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Thread: Are recipes futile?

  1. #11
    Senior Member spinblue's Avatar
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    JohnD,
    One thing I don't understand and I don't mean to put you on the defensive, but certainly on the spot to a degree. You say you don't want to write down the recipes but on the other hand, you have customer issues with inconsistencies if you are not there.

    Isn't that one of the major decisions in the menu, day to day, the dish is the same?

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by bikehunter View Post
    McGee is way too scientific for me (makes my eyes roll back in my head), but if you want to be able to prepare all the basics, from bread and cookies, to pasta and gravy.... without ever digging out a recipe, and customize on your own....get this book. I love it.:

    http://ruhlman.com/2009/04/ratio-the-simpl.html
    I will pick that one up! I love it already!

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by spinblue View Post
    Isn't that one of the major decisions in the menu, day to day, the dish is the same?
    That's why I'm there everyday!

    Just kidding. When I was at my last job, I was there every day but Tuesday, so if people had things they liked that I made, they could come get them from me any time, and often did. I feel bad, but also flattered, to hear that business slumped after I left. Too bad the owners didn't see it and pay me accordingly!

    But at my new job, I am the only one who has any cooking background and I actually care about the quality and nutrition of the food, and the person usually bungling things up is my boss(who isn't a chef), or people who have no food experience, and don't care much about what they put into their mouths.

    If it were my restaurant to hire and fire people, I would have employees that could understand the minutia of a repeatable process--that is how it worked at my first cooking job--it was a small fast casual chain that had recipes that you followed to a T, with the supervision and approval of the GM.

    Most restaurants create a menu, and then purchase ingredients that take the variety and chance out of it--canned beans are the 90% the same ALL the time, and better than a lot of beans I've had from dry. I would say 'Fine Dining' would be a restaurant where the ingredients are coaxed through skill to be what they are on the plate, often that means having employees that know that cooking the same perfect pots of pinto beans every day of the week requires cooking them 7 unique ways.

    And that's what I'm getting at--a recipe won't tell you what is most important! A skilled eater can eat and tell you everything that's IN it, and any culinary school grad can tell you what steps were taken. It's everything *else* that makes the difference between 5 bowls of hollandaise and 4 bowls of hollandaise with a side of scrambled eggs.

  4. #14
    GoogleFu San steeley's Avatar
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    Really like your book shelf is that the crisco cookbook behind the clock.

  5. #15

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    Wow fryboy, now that’s a library! In general I do not follow a recipe, but will look at a few verities for ideas when cooking. When baking most of the time I will follow a recipe, for example Alton Browns ginger snap cookies, or his devils food cake recipe I will not modify, maybe a little more seasonings or something. When I bake bread actually sometimes I do it by feel and just on the cuff. I was gonna make a focaccia on Sunday for an event but things changed I still had the starter, today I ended up using it to make a really flavorful whole wheat bread.. Really recipies are good to learn technqiue and method as well as ideas.. im stoned

    oh my bread with shun bread knife.. you can see the little Z off center to the left. I needed to make the cuts deeeper.

  6. #16
    As a home cook (and like may others here, it seems), I tend to look up/study though not necessarily follow explicitly, recipes for things that are new or in a style that I'm unfamiliar with. My GF and I recently decided to try cooking Moroccan food for the first time, so I used a few different recipes to help orient myself (I guess this is similar to the idea of the recipe-as-map). Most of the time, however, it's all much more in the brain and soul, I think.

    In other news, that's a pretty sweet library, FryBoy!

  7. #17
    Senior Member spinblue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    That's why I'm there everyday!
    Thanks JD.

  8. #18
    Senior Member FryBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steeley View Post
    Really like your book shelf is that the crisco cookbook behind the clock.
    Good eye! It is indeed The Story of Crisco -- 615 Tested Recipes and a "Calendar of Dinners" by Marion Harris Neil, one of my collectible books -- that is, I have it for historic interest rather than for the recipes. First edition, published in 1913, original price 25¢, now worth a bit more.
    Doug Collins
    Hermosa Beach, California

  9. #19
    GoogleFu San steeley's Avatar
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    Love old cook books always checking out used book store for old tittles .
    would like to see a pic of some yours .

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    And that's what I'm getting at--a recipe won't tell you what is most important! A skilled eater can eat and tell you everything that's IN it, and any culinary school grad can tell you what steps were taken.
    I think I get what you're driving at, and I would agree that most of the recipes I see today are written like factory instructions. Take X, cook at Y temp for Z minutes and "poof", five star dinner is yours! And you're right. That style of recipe, strictly followed, has little value when working with fresh (read "inconsistent", though in a good way) products. But I'm not sure that all recipes need to be written that way. In fact, I've a number of books with instructions like "prepare fresh butter beans with appropriate seasoning. Remove from heat until cooled slightly and add to pot." May not be appropriate directions for the average consumer, but for an audience with a cooking background...

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