Recipe Development

Once I returned to the United States, I sat down with my notes and wrote the recipes on paper as I imagined they ought to be.  In addition to the valuable information I collected during the Camino, I drew inspiration from my experience preparing similar dishes.  Then I would turn on my mixer, oven or stove and follow the recipe I had written.  Once the dish was ready, I would taste it and make any necessary adjustments to the recipe.  I would then prepare it again, taste it once more (talk about an ever-increasing waist line!) and make any further adjustments again.  I would continue this process until I felt the recipe needed no further tweaks, modifications, or improvements. 

These adjustments were varied.  For instance, in the case of the tortilla española (the Spanish potato omelet), I had to play with the proportion of eggs to potatoes, the type of potato, and the amount of seasoning among other things.   I was able to nail down most recipes in three attempts but in some instances I had to prepare the dish 8 or 9 times to get to a recipe that would represent the best of what I had experienced along the Camino. 

The whole recipe development process of Tastes of the Camino took approximately two years.  I probably could have done it in half the time if I had been dedicated fulltime to this project.  But unfortunately I also had to work at the same time.  Plus if I had an opportunity to travel, I would totally embrace it!

While the process of developing a recipe can seem easy, it is quite laborious and time consuming.  You have to be very disciplined to get things done properly.  In addition, it probably is the loneliest phase of the whole making of Tastes of the Camino.  I would spend hours in my kitchen by myself. On a few occasions, I had friends volunteer to come cook with me but I knew I would not be very focused if I had too many people around.  I needed to be concentrated timing each step and taking notes so I could later properly describe the changing textures and appearances throughout the cooking process. Many times, I felt like I was in a vacuum and was unsure when the book would see the day of light.