My day job is recipes. As the food editor of The New York Times and the founding editor of NYT Cooking, I spend a lot of time laying out strict instructions for how best to prepare specific dishes. These recipes take a particular form: a list of ingredients followed by step-by-step directions for how to use them. I think of these recipes as sheet music, a form of notation that allows home cooks to recreate the cooking of others.

But I don’t just cook with recipes, and I am not alone. Indeed, cooking without recipes is a kitchen skill same as cutting vegetables into dice. It’s a way to improve your confidence in the kitchen and to make the act of cooking fun when sometimes it seems like a chore.

Every Wednesday for the past four years, I have published on The New York Times one of these no-recipe recipes. What follows are some highlights from our archive of them, suggestions for things you might cook yourself, without a recipe.

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