Lovely post on cooking without recipes by TerryWG / The Food Canon

Recipes act as a guide at best. There are so many variables so that you can't duplicate the dish exactly. At best, you approximate. Learn instead, to be guided by your own sense of taste and experiment with flavour combination. This often requires some imagination. This is not going to come to you immediately. Patiently, build up your experience and palate. As always, this will come more naturally or easily to some. Some will have a longer learning curve. But if you are always relying on recipes, you will not be able to break out of that. Your learning curve has not even begun.

Recipes are like GPS. There are often helpful to get you to your destination. But over-rely on it, and you will cease to think or map out your own sense of direction. After a while, without GPS, you become a stranger in your own city.

That is the same problem with cooking entirely from recipes. We use the ingredients without asking why and we never seek to understand the essence of the dish. The experience with the dish remains contained within itself, locked in its own recipe, and you will never try to do something else from it.    

- Cooking without a recipe, The Food Canon