When I was about four or five, I took an art class for kids at the local university called “Creating With Found Objects.” The only requisite was that each kid brought in materials that they found around their house. I brought some poker chips, a stem from a fake plant, one of my brother’s toy trucks, you know the standard found objects. The objects were then mashed together with clay, baked in the kiln, and then we were given free reign to paint them however we pleased. These collages made beautiful wall hangings (I think my mom still has one hanging at the house). It was a great class because it taught me from a young age that you really don’t need much to make a masterpiece (or at least, what I perceived to be a masterpiece.)
I take a similar approach in my cooking methods. Though I love to browse through cookbooks for inspiration and read through recipes online, my favorite dishes have often come from throwing random ingredients from my fridge together into a meal. I’ve spent enough time experimenting in the kitchen and eating out to have a general idea of what ingredients go well together, and which ones don’t, so usually these experiments result in something halfway decent.
I do follow recipes from time-to-time, especially when cooking a new cuisine altogether, but I like to commit recipes to memory and then improvise the next time I make the dish. I have my mom to thank for this. She invited me to cook with her at a young age and inspired me to take risks in the kitchen without focusing on the nitty-gritty details.
The lunch I made for myself today falls under the “cooking with found objects” kind of day. I had some random ingredients in the fridge leftover from an array of appetizers I had on Friday night. I decided to turn these leftovers into a flatbread pizza/sandwich. I was very pleased with the results and as soon as I finish writing this post, I’m going to make another. Below is the recipe I came up with for this sandwich. Feel free to take some inspiration from it (or ignore completely.)
Ingredients: flatbread, tomatoes, mixed greens, tapenade, balsamic vinegar, aged gouda shavings, basil
1. Cut pita in half.
2. Spread tapenade on both halves of the pita.
3. Cover pita halves with mixed greens.
4. Slice tomatoes, arrange on top of mixed greens.
5. Sprinkle on basil.
6. Drizzle both halves with balsamic vinager.
7. Top with aged gouda shavings.
8. Cook in oven at 350 as long as it takes for the cheese to melt.
Voila! Your flatbread pizza/sandwich is ready to eat.