! : )

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    good hub! Very useful and informative. Thank you!

  • penlady profile image

    penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

    Great hub. Definitely worth reading. Voted up and interesting.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    I love to cook and this hub is very inspiration. I have not published any recipes here on hub pages yet, mostly because I haven't had the time or the motivation to document cooking with pictures. It seems very cumbersome and although I'm a good cook, I rarely do anything the same way twice. lol

    Great hub!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

    Enjoyed reading this as I always concoct my own version of everything..and never write it down. The best thing is that the same thing always tastes a little different Great Hub and voted UP.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    RajanJolly, I'm glad you found this useful! I appreciate the vote and comment.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Very useful and interesting . I've gleaned some useful info related to my type of writing.

    Voted up & interesting.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    MamaKim, your recipes inspire me. Thank you for your kind words. : ) How strange this doesn't show up on my profile page, but there have been a lot of unusual happenings lately. I'm sure it will soon all be worked out, though. Thanks so much for the comment, vote and share...as always! Enjoy your week.

  • vespawoolf profile image
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    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Flashmakeit, you are so creative with your poetry! The kitchen is just another option, but in the meantime I enjoy your beautiful creations here in HP. : ) Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Mama Kim 8 profile image

    Sasha Kim 4 years ago

    For some reason I'm not seeing this one on your profile page... I could only get to it from an email notification.... hmm..

    Great hub!! I just love the suggestions ^_^ I usually plan my recipe out way before actually cooking. Although occasionally I've become inspired to tweak something in the middle of cooking.

    You have such amazing recipes I can't imagine what you think is a "failed" recipe ^_^ I bet they're still pretty darn good! Voting and sharing!!

  • flashmakeit profile image

    flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

    Oh good suggestion to create your own recipe and maybe a recipe that goes along with your hub article, if possible. It something to think about.

  • vespawoolf profile image
    Author

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    Bill, you can't fool me! I know you don't eat that stuff. : ) Thank you for coming by and I hope you and yours have a wonderful week as well.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Great suggestions for sure, but I'm laughing at the thought of me writing a cookbook! How many times can you prepare Velveeta Cheese?

    Very useful hub for those who cook! Have a wonderful week my friend.

    bill