Ignore recipes.
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For most of us, a recipe is like a treasure map: It's a very specific route that leads to a very specific result. For Tom Colicchio, recipes are merely a starting a point: "It's something to look at and say 'that's interesting,' he says, "but it's not directions [about] how to cook – I know how to cook already." Colicchio says that home cooks are irrationally afraid to alter a recipe. For most dishes, though, there's no grand cosmic master recipe that defines how exactly something should be made to be authentic (whatever that means). "The real focal point of a recipe is what you're cooking and how you're cooking it," he says. "You can change that and it's okay. As long as whatever you swap is roughly the same size and density as what you take out, it should work."