Thursday, September 10, 2015

No Recipe? No Problem (really)

This past Saturday was a super-fun day.  My friend Janet, of the blog Chuck Wagoneer, and her daughter, Amelia came over and we experimented in the kitchen.  Next month, we are facilitating an outdoor cooking workshop on cooking with pie irons, sticks and dutch ovens at an annual Girl Scout event.  We realized that none of us had ever actually cooked with a pie iron before and Janet had two spankin' new pie irons that needed to be seasoned before the big event.

We both researched recipes ahead of time and had ideas about what we wanted to cook...then we winged it!  That's right, we didn't follow any recipes, we totally experimented and had a blast!

The thing about recipes is, they are really guidelines and methods more than anything else - come to terms with that and you can make just about anything.  There is something so satisfying about being able to open your fridge, pull out some ingredients and make a meal that is tasty and pleases your family.

I'm ashamed to admit I don't have any pictures, I was too busy acting like a kid in a candy store to stop and take photos.  Tee hee hee.  Janet and Amelia brought pizza dough and their favorite pizza topping for calzones as well as cinnamon rolls (the pre-made refrigerator kind) and berries and I contributed egg roll wrappers, Italian chicken sausage, sauteed mushrooms and smoked gouda for a grilled sandwich, as well as fresh apples from our trees and some gourmet chocolates for dessert experimentation.

We had a lot of success with both the pizza dough and the egg roll wrappers - the pizza dough taking about 6 minutes per side and the egg roll wrappers only taking about 2 minutes per side.  We also tested good ole bread and it also took only about 2 minutes per side.  My favorite of the day was the sausage, mushroom and gouda combo and it was equally tasty as wrapped in pizza dough or egg roll wrapper. It was crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside with a really nice balance of savory flavors from the Italian sausage and the thyme I seasoned the mushrooms with.  YUM!

 I did try filling the egg roll wrapper with the gourmet chocolates (dark chocolate and caramel with sea salt) and marshmallow, but wasn't entirely happy with the results.

The cinnamon rolls were flattened, topped with cream cheese and berries on one, apples, walnuts and brown sugar on the other, then another flattened cinnamon roll was placed on top of that.  They took about 8 minutes per side and I wasn't thrilled with the results.  The apples were nice and tender (I diced them pretty small), but the ratio of bread to filling was just too much.  I'd really like to try making salted caramel apple pie with pizza dough as the wrapper - I'm pretty certain we'd get excellent results.

Bottom line, no recipe, no problem.  Don't be afraid to experiment. Play with your food!  Have some fun and trust your instincts - you might be delightfully surprised.