How we develop our recipes
Recipe development is most certainly both a scientific process and an art form, and usually a rather slow one. I start out by researching the actual dish by delving into my huge archive of cookery books, looking at varying recipes online and starting to build up a profile of the bare bones and any history of the dish, the no frills version.
I then take this and build upon it, and begin to put it into practise by starting to cook. I typically start out making a fairly basic version of the recipe and if I am totally happy with that and how it tastes I start to add more depth of flavour and begin with the boosting. The very core essence of our recipes is to focus on boosting the nutritional content as much as possible, whilst retaining flavour and character. Every recipe must reflect the nutritional profile we have chosen to focus on.
Firstly I will speak to our nutritionist Jo about the target foods she would like included, I will then look online and leaf through my nutritional books for more unusual suggestions and traditional methods. I always rely heavily on the advice of my cooking guru - my sister - my greatest inspiration and toughest critic. My sister is usually the person that provides each recipe with the final flourish and helps to bring most of my dishes together. She's simply brilliant at balancing flavours.
And then I start tinkering in my own kitchen, with my 4 year old sous-chef Lily close by my side. It takes an average of 3 or 4 recipe trials before I actually start to write up the recipe. I then re-do the recipe and ensure I have the quantities noted down correctly to the last gram or ml - totally right. Only then the dish begins to come together as a tried and tested recipe.
My 3 children are my first tasters and then my husband - all of whom have become rather harsh (!) but effective critics. From then it usually gets trialled by friends (weekend guests make the best guinea pigs!), children's playdates, neighbours and of course then the Smart Infused Fud team meet up for tasting sessions and if necessary pick apart the dish, making sure it's exactly right.
The overall process its usually about 4 or 5 recipe tests and many little tweaks here and there. The part I enjoy most is finding that truly special and unique something which brings the recipe together, and makes as a wonderful boost to the recipe. Examples of these include seaweed (rich in iodine and adds a salty richness) used in our fish pie poaching milk, miso paste (a B vitamin rich fermented food with an umami flavour) in our Lamb Tagine or chopped chicken livers (packed with protein and Vitamin A) in our Chilli Con Carne.
Does it always go to plan? No. I can start out with one idea and end up going totally down the wrong rabbit hole, which is frustrating and results in my worst thing - a waste of food. The Chilli Con Carne initially had too much cinnamon and it tasted terrible, granular and the texture horrible...but I chose to see it as a valuable learning curve. You need to make the mistakes to realise how to make things better, and test your passion for your role as a chef.
I love that our Smart Infused Fud recipes are quite simply as good as I can make them, as nutritionally boosted as I could possibly create without sacrificing on taste (which I will never do). When I have finally finished the recipe I allow myself to feel pretty chuffed with what I've created, confident that it tastes good and that I've done my best. It gives me the greatest pleasure seeing others enjoying it and helping to make their busy lives one step more straight forward. I can't do better than that.