Good cookbooks have recipes that are more like suggestions. Mark Bittman is my idol in this regard. His 3-sentence recipes are spare and classic. He unburdens you and insists that anything can be substituted for anything-- pears for apples, habanero for jalapeño, chicken for duck or beef or turkey or pheasant.
Once you have these basics down and are comfortable enough in the kitchen, you'll just intuit how they'll come together. A master chef combines technique with an instinctual knowledge for flavor combinations. An avant-garde eggplant and sweet creamy white chocolate is just one step away from a traditional eggplant and sweet creamy ricotta.
I'm always amazed by the singer who hears a song and can instantly harmonize with it. How does she know to go so low? Why does that high note sound so good?
Maybe she knows the science. Or maybe she's heard enough songs that she can replicate. It's probably just a natural knowledge that takes years to cultivate.
I've never had blueberry and lavender at a restaurant. It's possible I've seen a recipe for it and its been unconsciously logged in my brain. The idea also must have manifest because both are blue-purple.
Either way, you learn to trust your instincts. This is like summer in Provence ... at a yoga retreat. It's also devilishly, Bittmanly easy.
RECIPE: Simmer 2 cups of the milk of your choice. Turn off and add 2 heaping tablespoons of lavender and one vanilla bean and steep. When cool, strain and add 1/3 cup chia seeds and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Stir and let rest overnight. Add blueberries to taste. Serves 2 by morning.