People often ask me how I come up with my recipes. My biggest inspiration is the farmers market–I look for what’s in season and what looks good and build recipes around that. When I come up with an idea, I add it to a running list I have of recipes to develop. Some of the ideas never leave the list, while others end up on my blog a week or two later.
I test my recipes multiple times, both to iron out the kinks and to make sure I can duplicate the same results more than once. Occasionally after a few trials, a recipe ends up being something completely different than my original idea. I usually write down a rough outline of a recipe on a notepad before I start cooking; as I cook, I make adjustments to ingredients, cooking times, and methods. When I finally feel happy enough with something that I’m ready to post it on my blog, I type it up on my computer and I have my husband look at it to make sure each step is easy to understand and that I’m not missing anything important. (This has happened in the past! When you know in your head what to do in a recipe, sometimes you miss the fact that you’ve omitted steps in the instructions.)
Aside from the farmers market, my other big source of inspiration for recipe development is browsing through The Flavor Bible. Julie from Burnt Carrots mentioned it in a post and I decided to buy it based on her recommendation and I’m glad I did–it rarely leaves my coffee table because I find myself browsing through it so often. It’s essentially a reference book for recipe development. Just about any ingredient you can think of, from epazote to pomegranate molasses, is listed in the book, along with flavors that work well with said ingredient. Although I do think I have a pretty good idea of which flavors work together and which ones don’t, The Flavor Bible has introduced me to new combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
And then sometimes I get inspiration from other dishes. That’s how I came up with this Apricot Crostini recipe. Several weeks ago, I was at a kitchen store that was serving samples of a fig, brie and arugula panini. It was delicious, so I made a mental note of it. After returning home from vacation with bags full of honey from The Savannah Bee Company, I had the idea to make that panini and add honey to it. Then I decided to substitute apricots for figs. And instead of brie, I used ricotta. Having done quite a few sandwich recipes on my blog, I thought I’d make crostini instead. Suddenly, the panini made with brie and figs became crostini topped with ricotta, apricots, and a healthy drizzle of honey.
A summery appetizer made with crusty French bread and sliced apricots. Feel free to substitute brie or farmer's cheese for the ricotta.
- 1 demi-baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/2 c. ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 small apricots, pitted and thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp. honey
- a handful of arugula (optional--it adds a nice peppery contrast to the sweetness of the apricots and honey)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread slices on baking sheet and top each with ricotta, salt and pepper, and apricot slices. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crostini is nicely toasted. Drizzle with honey and top with arugula (if using).