The Process + Inspiration Behind Recipe Development

Guest blog writer, Jordan Miller of DCEatings shares how she's inspired by food. Shop our Underground Goods x DCEatings collection at undergroundgoods.com/vintage.


photo by Chesley McCarty | @thetangledtomato

When Underground Goods approached me to do a vintage cookware collection drop collaboration, I was over the moon with excitement. A few months prior, I had been quietly following Amanda and Erin’s business venture around DC and have since been inspired by their creativity, business savvy, and of course, their beautiful vintage finds and delicious bakes.


As I continue to build my personal chef business, DCEatings, I am always seeking out unique avenues to cook for people, share my recipes, and most importantly, connect with like-minded, food-loving individuals. I have known Amanda for a few years now, and we have always talked in passing about working together on a project at some point, so it was only a matter of time that the right endeavor presented itself to us.


kale and farro salad with feta, lemon zest + pine nuts
photo by Hallie Sharpless | @spinachdaddy

For the Underground Goods x DCEatings Collection recipes, I drew on inspiration from a number of areas: the color palette of the collection items (sage green, royal blue, burnt yellow, ocean teal, soft brown, dusty gold, smooth wood), classic American flavors from the past (amaretto and cherry), and the celebration of late summer and early fall produce (zucchini and Tuscan kale).


One of my favorite aspects about food is that it can transport you to many different places while being enjoyed. Perhaps you think of a nostalgic memory, a fantasy destination, or a visit to unexplored emotions. For me, this collection was a mix of all three.


tablescape with garlic and leek confit crostinis on wooden tray
photo by Hallie Sharpless | @spinachdaddy

While developing these recipes, I thought back to events in my life where food was the grounding center of my community. I also thought about how I envision my community being in the future. After an incredibly isolating, scary, and difficult year, I saw my friends and I around a beautiful tablescape in an open field, enjoying a nourishing meal featuring home grown and farm fresh produce.


To me, recipe development is beyond a delicious combination of ingredients. It tells a story, it evokes emotion, and it’s a form of self expression. A lot of my inspiration for recipe development in general can be found in my memories, in nature, in interactions with other people, in a visit to a fabulous new restaurant, or a trip to a new country. I like to play around with different textures, flavor profiles, colors and cooking techniques.

close up of zucchini and mozarella medallions
photo by Hallie Sharpless | @spinachdaddy

I also sometimes develop recipes with a particular drink pairing in mind, whether that be a cocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, or a glass of wine. If a dish is on the sweeter side, where can I add a hint of umami or tartness? If a dish is savory, where can I add a surprise kick of spice or a subtle sweetness? For dishes softer in palette, where can I add crunch? If I fry a piece of protein, what should the texture of the sauce be for it, smooth and buttery or light and subtle?


With endless opportunities for creation, recipe development can sometimes be successful in one go-around. Other times, I will make 3-4 iterations of the recipe until I think it’s ready to be shared. I enjoy the element of surprise in this process, and oftentimes I will revisit recipes after a few months or even a year to fine-tune it if I get inspired to add another component to it.


While I truly believe recipe development is a form of self expression, it is still very important to acknowledge and give respect to the ingredients you are using, especially if they are ingredients from parts of the world from which you do not identify. In my opinion, there’s a fine line between admiring an ingredient, a dish, or cuisine, and claiming it as your own. Many (arguably most) recipes are iterations of previous recipes, and it’s crucial to always provide credit, even for inspiration, where due. For instance, my recipe for garlic and leek confit for this collection was inspired by and adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s original recipe.


overhead image of coconut + cherry icebox cake
photo by Hallie Sharpless | @spinachdaddy

This sort of shareability and connectivity of food is its true beauty, however. I always hear people say that “food is a universal language”, and while that line feels utterly cheesy, I can’t help but agree. For me, cooking is a way to share my love for others - it’s my ultimate love language and form of connection to people, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share that love and connection with the Underground Goods team and their clients.