Run wild! Sure, if you've never made something before, it's a good idea to follow the instructions. But remember that recipes come from all-too-fallible humans, not infallible food deities.
I speak from bitter experience.
Once, I made a coffee cake recipe that I thought called for an insane amount of oil. I put it all in anyway. Why? Because the recipe said to. The result might have been a Martian's idea of a coffee cake but not mine. I can't tell you how it tasted. I didn't have the nerve to try it.
If something looks way out of whack, there's a good chance that it is. Not always, but often enough. And if there's an ingredient in the recipe you don't like, then use something else. The jackbooted thugs of the recipe police will not break down your door.
In this week's Food for Thought, Nancy Leson and I mention Molly Stevens' recipe for Moroccan chicken in her book, "All About Braising." Molly specifies a whole chicken for this dish but Nancy likes to use just thighs. I like thighs and wings. And more garlic and different olives. Try it — and feel free to improvise.
"I had these recipes that said do this, do that. Who MAKES these rules?"
– Emeril Lagasse
Originally aired March 20, 2013