Trust your taste buds over the recipe
Cooking is an art form. Ask anyone from amateur to professional and they’ll agree. Like paints, you’re combining colors and flavors to create a hopefully delicious end result.
On this site and many like it, as well as millions of cookbooks, you’ll find recipes on how to make your desired dishes. You might make the recipe, follow it to the letter, and then be unsatisfied with the results.
Now before you claim you’re a horrible cook and reach for the delivery menu of a local restaurant, ask yourself how much trust did you give to your taste buds as you created this dish?
Whenever you watch a chef or even cook work, you’ll notice how often they taste foods as they prepare them. No, they’re not necessarily hungry, but they more trust their taste buds over any recipe they might be using. You need to do the same when you cook. The recipes you find here and elsewhere might not be perfect. I might like things spicy and flavorful while another site/book plays it safe and makes things more bland. It’s up to you to taste your dish throughout the process and adjust according to your needs.
I’ll give an example. I love garlic. It’s my favorite ingredient. I’ll tend to use more than a recipe calls for, and even reduce the amount I put on a recipe compared to what I use. So if a recipe calls for four cloves of garlic, I might use six. I do this because my own taste buds want that flavor in the dish, but I am careful not to overdo it.
When you see “salt and pepper to taste” in a recipe, this is the same ideology. It’s not some moment where you need an exact amount, but more instruction for you to add a little of each and then taste. Keep going until you have reached the desired flavor.
Like I mentioned, cooking is an art form, not an exact science. The recipe you use is merely a guideline on how to create said dish. You’re welcome to follow it to the letter, but you are not required to. There is no right or wrong in this.
Always trust your taste buds over the recipe. You might very well alter the recipe into your own taste and style, thus making it your own.