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Old 05-08-2006, 06:09 AM   #1
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What is a recipe?

I try to explain myself. How do you consider a recipe? Is it a beginning (on which you can do you personal variations) or is it a point of arrive, the final destiny of your efforts? What's the utility of a recipe?
For me, a recipe is the only way to get again that particular taste that I loved so much "that time"..
Of course, I can do my variations, but generally I do only in trying new pairings with foods. Whem I do, f.i. "carbonara", I try to do exactly what "carbonara" is. I look for the correct ingredients, the right pasta (spaghetti and not, F.i, maccheroni), the right ham (cheek, not bacon) and so on.
Or, otherwise, I say that I have got a suggest, and I've tried and obtained a new recipe (f.i. I've tried carbonara with some onions: not bad, but NO carbonara). What do you think about?

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Old 05-08-2006, 07:49 AM   #2
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This is an interesting question.

For me, in regards to cooking, the recipe(s) are the beginning. When I decide to cook something, it will be based on the ingredients I have in stock. I keep an extensive larder, a very extensive larder. It is out of the question for me to procure any ingredient in a recipe that I do not have, f.i. if the recipe called for cheek and all I had was bacon, I would have to use the bacon. I live in a remote area and do not have easy access to stores. That is why I keep so much food ingredients on hand. I will gather several recipes for the dish I want to make and usually devise my own recipe based on my ingredients on hand. I will make notes of my recipe if it turns out really well. The utility of a recipe is a guideline for how I will prepare a dish. I am interested in preparing nutritious, delicious meals and do not keep too wrapped up in how I accomplish that. I am unorthodox, that may be an understatement , in the way I prepare foods.


In regards to baking, the recipe is the end game. I will find a recipe that suits my tastes and ingredients and usually follow the recipe. That recipe will serve to produce consistent results.

How do you feel about it?
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Old 05-08-2006, 09:01 AM   #3
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From your answer, I see that may be I have been unprecise. I too, when cooking, cook with the foods I have on hand.
But, when I think to a particular dish, do I try to make exactly what's needed, or do I make variations even if I have the correct ingredients? Do I follow a recipe, or do I cook as my mind likes?
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Old 05-08-2006, 09:09 AM   #4
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When I am making a new recipe for the 1st time, I usually follow it pretty closely that 1st time (although since I like spicy food, I will sometimes increase certain seasonings).

After that 1st time & evaluation, however, anything goes!
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Old 05-08-2006, 09:28 AM   #5
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i do it exactly like BreezyCooking. The exception is if a recipe includes an ingredient that I really do not like, but the rest of the recipe sounds delicious. In that case I might leave that ingredient out, but I try not to do that.
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Old 05-08-2006, 09:32 AM   #6
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What one would consider as "recipe" can depend on that person. Some people prefer exact directions to a T down to exactly how much salt goes into the pot, for some people much less precise direction would suffice.

Also to figure out exactly what is the "correct" way for a certain recipe, this can be complicated, just thinking of some Roman specialties, like bucatini amatriciana or carbonara, every household, or "mamma" has their own mothod and each of them calls theirs "true and correct"... if you were to pinpoint a "true" recipe a "war" could break out!! (I also remember when I was in Texas it was the same way with chili among the locals, too.)

IMO, recipe is a guide line where you get the idea of the whole picture, you follow it to a T or improvise it to your taste, that is up to you. (of course though, it is advised that you are fairly sure about what you are doing in case of improvisation...)
I agree with RDG that if some noted/drastic modification is made to a traditional recipe, it should be mentioned clearly, like if I am to make carbonara with diced ham instead of guanciale or pancetta, I wouldn't just call it my "carbonara" but something like "carbonara style with ham".

That said, as long as the result turns out well for you and everyone enjoys it, that is good... at the end of the day, in cooking "what's right and what's wrong" only exist among the person who cooks it and the people who enjoy it.
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Old 05-08-2006, 10:38 AM   #7
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It depends on what I'm doing.

If I set out to recreate a traditional dish, I follow the recipe exactly. I want to know what makes a certain dish great. If I don't have the ingredients in this situation, I'll go out and get them in preparation for recreating the classic dish.

If I see a recipe somewhere that I really like, I may take liberties with the ingredients. e.g. if a stew dish calls for turnips or parsnips, I'll sub them out because I don't care for them.

Sometimes, a recipe just gives you an idea and you mull it over and come up with a different version and experiment on the fly as you build it.

Finally, a recipe enables you to recreate, as many times as you like, a dish that everyone loves. You never have to hear, "This tastes different!" or "Why did you change it? I liked it the way you made it before!"
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Old 05-08-2006, 12:05 PM   #8
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Here's Webster's definition:

Recipe:
Latin, take, imperative of recipere to take, receive -- more at Receive
1 : Prescription
2 : a set of instructions for making something from various ingredients
3 : a formula or procedure for doing or attaining something <a recipe for success>

If I am making a dish for the first time, I follow the recipe/instructions. I consider a recipe to be a skeleton, basics, that can be embellished/changed to suit my taste, but that came with cooking experience and time.

Cooking is also a creative process. Once you have the basics down, the fun is in reinventing and turning it into a creation/masterpiece all your own. Think of it as an "art".

Example: Painters have brushes, paint & canvas, designers have fabrics and patterns, architects have a plan (or whatever it is that they do, lol) - the creation is up to the individual.

Putting in the love also makes whatever "recipe" you're following more rewarding/fulfilling.

If I'm putting together i.e. a bookcase, and the instructions/recipe is foreign to me (literally), I don't bother with it, or call in a pro

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Old 05-08-2006, 01:39 PM   #9
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Mish, I agree with you, but only partially.
It's true that to cook is a creative process, but, when you "change" a "classic" (or, in every way, well known) recipe, youy simply make ANOTHER RECIPE: a new one. If you find it good, in a next time, you'll remember it, and you will do exactly "your" version of that dish. Practically, you will use a recipe. So, it's true that everything can be changed, but, so doing, we simply try to have a second recipe: sometimes a bad one, sometimes a good one. And the cooking art will go on....
Effectively, I agree with Andy: a recipe is what you need to be able to recreate "that" particular taste. Always. Every time. You can make some changements, and, if good, you will have another recipe to remember.
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Old 05-08-2006, 01:42 PM   #10
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Very well said RDG!!!
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