It’s easy to Google a recipe, and recipes definitely have their place, but what happens when your phone takes a plunge in the sink right in the middle of cooking? What if your wifi decides to quit working? Whether you’re a well-seasoned cook or not, there are some foods you should just be able to cook off the top of your head by your mid 20’s. It’s part of being an adult. We wanted to give you a few ideas of foods that don’t necessarily require a recipe, but rather a state-of-mind and basic understanding of molecular gastronomy (don’t worry, that’s just a fancy term for food science). After all, recipes are merely suggestions.
1. Baked Eggs
Take it from Julia Child, herself, there are more ways to cook your eggs than scrambled and fried. (Watch her in action, here. Seriously, she’s a lot of fun to watch). From Oefs en Cocette (Eggs Baked in Ramekins) to Frittatas, eggs can be elegant enough for a date-night but still super easy.
To make the classic Oefs en Cocette, put some heavy cream in a ramekin. Crack an egg or two. Add a little more cream, pepper and fresh herbs. Put the ramekins in a water bath and bake. Garnish with more fresh herbs (parsley) and serve with toast and some white wine or champagne.
So maybe creamy eggs isn’t your thing. You can use that same concept of baking eggs in a liquid to create robust Tunisian dish called shakshuka. Swap out a big cast-iron skillet instead of a ramekin and a red sauce instead of cream. Add some smoked paprika and a bit of Harissa (chili paste). Crack multiple eggs into the sauce. Put it in the oven to bake. Garnish with fresh herbs and maybe some olives. This pairs great with a full-bodied red wine.
Frittatas are really easy to make and are great for a Sunday morning brunch, especially when you have leftover meat and veggies from the night before. For a great frittata we recommend using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Most important thing to remember when making a frittata is the egg to dairy ratio: for every six eggs you’ll use a quarter-cup of dairy. Don’t over-bake the frittata—350F for about 20-30 minutes is recommended. Check it around 15 minutes to adjust your cook time.
Whether it’s for breakfast or dessert, impress your friends and family by whipping up some fresh crepes spur of the moment. Don’t measure; just go for it. Remember, we’re ditching the recipes this time. Blend a couple of eggs together with a couple spoonfuls of melted butter and about a cup of milk and a handful or two of flour. Eggs, dairy, a little fat, and some flour—everything can be measured by the eye. You want it to be super runny so adjust the milk and flour to fit that. Melt some butter or coconut oil in a skillet. Add a little batter to form a thin layer on the skillet. Cook on both sides. Add some yogurt and your favorite jam. And just like that, you’ve got fresh crepes. Want pancakes or waffles? Then, make the batter a little thicker by adding more flour—it’s all about the concept.
3. Street Tacos
Most people know how to make Americanized tacos with overly-seasoned ground beef and refried beans and iceberg lettuce. Take your taco game to the next level—get authentic with it. Grab some cactus from your local Mexican market. If the thorns are still on the cactus you’ll want to remove them by scraping the cactus with a knife. Slice the cactus and some onions. Sauté them in a little oil. Add thin slices of steak, chicken or fish to the skillet. Add salt and dried chili pepper. Squeeze fresh lime juice over it. Grab some corn tortillas. Garnish the tacos with a little salsa verde and serve with a Mexican lager and lime wedges. Leave the ground beef concoctions to Taco Bell.
4. Red Sauce
A rustic red sauce can be used as a base for so many different foods —pasta, pizza, stew, soup, shakshuka . . . The list goes on. Every adult should be able to nail down a solid red sauce with a few basic ingredients (crushed tomatoes, a white or yellow onion, fresh garlic, carrot, red wine, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs). Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Sauté in some extra virgin olive oil. Shred a few carrots and throw them into the mix. Add a splash of red wine (whatever you’re currently drinking is fine). Add the crushed tomatoes (we like fire-roasted tomatoes), herbs, salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes . . . Yeah, it’s really that easy.
A hearty stew is great for cold weather, camping trips, and big family dinners. It’s one of those foods that get better as it has time to sit in the fridge, so leftovers are always a good thing. And it’s usually pretty healthy! Grab some good stewing meat and brown the meat by searing it in your skillet. Throw the seared meat in a Dutch oven or large pot. Splash some red wine in the skillet to get all those good bits that are still left over, and then pour that along with a little beef broth into the Dutch oven with any vegetables you like (butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, etc). So remember that red sauce? Add some of that (or those ingredients) and any spices and herbs of your liking. And then cook on low-medium heat for a few hours while you drink a few more glasses of wine.
Try cooking a couple of these foods. Add your own twist and get creative—that’s the beauty of ditching the recipe.