Here is a simple salad that I make many variations of. This time using kumquats, which are an odd little fruit I find a bit tart. To tame the tartness I sauted the kumquats with sugar in a little butter and oil then tossed in candied pecans at the end. I let this cool a touch then put on shaved romaine tossed with a lemon vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is simply one part lemon, one part honey, and two parts oil- it's easy to mix and see the proportions in a jar or squeeze bottle and always taste best when made fresh. Last I added goat cheese, a lovely creamy counterpoint to the bright flavor of lemon, and a drizzle of some orange oil around as a finishing touch with a sprinkling of minced chive. Instead of kumquats you can use uncooked orange slices or strawberries. Why eat a boring salad when something like this is so easy to do?
For more on improvisational cooking check out Workin' More Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter, I was struck by his platings which are very similar to what I'm trying to achieve but have no where near his experience or mastery of so many ingredients. He has an admirable style, elegant but relaxed with rough edges. He wants to be the Miles Davis of cooking, I'll settle for being the John Coltrane.