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Quality of recipes on "recipe sites?"

I won't mention any of the names here, but I have taken time to peruse some of the "recipe web sites" when looking for a specific recipe. For instance, today I did a search for Paella and came up with several different variations on a wildly popular recipe site. Only problem is that I know enough about Paella to know that some of these recipes couldn't possibly be any good.

To be sure, I did a search on that site for "jambalaya." I know plenty about jambalaya and some of the recipes on there looked plain wrong or disgusting. And some of them were rated 5 stars! I mean, jambalaya is a rice dish, but I can't tell you how many recipes called to "ladle it over white rice." Are you kidding? And this leads me to my question.

How many of these recipes are any good? Is it just a bunch of midwestern (no offense) housewives who couoldn't spot good food if it hit them in the head? I saw how many bad jambalaya recipes were out there, but what if I was looking for a recipe of something I've never cooked?

-Kevin

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  1. You have to trust a site before just randomly making something from it. I generally trust epicurious, and I will generally trust SOME of the food network recipes depending on the chef (Yes to Sara Moulton and Ina Garten, no to many, many others). I have had the same experience as you with too many other sites-I've found some really disgusting sounding recipes on some of them-so I don't even bother to look at any others besides the two I mentioned anymore.

    1 Reply
    1. re: christy319

      I agree that this is key - trusting a site and the sources on the site. I 've personally found Ina's recipes to work simply because she makes essentially simple dishes that everyone is familiar with and uses high quality ingredients. Also, recipes that are backed by test kitchens generally work well (i.e. Better Homes & Gardens website/cookbooks). . . I've tried recipes from allrecipes.com and while I love that it's mainly a user-generated site, I've found that recipes with great ratings from the community don't work out at times. So I use this site to initially browse. Also just looking at the ingredients list carefully should play a big part - oftentimes the recipe name/description can be a facade as the ensuing ingredients don't look appealing.

    2. Start with a site that has recipes from professionals that have been tested prior to publication, such as epicurious.com or foodtv.com.

      Then compare amateur recipes if you like.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I have used several recipes from foodtv.com and they have all turned out great. They ranged from Paula Deen's "two sticka butter" recipes, Emeril, and Tyler Florence. I look to these professionals and their staff behind them to tweak it and also look at the user ratings as well.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Simply Recipes is an exception...they test em all in their home. Great site!

        2. Or, understand these sites for what they try to be...outlets for the home cook, the guy/gal who gets raves for "their original," the community of untrained folks who just like to play with their food and receive no pay for just sharing their own "tried and true" thru a website (who does make $ on ads) and with a web audience out there looking for something different.

          What never ceases to amaze me are the number of recipes posted by pros and non pros that claim to be original. I think it is fair to say that an original recipe/culinary idea is hard to claim.

          1. I rarely follow a recipe, I will use it as a guide, and make my changes to our taste or my client's taste.

            I don't put a lot of validity in any one site more than another, I've had to throw out Emeril's stuff before, because I didn't use my own good judgment on what was written.

            I cannot stress enough what another chef friend of mine taught me. Don't put so much value in the written recipe. Many times amounts are wrong, method is better off doing something else, and spices should be added, doubled or taken away.

            I come across those Jambalaya recipes, using Italian sausage (couldn't believe my eyes that they would even print such a thing), and yes, take into consideration the average person's taste and what they think is authentic or good. We are in the minority.

            This is why Olive Garden and Applebee's THRIVE!

            1. Just this afternoon I saw an Ina Garten recipe for huumus, which called for *hot sauce*! Experts and professionals surely argue about authenticity, and what's "good" is SO subjective.
              I'm always amazed at the vast never-ending supply of recipes out there.