One of the most important aspects of cooking is the recipe. Following a recipe is critical to culinary success.
Contrary to popular belief, qualified Chef’s always follow recipes regardless of their experience. It’s a chef’s responsibility to provide a consistent product to their guests, irrespective of how they feel or what day of the week it is.
However, many amateur cooks lack recipe literacy.
To start with, the most important part of the recipe is not the ingredients – it’s the step-by-step method that matters most.
Let’s face it, sometimes a recipe works out fine, even if one of the ingredients is missing. However, if you miss one step in the cooking instructions, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Another critical factor to a recipe is the yield (number of portions). If a recipe doesn’t contain information on how many portions it produces, you’re already doomed. Imagine a chef catering for 300 people, and he doesn’t know how much to multiply the recipe by, because he doesn’t know the recipe’s yield. In this scenario the chef may end up short of portions, customers will go hungry and are likely to organise a mutiny.
A good recipe will always have consistent units of measurement. If one ingredient is measured in cups and spoons, then the remaining ingredients should as well (although I’m a little guilty of breaking this rule).
It’s my opinion that all ingredients should be listed in the user-friendly metric system of grams (g) or millilitres (ml). And, electronic scales are far more accurate for measuring than spoons and ‘guess-timation’.
I also recommend that you read a recipe from beginning to end before you commence, as there may be some vital information overlooked, such as pre-heating an oven or pre-soaking an ingredient in water overnight.
Also, don’t expect a recipe to look exactly like the picture; there are at least three specialists involved in the process of making a glossy food photograph.
Never fear, true culinary success is judged by good flavour – not by perfect presentation.
For some of my favourite recipes, click here.