Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Lesson in Recipe Writing

My family makes a lot of food.  I mean, it's really no more than any other family, I guess, but my point is that we cook three meals a day plus do frequent baking.  We have a shelf of cook books in our dining room and I have multiple boards on Pinterest dedicated to food - soups, crock pot recipes, breakfast items, desserts, cookies, and healthy versions of several of those.  The awesome part is that we've made dozens of new dishes from these collections of mine, and we've found several new favourites.  It's fun to branch out from the regulars from time to time, and since we don't go out to eat much, we get to try new things frequently.

Something I've noticed, though, is that while there are many excellent cooks and bakers out there, and many, many wonderful blog writers...entirely too many of them do not know how to properly compose a recipe.  So, for those of you who want to keep a record of any brilliant ingredient combos you design, or just want to put a recipe in your recipe box or book or blog...this post is for you!

How to Write a Recipe
  1. List your ingredients in the order in which they will be used.
  2. Abbreviate Tablespoon and teaspoon, and make sure to use a capital T for Tbsp and a lower-case t for tsp. 
  3. If there are two parts to the recipe, separate the lists of ingredients (e.g. a dish and a sauce, or a pastry and a topping, etc.).
  4. If the food item will be baked in a preheated oven, list the temperature at the beginning of the instructions.  If the oven should not be preheated, say that at the beginning and list the temperature in the directions when you get to the step where it's put in the oven.
  5. Make sure your directions list EVERY STEP and use EVERY INGREDIENT.  Double check this before publishing your recipe anywhere.
  6. Keep your directions simple by including how ingredients should be prepared in the list of ingredients, rather than in the instructions.  For example, list, "red bell pepper, diced" in your list of ingredients, rather than including, "Dice the red pepper," in your instructions.
  7. Generally, you do not need to refer to each ingredient by its full name in the directions.  For example, you can simply say "oil" instead of "olive oil," or "flour" instead of "whole wheat flour."  The only exception to this is if there are more than one different kind of the same thing in the recipe.  For example, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar.
  8. Make sure you put the directions in the order in which they need to be done.  For example, don't make the sauce the final step in the recipe if it has to sit for 20 minutes to thicken.  Make it the first step so the rest of the directions can be completed while the sauce sets.
  9. Always include how much the recipe yields.  
Helpful, but not required information in a recipe includes:
  •  Serving size
  • Whether or not the leftovers can be frozen
  • Prep time and bake/cook time (if applicable)
  • Calorie/carb/fat content per serving (this requires a noted serving size)

And now you can put together a useful, correct recipe!  Have fun creating...and more fun eating. 

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