As someone who is well versed in the wonderful world of culinary couture I realize for many going off recipe can be a bit overwelming. So here are few helpful tips that I have learned over the years that will hopefully aid in your exploration of flavors.
Do not be afraid of the names of recipes. If may seem donting at first when you pull up a “basic” french dish like croque monsieur, but bear in mind that most recipes that are authentic cuisine are very simple. The name may sound scary but it is baiscally a grilled ham and cheese with some stuff on top. Most people in other countries are not 5 star resturant chefs therefore most of the food is not complicated. Attached are some simple recipes that will impress guest and are not difficult.
Another tip that is constantly overlooked is patience. Everyone has to start somewhere! Cooking is like any other skill the longer and harder one practices at it the better they will become. Noone picks up a golf club and automatically plays as if they are on the PGA tour, anything worth doing well requires practice. Just take a deep breath and realize sometimes things will go terribly wrong so keep a fire extiguiser handy. Laugh it has never been and will never be a life or death situation, and bear in mind food should bring happiness not tears. (Plus their are three meals in a day simple math dictates that the odds are in your favor.)
Noone has the answers to what you like. If you know that you do not like celery DO NOT use it. Just because everyone from Martha Stewart to Wolfgang Puck raves about the amazing, wonderful, and awesome world of aritchokes (which I HATE) does not mean that their is something wrong with not wanting to eat them. They are your tastebuds set your recipes according to them not Julie Child or whoever. Cooking is about the power to make the food you like the way you like. Many people are constantly dissapointed and frustrated not because they cannot cook, but because they are trying to cook accorind to what other people are telling them what they should eat.
The most importnat peice of advice I can give anyone is have fun. If the pizza is a little lopsided it is okay. The next time you look at a recipe and you think ‘how can I make this my own’ pick a flavor direction and go with it. (My personal favorite thing is to sample a spoonful of whatever I am cooking then take a lttle taste of whatever I am thinking of adding. If I like it great and if I don’t then I did not alter the flavor of my dish) Enjoy cooking as a something you can do for yourself some alone time without the television to just be you and really get in touch with your inner happiness…HAPPY COOKING!