Inspiration is well captured in the Felicia Bond book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, where one thing leads to the next and you know “he’s probably going to ask for something else to go with it.” It’s the small experiences that trigger a thought, building one on top of the other, fueling endless culinary ideas.
Cooking inspiration is boundless and comes in many forms.
It could be as simple as the need to use the last drop of baking spray, a few overripe bananas and voila, I’m making banana bread. Or, a vacation to the southern coast of Portugal and in a flash, I’m molding marzipan and cooking “Sopa de Portuguese.”
A slice of hot-out-of-the-oven bread with a smear of butter in a friend’s kitchen and you know I’ll be mixing my own dough for a no knead bread an hour later. An odd assortment of squash from my CSA share leads to a sweet and savory curried squash soup.
Curiosity will always inspire. What happens to the flavor of a radish when it’s sautéed in a bit of olive oil instead of served in a salad? A delicious lunch out with a friend, an exceptional soup or salad, just begs to be recreated at home.
But it’s the conversations with friends, often occurring while cooking or baking together, that inspire me most, leading to the next ”must make” food. As we pull from our various experiences and knowledge – from the magazines or books we’ve recently read or a meal we’ve enjoyed – we are compelled to share stories with one another. The magical result – we try new things, resulting in a life enriched by food. Together, friends inspire one another to broaden cooking repertoires. We’re no longer confined to making the same old thing week after week but instead we are inspired just by watching, listening and being together.
What ignites your cooking inspirations?
Here’s a little cookie with a creamy caramel center that I created for my daughter Sofia. If you give a ten year old a taste of something special, she’ll probably come home and ask for you to make it. And if she asks for a mom to make it, her mom will run to the store for ingredients to make it herself.
Makes 28 2 inch cookies
These crispy creamy cookies have a sophistication to please adults and the flavor to entice children. They make a beautiful presentation and would be a perfect cookie for a holiday cookie exchange.
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups corn starch
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (store bought)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar until creamy.
Add the egg and yolks, one at a time. Blend in the vanilla.
Sift the flour, corn starch and salt together in a separate bowl.
Add the flour mixture slowly to the butter and sugar. Combine well.
Form 1 inch rough balls with dough and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies 12 minutes until edges become golden.
Cool and spread about a teaspoon full of caramel on the rough side of the cookie and top with another. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.