I read an article a while back about chefs in New York who were cooking up delicious recipes while under the influence of The Pot.  While it was interesting, and certainly explained the whole cupcake fad, it didn’t provide much insight into exactly how one puts together a Brand New Recipe.  What were the steps? Are there even steps?  Is it more art than science?  More science than art?

Last weekend, I decided to take a stab a creating a recipe of my very own.  Since I don’t participate in Illegal Drugs, I was left to rely on my own creativity and, er, skills.  This is what I came up with:

DELICIOUS BLACK BEANS

Since I enjoy steps,  I will include some steps for beginner recipe inventors (like me):

STEP 1) Pick something to make.  Amendment:  Pick something EASY to make.  We’re aiming for success here.  Remember Icarus.  Save that Coq au Vin attempt for another day, fancypants.

STEP 2) Consult The Internet for many versions of your recipe to rip off.  Make note of ingredients that make repeat appearances, and approximate amounts/measurements.

STEP 3) Start cooking! In my case, I knew I wanted to make a spicy, flavorful black bean dip.  So, I started with a can of black bean and a can of diced tomatoes.  I sent them into the blender with a teaspoon each of cumin and chili powder.  I added a few shakes of garlic powder, sea salt, and a liberal pinch of cayenne.

STEP 4) Secure an honest taste tester.  My boyfriend was was nearby, and I know I can depend on his reliable, albeit charming and Southern, honesty (“I don’t really care for that”=”This is disgusting”).  He dutifully took a corn chip piled with the blended beans, and chewed thoughtfully.  “Eh,” he finally determined with a shrug.  “What does it need?” I followed him, “Corn? Something sweet?  Or spicy?? Maybe it should be spicier?”

STEP 5) Revise, taste.  Repeat.  I tried the dip myself and found it to be blander than I’d hoped.  The consistency was also too thin.  I added two chipotle chilies in adobo sauce to the blender and gave it another whirl.  While they gave it nice, smoky kick, they didn’t help the fact that it more closely resembled soup than dip.

STEP 6) Use The Science.  At this point, I knew I had to do something to thicken this up.  It also needed texture.  To that end, I diced an onion and sauteed it over medium heat.  After it was translucent, I dumped in the “dip”.  To fix the consistency, first I would invoke evaporation – how much could this thing cook down? If that failed, I would try adding a bit of cornstarch.  Either way, I had A Plan.  If I hadn’t had A Plan, I would have consulted The Internet for A Plan to rip off.

STEP 6.5) Take a leap.  After it had cooked for a bit, I was thunderstruck by a Great Idea.  I spooned a small amount of The Dip into a bowl, grinning in anticipation. The smell of the cooking chipotles jarred loose the distant memory of a meal I had enjoyed years ago while on vacation in Mexico.  It was shrimp served in a luxurious, buttery chipotle-cinnamon sauce.  Cinnamon!!  Of course!  I eagerly sprinkled the spice onto the beans and lifted it to my mouth in triumph…only to be bitterly, bitterly disappointed.  However, it was worth a try! (Maybe another day, cinnamon-chipotle sauce!)

STEP 7) Fail or gloriously succeed.  Dubiously watching the beans bubble in the saucepan, I was fully prepared for either of these outcomes.  The sink was piled high with spoons and small bowls, smeared with the remains of The Dip at various stages.  It had cooked down to a more dip-like consistency, and the chipotles and cayenne had melded nicely to create a rich, smoky layer of spice.  But it was still missing something.  Suddenly, something from the dusty, forgotten reaches of my brain sang weakly out:  Sweeeeeetness, moron!!  It needs sweetness!

I made a face.  Sweetness?  Really?  I mean, I guess I could try it.  As I rummaged for sweeteners, I considered the idea carefully.  I HAD put a whole can of tomatoes into the beans, and a time-honored Italian trick to perfecting some sauces is to add sugar or carrots to bring depth of flavor to the tomatoes.  I ended up choosing honey.  I spooned some beans into a ramekin (out of bowls at this point) and added a tiny drop of honey.  Upon tasting it, my eyes widened in disbelief.  It was EXACTLY what the dip was lacking!  I added a teaspoon of honey to the beans on the stove and brought a loaded chip back to the Boyfriend.  He took a bite, then gave me the thumbs up.

I had done it!! I had  invented a recipe!!

And now, you can too.  No drugs required.

 

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