Cooking tips are my favorite thing to share. Today I want to share how I learned to create my own recipes. For the longest time, I thought I was a really good cook. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been proud of the fact that I am a good cook. I love to cook and I love trying new recipes. But here is the problem. I was a really good cook that cooked from recipes. That isn’t very impressive. Fortunately, that changed a few years ago.
I happened to come across a review for a book called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. The codes in the book are the ratios that exist in most recipes. For example, let’s take a look at a vinaigrette or salad dressing. As explained in the book, the simple ratio of the main ingredients are 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. As long as you use that ratio, you can make any salad dressing with any type of olive oil, vinegar, and some fresh herbs. So rather than memorizing one recipe you just need to memorize the ratio to use to make your own vinaigrette. Isn’t that the best cooking tip?
As the author states, “When you know a culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.” How simple is that?
Most of us cook without recipes when it comes to our favorite recipes. So why not expand that knowledge to include so much more?
There are a lot of ratios for dough. Bread is 5 parts flour: 3 parts water (plus yeast and salt). Pizza dough is 3 parts flour: 2 parts egg. To make pizza dough use any type of flour and egg and then just add yeast. When I make pizza dough, I love to use bread or whole wheat flour and I always add basil and other herbs to my dough.
Bread is my favorite ratio. It is 5 parts flour: 3 parts water. Plus a pinch of yeast and two pinches of salt. But this is where you get creative. Add rosemary and garlic. Or orange and cranberries. Or olives and walnuts and chocolates and pecans. As long as you use the ratio, you can make any bread or muffins or dough you want.
If we expand the bread ratios, biscuits are 3 parts flour: 2 parts fat: 2 parts liquid. Pie Dough is 3 parts flour: 2 parts fat: 1 part water. Isn’t this the best cooking tip?
The book also has ratios for batters such as pound cake, sponge cake, and angel food cake. Muffins are 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part butter. I have found that when I only have the ratio (instead of a recipe) it forces me to be creative. Sometimes not having all of the information for a recipe is a good thing.
The book Ratio has a chapter on all of the basic cooking ratios such as sauces, custards, meats, stocks, batters, and doughs. You really need to read the book once so that you understand how to use the ratios.
There is a great reference guide in the front of the book which lists all of the ratios you will need to know. I copied it and taped it to the inside of my recipe cupboard. It is a great reference that I use all of the time. I love that using ratios also helps you understand cooking in general. Understanding the difference between bread and fresh pasta is important. (The answer is eggs.) What’s the difference between bread dough and pie dough? Fat. And a tip for remembering the pie dough ratio? 3-2-1. 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part water.
I love sharing my personal cooking tips. This book changed the way I cook long before I became a blogger. When I looked up the ratio for biscuits the other day I realized I had never shared this concept. Let me know what you think!