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Old 10-02-2019, 04:37 AM   #1
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Your Thoughts on Jacques Pepin's Take on Following a Recipe

The video and the article are the same ( article is just a transcript of what he says im the video), so if you're having a hard time following what he is saying due to his heavy accent, its all right there in writing.

What he says is basically how I feel about recipes. His example with the pear recipe makes a lot of sense, but I can see how someone who doesn't cook much could fall into problems or be discouraged if they try a recipe and it doesn't turn out well. I think having good cooking common sense and experience goes a long way.


https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/ja...mcyTSEVD0flzNE

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Old 10-02-2019, 06:33 AM   #2
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His example with the pear recipe makes a lot of sense, but I can see how someone who doesn't cook much could fall into problems or be discouraged if they try a recipe and it doesn't turn out well. I think having good cooking common sense and experience goes a long way.

I agree entirely, sometimes you just have to follow the recipe exactly just to see how the originator believes it should be. Then you do your own version.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:42 AM   #3
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I agree with Jacques. A recipe is just a guideline to me.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:01 AM   #4
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Larry, thanks for posting this video. I think I'll forward it to my daughters. It's a great learning tool.

JP is exactly right. His example of the different pear dishes is a good one to illustrate the point that you don't necessarily cook to the time in the recipe but to the expected result (cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes) The important part of the example is where it says "until the pears are soft", not the 30 minutes part. This recognizes that stoves are different and pears are different etc.

Recipes are important to memorialize a great dish (and, sadly, bad ones too). It gives us repeatability and some idea of ow much of each ingredient is needed. It describes techniques you may not be comfortable with.

You can always change a recipe to suit your tastes, adding more or less of an ingredient and substituting to accommodate your pantry supplies. At some point in the modification process, it becomes your recipe and not JP's.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:32 AM   #5
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JP is exactly right. His example of the different pear dishes is a good one to illustrate the point that you don't necessarily cook to the time in the recipe but to the expected result (cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes) The important part of the example is where it says "until the pears are soft", not the 30 minutes part. This recognizes that stoves are different and pears are different etc.
I agree 100%
Having certain culinary skills are great, but I think what JP demonstrates here is just about the most important skill, which is how to read a recipe, know the ingredients, know the unique capabilities of your appliances, and understand ( in advance ) what the recipe is asking for. Only then can you come close to duplicating what the Author of the recipe had in mind.

Some people just dont have ( or dont care to have ) that quality. My wife, sister in law and mother are ' recipe followers". They will follow the recipe word for word and assume, like magic it will come out perfect, not taking everything else into consideration ( JP's Pear example ). Sometimes their food comes out good, and other times , not so good and they just dont understand why. And thats when they get frustrated and giver up.

People always ask me, why do you watch all those cooking shows ( that contain meat recipes ) if you're a vegetarian . My answer to them is, its not necessarily the recipe Im after, but the techniques and little things I can learn that will help me with anything I cook in the future.

They just dont get it, but Im sure you guys and gals do.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:01 AM   #6
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JP is exactly right. His example of the different pear dishes is a good one to illustrate the point that you don't necessarily cook to the time in the recipe but to the expected result (cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes) The important part of the example is where it says "until the pears are soft", not the 30 minutes part. This recognizes that stoves are different and pears are different etc.
Although I agree entirely (I too, have a friend who follows recipes "exactly") if you have never cooked a pear before and a recipe simply states 'until pears are soft' you have no idea how long it will take. 10 minutes? 20? 30? and hour? So the approx. time must be included, it is the experience of the cook to learn the difference.

LOL I have to laugh at my friend, her eyesight simply doesn't see the words "approx." or "until..." only the 20 minutes.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:41 AM   #7
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Although I agree entirely (I too, have a friend who follows recipes "exactly") if you have never cooked a pear before and a recipe simply states 'until pears are soft' you have no idea how long it will take. 10 minutes? 20? 30? and hour? So the approx. time must be included, it is the experience of the cook to learn the difference...
I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. The time is a guideline, not an imperative.

Sort of like when you bake a cake. The directions say bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick... So you bake for 40 minutes and do the toothpick test. If it's not done, you bake for 5 more minutes and test again and repeat until it the toothpick is clean.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:56 AM   #8
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LOL - I never thought you did Andy. It is/was more to point out to new cooks to read and visualize before starting.
Luckily 'MOST' recipes include both, but there have been occasion where it is lacking.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:09 PM   #9
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Another person here who agrees with what Jacques Pepin says in that video. And now I want to make that pear dish.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Recipes are important to memorialize a great dish (and, sadly, bad ones too). It gives us repeatability and some idea of ow much of each ingredient is needed. It describes techniques you may not be comfortable with.

You can always change a recipe to suit your tastes, adding more or less of an ingredient and substituting to accommodate your pantry supplies. At some point in the modification process, it becomes your recipe and not JP's.
Well put, Andy. I almost feel sorry for people when they say that they never use recipes - obviously, they could not try some of the best dishes in the world of food! Who's going to come up with a recipe for a Thai curry, or a Mexican mole just "winging it"? And baking is an area which would be hard to do properly, without a recipe. I sometimes make breads w/o recipes, but only because I've made so many, and they are all originally from recipes, and methods, that I found in books.

I usually make things according to the original recipe, with minor changes, and then tweak it, to my taste (usually, but not always, more pepper!). A friend and I have driven his wife nuts, when we sit and pick a new dish apart while eating it, discussing how to improve it next time! I'm always writing in my books, making notes in pencil, about changes I've made. Or, a frequent note, above those needing no changes - Fantastic!!
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:24 PM   #11
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Jacques' adding the words 'until the pears are soft' (plus the suggested time to bake of course) are the type of descriptions needed to clearly indicate that something more may need to come into play, rather than just following a recipe exactly 'to the letter'.


That's the approach that should be taken to write recipes. I believe that's what I strive to do, and perhaps why some of my recipes may seem to be regarded as lengthy, &/or 'overdone' from a descriptive standpoint.

I also try to imply that changes may need to be considered re: bake timing, oven temp, kinds of ingredients, approximations of amounts, etc.


I also experiment a lot, and almost always make changes to 'standard' type recipes that I come across and use as a model, but which many people would follow without deviation. An example is my chicken paprika.
One shouldn't be robot-like when preparing a dish, n'est ce pas ? LOL
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Old 10-03-2019, 04:18 PM   #12
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Well put, Andy. I almost feel sorry for people when they say that they never use recipes - obviously, they could not try some of the best dishes in the world of food! Who's going to come up with a recipe for a Thai curry, or a Mexican mole just "winging it"?
CWS raises her hand. I won't say I never use recipes, but more often than not, I don't unless I am baking, and even then, if I have made the recipe many times, I don't need a recipe.

For example, when I was working for the food photographer, I decided that the steak we were photographing the next day needed a sauce to tie the dish together.I made that decision based on the recipes for the dishes to be featured. I often can made those kind of decisions on how to tie flavour profiles together or how to bring a complimenting flavour profile to set off the main.Anywho, there I was at the commercial kitchen pulling together a sauce that would marry the flavour profiles of the sides. I roasted red peppers, toasted almonds, added some lime, tomatoes, tasted it, jigged it around, brought it to the gluten-free baker across the hall around midnight (with the sides), tweaked it some more, had him taste it again. Declared it perfect. While I was developing the recipe, I was writing the ingredients on the whiteboard so we could print Ingredient labels for when it was time to package the recipe. I took a pic, and months later was able to duplicate the recipe. Two things: I have an extremely good memory so didn't need to include how I created the sauce, just what I used to do so.

Was I able to do this because of training and experience or do I have an innate sense of flavour profiles or is it because I developed and tested recipes or because I devour cookbooks for pleasure? I don't know. I just know that my way of cooking is without a recipe unless I am developing it for someone to recreate. This drives the KN (a/k/a my Dad) crazy. "What's this called?" Me: "Ummmm...well, I don't know." "Where'd you get the recipe?" Me: "My head." "Can you make it again?" "Me: Probably. Now I don't have a whiteboard in is kitchen, but I do scribble the ingredients on a piece of paper. My maternal grandmother would do that. No instructions, just the ingredients, most often without quantities.
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Old 10-03-2019, 05:00 PM   #13
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I think all of us can "wing" something after years of practice, (well, except maybe me).

I rather imagine the point here is ... could you, did you do that without a recipe when you were 10 years old?

and yes, I know, there are child prodigy out there being crammed down out throats on TV -

Reading and trying a recipe is learning, absorbing something. Not everyone is born with that ability. Have an acquaintance who was constantly saying she just "put it together off the top of her head" when one of her best friends found her pouring over books, magazines researching, memorizing her next spectacular. We all had a good laugh, no hard feelings, she was/IS an excellent cook and we still enjoy her meals.
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Old 10-03-2019, 11:12 PM   #14
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That's why Jacques Pépin is a famous chef. I agree completely.

His pear example was a perfect lesson for anyone who has followed a recipe, and had it fail. I am slowly developing that sixth sense when I cook, where I can tell when something I am cooking is not going to work unless i make some kind of adjustment.

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