Welcome to Recipe Off-Roading, where the recipe isn’t in charge—you are. In this series of articles, we’re celebrating how cooks take liberties in the kitchen, whether that’s substituting an ingredient, adapting a technique, or doubling the salt (because you’re wild like that). So buckle up and let’s go for a ride.
We have almost 50,000 recipes on Food52, which is probably why you’re here. Maybe you’re looking for your new favorite dinner (for me, it’s quinoa quiche). Or maybe you’re pulling up that spaghetti you’ve made 17 times. Either way, I have a favor to ask:
Instead of following one of our recipes, I want you to mess with it. And by mess with, I mean just that: Swap out all-purpose flour and use a gluten-free blend instead. Add a pinch of paprika just because. Convert the dish from fried to baked.
If we haven’t met—hi, I’m Emma, and I’m a recipe developer at Food52. Which might make you think that I follow recipes to a T. But I don’t.
Every time I cook or bake something (even my own recipes!), I end up changing this or that. Maybe I forgot to buy sour cream so I use Greek yogurt instead. Or I wish the dish I'm making was a little more acidic so I bump up the lemon juice. Or I don’t have four hours to marinate steak so I say, “Heck with it!” and find out, yep, it’s fine with 30 minutes instead.
Cooks take liberties in the kitchen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. The big one is convenience. A just-as-important other is creativity. By messing with a recipe, you make it your own.
That’s why I need your help. For our new series, Recipe Off-Roading, I’m looking for home cooks (like you!) to make one of our most popular recipes, but take it “off-road” in the process. The only requirement is that you change it somehow—and the more changes, the better. Then, snap a photo of the results, and report your findings back to me. That’s it!
I’ll compile all these testing notes into articles, and we’ll all get a bunch of shiny-new updates to some of our favorite recipes. If you’re interested in participating, just head to this form (it’s only one question!). I can’t wait to hear from you.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.