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Thread: Are recipes futile?

  1. #21
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Cincinnati, Oh
    the recipes are guidelines that don't need to be followed slavishly. i find them useful, though i cook off the cuff a lot (i even made a fantastic set of wheat and rye sourdough starters from first principles, which i'm quite proud of, especially several generations on!). the cooking times are worthless, though. if i followed cooking times, my steaks au poivre would be charcoal instead of rare and my potatoes dauphinoise would be liquid messes instead of delicious creamy delights. baking times are somewhat less worthless, but i find baking temps to be the real problem. perhaps many bread recipes assume a pro oven, but all i have a decent consumer gas oven. a good friend of mine runs a bakery in Reykjavik (i don't even know how many times he and his brother have one the Icelandic national cake competition), and he tells me that i just need to upgrade, but my apartment just isn't that big!

  2. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think it depends...

    I do have a wall of cookbooks myself, but I read them as reference, for proportions, techniques, ideas, combinations, etc. After a long road, I'm getting to the point where I feel like I can change things up depending on the result I want to get.

    I do write recipes for my cooks, but I try to give directions like driving directions, including warnings and possible gotchas. Something like, "Pre-heat the cast iron skillet until it's screaming hot, use a minimal amount of oil, sear the steak black and blue. DO NOT cook past rare." etc. Cooks with some experience should be able to have a shorthand with each other, like when you're teaching someone the station. That being said, it's hard to get all the nuances of someone's cooking. I don't mind teaching my little tricks to someone, but they've got to want to learn it. Actually, I often feel like they extra layers and details that I add in are there for my own enjoyment, and so it's it's not important to the flavor, I just simplify it. But if it's something important like reduce the chicken stock to 1/3rd, or toast the spices first, I'll note it. I do feel like my employer deserves to know how I make the food we're selling, especially if we developed the recipe while I was there, and if it contains anything that people are commonly allergic to or object to. There are a handful of things that I haven't shared, but I really feel like I own those recipes, and they're just renting them while I work for them.

    If I'm writing a recipe for a friend or a more general audience, it's similar, but with greater detail. Almost like a narrative, as you said.


  3. #23
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Portland, Oregon
    Recipes are great for ideas, introduction into a type of cuisine, and techniques. Recipes cannot capture the personal style of the cook. I've written down recipes and even given away cooks book with recipes I use, and people will still say, that the dish doesn't taste like mine.

    There are just too many variables to be included in a recipe. Cooks have different levels of knife skills, experiences, and techniques. Then there are the regional differences.

    Passion can't be quantified in a recipe. Most of us, on the forum on passionate about food. Why else do we spend considerable amounts of money on knives and then take the time to learn how to sharpen them? If we care this much about our knives, then we probably doing far more in our prep work then the so called average cook.


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