Recipes and ingredients: Where do you get yours and how do you follow them?
Recipes and ingredients, recipe writing is most definitely a job and a large part of what I do. I use many different recipes, family ones, some from friends, many from cookery books, more recently for the cookery courses and from other chefs. I also like to write my own. The excitement for me is trying something new, but I love the comfort of using well tried and tested recipes!
Following a recipe is simple or should be if it is written in an easy way to follow. Some can be complex so the chances are the method, the instructions, can be missed or followed incorrectly. Ingredients can be a challenge, especially when they are ones you have never heard of. You can now get 99% of ingredients either from supermarkets, specialist shops and online. Via the internet, I have sourced many of the ingredients I need but my main goal is to buy locally.
Sourcing locally can be tricky! Farm shops will have local products which make it easy. I am thinking of products such as beer, ciders, wine and many other packaged products. The key thing is to look at the products on the shelves and in the chiller cabinets. Fresh products such as milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits can be local, but many are not local. As for meat, the farm shop can source from local farmers, pigs, sheep, beef, and other meats such as poultry. But again check the label for the source, many suppliers from around the country and Europe supply local farm shops. My advice is to get to know your suppliers and build a relationship with them.
The trick with anything is to read the instructions first. This is so true with a recipe. It is so easy to get started but then you find that you have done something out of order, or missed out on an ingredient etc. The best thing to do is to sit down and read the recipe. Make note of things you need to be aware of and remember. This way you improve your chances of success. Then prepare the ingredients, weigh out, measure out, chop, dice, and do all of the elements listed in the ingredients section. This is called “Mise en Place”.
It is your time to prepare all of the ingredients and if you can put them on a tray so that all the ingredients you need are to hand. When preparing the ingredients you should have a bowl available to take the peelings and any other food waste. It keeps the worktop tidy!
With a menu as in the example shown you will have recipes for each dish on the menu. Each recipe should have a list of ingredients and a method, which describes the processes you will need to follow to complete the dish. The recipe shows two sets of ingredients and it is essential these are all prepared, weighed, chopped etc before the cooking process starts. Oh, and a photo also works wonders for the chef cooking the dish!
Then check the equipment you need, from knives to spoons, to utensils, bowls, pans, etc. Make sure they are all clean dry and ready for use. The worktops should also be clean and ready to do any mixing, combining, rolling or for any other process that the recipe requires. These believe it or not are the detail you should go to when using a recipe or writing a recipe. It is so easy to assume that a reader will know what you are talking about but never assume. It is vital to test your recipes to death. This is critical especially when you are planning a cookbook or developing a cookery course. Ask friends, family or if your budget extends to paying someone to get the recipe tested. To get an idea read this article on the Guild of Food Writers website.
This is a vital process for anyone writing recipes and using recipes to go through. I hope I have given an insight into the development and writing of recipes. Have fun when cooking your next recipe by your favourite chef or cookery writer.
I have a regular newsletter that I write on Substack – you can link to it A View from the Kitchen