Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Way I Write Recipes

I can be lazy when reading recipes. Sometimes I'll just scan a recipe before beginning to cook, only to find myself a few minutes later standing over a hot skillet, having only just realized that I need to add a tomato that isn't yet diced. For this reason, I strive in all my recipes to include the preparation work as a step. That way, people following the recipe won't get too far ahead of themselves, as I sometimes do.

I also try to keep in mind the quantities in which ingredients are sold. Although most of my recipes yield enough for two adults and two growing children, when a special ingredient is called for, I try to adjust the yield so that all of a package gets used. Coconut milk, for instance, comes in 14-ounce cans. I don't see the point in using just 10 ounces and letting the rest get moldy in the refrigerator. So I'll adjust the yield of a recipe that calls for part of a can in order to make use of the entire can.

Finally, and most importantly, I try to be explicit about what steps really make a difference in the preparation of a dish. Generally, I have a scientific bent of mind. I really try to understand what makes things work, including good food; so I pay a lot of attention to what makes a dish go right and what can make it go wrong. Some things are okay to fudge; others aren't. I'll always try to let you know which is which (often in the Tips section that follow a recipe, so please don't skip it!).

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