Professionally written recipes?

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I'm finding it difficult to find good recipes. They have confusing, non-standard type instructions, unpredictable results, etc. Published cookbooks aren't so helpful either since anyone can self publish these days. 

I'm not experienced enough to be able to spot and correct mistakes before I make the recipe. Recipe websites with reviews aren't really helpful either because people drastically change the recipe and then review the changed recipe. 

So, I guess I'm asking for websites that offer professionally written recipes. Which would you recommend? 

I've already got foodnetwork, cooking channel, recipetv and PBS.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
What you need to understand about recipes, even ones that are tested thoroughly, is that the user may need to improvise to get best results. You are cooking with organic material that was alive. It is highly variable between one orange and the next. How sweet is it, how acidic, how much did it rain. It could affect how much sugar or vinegar you need to use. You have to taste and think at every step. Maybe Jacques Pepin can explain it better:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/jacques-pepin-says-following-a-recipe-can-lead-to-disaster/


It's difficult because people who need recipes the most are the ones who don't know enough to improvise. Fundamental cooking knowledge and techniques are more important than any single recipe.
 
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I agree with everything millions said. That said, Essential Jacques pepin has recipes that everyone seems to agree are well tested, and also comes with a DVD of techniques and has sidenotes about the techniques for many of the dishes.

Standard cookbook recommendations also include joy of cooking and fannie farmer, but I've actually never used either.

Websites it seems like the new York times is full of good recipes, although I'm not sure how thoroughly they're tested. Serious eats seems to be somewhat polarizing, but I don't think anyone would say the kenji Lopez or Daniel gritzer recipes haven't at least been tested.

If you're looking for a particular style of food somebody might be able to make a recommendation for that if you call it out.
 
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What you need to understand about recipes, even ones that are tested thoroughly, is that the user may need to improvise to get best results. You are cooking with organic material that was alive. It is highly variable between one orange and the next. How sweet is it, how acidic, how much did it rain. It could affect how much sugar or vinegar you need to use. You have to taste and think at every step. Maybe Jacques Pepin can explain it better:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/jacques-pepin-says-following-a-recipe-can-lead-to-disaster/


It's difficult because people who need recipes the most are the ones who don't know enough to improvise. Fundamental cooking knowledge and techniques are more important than any single recipe.
Jacques Pepin can make warmed up cardboard look tasty.....I recall he noted that recipes are more of a 'roadmap' and not something that is followed in a rote manner.
 
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Recipes come in various formats. Professional recipes aren't as descriptive as you might think, and depend on your experience to aid you through the process. Like what MillionsKnives said. Recipes for non professionals or people with little kitchen experience are better off followed to the letter, and should be chosen based on reputation.  I've found poorly written recipes littered with mistakes online as well as everything from a Williams Sonoma catalog and a Food and Wine magazine to a Jean-Georges Vongerichten cook book. Read recipes twice and thrice before starting, imagining every step.

It should also be noted that everyone has a different cognitive process, and requires a different approach to get to the same place. I always like to give the example of a crane. Many people require a basic understanding of levers, fulcrums, etc,  first, to understand how a crane works. In other words, provide information in a sequential order, ignoring the big picture or concept. Others want the concept first, and the details afterwards. It's linear thinking vs abstract. Some people can jump between the two, others not so much. 

If I know something is basically a roast, braise, or whatever, I read ingredient list and quantities and fill in the blanks based on my experience. I usually guess right on the process or technique, unless is something out of the ordinary. Then I monitor the process at every step, adjusting as need be. 
 

pete

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Recipes come in various formats. Professional recipes aren't as descriptive as you might think, and depend on your experience to aid you through the process.
Have you ever read recipes from really old cookbooks, especially cookbooks prior to 1900?  In many cases the recipes aren't a whole lot more than a listing of ingredients with the vaguest of directions because it was expected that the reader already knew how to cook.  They are priceless, but useless to those that those that aren't strong cooks already.
 
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A local newspaper ran an article about a farmers market in Santa Barbara, CA.  The writer included a recipe for a fish dish at a local restaurant.  The court bullion serving for four used two ounces of saffron.  This is an example of garbage food reviews and recipes in magazines and on the net.  These are published by journalists and writers not cooks.  I imagine that the original court bullion recipe called for two or three threads of saffron.  Saffron at $320.00 per ounce would ruin the food cost and taste terrible.
 
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A local newspaper ran an article about a farmers market in Santa Barbara, CA.  The writer included a recipe for a fish dish at a local restaurant.  The court bullion serving for four used two ounces of saffron.  This is an example of garbage food reviews and recipes in magazines and on the net.  These are published by journalists and writers not cooks.  I imagine that the original court bullion recipe called for two or three threads of saffron.  Saffron at $320.00 per ounce would ruin the food cost and taste terrible.
That IS a lot of saffron!  

This is how I feel when i see asian recipes for one or two servings calling for 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Do people understand how much salt that is?  
 
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A local newspaper ran an article about a farmers market in Santa Barbara, CA.  The writer included a recipe for a fish dish at a local restaurant.  The court bullion serving for four used two ounces of saffron.  This is an example of garbage food reviews and recipes in magazines and on the net.  These are published by journalists and writers not cooks.  I imagine that the original court bullion recipe called for two or three threads of saffron.  Saffron at $320.00 per ounce would ruin the food cost and taste terrible.
That IS a lot of saffron!  

This is how I feel when i see asian recipes for one or two servings calling for 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Do people understand how much salt that is?  
/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif.

Wonder what happened to the OP.

I came to stand up for the self published cookbooks.

Esp those printed by church ladies organizations as they include the dishes we learned as we "came up" cooking at Gma's or mommy's (or daddy's ;-) knees.

Not fancy but good solid (edible) dishes that apply technique and seasonings in a manner that encourages "play".

As in "I like to use MaryLou's meatloaf recipe but always substitute the diced celery for a good celery salt..."

I think I am safe saying none of the rock star chefs learned to cook by reading "Joy".

mimi
 
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I can't speak for anyone else, but I have been called upon in my career to write and share recipes.

It is not easy to do, and having to use your own own hand written recipe is even worse.

Only through trial and error, and with many crossed out sentences, and changed punctuation, can result in a good guide that someone else can read and follow along.

I agree that it seems like some of those written recipes assume the reader has some grasp on cooking.

I have found Cooks Illustrated to be a very good reference recipe book for beginners and pro's alike.

It's recipes have already been tweeked and tested for you.

It even has troubleshooting FIY (fix it yourself) ideas to compensate for ingredients.

It tests gadgets and kitchen equipment and prints the results.
 
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Your description of your written recipes made me chuckle Ross.
Having been made the designated repository of the family collection I seldom come across a favorite that has not been altered in some fashion .
Usually they come in the form of notes in the margins.
I keep telling myself to take some time and add an index explaining who made what alteration and when it was added .

mimi

CI is a great publication for learning the ins and outs of the kitchen.
My favorite feature is the ingredient test drives.
I sometimes get overwhelmed when trying to decide which brands to invest in .
So many choices and price is not always a good indicator .

m.
 
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I agree with everything above about the value of recipes.  Cooking techniques are much more important than recipes.  Watch online or on TV and focus on HOW they cook, when you will be able to make good decision thought the cooking process.  You will know you are there when you can open up the fridge and make something from what is on hand.  

My go to recipe site is probably SimplyRecipes.com.  Also consistently good stuff at NY Times Cooking, Gourmet, and Fine Cooking.  Martha Stewart is good too.  

And ask questions.  I hear ChefTalk.com has good advice from experienced home cooks and professional chefs, and lots friendly people.  :)
 
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"Professionaly written", to me, means:

1)Anyone in the kitchen should be able to make fairly accurate renditions of it

2) I should be able to scale the recipie up, or down with nothing more than a cheap calculator and less than two minutes

3) most importantly, I should be able to calculate the food cost easily from the ingredient list and yield..

4)The recipie should follow haccp guidlines

What all of this means is that firstly all ingredients should be listed by weight, never, ever, ever! volume. Secondly, metric is easy enough for any child to grasp as there are no fractions or base units of16. This is where most cooks and bakers go astray, futzing around with fractions.

The recipie should be written in chronological order. No glossy glamour shots, no romantic asides of why this is a wonderfull recipie
 
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/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif.

I came to stand up for the self published cookbooks.

I have one my mom and her sisters did for my grandparents 50th anniversary, as said lots of good basic stuff.  Who would have guessed that the secret to Grandma's 'sinkers' or do-nuts was that she fried them in tallow, something you can still find out west but unheard of here in the south.

I think I am safe saying none of the rock star chefs learned to cook by reading "Joy".

Is there a new cook book that can compare with an older edition of Joy of Cooking ?   My edition is old enough that it includes how to clean, dress, and cook small game, and explains the how and why of all basic cooking techniques.  I have given 6 or 7 copies away to aspiring teen cooks.

scott
 
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I know what you are gettin' at Scott...and my Grands are all brilliant but none could read more than their names before they hit their 4th bday (which is the average age of teaching simple dishes ...in my kitchen anyways).

mimi

... sorry @msminnamouse  for the OT wandering.

/img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

m.
 
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"Professionaly written", to me, means:

1)Anyone in the kitchen should be able to make fairly accurate renditions of it

2) I should be able to scale the recipie up, or down with nothing more than a cheap calculator and less than two minutes

3) most importantly, I should be able to calculate the food cost easily from the ingredient list and yield..

4)The recipie should follow haccp guidlines

What all of this means is that firstly all ingredients should be listed by weight, never, ever, ever! volume. Secondly, metric is easy enough for any child to grasp as there are no fractions or base units of16. This is where most cooks and bakers go astray, futzing around with fractions.

The recipie should be written in chronological order. No glossy glamour shots, no romantic asides of why this is a wonderfull recipie
Good answer.  I know bakers and pastry chefs use weight for measurements.  I think volume is ok for many recipes, say add a 750 ml bottle of white wine.  Professionally written or Standardized

  Recipe are they the same?  A professional kitchen should have standardized recipes for cost and consistently however there are a lot of professionally written cookbooks that are good reference.  Believe it or not some of us can do fractions and conversions in our head. .    
 
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Which is it?

Professionally written recipes or recipes written for professionals?

One has to do with commercial kitchens, The other has to do with writing. 

Just askin' 
 

pete

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Staff member
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Which is it?

Professionally written recipes or recipes written for professionals?

One has to do with commercial kitchens, The other has to do with writing. 

Just askin' 
Good point.  The 2 are very different things although I do feel that recipes written for the home cook could take some pointers from the way we often write recipes in the kitchens, some of which foodpump mentioned.

When I was in culinary school I learned a different way of writing recipes-the 2 column approach.  Instead of listing all of your ingredients on top then listing your directions, in order  underneath.  You listed your ingredients along the left hand side, in order, and grouping them together as they went together.  On the right hand side you listed the directions, in order, across from the ingredients as you used those ingredients.  It makes so much more sense.  It flows more smoothly, and the recipes read so much easier as you aren't having to constantly bounce from ingredient list to directions because they are both right there.  It makes it much harder for both the author, and the reader, to miss an ingredient.
 
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Pete,

Yes this is what I call a  Standardized recipe. It will also include the number of portions, portion size, portion cost, and plating.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
"Professionaly written", to me, means:

1)Anyone in the kitchen should be able to make fairly accurate renditions of it

2) I should be able to scale the recipie up, or down with nothing more than a cheap calculator and less than two minutes

3) most importantly, I should be able to calculate the food cost easily from the ingredient list and yield..

4)The recipie should follow haccp guidlines

What all of this means is that firstly all ingredients should be listed by weight, never, ever, ever! volume. Secondly, metric is easy enough for any child to grasp as there are no fractions or base units of16. This is where most cooks and bakers go astray, futzing around with fractions.

The recipie should be written in chronological order. No glossy glamour shots, no romantic asides of why this is a wonderfull recipie
I agree with you here.

I believe that weighing ingredients gives consistent results.

I have a couple hundred cookbooks that still are in the "volume" world. I have taken on a few of them converting to Metric in parenthesis.

It is so much easier to deal with Metric anyway.

That being said, the homemaker has to unlearn and relearn how to measure. Not easy.
 
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