When two chefs meet, it seems they always have something to teach each other. Even when Gordon Ramsay stops at a small roadside joint in Malaysia, the local auntie preparing a beef rendang has a trick or two to show him.
From scrambled eggs to chicken salad and beyond, here are some of the ways you can add a flavorful twist to your beloved dishes. Or at least trick others into believing it!
This made me think of this thing I read a long time ago.
A woman makes a ham for a holiday every year, and she always cuts the end off before baking it. Husband asks why, she says that’s the way it’s always been done, it’s a recipe passed down in her family and she’s never questioned it. She asks Mom, who asks Great Grandma, and turns out Great Grandma just couldn’t fit the hams into her pan.
Idk the takeaway from this exactly but there it is lol
In Romania we make a cake that’s just fluffy cake batter dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut flakes/chopped walnuts, we call it tavalit. It’s one of the dishes of my childhood and everybody made it because it’s cheap, easy and finger licking delicious. I made it, brought it at a potluck at work in the Netherlands and a colleague from New Zealand jumped up “Lamingtons, oh my god I love these, do you have family in New Zealand?”. Wat… I still don’t know where the recipe originated, pretty sure neither in Romania nor in New Zealand, but it was so surprising to see a dish revered in countries so far apart by distance and culture and we both thought it was our own.
I was doing genealogy research and I was able to trace the exact village my ancestors came from by researching a family recipe.
I had always assumed it was a “back of the box” 1960s thing, but it had a funny name and nobody knew why it was called that. Turns out, it’s a special holiday food in that region and each “village” has their own twist on it. I recognized a lot of other dishes my grandma would make too, and had no idea they were passed down in the family.
My family’s cookbook is a thick scrapbook that was kept next to the family Bible that had the family tree in it.
Handwritten notes in German from the before WW I. Typed pages. Cutouts from magazines. Notes added from whoever felt a note was needed (Can’t get suet? Don’t make this).
It’s a story book. Every recipe has a tale. One is literally, “Your omma and oppa won this recipe in a bridge game”. Is it true? I like to think so, but it doesn’t matter.
I don’t have the book. I’m not really part of that family any more. But I have index cards of important recipes with instructions on the front, and stories on the back. Every card is a memory from when things seemed better. Christmas dinners. Potlucks. Nights making preserves. Laughter around a cutting board and a mixing bowl. Every card is a potential new memory. I’ve copied cards for friends, stories and all, and hope they’re out in the world making new stories
When making banana bread, I use overripe bananas. Nothing unusual, right? Nope. But what takes it to the next level is I first freeze the bananas—for days, for weeks— and then thaw when it’s time to bake. I read somewhere that freezing bananas make them sweeter. Try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised
My grandmother is from Italy. People are always like “you must make such great Italian fooooooddd!” And like yeah, I guess. But the “family” sauce recipe is super basic. Anyone could do it. What makes it good is just making it a billion times and letting it simmer all day.
People are amazed that I can make gnocchi, but it’s really not hard at all. There’s just some practice involved in getting the right texture to them.
These days with the internet, anyone can make super authentic food from any culture. We no longer have to rely on special handed down recipes, methods, and tools.
I introduced a new ‘secret’ at an elderly care facility I used to work at as a cook while I was there. They got GFS (gordon food service) bulk items, which I actually really like to use, good quality. They would use cake mix for many deserts, but the cakes always came out very dry. When I came in, I noticed after the first couple times. Usually to make enough cake we used 4 bags of mix, so I dropped it to 3 bags of cake mix and 1 bag of pudding mix. Exact same cook time, no other changes, and the residents starting going nuts and complimenting us on the new cake recipe.
I got a small raise out of it.
I begged my grandmother for her banana pudding recipe and 30 years later, people still beg me to make it. I’ve had drug dealers trade me drugs for it (back in the day lol). I discovered about 10 years in, its the f**king recipe off of the Nilla wafer box.
I understand where my wife is from, because most of the meat comes from a wet market and had flies and who knows what else buzzing around them.. But when it’s cleaned, packaged, sealed, and refrigerated… You’re just spreading bacteria
If you want really good caramelized onions, you’re gonna have to spend the time to make really good caramelized onions. I swear that every attempt to rush the product results in (at least) a slightly subpar product. So I buckle in, pour a drink, and enjoy the long ride.
I’ve never been the type to have a secret like this, but if people knew how much cinnamon I used they might have questions. I add it to a lot of dishes to add some earthiness and depth, but not in amounts where you can actually taste cinnamon.
My boyfriend is always amazed at how my scrambled eggs taste so good. He’s convinced I have magical scrambling powers because even when he tries to replicate, he can’t. I finally realized he doesn’t know I use butter, and I feel like I can’t reveal it now. I love being master egg scrambler.
some woman posted a couple years ago about running a successful wedding cake business and being afraid someone would catch her buying carts full of cake mix at the grocery store
Jello vanilla pudding powder substitutes half of my sugar in cookies! It keeps them super soft for days and gives them almost a cake interior. Shhhh
I worked at Jimmy John’s for a while and they had us use a little soy sauce in the tuna salad. I’ve been making it that way ever since (10 years).
Authenticity is overrated. Food is like language, it’s dynamic, which means that recipes change over time under certain factors such as availability of needed ingredients. No recipe of the same food is better than the other because, after all, taste is subjective and food should be enjoyed by the one eating it.
Lol, I just found out this year the recipe for my husband’s grandmother’s FAMOUS fudge that he grew up eating and the whole family raves about comes straight off the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk can. These people beg her to make it every Christmas and they gobble it up, but apparently none of them ever bothered to ask for the recipe. I emailed her to ask so I could bring it to my own family’s Christmas dinner, and she was like “Oh, yeah, it’s the one from the can label, it’s not a secret. They just assumed and nobody asked.” And you know what? I haven’t told any of them, either.
The red Betty Crocker cookbook is all my “family” recipes
I recently saw one of my great grandmothers EXACT recipes on one of those TikTok channels that cooks old school recipes. I always figured it was from a magazine or cookbook. Funny seeing it with my own eyes though.
As he cooking it, I’m like “wait, I’ve definitely made this before”. It was a 3-4 ingredient pie, so it wasn’t hard to remember.
Worked In a very high end restaurant that locally became quite well known for its cheesecake. It was just cream cheese and marshmallow fluff blended together and put in store bought graham cracker crusts. They also played
its just big can of whole toamotes, big sweet onion cut into fourths, one jalapeno with seeds cut up, cilantro and lime juice everyhting into a food processor for aobut 30ish secs add dash of salt at the end.
everyone thinks is so good which it is but i keep telling them its so easy but they dont think it is lol
Cooking a chicken breast in Italian dressing. The dressing will reduce down to a glaze. Super simple and the taste is delicious. This is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken.
Squeeze a lemon in your pot of chicken soup. Adds a nice brightness
Man do I feel this.
Yeah used to be real hyped about my Grandmother’s Oyster Dressing that she would make every Thanksgiving. I would tell everyone about it. It’s not until she passed away and I started making it for other people that I found out how common it was.
It’s still good but damn.
Also learned that her mother was famous for potato bread. My Great Grandmother would pay people for things with her potato bread. My Grandmother refused to learn how to make it.
Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolat Chip bag. On the back. That’s your mom’s cookie recipe.
Even better… the premade dough you buy in the refrigerator section of your grocery store is the exact same thing. My mom stopped actually making cookie dough years ago, and no one ever knew.
I would make chocolate chip cookies from scratch on deployment and at home. People always raved about them and asked for the recipe. Always seemed shocked when I handed them the chocolate chip bag and said to follow that recipe EXACTLY
when we have a work potluck or Friendsgiving, I buy some kind of salad at a fancy deli. usually some kind of cous cous salad or broccoli bacon. Then I put it in Tupperware and coat it in MSG. It’s always a hit.
For those us home cooks that cook for our families: efficiency, nutrition, and finances are more important than flavor in 80-90% of the food we cook. The vast majority of our cooking is boring.
the best brownies are from mixes. even pro bakers know this