Do you test recipes before you serve them to your family or guests? Do you practice cooking before major holiday meals? I didn’t do this until recently. Here’s why I do now.
I love cooking and I truly enjoying trying new recipes, ingredients, cooking methods/skills and cookware. This all seems very fun and interesting- except I am not a professional or trained cook. So I make mistakes. A lot. I also didn’t grow up with a diverse meal menu or ingredient list. So between failing at prepping or cooking something properly or simply not liking the taste or texture on an ingredient/recipe , my family and I have found ourselves chowing down on take out many a night.
This is where recipe testing has come in to play. I like to test at least one recipe a week now. I get to cut batches into pieces- say in half or thirds, and this allows me to try things as suggested, switch out ingredients or tweak flavors to my liking. My kids love it because they get to try all different things in little snack size portions and be my little critics. They get a kick out of telling me their opinions and then seeing their ideas on the weekly menu and the table the following week. I get to share my trials and successes with my friends and family and we all get to experience new recipes and we can trust the final recipe this way. There have been times where I have followed a great sounding recipes to a tee and it has come out terribly be it in taste or cooking result. When that was all I had prepared for a meal, we were at a loss. Many folks think that adding a meal to our grocery list that is just for testing may be wasting money but in actuality it is improving my palette, my cooking skills and saving us from trips to fast food restaurants. It also gets my kids involved in the cooking process, has expanded their meal repertoire and has helped their ability to express themselves well by allowing them to explain their opinions and ideas with me. My friends love getting samples of things I’ve tested, giving me their thoughts and getting well tested recipes to use for their own cooking.
When it comes to holiday cooking testing a new recipe or a course you have never prepared in the past is a must, in my opinion. Not having delicious food to present on a special day is incredibly disappointing as is leaving your guests and family hungry while you fix, redo or wait on a meal that you didn’t prepare for properly. I remember the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner, I served it two hours late because I wasn’t aware of how to defrost the turkey properly and all of the side dishes were soggy, dried out or over cooked by the time I finally got diner on the table. I have a very understanding supportive family, but I was really upset to have failed at something that my mother had done so well my whole life. Practicing preparing my even best loved family recipes has built my confidence in the kitchen.
Recipe testing has become a weekly thing now and I enjoy it immensely. I have begun a weekly email with weekly menu plans with tested and approved recipes that have helped over fifty home cooks on the email list plan their meals with confidence.
Do you test recipes often? Do you test or practice recipes for special occasions? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!