Friday, January 25, 2008

I found this the other day and just had to smile when I read it. It's good to know that my "tweaking" of recipes is quite the norm, even with a real chef!!!! You can read more here.

Recipes: Recipes are not assembly manuals. You can’t use them the way you use instructions to put together your grill or the rec room ping pong table. Recipes are guides and suggestions for a process that is infinitely nuanced. Recipes are sheet music. A Bach Cello suite can be performed at a beginner’s level or given extraordinary interpretation by Yo Yo Ma—same notes/ingredients, vastly different outcomes.
How to use a good recipe. First read it and think about it. Cook it in your mind. Envision what it will look like when you serve it. Try to know the outcome before you begin. Read a recipe all the way through not only to understand it generally, but to make your work more efficient and to avoid making errors or taking unnecessary steps. Perhaps a dough needs to chill for an hour in the middle of a preparation, perhaps meat needs to be salted for 24 hours, or a liquid must be simmered then cooled. The recipe suggests adding the flour, baking powder and salt one at a time, but perhaps you can combine all the dry ingredients ahead of time while you’re waiting for the butter to get to room temperature so you can cream it with the eggs. Taking a few minutes to read a recipe, acting out each step in your mind as you do, will save you time and prevent errors.
Measure out or prep all your ingredients before you begin. Don’t mince your onion just before you need to put it in the pan, have it minced and in a container ready to go, have that cup of milk and half cup of sugar set out before you. Good mise en place makes the process easier and more pleasurable and the result tastier than preparing a recipe with no mise en place.
If you’re unsure about an instruction, use your common sense. You’ve already imagined in your head what the goal is. Work toward that goal using all your senses.
How to perfect a good recipe. Do it over again. And again. Pay attention. Do it again. That’s what chefs do. Often great cooking is simply the result of having done it over and over and over while paying attention. Great cooking is as much about sheer repetition as it is about natural skill or culinary knowledge.

So for all of us ladies that love to make a "little change here, a little change there" in our recipes, it is wonderful to know that we are in the company of great chefs!!!


Wendi said...

That is good to know. I tweak recipes all the time.

The Stepford Stepmom said...

One of the best suggestions I've ever heard about cooking and recipes came from a fellow blogger... I've adapted it to something I use in my kitchen, called the "Pinch Of" book. The book is basically a collection of quasi-recipes where you know what ingredients you use, but the measurements are somewhat variable.

For example, I make my hamburgers with a recipe I developed, but that I don't have measurements for. So in my "Pinch Of" book, I have my recipe for hamburgers written as follows;


breadcrumbs, egg, salad dressing, bacon bits, onion, salt, garlic, and worchester sauce. Shape into patties and grill.

It's such a great way to refresh your memory on what's in your favorite dishes, without stressing over measurements. :D

Kimmie said...

I love to look at recipes, but always do my own good to know that that's okay!

nice to meet you!

mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted
*we have adoption news!

Julieann said...

Yay--we are in good company Mrs. U!!



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