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Aug 24, 2011 12:01 PM

It's not me, it's you: Mistakes in Recipes

Have you ever had a recipe that went wrong that wasn't your fault, because there was actually a mistake in the cookbook? Or have you ever seen a cookbook with a ridiculous spelling error or incorrect "fact"? I've seen a few...

Everyday Indian by Bal Arneson had a couple of pretty bad mistakes in it (pretty tasty food, though, good for your first few indian dishes).
1. A chicken recipe that said to bake the chicken under foil for 25 minutes then remove the foil and bake for another 5-8 minutes. I followed her instructions exactly... and the chicken was still almost raw! I had to put it in for another 20 minutes at least!
2. A recipe entitled " Green peas with paneer and potatoes" looked very tasty, so I spent an hour making some homemade paneer (cheese) to go in it. Then, when I got to the recipe (silly me, I didn't read it first) I realized that there was ABSOLUTELY NO PANEER mentioned anywhere else in the recipe besides the title. I put it it anyway...
3. A recipe for kidney bean and yam stew called for "cubed" yams. They did not cook in the suggested time. They did not cook in twice the time. When we went to eat it, they were still crunchy. She clearly meant "diced" yams. The same error is actually present in another recipe using yams but by then I had leaned my lesson...
4. A cookie recipe in the same book said it would make 10-12 cookies. I decided to make it, following the proportions given in the recipe exactly. I should have realized something was wrong when I was unable to incorporate all the nuts and chocolate chips because there was so much dough it was going to fall out ofthe bowl if I stirred it too much! It ended up FILLING 2 COOKIE TINS!!! The author's cookies must have been the size of dinner plates!!!
Other than that, though, the food is pretty good. I still like the cookbook...

There is also that infamous australian pasta book that was recalled because one recipe said to season the pasta with "salt and freshly ground black people". I can't imagine how that one made it past the editors...

I have more examples, I just can't think of them at the moment. (Subconsciously supressing them, perhaps?)

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  1. I think you need to use common sense when you follow a recipe. Number one, always read it through before starting. Many of the Food Network recipes are not prepared the same way they are prepared on the show, so you sort of have to remember, or read the reviews. Mistakes do get by those editing the books.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mother of four

      Yeah, unfortunately they do... However, it's still kind of bizarre sometimes, especially when it seems like nobody has bothered to test the recipes to make sure they are correct.

      1. re: LePetitChefCanadien

        One of the scenes that surprised me in watching "Julie and Julia" was Julia and her collaborator's encounter with an established cookbook author - if memory serves, Irma Rombauer. In the course of the conversation, that author laughed off Julia's efforts in testing and perfecting all of her own cookbook's recipes, saying something to the effect that if she had to actually MAKE the recipes in her book, she'd never have finished it. I suspect that many recipes are never made. I won a prize in a recipe contest from a local supermarket. The objective was to use frozen foods in an original recipe so I made up a cream soup recipe using vegetables frozen in cheese sauce. I never actually made it.

        Now, you'd assume that Cook's Illustrated recipes would be spot-on, considering their extensive tweaking and testing. I subscribed for many years and learned a lot but didn't actually make very many of the recipes. So wouldn't you know, the first one I tried, for a batter-type fruit cobbler, came out weirdly, with a lot of butter floating on top of a meager pancake covering the fruit. The next issue ran a correction of the ingredient amounts, which called for 1/4 cup of several ingredients, each of which should have been 3/4 cup.

    2. "freshly ground black people"

      Thanks for the afternoon coffee snort.

      1 Reply
      1. re: inaplasticcup

        Thanks for the biggest laugh of my day. I hate that autofill...

      2. accidents in recipes are probably common.
        we all know how many typos I have.
        proof read is a must

        1 Reply
        1. re: iL Divo

          Well, there's proofreading for spelling, and then there's the technical aspect of a recipe. If someone spells "butter" with one t, I'm sure I'll figure it out. But the difference between cubed and diced can make All the Difference between moderate success and total megafails of epic proportions. This is being submitted by the person who made bruschetta topping just a few short weeks back: one pulse too many and it became salsa! And on the strength of a cut size!

        2. I knew there were mistakes in the new Miette cookbook; the publisher is going to replace it when the new edition is out in Sept or Oct.

          I managed to get a list of corrections from Book Passage bookstore.

          Just made the chocolate Tomboy cake that is so beautiful, on the cover of the book.

          Since I now have a scale, I'm trying to bake using weights rather than cups, etc. The recipe for chocolate cake calls for 2 1/4 cups sugar, or 15 oz sugar. In the correction sheet, it calls for
          16 oz of sugar, instead. The weight measurement of sugar is MUCH more than the cup measurement. I was a little worried about so much sugar but the cake tastes fine, not too sweet. I think it would have tasted bad if I had used the cup measurement.

          1 Reply
          1. re: walker

            A cup of white sugar is generally considered to be 7 ounces by weight, so 2-1/4 c is 15-3/4 ounces. It seems odd that the correction would round up by a quarter of an ounce, but I guess it's only a teaspoon or so. How do you calculate that 16 oz is MUCH more than 2-1/4 c?

          2. I've got a Moroccan cookbook that has some great ideas, but most of the recipes have either typos or actual errors. One in particular called for roasting parsnips for 20 minutes.Yummy, parsnip flavored rocks. If I didn't know something about cooking, I would have given up on this book, but I just review each recipe carefully, then alter it if necessary to make it work.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Isolda

              I don't see the problem in roasting parsnips for 20 minutes??

              1. re: greedygirl

                Maybe it has to do with the temperature?...