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Monday, November 7, 2011

The foreign language of recipes

     I often hear that recipes and their listed techniques can be daunting to the uninitiated.  Poorly written ones can be vague and very confusing while overwhelming and unfamiliar techniques can cause a passionate cook to stop dead in their tracks with no where to go right before dinner.  Remember, aside from baking and pastry, recipes should just be a framework for you to build around.  You're the boss in your kitchen and you should adjust things to fit your palate.  Otherwise, they're easily written off as "bad" recipes.  Here's some tips to help you out in the future:
  1. Be careful what you google when looking for a dish.  There are no editors or recipe testers for this information so you are better off with cookbooks and magazines.
  2. Look at the season of the year that the recipe is intended for.  Summer?  Focus on sweet and salty flavors with an acidic backbone.  Winter?  Smooth and silky is the way to go with luxurious textures and flavors.
  3.  Get yourself a go-to handbook that you'll always have by your side during your kitchen battles.  I recommend "The Food Lover's Companion" and "The New Professional Chef".  Both can be found on amazon for cheap.
Lastly, take the time to envision yourself doing each step in the recipe.  This will help you to find unforseen problems and forgotten tools or ingredients before you get into the thick of it. 

Good luck and good cooking!