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Old 08-16-2008, 06:32 PM   #21
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Reading and using a recipe (or recipes) is part of cookery trade qualifications.

The product that I cooked all those years ago was cup cakes. There was a deliberate thechnical error in the recipe which caused a particular fault in the finished product. If the fault did not appear, then the student did not follow the recipe and hence failed the trade test.

This is what I would say to such a person - I have written a book that teaches all the basic cookery skills. I would give you a copy...but you already know it all.

Reading and using recipes is such an important part of being able to cook, that the skills of cookery could be summed up as the ablility to follow a recipe!

Ignore them!
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Old 08-16-2008, 06:42 PM   #22
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I don't use recipes as often as I used to, but I wouldn't be able to do that if I hadn't first stuck to the recipe. I like to try new recipes to expand my cooking repertoire and I usually follow it exactly the first time. Then I make notes to adjust the next time. If I make it enough I ditch the recipe, but it's still in my head so I guess I don't ditch it completely. Anyway, I bet "those" people started with recipes too, even if they weren't written down.
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Old 08-16-2008, 06:47 PM   #23
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I think that atrecipie isexactly what your Momshowed you that it was. If you want to make something that youhave not made before, or in a while, a recipe lets you do that. if the recipie makes the dish that you want and it tasts as you want then. What is wrong with that?

If you cook often, then you will know the most used recipies by heart and not need to refer to it. If youare making a dish and decide to change the taste, either on purpose or accidentally, shch as bysubing a different ingredient for one you do not have and you like the taste, then you should document it. Youhave thenmade your own recipie.

I agree with GB, these folks are snobs. Ad Babetoo said baking is an area that it is important to follow a recipie, as ther are a lot of things in motion there.

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Old 08-16-2008, 08:12 PM   #24
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I would say that these people who pooh-pooh the use of a recipe don't realize that the majority of the meals they prepare "without a recipe" come from a cookbook of recipes they have stored in their memory. As others have noted, it doesn't have to be written down to be a recipe - it can be learned from a Mom or Grandma or Aunt or someone else showing you how to make it. Written down, or taught by demonstration, a recipe is nothing more than a list of ingredients and a description of what to do with them, to create a finished product. Ask one of these recipe nay-sayers what her favorite dish is, and how does she make it - the only way she will able to do it is by reciting a recipe she has in her head.

As IronChef said - a recipe is a means to recreate a dish in a consistent manner. And, how would you know how to make a dish you had never made or seen or tasted without a recipe?
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Old 08-16-2008, 08:25 PM   #25
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Here, here, Michael. Brava.
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:40 PM   #26
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I don't follow recipes when I am just cooking for myself, I usually just wing it and see what I come up with, But when I am cooking for others I search through my piles and piles of recipes until I find just the right ones for the occassion!

Anytime someone says "I wish I could cook like you" I always say, all you need is a good recipe and to be able to read!!
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:52 PM   #27
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I start with a recipe, but may make changes to our own tastes. Like Andy M., I usually follow the recipe the first time I make a dish, and then decide how I might make it better, e.g., add garlic, wine vinegar, spices, whatever. I am most fond of baking, and I usually follow recipes when I bake, even if it's something I make often. Big difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of baking soda, for example. There are a few recipes stuck in my head - I don't have to read the recipe when I make brownies, or chocolate chip cookies. IC is right, though - in order to have consistency, a recipe is really essential.
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:26 PM   #28
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For me, it really depends on what I am trying to accomplish. For a dish that I have never made before, I lean heavily on the written recipe, using all the listed ingredients and following the procedures carefully.

Then again, I may browse a magazine or cookbook and see a recipe or desecription and think, I like the sound of that flavor, and I go off and make something off the top of my head.

And there are also a lot of recipes that I just know by rote. I may refer to the recipe (especially the ingredient list) just to make sure I haven't left anything out. (I suffer from CRS sometimes - CRS=can't remember stuff)

As said earlier, the "snobs" who scoff at recipes are, in fact, using recipes. Just ones that they have committed to memory. Or like me, they have a confident grasp of techniques and can "fly without a net". I usually employ a combination of all of the above. But that is just me. It's just different strokes for different folks.

On a related view, I remember Jaques Pepin saying that once a recipe was written down it was dead. And although I can't remember the exact context, the way I remember the gist was: When you cook a delicious dish, it is perfect in that moment. The act of writing it down starts to degrade that perfection, ingredients might be missed in the recipe, or the nuance of technique not fully expressed in a written recipe, and thus the results are not as "perfect". So following a recipe might not be a prescription for a delicious dish. And that might be the motivation for some people who don't use recipes.

That said, that is one of the reasons I love Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. They take a recipe and test every ingredient and every technique and give their audience an "almost" perfect recipe.
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