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Adding Your Own Flavor To Classic Recipes

Aug 3, 2008
There's nothing like grandma's good old-fashioned cooking to get everyone's mouth watering, and study after study has shown that America's favorite dishes are consistently the classic, old-fashioned recipes they grew up eating at the dining room table.

Classic recipes like meatloaf, fried chicken and apple pie will probably be just as popular a hundred years from now as they were a century ago, because our taste buds are one thing that never really change. And while exotic recipes and ethnic restaurants might be fun for an occasional excursion for most Americans, it's the good old-fashioned favorites that everyone always comes back to for their mainstay meals.

But while many people might consider it sacrilege to make any changes at all to these classic American recipes, there's nothing at all wrong with adding your own personal flavor or flare to an old recipe. By experimenting with new ways of preparing and presenting classic recipes, you can add a little excitement to the dinner table and make your family or guests more excited about dishes that might otherwise seem uninspired.

Now, notice that we used the word "experimenting," and there's a reason for that. It's important to realize that there is a fine line between improving an old classic recipe and transforming it into an entirely unappetizing variant. So make sure you taste test your new recipe creations before trying to serve them to a group without fair warning!

If you're wary of actually changing the ingredients or preparation procedures for a favorite family recipe, one way of "spicing things up" without adding new spices is by changing the way you physically present the meal. Use of things like garnishes, arrangement of food on the plate or table, food colorings, or mixing and matching dishes that you haven't before may be just what the doctor ordered.

You'd be amazed at how much the "look" of a dish actually changes the perception of its taste by those who are at the table.

While your favorite old-fashioned recipes will retain their great classic taste and flavor, making them more visibly and aesthetically pleasing will be a much-welcomed change for any dinner party that might be tired of the same old stuff over and over again.

Actually changing ingredients and cooking methods for an old-fashioned favorite recipe is much, much more risky and likely to end in a failed attempt that your guests might not approve of, but when it does work, the potential "payoffs" can be much greater.

Successfully modifying a classic recipe, and putting your own personal spin on it, is the mark of a truly innovative and talented cook (or, more properly, "chef").

As we said earlier, though, you need to look at all major ingredient changes as "experiments" that need to be taste-tested by you or a trusted friend before presenting a new recipe to a roomful of hungry diners. While a successful improvised recipe can get you accolades, there's nothing worse than presenting a new dish and making everyone at the table wish they hadn't come to dinner!
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