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What is your biggest recipe pet peeve?

e
evansp60 Jul 6, 2012 08:23 PM

I love to cruise the internet for recipes. When I have a partcular cut of meat or am just looking for something different to make I have a bunch of sites that I like to surf for ideas. I have two HUGE pet peeves that I constantly run into.

Peeve 1)

When looking for curry dishes many of the recipes will give you the ingredient list and then say:
2 tblsp mild curry powder

WHAT A COPOUT!!!

Premade curry powders have a wide range of flavors. Not all will give you the taste you might be looking for. Curry is actually just a spice blend. In East India they do not have curry powders, they have spices you blend to create a flavor. There are spice blends for chicken, others for pork or seafood. They all differ depending on what you are trying to achieve. Saying ADD CURRY POWDER is way too general as the resulting flavor can be very different than it should.

Peeve 2)

I love to do rib rubs, smoke bacon, pulled pork, etc.
Reading through a recipe that gives you a list of seasonings and then at the bottom says:

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

WHAT????

Give the frikkin recipe to a BBQ sauce that will compliment the other seasonings you've put on the meat. If your going to suggest any sauce will do then scrap the recipe and just baste the thing in whatever you like. It renders the whole recipe usless.

Drives me crazy.

What are your pet peeves when cruising recipes??

  1. s
    sandylc Sep 10, 2012 02:12 PM

    I forget if I've already mentioned this one, but I hate it when the font type and size are such that it is difficult to tell the difference between 1/4, 1/2, 1/3, etc. I may be getting old(er), but my glasses work quite well, thank you, and I don't appreciate having to look so closely to determine the difference! These same folks often like to use ink that is mint, or beige, or whatever, rather than black. Ugh.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sandylc
      drongo Sep 10, 2012 02:54 PM

      Hah... I also have difficulty with 1/8 vs 1/2 etc. But I do attribute it to my aging eyes (even with glasses not-so-great).

    2. m
      MacGuffin Aug 31, 2012 06:57 AM

      This is going to sound trivial but it drives me nuts when recipes don't specify whether or not ingredients like brown sugar should be packed.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MacGuffin
        s
        sandylc Aug 31, 2012 10:06 AM

        It's funny; brown sugar should ALWAYS be packed. However, we learn this usually by reading it in recipes, therefore it needs to be there for us to learn it!

        1. re: sandylc
          m
          MacGuffin Aug 31, 2012 11:19 AM

          I realize that's the assumption (45+ years messing about in the kitchen, most of it involving recipes, many of them for desserts) but I still like the confirmation. :)

          1. re: MacGuffin
            paulj Aug 31, 2012 11:41 AM

            I wonder if the 'packing' is more likely omitted in cases where the exact quantity does not matter. In cakes and cookies, the amount of sugar can be important. But with most other recipes there is quite a bit of latitude (e.g. quick breads, sauces). And with concerns about sugar in our diet, cooks are more likely to tweak the sugar levels.

      2. Hank Hanover Aug 28, 2012 06:37 PM

        Seeing as we are listing every tiny peeve, let me add this one. Recipe titles that include the word recipe, like Chicken Marsala Recipe.

        Yeah, I know it is miniscule but for some reason it irks me.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Hank Hanover
          John E. Aug 29, 2012 07:59 AM

          I suppose the word "Recipe" is included in the title Chicken Marsala Recipe to differentiate that particular group of words from the Chicken Marsala One Act Play or the Chicken Marsala Novella. ; )

          1. re: John E.
            eclecticsynergy Sep 1, 2012 04:58 PM

            Yep. The same way they will sometimes specify William Shakepeare's Romeo and Juliet, to differentiate it from all the other playwrights who have written works of the same name.

          2. re: Hank Hanover
            AmyH Aug 29, 2012 09:41 AM

            Along those same lines, it has always irked me when a recipe has the word "ingredients" above the ingredients and "directions" or "instructions" above what to do with the ingredients. I wonder if it is for proper formatting in recipe software, but I don't use that so to me it's just extra words for idiots who don't know that the ingredients are ingredients. Alas, Chow is an offender.

            1. re: AmyH
              Hank Hanover Aug 29, 2012 02:51 PM

              Now that is interesting, Amy. When I am transcribing a recipe into Word for my hard drive, I insert the headings: Ingredients and Directions. I do it so often I have a hot key for those words in the format I normally use them in a recipe. .... Awkward.... :-)

              1. re: Hank Hanover
                AmyH Aug 30, 2012 09:13 AM

                Now I'm curious as to why you insert those words? If you're putting the recipes in Word, it must not be for formatting in a recipe program. And I'm sure you're smart enough to know what those sections are without the titles. Tell you what, when I take those words out of the recipes I'm transcribing to save in Word, I'll send them to so you can add them to yours! {;-D)

                1. re: AmyH
                  Hank Hanover Aug 30, 2012 09:59 AM

                  I think I started using them because most of the recipes I was looking at had them. I wanted a uniform format, although after I exchanged recipes with someone else, a lot of them are not the same format anymore.

                  I think it was in the back of my mind that I might want to publish them someday or something... not sure.

                  Your point about them being superfluous is well taken, though.

                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                    paulj Aug 30, 2012 10:48 AM

                    Is it also superfluous to set the ingredients list in bold? Why format that list as a column, and instructions as paragraphs?

                    I suppose it is also superfluous for academic papers to use headings like
                    Abstract. Notation, Acknowledgements, References
                    We all know by their formatting and location in the paper what they are.

                    Chow's recipe section headers look like:
                    <div class="header_section"><span>INGREDIENTS</span></div>
                    <div id="ingredients">

                    Chow could easily hide that header by changing the style sheet
                    http://www.chow.com/static/2012082721...
                    #recipes #col1b .header_section {
                    background-color: #ececec;
                    font-size: 1.2em;
                    margin: 2em 0 1em 0;
                    padding: 0;
                    font-weight:bold;
                    }

                    Maybe you should start a thread in SiteTalk ask that the recipes be presented in a more literary, less stylize manner.

                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                      John E. Aug 30, 2012 03:22 PM

                      I actually use those words in bold to separate the different parts of the recipe to make it easier to see the different parts of the recipe with a quick glance. When I copy the recipes, I usually reformat them to remove the automatic numbering since I sometimes change the cooking directions a little to suit me.

                      1. re: John E.
                        Hank Hanover Sep 10, 2012 02:54 PM

                        Me too... I use size 14 Times Roman Bold with a colon and the title is size 18 Times Roman Bold centered. Ok... so maybe I'm a little weird but they are my recipes.

              2. re: Hank Hanover
                paulj Sep 1, 2012 09:26 PM

                Chow example
                Herbed Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe
                http://www.chow.com/recipes/27489-her...

                It is as simple as the Bon Appetite tomato recipe that another thread complains about.

              3. Musie Aug 28, 2012 06:51 AM

                This likely has already been mentioned, but cake recipes that include using boxed cake mix. Just, why?! It's like... If I add sour cream and extra flour, I can deny my use of pre-mixed dry ingredients and claim it as my own.

                15 Replies
                1. re: Musie
                  e
                  evansp60 Aug 28, 2012 05:58 PM

                  For that matter any recipe that calls for the use of a prepackaged product (unless of course you cruising the Nestle site, what else do you expect there?).

                  1. re: evansp60
                    paulj Aug 28, 2012 08:59 PM

                    Except for vegetables, nearly everything I buy comes in packages, even flour.

                    By the way, what's the difference between packaged and prepackaged?

                    1. re: paulj
                      e
                      evansp60 Aug 29, 2012 06:27 AM

                      By prepackaged I mean a mixture of ingrediants that you could have done yourself.
                      Such as a cake mix. If your making a cake from a recipe and the recipe says "1 box Cake Mix", or your making a curry and it says "1 tblsp curry powder", or "1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce". The point is that the packaged product could have a profound effect on the outcome of the recipe and shouldn't come out of a packet.

                      1. re: evansp60
                        paulj Aug 29, 2012 01:48 PM

                        A couple of years ago M Rullman issued a 'BLT from scratch' challenge. Here are the rules:
                        http://ruhlman.com/2009/06/blt-from-s...

                        "You grow your tomato, you grow your lettuce, you cure your own bacon or pancetta, you bake your own bread (wild yeast preferred and gets higher marks but is not required), you make your own mayo. "

                        1. re: paulj
                          cowboyardee Aug 29, 2012 02:23 PM

                          I think I've actually done that, wild yeast excepted.

                          I'm not sure whether I should be proud or if that just demonstrates the depths of my food nerdism.

                          1. re: paulj
                            e
                            evansp60 Aug 29, 2012 08:24 PM

                            Well, I grow tomatos, make my own pancetta and bacon, I bake bread, make mayo

                            So far I'm doing ok......

                    2. re: Musie
                      m
                      MrBoombastic Aug 29, 2012 09:26 PM

                      There is nothing wrong with pre packaged in principal but in practice it is very low quality everything. Americans usually buy something because they like the animal in the commercial or the colors on the box or the famous song about the corporation. They dont have a clue about quality or anything. Its sad but its true.

                      1. re: MrBoombastic
                        s
                        sandylc Aug 29, 2012 09:41 PM

                        I am American and I don't use your method to choose food. So not true.

                        1. re: sandylc
                          m
                          MacGuffin Aug 30, 2012 05:25 AM

                          I'd have to second that.

                          1. re: MacGuffin
                            pikawicca Aug 30, 2012 04:09 PM

                            Third.

                            1. re: pikawicca
                              kubasd Aug 31, 2012 10:50 AM

                              fourth!

                              1. re: kubasd
                                Michelly Aug 31, 2012 10:14 PM

                                Fifth!

                                1. re: Michelly
                                  eclecticsynergy Sep 1, 2012 05:01 PM

                                  Fifth of Jack Daniels!

                        2. re: MrBoombastic
                          Veggo Aug 30, 2012 02:52 PM

                          Chowhound is a friendly place where non-Americans don't trash Americans, and vice versa. Kiss your visa, my friend.

                          1. re: MrBoombastic
                            s
                            sandylc Aug 31, 2012 12:40 PM

                            I try not to be prejudiced; I think that every country has its share of stupid people - ! :-)

                        3. m
                          MrBoombastic Aug 27, 2012 09:52 PM

                          I think my *pet peeve* is *the recipe*. I recommend a cook should learn oto understand the ingredients and the techniques. You cannot cook good just using recipe. It is the same as you cannot paint good just reading a book on paint. It is your eyes and nose and mouth that teach you. Even if the recipe can be cooked good by a good cook it can also cooked bad by a bad cook. The recipe cannot teach you to be a good cook.

                          1. Hank Hanover Aug 26, 2012 03:34 PM

                            Oh I have one. Food Network publishes their recipes with a hyperlink on almost every noun and verb to a definition of that term.

                            It bothers me for two reasons:
                            1. All the blue underlined words messes with my concentration. Ok, It fritzes my mind.
                            2. If I am copying and pasting to a word document, I have to go in and remove the hyperlinks. One at a time... of course.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Hank Hanover
                              s
                              small h Aug 26, 2012 03:55 PM

                              I can add a third reason. I clicked on the word "stock" in a recipe for onsen tamago, assuming that would get me to a description of how to make the stock. I ended up at the Charles Schwab website. Not helpful.

                              1. re: Hank Hanover
                                s
                                sandylc Aug 26, 2012 04:01 PM

                                Hank, try putting them into Pepperplate.

                                1. re: sandylc
                                  Hank Hanover Aug 26, 2012 09:14 PM

                                  Sandy;

                                  I don't know what Pepperplate is. I assume it is a website that helps you organize your recipes.

                                  I really like my recipes on my hard drive.. and a few back ups. If I traveled a lot or in some way needed my 4000 or so recipes on the cloud, I would look for one of those nice services.

                                  I don't even have a smartphone. I carry a cell phone for emergencies and occasional use. I think I had 2 -3 hours on my phone last month and that marked a big increase.

                                  Thanks for the recommendation, though.

                                  1. re: Hank Hanover
                                    s
                                    sandylc Aug 29, 2012 04:13 PM

                                    Hank, I know what you mean. The advantage to Pepperplate is that you can import and format recipes from many websites in one click. For the websites that do not have a relationship with Pepperplate, a few easy copy-pastes do the trick. For your own recipes, just type them in and it formats them for you. If you want them on your hard drive, you can just copy-paste into a word doc and there they will be, beautifully formatted. Of course, one potential flaw here is if you don't care for their format, but I do like it.

                                2. re: Hank Hanover
                                  l
                                  lseavey Aug 27, 2012 04:58 AM

                                  Highlight the entire Word document by pressing CONTROL + A. Once the document is selected, press CONTROL + SHIFT + F9. The document will be converted to text, and the hyperlinks will be
                                  removed.

                                  1. re: lseavey
                                    Hank Hanover Aug 27, 2012 01:02 PM

                                    That worked.....Thank you. I was afraid it would remove all formatting... but it didn't.

                                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                                      eLizard Aug 28, 2012 07:03 AM

                                      oops. just saw this. sorry for the repeat answer.

                                  2. re: Hank Hanover
                                    eLizard Aug 28, 2012 07:03 AM

                                    you can remove all the hyperlinks at once in word. I think it's ALT SHIFT F9 or CTL SHIFT F9 or CTL ALT F9....one of those permutations...

                                  3. c
                                    Cabbagesoup Aug 26, 2012 03:18 PM

                                    Ingredients weighing on processed crap. Canned soup, powered mixes. For the love of Julia Child!!

                                    1. Michelly Aug 22, 2012 08:39 PM

                                      I hate it when the recipe calls for a particular size pan or pot, and that size won't work.

                                      I made a pasta dish the other night....by the time I prepared all the parts of the dish, when I combined them all together in the large skillet called for in the recipe, I had to transfer everything to a much larger pan (luckily I have a wok).

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Michelly
                                        m
                                        MelMM Aug 28, 2012 06:29 AM

                                        I recently came across a recipe that said to put 2 quarts of liquid into a 2 quart saucepan.

                                        1. re: MelMM
                                          hambone Aug 30, 2012 02:04 AM

                                          brilliant.

                                      2. Peg Aug 17, 2012 02:44 AM

                                        ...and another thing - giving recipes 'creative' names then only listing those in the index.

                                        And - not giving tin measurements for baking - 'bake in a loaf tin' is NOT enough information!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Peg
                                          paulj Aug 17, 2012 08:24 AM

                                          We don't have loaf tins on this side of the Atlantic, just pans. :)

                                          But if the recipe specifies the tin size, and you don't have it, would you skip that recipe?

                                          1. re: paulj
                                            Peg Aug 17, 2012 09:20 AM

                                            Pans? Really? I never knew that. My mom was American and she always called them 'tins'. Maybe by then she could speak English English!

                                            If I had a different sized tin I'd at least have an idea of how to modify the recipe - or even know if it NEEDED modifying.

                                        2. j
                                          jvanderh Aug 16, 2012 12:01 AM

                                          Redundancies or unnecessary steps that get replicated from one recipe to the next until the end of time. Don't tell me to sift the flour unless you've tried it both ways and it actually makes a difference. Ditto with combining ingredients in 3 different bowls. Don't tell me I need baking soda + baking powder if just baking powder will do the job. Don't waste my time with 6 parts all purpose flour and 1 part whole wheat. Every ingredient, dirty dish, and minute of effort should earn its keep.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jvanderh
                                            p
                                            pine time Aug 16, 2012 02:03 PM

                                            it may be baking heresy, but I generally ignore the sifting instruction, along with combining the sifted flour with the baking soda/powder/salt--I just add 'em au naturale and mix in well. Haven't had a disaster yet.

                                            1. re: pine time
                                              paulj Aug 16, 2012 03:52 PM

                                              My sense is that sifting was a more significant issue in the past, when the quality and storage of flour was not as uniform as now. The recipes that my mom used all called for sifting. I bought a sifter some 30 years ago, but rarely use it. The 5lb bags of flour that I buy are never lumpy or packed.

                                              Working from weight will also eliminate one reason to sift - uniform measure. Sift was also seen as a way of more thoroughly mixing the dry ingredients, but a good stir seems to be enough. I might still pull out the sifter when making a finicky cake, but for things like biscuits, muffins, pancakes, and bread there is no need.

                                              But it does not bother me if a 20 yr old recipe calls for sifting.

                                          2. d
                                            dkenworthy Aug 15, 2012 09:50 AM

                                            All recipes exist in a cultural norm, and historically, "everyone" knew what the results were supposed to be, so many necessary steps were left out. And people mostly learned to cook from someone in their house, either a mother, grandmother, or even paid cook, so recipes were just aides-memoire, not how-to manuals.

                                            So, my grandmother's recipe for Oatmeal Cake from the depression doesn't specifiy the size pan (she always used the same pan for cakes), or much beyond a list of ingredients and an oven temperature and an approximate time. She assumed that everyone knew to mix the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet ingredients, and pour into a prepared (greased and floured) pan. That is fine for me, because I was lucky enough to eat it in her kitchen before copying the recipe so I don't need details. But when someone asks me for the recipe (it is delicious) I have to completely rewrite the recipe because they don't know all the basics.

                                            Nowadays, many people are learning to cook from the web, or from cookbooks, and recipes tend to be much more detailed. Also, we tend to cook from many traditions, not just the ones we grew up in. And sadly, many young people didn't grow up with home cooking at all.

                                            I try not to be irritated by the (to me) unnecessary details -- I know to remove the giblets from the turkey cavity for crying out loud! But not everybody does, so it needs to be spelled out.

                                            My biggest pet peeve are recipes that are clearly not tested in a home kitchen and have no chanced of succeeding, even if the cook is reasonably experienced.

                                            1. e
                                              ElizabethS Aug 14, 2012 09:25 AM

                                              Wow - over 500 replies and this one hasn't been mentioned - when a recipe gives bogus times for the cooking process - "reduce liquid by half - 10 minutes" when there is no way it will reduce in 10 minutes.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: ElizabethS
                                                hambone Aug 14, 2012 03:48 PM

                                                Maybe the laws of physics cease to exist on top of that writer's stove. (Or he has magic grits.)

                                                1. re: hambone
                                                  paulj Aug 14, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                  Or the writer's stove and/or pan is quite different. 10 minutes might be realistic on a commercial stove, and with a wide shallow pan. Reduction time depends on surface area and heat.

                                                  1. re: hambone
                                                    Midknight Aug 15, 2012 06:34 AM

                                                    LOL!!

                                                    1. re: Midknight
                                                      hambone Aug 15, 2012 11:14 AM

                                                      Thanks. One of the best scenes of all time!

                                                    2. re: hambone
                                                      drongo Aug 17, 2012 05:38 PM

                                                      We call it a rotavap. Every kitchen should have one.

                                                    3. re: ElizabethS
                                                      AmyH Aug 14, 2012 04:22 PM

                                                      Actually, I really don't mind when they say that. What I DO mind is when they just say to cook for 10 minutes and don't say what the result should be.

                                                      1. re: ElizabethS
                                                        Michelly Aug 22, 2012 08:33 PM

                                                        Here, here. So many times it takes three, maybe four times the amount of time to reduce a sauce.

                                                      2. c
                                                        cstout Aug 13, 2012 03:27 PM

                                                        I don't know if this is actually a "peeve", but I certainly don't know how to deal with it.

                                                        I want to cut the recipe in half - recipe calls for 3 eggs. Now what? Please advise.

                                                        One poster here complained here about the serving size saying "serves 4 - 4 what??'

                                                        Well, I have experienced the opposite sometimes - "serves 4 - more like 4 with leftovers for the whole neighborhood!"

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: cstout
                                                          s
                                                          sandylc Aug 13, 2012 03:40 PM

                                                          With the eggs, it depends upon what you are making. You can either beat an egg and measure out half of it, or you can use one whole egg and then choose either the yolk or the white of the second egg; again, depending upon what the recipe is for.

                                                          1. re: sandylc
                                                            c
                                                            cstout Aug 13, 2012 05:59 PM

                                                            Dividing eggs - thank you so much sandylc...another one of life's mysteries solved, thanks to you!

                                                          2. re: cstout
                                                            t
                                                            thursday Aug 13, 2012 06:02 PM

                                                            Depending on what the recipe is for, if it calls for 3 eggs and I'm halving it, I generally use one whole egg, one whole white and then pierce the yolk of the 2nd egg - I pierce it with the shell or a fork, and pour in about 1/2 the yolk. Seems to work well.

                                                            1. re: cstout
                                                              John E. Aug 14, 2012 09:21 AM

                                                              Use 2 eggs instead of 3 when cutting the recipe in half. The difference is negligible but would be best to err on the side of a bit too much rather than too little lift. You could fool around with the eggs to get a more precise measurement, but it usually is not worth the hassle.

                                                            2. junescook Aug 13, 2012 02:14 PM

                                                              I am accustomed to measuring ingredients. When I make pasta, I weigh out 4 0z for the two of us, or 4.35 oz from these boxes that come with 13.25 oz.

                                                              Recently we started back on Weight Watchers. I'm going throught the recipes book and see that whole grain pasta is 4 points per serving. So I make my ususal 4 oz. When it's done, I reread the WW book and see that 1 cup of COOKED pasta is 4 pts. Now this doesn't matter whether it's angel hair or large shells (one of which would probably fit into a measuring cup, one cup = 4 pts. Why can people just not simply put the weights when they're giving ingredients.

                                                              (I also like to bake bread and of course like recipes by weight also.).

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: junescook
                                                                c
                                                                CanadaGirl Aug 14, 2012 06:44 AM

                                                                The pasta thing irks me a bit too, but then I figured using weight would likely not be perfect here either, as I assume the degree of donennes of the pasta would affect the weight. Or I may be totally wrong :)

                                                                1. re: CanadaGirl
                                                                  biondanonima Aug 15, 2012 10:33 AM

                                                                  Pasta should always be measured in raw weight, IMO. No chance of misunderstanding in that case. And as for the weight of cooked pasta, you're right - degree of doneness and shape of pasta both play a role. I remember reading a recent study where they weighed regular spaghetti vs. capellini and found that capellini absorbed WAY more water, due to it's greater ratio of surface area.

                                                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                                                    c
                                                                    CanadaGirl Aug 16, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                                    Oh, I agree that weighing dry would be the only accurate way to go. The challenge with using weight to figure out an individual serving when following Weight Watchers is that it would require cooking more than one pot of pasta, as I don't cook only for me!

                                                              2. c
                                                                ctfoodguy Aug 13, 2012 11:14 AM

                                                                I just came upon a recipe in a magazine that calls for 10 oz of pasta. Serves 4!

                                                                Serves 4 WHAT? kindergardeners?

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: ctfoodguy
                                                                  paulj Aug 13, 2012 12:34 PM

                                                                  I find that 4 oz (1/4 of lb bag) is about right for the 2 of us. And no, we are not kindergardeners.

                                                                  1. re: ctfoodguy
                                                                    biondanonima Aug 15, 2012 10:38 AM

                                                                    I make anywhere from 2-4oz per person depending on whether the dish is meant as a first course or main dish, and what kind of sauce/protein additions are involved. For instance, if I'm adding 6 oz of shrimp per person and a pile of vegetables to the dish, I'll probably go 2-2.5 oz per person. If it's carbonara and I'm not serving anything else besides a salad, I'd probably go 4 oz per person.

                                                                    I almost always ignore the amount of servings any recipe states it makes, though. I know how much Mr. Bionda and I eat, so I just base my assumptions on that and take into account the other elements of the meal to make sure I'm making an appropriate amount.

                                                                  2. c
                                                                    cstout Aug 11, 2012 09:22 AM

                                                                    Recipes listed this way in a cookbook-

                                                                    Appetizers
                                                                    Drinks
                                                                    Breakfast
                                                                    Main Dishes,,,etc.

                                                                    So ho hum, I could scream. Besides, an appetizer could become a light "lunch". Breakfast could be "supper". But I have to forever remember that it is filed this way in the cookbook. I just don't like to be locked in those fifties style headings.

                                                                    Some books get a little creative by calling appetizers "party food"......PLeeeeeese, don't try to trick me that way.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: cstout
                                                                      Emme Aug 11, 2012 08:36 PM

                                                                      rather sort by ingredients? preparation? season? i know what you're saying, but what's your proposed alternative?

                                                                      1. re: Emme
                                                                        e
                                                                        evansp60 Aug 12, 2012 06:52 AM

                                                                        I like separation by country or culture. Directs me into what flavor I might be interested in. Otherwise....SEARCH......based on my primary protein. Then I cruise thru till something catches my eye.

                                                                        1. re: Emme
                                                                          c
                                                                          cstout Aug 12, 2012 04:46 PM

                                                                          How to arrange the recipes in a cookbook - actually I have been giving this a lot of thought for some time since I have been trying to put together a cookbook to give to friends as Christmas gifts. Just my own personal collection from everywhere.

                                                                          This has stumped me & actually has stalled the book from the beginning. Does anybody have any creative ideas?

                                                                          I came up with chapter titles like these -

                                                                          Rise & Shine - breakfast
                                                                          Got the Munchies? - snacks/appetizers/ pizza
                                                                          Eat your Veggies - side dishes & salads
                                                                          Time for Supper - main dishes
                                                                          Stocking the Pantry - jams, spices, mixes, etc.
                                                                          Care for Some Dessert? - obvious
                                                                          Quick Fixes - pastas
                                                                          Daily Bread - quick breads, rolls,

                                                                          Anyway, that is in the rough stages - all suggestions are welcome!

                                                                          1. re: cstout
                                                                            paulj Aug 12, 2012 08:11 PM

                                                                            Except for cute names, this seems to be the same arrangement as the 50 style that you find humho. I though you wanted some other arrangement, say be major ingredients, or cuisine. Now it sounds as though you just want different names, not different categories.

                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                              c
                                                                              cstout Aug 13, 2012 07:36 AM

                                                                              Yes, I am going in circles. In reality, I don't know what I want - I go from bad to worse, please ignore me. I shall just shut up & listen to the wise Chow people posting here.Much better ideas than me.

                                                                              You are all doing a great job, by the way.

                                                                            2. re: cstout
                                                                              Emme Aug 12, 2012 08:30 PM

                                                                              what about the issue you raise of appetizers being good for light lunch or side dish or dinner or vice versa...?

                                                                              i've thought about this quite a bit as well, but get stuck...

                                                                              Sorting by ingredients -- your TOC will be long and redundant
                                                                              Cooking Methods - braise, grill, bake, etc but then you still need subdivision -- Baked chapter otherwise reads something like Chicken with X sauce, Chocolate Chips Cookies, Corn Muffins, etc
                                                                              Seasons of Ingredients -- still has subsorting issue

                                                                              maybe something with chapters like --

                                                                              Bites or Plates -- stuff that can be and is often times appetizer, or appetizer portions, but is adaptable
                                                                              Sugar--
                                                                              --Sugar with Chocolate
                                                                              --Sugar with Fruit
                                                                              --Frozen Sugar
                                                                              --Sugar with Crust
                                                                              Goes Along Side or Match a Few - side dishes
                                                                              Carnivore's Fare
                                                                              Pescatarian
                                                                              Meatless Mondays Anyday -- heartier vegetarian fare
                                                                              Eggs -- i believe they deserve their own section

                                                                              i think it would be helpful to have a few indices or appendices -- one sorting by time prep including a section for make-ahead, little active time, cathartic prep, etc.; one by ingredients, one by prep method, etc.

                                                                              come to think of it, i'll take a few tables of contents, that way every customer, and every mood, can be accommodated.

                                                                              1. re: Emme
                                                                                t
                                                                                thursday Aug 12, 2012 10:09 PM

                                                                                I tend to ignore the layout of most cookbooks for these exact reasons - someone else's appetizer is my lunch is someone else's side dish...

                                                                                The only 2 cookbooks I have that the layout in terms of contents works for me is a big basic book that divides purely by category ("Soups" "Vegetables" "Meat and Fish") and within those categories makes no meal distinctions (so both vegetable soups and dessert soups are all in that chapter, just as tuna salad and fancy tuna entrees are both in the Fish chapter), and a dessert book that divides by seasonality. My seasons, being in L.A., are different than the author's frankly, but at least it's browseable. Otherwise, I just use indices to find recipes and ignore the table of contents almost completely -

                                                                                Which is why I agree that a good index is essential. I hate when I know, for example, that a cookbook has a basic instruction for poached eggs somewhere, but it's not under "Eggs" or "poached," it's under "techniques." Grrr. Of course I always have the water simmering already before I decide to just double-check the recommended timing...

                                                                                ETA: Sorry, I got this thread confused with this one:
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/862709

                                                                                Quite a bit of overlap going on here... =)

                                                                                1. re: Emme
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  cstout Aug 13, 2012 07:26 AM

                                                                                  Emme, thanks for your suggestions. I was trying to pick titles to fit the retro theme, but now I think forget the fore go the retro & pick the simplest chapters possible - Meat, Eggs, Veggies, Desserts. Oh my, why is this so hard???

                                                                                  1. re: Emme
                                                                                    Hank Hanover Aug 13, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                    You couldn't do it in a book but my recipes on my hard drive are often represented more than 1 way. I have the standard sections like "Main Dishes", Appetizers" and "Side Dishes" but I have categories like "Braising", "Roasting", "Quick and Easy", and even "Dishes I want to Try". Some recipes are in 2 or 3 categories. Disc space is cheap and readily available. Unfortunately, it just wouldn't work in a cookbook except as possibly in an index.

                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      cstout Aug 13, 2012 10:55 AM

                                                                                      Yes, I know how organized you are - why can't I be that way. Really enjoyed your zip file.

                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                        paulj Aug 13, 2012 10:55 AM

                                                                                        In a computer database, recipes could be grouped (or found) in all kinds of ways. And following the example of modern HTML, content can be separated from formatting. If done right, the user could list ingredients first, or interleaved with instructions.

                                                                              2. c
                                                                                cstout Aug 11, 2012 06:39 AM

                                                                                Beware of these cookbooks/recipes that say -

                                                                                Quick & Easy

                                                                                Tried & True

                                                                                All Time Favorites

                                                                                Admitted, there are many recipes/cookbooks with these titles that are good, but a lot of them just make me wonder why I took the time to copy them or why I purchased the book in the first place.

                                                                                Certain words get me hooked everytime.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                  paulj Aug 11, 2012 07:26 AM

                                                                                  Those are the kinds of recipes that people ask for on Home Cooking. Especially 'tried and true'. That, and 'authentic'.

                                                                                2. h
                                                                                  Heuchera Aug 10, 2012 08:48 PM

                                                                                  Any recipe with a name that ends in Delight or Surprise.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Heuchera
                                                                                    Hank Hanover Aug 10, 2012 09:34 PM

                                                                                    Yeah I always think of a cartoon I saw once where when some guy ordered the "chef's surprise", the chef came out and flashed him.

                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      ctfoodguy Aug 13, 2012 11:12 AM

                                                                                      That's hilarious!!!

                                                                                    2. re: Heuchera
                                                                                      drongo Aug 11, 2012 04:42 AM

                                                                                      Heh. A quick search at allrecipes.com turned up 533 Surprises, 770 Delights. And 1660 Treats (though quite a number of the latter are for dogs not humans.)

                                                                                      1. re: drongo
                                                                                        c
                                                                                        cstout Aug 11, 2012 05:44 AM

                                                                                        Hey, you forgot to search for "delicious" - a real buzzword in older cookbooks.

                                                                                        1. re: cstout
                                                                                          drongo Aug 11, 2012 03:21 PM

                                                                                          Delicious = 7290! Including "Sinfully Delicious ..." and "Dangerously Delicious ..."

                                                                                          Btw, some of the recipes that have "Surprise" in their names are quite interesting -- e.g. a chocolate cake that contains a cup of sauerkraut.

                                                                                          1. re: drongo
                                                                                            c
                                                                                            cstout Aug 11, 2012 05:01 PM

                                                                                            "Surprise" in the title - you betcha - watch out for those babies!

                                                                                            Surprise cakes contain some things like ketchup, mayonnaise, cheese whiz, baby food jar of prunes & of course sausage.

                                                                                            Granted, they taste pretty good, but don't dare tell anyone what is in there.

                                                                                            Oh yes, the word "Secret"..be very careful of those recipes too!

                                                                                            1. re: drongo
                                                                                              chefMolnar Aug 12, 2012 01:14 PM

                                                                                              Even worse--"decadent." Does this mean the ingredients are rotting? Does it mean that a lot of chocolate in the recipe is really a symptom of a declining culture?

                                                                                              1. re: chefMolnar
                                                                                                paulj Aug 12, 2012 01:22 PM

                                                                                                Definition of DECADENT
                                                                                                .....
                                                                                                3
                                                                                                : characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence <decadent pleasures>

                                                                                                http://www.presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnl...
                                                                                                PC The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie has been on the (Canadian) market for 20-30 years,

                                                                                                1. re: chefMolnar
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  staughton Aug 12, 2012 08:30 PM

                                                                                                  I'm with you on "decadent". Can't stand it.

                                                                                                2. re: drongo
                                                                                                  hambone Aug 13, 2012 10:24 AM

                                                                                                  mmmmm.

                                                                                                  I'm thinking of the Spring Surprise from Whizzo Chocolate Company.

                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                            ChiliDude Aug 9, 2012 09:25 AM

                                                                                            The format of The Joy of Cooking. I like an ingredient list before the cooking method instead of the ingredients being interwoven in the text.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: ChiliDude
                                                                                              paulj Aug 9, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                                              I rather like the Joy format, may because I learned to cook from it. But I can also work from a recipe that lists the ingredients first.

                                                                                              Some pluses to how Joy does it:
                                                                                              - the ingredients are listed in bold
                                                                                              - the recipes are compact (sometimes 4 or 5 to column)

                                                                                              So it is easy to scan over a recipe to see the ingredients, even if they are not listed first. However they don't put special effort into keeping a recipe on one page. Joy is also good at referring you to other recipes, say for the bbq sauce that the OP complains about. I think the format works for a book, even though it might not on a blog or magazine article.

                                                                                              --------------

                                                                                              Compared to Bittman's How To cook everything, it is easier to get a mental inventory of the ingredients from a Joy recipe. Bittman's ingredients lists are wordy
                                                                                              '1 head cabbage, preferably Savoy, about 1 1/2
                                                                                              pounds, cored, shreeded, and chopped
                                                                                              (page 547)"
                                                                                              is just one item in a list of 7. Mean while the steps have to mention the cabbage twice. The Joy approach is more succinct.

                                                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                                                c
                                                                                                ChiliDude Aug 10, 2012 04:53 AM

                                                                                                To each his/her own!

                                                                                              2. re: ChiliDude
                                                                                                s
                                                                                                StringerBell Aug 12, 2012 11:57 PM

                                                                                                I would rather have both. An ingredient list at the beginning so I make sure I have everything before I begin, and then ingredient amounts interwoven throughout the instructions. It's more of an issue for online recipes, but it's a little annoying to continually have to scroll up to the top to see how much of something I'm supposed to add, especially when you start factoring in recipes that have you add part of the ingredient one place and another part somewhere else.

                                                                                              3. c
                                                                                                cringle22 Aug 9, 2012 08:54 AM

                                                                                                Recipes that throw in obscure, pain-in-the-ass-to-get, "obstacle" ingredients, unless they truly are vital.

                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: cringle22
                                                                                                  paulj Aug 9, 2012 09:11 AM

                                                                                                  A number of posters have complained about this sort of ingredient, but few obvious examples come to mind.

                                                                                                  Asafoetida in a Indian dish might qualify, since it is not used at all in western cooking, and even in Indian cooking it is used by the 'pinch'. But the OP would object, I think, to omitting it, especially if the substitute is a generic 'curry powder'.

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                    MelMM Aug 9, 2012 09:46 AM

                                                                                                    Asafoetida is not one that would bother me. Available at any Indian market, or by mail order, not expensive, keeps well, used in small quantities, and adds a distinctive and irreplaceable note to the dishes it belongs in.

                                                                                                    Truffles, on the other hand... imported; seasonally available, but then only by mail order for most Americans; crazy expensive; highly perishable. I like truffles, but I don't think you get enough bang for the buck out of them to justify the expense and trouble of procuring them. This is a totally "not worth it" ingredient for me. I don't mind seeing them in French or Italian cookbooks, but in an American cookbook, they don't make sense. This may change in the future if we get a domestic production going with sufficient quality and quantity. We aren't there yet.

                                                                                                    Bottarga. Another mail-order item, perishable, etc. To me more worth it than truffles because the flavor/price ratio is more favorable. But for a lot of people, this will be just another exotic ingredient that is a pain to get.

                                                                                                    Fois Gras. Mail order for most people. Expensive, perishable.

                                                                                                    Yuzu... Can't find this fresh even in most Japanese markets. Perishable. A very trendy ingredient.

                                                                                                    Yuzu kosho: There are two colors, red and green. I think it was the red that took me over a month to get even by mail order. Fortunately it keeps well.

                                                                                                    Generally, I'm OK with procuring whole spices by mail. They keep well, and I can grind as needed. But highly perishable items are another matter. And some are hard to find even if you are willing to mail order and wait a month. I could list a lot more than I have, as generally I've been a good sport about tracking things down. There are places where I draw the line though. Dungeness crab: I live on the east coast, it's a west coast species, we don't have that here, and I won't bother trying to get it. Oh, I can get it sometimes, precooked, frozen and thawed. No thanks. I can get blue crab. I'll use that, or nothing at all.

                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                      AmyH Aug 9, 2012 11:49 AM

                                                                                                      I agree with you and would add to your list fancy oils that you use a tablespoon of and then the rest goes rancid before you find another recipe to use it in. For example, a few years ago walnut oil was trendy. Plus, how many bottles can you reasonably keep in your pantry?

                                                                                                  2. re: cringle22
                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                    staughton Aug 9, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                                                    ...speaking of which, does anyone know how "vital" Lyle's Golden Syrup is to Anzac biscuits? No, I don't feel like ordering it online and it doesn't exist where I live.

                                                                                                    1. re: staughton
                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                      cstout Aug 9, 2012 09:37 AM

                                                                                                      Anzac Biscuits??? Please describe what these are.

                                                                                                      1. re: cstout
                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                        staughton Aug 9, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                                        It's basically an eggless oatmeal cookie recipe devised during WWI that used cheap, available ingredients which were on hand in Aus/NZ, to send to soldiers away from home. I've been wanting to make them, but they call for 1-2 Tbsp. of "Golden Syrup" which is popular in the UK and "her other realms & territories", but isn't available where I live in Maryland.

                                                                                                        1. re: staughton
                                                                                                          paulj Aug 9, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                                                                          I don't have problems finding Golden Syrup around Seattle, either in regular groceries, or an importer like CostPlusWorldMarkets. But it is relatively expensive.

                                                                                                          I recall one source that claimed the use of Golden Syrup gave these cookies (biscuits) a longer shelf life than ones with eggs. Golden Syrup is invert sugar, a sugar syrup that has been partially split into constituent glucose and sucrose. It can be made at home by boiling a simple syrup with a bit of acid (e.g. cream of tartare).

                                                                                                          There are also some US brands of cane syrup (Steens?). And in many uses Karo syrup can be used instead. In fact there are threads about using Golden Syrup instead of Karo in pecan pie. I've also used molasses in recipes that call for GS, though that adds its own layer of flavor.

                                                                                                          1. re: staughton
                                                                                                            John E. Aug 9, 2012 06:15 PM

                                                                                                            Don't forget the coconut.

                                                                                                            1. re: staughton
                                                                                                              paulj Aug 9, 2012 08:27 PM

                                                                                                              The first place I came across these cookies was the Gourmet big Yellow cookbook (the one with pale yellow headings).

                                                                                                              That has a intro paragraph nearly as long as the recipe - something that posters have complained about. It's the one that claims Golden Syrup is the 'binder', instead of eggs. It closes with "Happily, LGS is now available in the baking section of many supermarkets, or see Sources". I bought Lyles specifically for this recipe, though I've used elsewhere since. It does not suggest an alternatives.

                                                                                                              This recipe led me to explore recipes on Lyle's site. Their Parkin lead me on to other British sites (e.g. Historical Foods) and other British and Scottish recipes. If they'd made a substitute, I would have been deprived of an interesting line of exploration.

                                                                                                          2. re: staughton
                                                                                                            John E. Aug 9, 2012 06:14 PM

                                                                                                            Dark Karo syrup will work just as well and I bet most could not tell the difference. Dark Karo is also a good substitute for King's Syrup when making Pennsylvania Dutch Shoo-Fly Pie.

                                                                                                            Be careful the next time you write a post about those Austrailia/New Zealand cookies.

                                                                                                            "The term Anzac is protected under Australian law[5] and therefore the word should not be used without permission from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs".

                                                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_bi...

                                                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                              staughton Aug 10, 2012 07:28 AM

                                                                                                              Hey, thanks for the sub suggestion--and the warning. I wouldn't want to upset Her Majesty or her troops in this, her golden syrup jubilee year.

                                                                                                        2. s
                                                                                                          Sam D. Aug 9, 2012 06:45 AM

                                                                                                          Ingredients that are very hard to find.
                                                                                                          Ingredients that are very expensive.
                                                                                                          Ingredients that take extra time to prepare and add virtually nothing to the taste or presentation of the dish.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Sam D.
                                                                                                            AmyH Aug 9, 2012 08:11 AM

                                                                                                            I have noticed this in some of the "Dinner in 30 Minutes" recipes in the Washington Post food section. If I have to go to one particular cheese shop for some special cheese, then another shop for special salt, and maybe a certain fishmonger for a fish that noone else sells, that dinner's going to take a whole lot longer than 30 minutes.

                                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                                            cstout Aug 8, 2012 07:57 AM

                                                                                                            Picked up a bag of "soup mix" & saw on the back of package a recipe for Caldo de Rez. Duh, the recipe was in Spanish. Every Hispanic knows how to make Caldo de Rez, what about the Gringos? Sometimes the package/can or whatever has BOTH Spanish & English...which means the writing on the item is very small, so NOBODY can read it! What is the purpose??

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cstout
                                                                                                              paulj Aug 8, 2012 08:15 AM

                                                                                                              What brand of soup mix?

                                                                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                cstout Aug 8, 2012 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                It was just a bag of veggies, the store packaged up cabbage, carrots, onion, potato, green pepper, & something else. I just took the bag home & got on the internet to see a recipe. I know how to make Caldo de Rez, but just thought I would see if they suggested any special seasonings that I did not know about. A kind Mexican man directed me to a container of spices called "Goya Sazonador Total". Was quite good in my Gringo soup. I had never purchased a Goya product before. Ha Ha, again one half of the Goya spice bottle was in Spanish, but at least I could read the English side without a magnifying glass.

                                                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                  StringerBell Aug 12, 2012 11:52 PM

                                                                                                                  I buy a lot of stuff at the Mexican market and the awful translations crack me up. The Hispanic products in regular grocery stores are usually translated correctly, but a lot of the products from there aren't. Lots of misspellings, incorrect translations, and sometimes they mysteriously fail to translate an ingredient or two. I have some mole paste and in the English ingredients they leave "ajonjoli" (sesame) untranslated, it also lists "chocolat." It lists "cookies" (galletas) in the ingredients when they mean crackers (galletas saladas). There are probably more but I can't remember right now. The directions are usually full of broken English too.

                                                                                                            2. m
                                                                                                              mwhitmore Aug 7, 2012 07:07 PM

                                                                                                              Here's an example of a recipe not being precise: My teenage niece told me her Kraft Mac and Cheese came out too gummy. How could you screw up this---'Boil mac until soft, drain, add cheese sauce from foil package, stir until coated.' So I watched her cook it. She took a pot, filled it half-way with water, put it on the stove, added the macaroni, turned on the heat,,,,LOL right? But she didn't know what experienced cooks know. And Kraft ought to know that this is frequently the case with people who use convenience products.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                paulj Aug 7, 2012 08:28 PM

                                                                                                                What was the problem - that she started the pasta in cold water, or cooked the pasta too long?

                                                                                                                http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/din...

                                                                                                                Harold McGee tries to make the case for starting pasta in a small amount of cold water.

                                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                  mwhitmore Aug 8, 2012 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                  Starting in cold water. "Everyone" know you bring pasta water to a boil, the add pasta. But thanks for the Harold McGee link, I like the way he thinks outside the box (of Mac and Cheese). Reminds me of the 'cold start' French Fries supposedly invented by Joel Robuchon (I think), much less messy and oil consuming, when 'everybody' knows you have to double cook them in copious deep fat.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                    drongo Aug 8, 2012 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                    The cold start French fries: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                                                                                                    1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                      chicgail Aug 9, 2012 05:17 AM

                                                                                                                      Wow! Great to know.

                                                                                                              2. cowboyardee Aug 7, 2012 09:47 AM

                                                                                                                I'll add a couple:

                                                                                                                Recipes that perpetuate myths in their instructions or intros. Most often seen in blogged recipes. Things like:

                                                                                                                Searing seals in the juices
                                                                                                                Meat should always be wiped completely dry before grilling
                                                                                                                Frying in oil whose temperature is too low makes food retain more oil
                                                                                                                Meat should ALWAYS be room temperature before searing
                                                                                                                Oil in pasta water keeps the pasta from sticking
                                                                                                                The best pasta sauces can only be made from san marzano (or at least plum) tomatoes. Or alternatively, canned tomatoes make better sauces than fresh tomatoes.

                                                                                                                Now, I actually like recipes that explain their rationales. And I dig the enthusiasm of recipe writers who claim their way is the best way. But still, myths perpetuate because people perpetuate em, and this kind of thing doesn't help.

                                                                                                                Another pet peeve:

                                                                                                                Most recipes that contains the words "Have your butcher..."

                                                                                                                For one, this is usually something you could do yourself, but the recipe writer simply doesn't know how or else doesn't want to explain (perhaps fearing ridicule from the 'it's too hard for a home cook' crowd, and don't even get me stared on them).

                                                                                                                For another, it conveniently ignores that actual butcher shops are a dying phenomenon, and supermarket meat guys are only sometimes helpful with special requests. An actual butcher isn't quite as hard to find as an apothecary, but it's heading that way, and so many recipes ignore this.

                                                                                                                Want a fully boned-out but intact chicken? Provide instructions or direct people towards Pepin's helpful instructional video. Short ribs cut for galbi? You might luck out at the supermarket, but it would be more helpful if a recipe writer just instructed people how to butterfly em, pointed out that a Korean market is more likely to sell them cut L.A. style, or even gave an idea of what you're aiming for if you're willing to bust out a saw. A recipe asking the 'butcher' to ground a certain cut of meat is understandable since you either do or don't have a meat grinder at home, and those that do probably don't need instruction for how to use it, but even then a suggestion for the coarseness of the grind would be welcome. Removing fish skin or scoring meat or trimming silverskin? That's not even particularly difficult to do yourself.

                                                                                                                16 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                  sandylc Aug 7, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                  Wiping mushrooms instead of just washing the things.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                    hambone Aug 7, 2012 02:19 PM

                                                                                                                    To continue the theme:
                                                                                                                    The myth of the mushroom as sponge needs to die.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hambone
                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                      sandylc Aug 7, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                                                                                      !!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: hambone
                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                        Jzone Aug 7, 2012 06:04 PM

                                                                                                                        I agree complete for "most" mushrooms. For your typical white, cimini/bella, shiitake, oyster etc there is no reason not to just wash em.

                                                                                                                        But, I've found for some wild mushrooms washing has ill effects such as chantrelles and matsutake (pine mushrooms). You loose a lot of flavor from spores if they are open and you wash them, and if closed the outside can turn a little mushy and slimy if you wash them but it's not as bad.

                                                                                                                        Finally morels pretty much have to be washed and soaked or you;re eating sand.

                                                                                                                        Definitely with you on this one though.
                                                                                                                        Cheers.

                                                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                      MelMM Aug 7, 2012 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                      I'm with you on the "have your butcher..." issue. For most Americans, there isn't a butcher within 100 miles that can do anything custom. Same with "have your fishmonger..." and "ask your cheesemonger...". I have to wonder if the people who write these recipes really have a butcher/fishmonger/cheesemonger, etc, who can do all this custom work. Or if it's just recipe-writing laziness.

                                                                                                                      Last time I asked a fishmonger to do anything, I was at the coast buying whole fish. They offered to fillet them, and I said no. They then asked if they could clean them for me, and I said OK, gut them only (I wanted them whole with scales on). The fish came back not just gutted, but scaled and missing their heads. Infuriating. But they thought they were doing me a favor.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                        paulj Aug 7, 2012 06:38 PM

                                                                                                                        A fish recipe that would work anywhere in the USA would start with:

                                                                                                                        take a dozen fish sticks out of the freezer ...

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Aug 7, 2012 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                          The issue isn't that I think recipes should be written so that anyone in the USA has access to the prerequisites. It's that recipe writers are so hesitant either to explain a little basic butchery or else to ask their readers to step up to such relatively easy but unfamiliar tasks that they'd rather send you searching for a leprechaun or Santa Claus to do it for you instead.

                                                                                                                        2. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                          cstout Aug 8, 2012 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                          "have your butcher"....famous last words from Ina Garten. Don't know what she is up to these days, but hope she has made some new friends to invite over for brunch while hubby is out of town. Just sayin.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                            staughton Aug 8, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                            She depresses the hell out of me so much I can't even envy her her Hamptons fantasy life. I think that husband is meeting some of their interior decorator neighbors "out of town". Again. And Ina will be washing down her sorrows with creme fraiche and Chardonnay.

                                                                                                                            1. re: staughton
                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                              cstout Aug 8, 2012 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                              This whole Ina thing would make a great book, just change the names a little & go for all the scenarios that pop up in your mind. Has the makings of a great book to read while you are at the dentist's office. Hilarious, pitiful, gaudy, & sad, thrown in with some offbeat encounters with this tight little knit of characters.

                                                                                                                              Draw a rectangle, use 6 sticky notes on the rectangle with guests names, plan a menu, go to garden or down the street for flowers that match the tablecloth. Have "friend" pick up some wine & there you have the perfect day & perfect 30 minute foodie show.

                                                                                                                              The more I see Ina, the more I like Martha. Does anyone have pet peeves about her recipes?

                                                                                                                              1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                                staughton Aug 8, 2012 01:49 PM

                                                                                                                                Too much dairy. It works its way copiously into every course. And of course there are always courses, no matter how expensively informal. *eyeroll* as the kids say.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                  juliejulez Aug 9, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                                                                                                  I love Ina and have many of her books, but my biggest complaint is that she often uses expensive ingredients, at least for someone on a $75/week budget like me. Also previously mentioned in this thread, her use of "good".... ie "good" olive oil... "good" butter. I will say one of her cookbooks (sorry I can't remember which, maybe the back to basics one) had an appendix in the back where she discussed the products she likes to use, so that was helpful.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                    cstout Aug 9, 2012 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                                    Yes, Ina's books has some very good recipes..I felt bad about "roasting" her in the manner in which I did, but, I just see her in such a different light since she turned down that little boy who wanted to visit her show. But who am I to cast the first stone? Sorry I was tacky about about her.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                      drongo Aug 9, 2012 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                                      No, you weren't tacky, the "Heartless Contessa" was. But she's taken quite a beating for that, so maybe we should all move on...

                                                                                                                                      Edit: And in all likelihood her agents were accountable for that debacle last year.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                        cstout Aug 9, 2012 05:17 PM

                                                                                                                                        About Ina, yes, you are right in all respects...we don't know about anyone until we have walked a bit in their shoes. There are always two sides of a story. Thanks for being so gracious about it, a trait I was sorely lacking.

                                                                                                                                        Moving on & wishing her well.....

                                                                                                                                      2. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                        juliejulez Aug 13, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                                        I never even heard about that, but as drongo mentioned, it was probably more due to the fault of her "people" than her herself. Also, she is notorious for not being in the public eye... notice you never see her on Food Network specials or making television appearances? She's even limited her endorsements on products unlike the other FN "stars" of her stature.

                                                                                                                          2. e
                                                                                                                            evansp60 Aug 6, 2012 06:54 PM

                                                                                                                            Another pet peeve....

                                                                                                                            Overcooking food.
                                                                                                                            How many recipes have I found that cook the crap out of the food.

                                                                                                                            Overcooking food is a misguided attempt to be safe. Today's food standards don't
                                                                                                                            require over processing. Case in point the new temperatures for cooking pork have officially been lowered as of last year.

                                                                                                                            I NEVER buy cooked seafood. It's dry and rubbery. They over process it.

                                                                                                                            Take a look at this CHOW thread on cooking corn. I cook mine till it's just hot (3min).
                                                                                                                            Not saying you can't do it your way, but not for me.

                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861874

                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                              paulj Aug 6, 2012 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                              "Case in point the new temperatures for cooking pork have officially been lowered as of last year."

                                                                                                                              so do you expect all recipes to be retroactively updated?

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                evansp60 Aug 7, 2012 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                "so do you expect all recipes to be retroactively updated?"

                                                                                                                                No but certainly there are many newer recipes that do not reflect any of this.
                                                                                                                                Shrimp cook in about 2 minutes (or less). How many recipes call for cooking
                                                                                                                                for 5 minutes or more.

                                                                                                                                Just a pet peeve....

                                                                                                                              2. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                drongo Aug 7, 2012 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                Overcooking may also reflect the ingredients available in a different era (or place). I have African cookbooks (and btw I'm an immigrant to USA from Africa myself) that call for simmering a chicken for an hour or more (sometimes much more). But we can be sure these recipes weren't developed with modern Cornish Cross chickens that reach 6 lbs in 6 weeks. A 3 year (vs 6 week = 0.1 year) old chicken may need an hour, though such chickens (e.g. spent hens) are used mostly for pet food here.

                                                                                                                                1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                  staughton Aug 7, 2012 06:14 PM

                                                                                                                                  What a great comment. I've noticed that some vegetables/fruits of different varieties or ages have a much different cooking time than the younger/fresher ones as well. I'm happy to finally see someone from Africa chiming in here on CH. Any dishes/recipes you'd recommend from your country or region?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                    evansp60 Aug 7, 2012 06:58 PM

                                                                                                                                    Good point! I've seen older chickens for sale in some Asian stores here. I should try one as I'm sure the flavor is different than what we are used to. I just picked up some mutton (3yr old sheep) to try. We are used to lamb (1yr old sheep), which I enjoy. The mutton should yield a stronger flavor. I'm looking forward to it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                      hambone Aug 8, 2012 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                      Keen Steakhouse in NYC serves a mutton chop. Best piece of meat I have ever eaten.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: hambone
                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                        evansp60 Aug 8, 2012 05:11 PM

                                                                                                                                        Everything I have read tells me I need to give it a long slow cook.
                                                                                                                                        How do they prepare the mutton chop?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                          evansp60 Aug 8, 2012 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                          Found this link:
                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/536484

                                                                                                                                          Mutton here is from a 3 month old sheep.
                                                                                                                                          According to the article the "mutton" used at Keen's is 10 months old.
                                                                                                                                          Too young for this mutton.

                                                                                                                                2. m
                                                                                                                                  mwhitmore Aug 2, 2012 06:40 PM

                                                                                                                                  'Salt to taste.' First, most people have no taste. Second, the correct degree of saltiness is crucual to a recipe. Third, the range of acceptable saltiness is pretty narrow--it might be between three-quarters and seven-eighths of a teasoon, but it is not between a quarter of a teaspoon and one teaspoon. If you are going to write a recipe, figure this out!

                                                                                                                                  23 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                                    paulj Aug 2, 2012 09:01 PM

                                                                                                                                    Can you cite some authority on this? In particular the bit about a narrow acceptable range. I don't recall reading such an opinion or observation else where. Under salting can be a problem. Often when people ask about bland soup or stews, I ask if they have checked the salt. But my own sense is that different people have different expectations about salt levels.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                      mwhitmore Aug 7, 2012 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                                      My only 'authority' is common sense based on decades of home and restaurant cooking. The function of salt in most recipes is not saltiness per se, but to bring out the full flavor of the other ingredients. The main problem is undersalting by sodium-phobic cooks. So I should have said that there is a _minimum_ amount of salt that is needed for a recipe to taste right, and the recipe writer should figure this out. Of course, the sodiumphobes (and the few people with legitimate medical concerns) can reduce or eliminate the salt, but salting at the table won't correct for lack of salt during cooking. And of course, those who prefer more salt are free to use it. I would be perfectly happy with a recipe that says 'Salt: three-quarters of a teaspoon _or more_'.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                                        cowboyardee Aug 7, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                        "I would be perfectly happy with a recipe that says 'Salt: three-quarters of a teaspoon _or more_'."
                                                                                                                                        _________
                                                                                                                                        If a recipe goes that route, it would be better off giving salt measurements in weight or else specifying a brand, as salt (along with molecular gastronomy ingredients) is one of the worst offenders for volumetric measurements badly throwing off a recipe. 9 out of 10 times, I don't mind measurements in volume, but the differences between 2 tsp of table salt vs 2 tsp of Morton kosher salt vs 2 tsp Diamond kosher salt, etc, are all significant.

                                                                                                                                        At any rate, how much salt makes a recipe taste 'right' is largely dependent on how much salt you're used to. It's subjective. At the same time, I've eaten plenty of things made by mediocre cooks where I'm pretty sure the food was undersalted even to the cook's preference and the cook just didn't know any better. I'm thinking maybe a little experience as a cook is the only real solution to under- or oversalting.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                                      cowboyardee Aug 2, 2012 09:20 PM

                                                                                                                                      I trust my tongue a lot better than I trust most recipe writers.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                        Midknight Aug 9, 2012 05:50 AM

                                                                                                                                        My main problem with the "salt and pepper to taste" direction is if it's a new recipe to me, when I'm in the middle of making it, how am I supposed to know how much salt would have been appropriate to MY taste in the final end product if I'm supposed to be adding the salt in middle of the recipe?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Midknight
                                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Aug 9, 2012 08:45 AM

                                                                                                                                          Experience.

                                                                                                                                          As I implied above, I think recipes direct you to 'salt to taste' for two main reasons. One is that the 'right' amount of salt is very subjective, often more so than the 'right' amount of other flavor elements. The second, bigger reason is that many recipes use volumetric measurements which are extremely problematic for salt, and even people who use weight based-measurements generally don't have scales that are accurate down to the gram or 1/0th of a gram level needed for salt.

                                                                                                                                          So the remaining options are to specify a brand (which also pisses some people off, it seems, while others ignore it and blame the recipe for their poor results) or to trust readers to figure out how to use salt on their own. Kind of screws over newer or less-experienced cooks, but often it's those same newer cooks who object to weight-based measurements or who substitute table salt at the same volume when a recipe calls for kosher salt, so my thinking is they're kind of screwed anyway, and they may as well develop a good feel for how to use salt as early on as possible.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                            MGZ Aug 9, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                            Well put. As I tried to suggest upthread, recipes are not supposed to be dogma, just guidance. Fundamentally, no one will ever be able to give written instructions that will result in your creating the exact same thing they have created. There are too many variables.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                              StringerBell Aug 12, 2012 11:38 PM

                                                                                                                                              I agree with this also. Too many variables, and the ability to salt something to your tastes is a pretty basic thing that one needs to be able to do when cooking. If it's something where you can't add salt after it's cooked, like baked goods or something, that's different. I don't even pay any attention to how much salt to add when looking at recipes. If it lists how much salt, I just ignore it and add salt until it's right for me.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: mwhitmore
                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                        MelMM Aug 9, 2012 07:26 AM

                                                                                                                                        When I have a problem with "salt to taste" is when the recipe is for something like, oh, meatballs. Seriously, I have seen this. No, I am not going to taste a raw meatball to check for salt, and I don't buy for one second that the author is either.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Aug 9, 2012 08:00 AM

                                                                                                                                          Fry up a very small hunk of meat for a minute and taste that - same way you can tell if the seasoning in a batch of sausage is right.

                                                                                                                                          Knowing exactly how much salt to use for the outside of a chicken or a roast is trickier, but OTOH that kind of thing tends to be a little more forgiving.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                            MelMM Aug 9, 2012 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                            Yes, I know that trick. But the recipes I'm thinking of don't tell you to do that. And frankly, a lot of times I don't want to do that, especially if the meatballs will not be fried, but simmered in sauce. I'm not interested in simmering up a sample meatball. Plus the sauce/meat ratio messes up the data point.

                                                                                                                                            This isn't really a problem for me, because I'm a very experienced cook and I know how much salt to put in my meatballs to make them taste like I want. And measuring spoons are not involved. But for the average cook, these instructions are just nuts.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                                              cowboyardee Aug 9, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                              Even so, for a newer cook, that method is better than a volumetric measurement that may cause bigger problems in the end result. At any rate, 'salt to taste' can be interpreted as meaning 'salt to your preference' rather than 'salt until the raw meat mixture tastes good.'

                                                                                                                                              "But the recipes I'm thinking of don't tell you to do that."
                                                                                                                                              ________
                                                                                                                                              Good point. I'm thinking they should. Even for meatballs simmered in red sauce, including that instruction along with instructions that you want the meatballs salted just a tiny bit on the generous side to hold up to the sauce's sweetness and acidity - they should still taste good on their own, but err on the side of a bit more salt - will generally produce better results than a simple volumetric measurement, and gives newer cooks a better idea of how to use salt well to boot.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: MelMM
                                                                                                                                            linguafood Aug 13, 2012 04:19 AM

                                                                                                                                            Both my mother and I have tasted raw meatball mix plenty of times in our lives for appropriate seasoning, and we're alive to tell the tale.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                              mcf Aug 15, 2012 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                              Gotta love dumb luck. ;-D

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                linguafood Aug 15, 2012 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                Germans eat raw pork and beef all the time. Must be one huge, dumb lucky nation :-D

                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                  MGZ Aug 15, 2012 09:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                  I guess I'm dumb & lucky too.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                    cowboyardee Aug 15, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                    True, though I'm not sure that German meat production practices pose the same kind of bacterial risks that American meat production does. To be fair, I don't actually know much about how Germans produce or procure their beef and pork. There is a traditional Japanese dish wherein chicken is served raw, which would be almost unthinkable with most American chicken, for example, due to the high rate of contamination with salmonella and campylobacter associated with the American method of chicken production.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                      MGZ Aug 15, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Good point. Illustrating the ongoing shift of food safety onto the consumer and away from the producers.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                        linguafood Aug 15, 2012 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, Germany has the same meat factories as the US, maybe their restrictions are tougher, but I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                                        I wouldn't buy ground raw beef or pork at the supermarket for raw consumption. There are plenty of butchers offering organic meat.

                                                                                                                                                        Breakfast rolls with Schweinemett (seasoned, raw ground pork) topped with diced onion is a favorite in the fatherland. I rarely eat it out of aesthetic & olfactory reasons.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                          MGZ Aug 15, 2012 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                          "maybe their restrictions are tougher, but I doubt it"

                                                                                                                                                          No reason too. Regulating food production in the US has become significantly less effective in the past decade or so (like banks, energy producers, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                            linguafood Aug 27, 2012 02:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                            You are right, actually. The regulations for what constitutes humane husbandry / organic are much tighter and more specific in the EU than here.

                                                                                                                                                            Ah, the old world.....

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                                                                      tardigrade Aug 15, 2012 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Or a good supplier. I've made steak tartare and raw lamb kibbe using meats from a local store that has good turnover of product and butchers who know their jobs, and I process my own meats. I wouldn't do the same with one of those packaged rolls of cheap ground beef that comes from large producers.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tardigrade
                                                                                                                                                        drongo Aug 17, 2012 05:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I use pink slime for my steak tartare because its been treated with ammonia and hence is safe.

                                                                                                                                                        (just kidding)

                                                                                                                                              2. Peg Aug 1, 2012 10:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                Another couple - vegetarian magazines that specify 'vegetarian cheese' in recipes - the superfluousness just irritates me.
                                                                                                                                                And 'recipes' that are just several pre-made products mixed together. Like a can of mixed bean salad, curry powder, a jar of tomato sauce, a tub of hummus...

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Peg
                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                  small h Aug 2, 2012 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Cheese produced using calf rennet is considered by some to be not vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h
                                                                                                                                                    kubasd Aug 2, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I think the point was that it's in a vegetarian magazine, so obviously people would be using a vegetarian cheese.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kubasd
                                                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                                                      small h Aug 3, 2012 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Oh, that makes sense. I might have to be reminded to use vegetarian cheese, since even though I don't eat meat, I'll eat any ol' cheese. The term doesn't sound superfluous to me, but I'm probably in the minority.

                                                                                                                                                2. twodales Aug 1, 2012 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Sorry if this has been mentioned but I have not read through all 400 responses. It drives me crazy when a recipe refers me to another recipe that I need to make first and when I go to that one I find out I need to make yet another recipe before I can proceed. Sometimes when this happens I will make one thing one day and then the second and/or third the next day.

                                                                                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                                                                                    sandylc Aug 1, 2012 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                    How about a recipe that calls for "rind" instead of "zest"?

                                                                                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                                                                                      HandLikeAFist Jul 30, 2012 02:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Just saw this in a recipe:

                                                                                                                                                      2/3 cup Marsala or orange liqueur

                                                                                                                                                      What? This very loose alternative drives me nuts. Pick one. It's like saying "2/3 cup honey or bbq sauce"

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: HandLikeAFist
                                                                                                                                                        paulj Jul 30, 2012 05:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/oranges-or...

                                                                                                                                                        in this I think either would work, since it is used to make an orange syrup. When thinking about substitutions there are 2 issues - will it work in terms of cooking chemistry/physics?, and how will it affect flavor? Changes in flavor are often acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HandLikeAFist
                                                                                                                                                          hambone Jul 30, 2012 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I'm guilty of that. I have a steak marinade which originally called for a stout beer. I changed it and like it much better with Porter so I write, 8 oz Porter (or Stout) and then in a note at the end I explain.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hambone
                                                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                                                            StringerBell Aug 12, 2012 11:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                            That is a pretty reasonable option though. A Porter vs. Stout won't make a huge difference. I think the point HandLikeAFist was making was that it doesn't make sense to list an alternative that is wildly different and might completely change the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StringerBell
                                                                                                                                                              hambone Aug 13, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Fair enough BUT you have to understand that my alternative of Porter makes for a vastly superior marinade. <insert sarcastic emoticon here>

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: HandLikeAFist
                                                                                                                                                            drongo Aug 17, 2012 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I think "Marsala" is a typo for "Marnier".

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                              hambone Aug 21, 2012 10:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                              That makes a lot of sense. (But I think calling that a "typo" is very generous.)

                                                                                                                                                          3. m
                                                                                                                                                            mark111757 Jul 29, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                            how about recipes that don't mention what size cooking dish or ramekin size to use,,,maybe some chefs dont think that is important but i do...i dont want to waste food due to improperly sized containers

                                                                                                                                                            1. c
                                                                                                                                                              cstout Jul 29, 2012 10:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                              A recipe that calls for 1/4 teaspoon of some exotic spice that is not at my grocery store, will not or cannot be used in any other recipe in my stash, & I don't know how to substitute it since I have never tasted it before. Besides, I am too lazy to google it to see what in the heck it is.

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                JohnMich Jul 29, 2012 01:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Hi Stout.
                                                                                                                                                                You got lucky I only found out about this site yesterday when trying to find a substitute for aleppo pepper. I only needed two teaspoons, duh!
                                                                                                                                                                http://www.foodsubs.com/

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                  smtucker Jul 29, 2012 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Aleppo peppers are a wonderful ingredient. Highly recommend that you try them someday.

                                                                                                                                                              2. applgrl Jul 28, 2012 07:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                "A stick and a half of butter." Since when is "stick" a culinary measure? Give me tablespoons, quarter cups, ounces, or grams please.

                                                                                                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applgrl
                                                                                                                                                                  paulj Jul 28, 2012 07:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  If the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, what do you do? Do you cut according to the markings on stick wrapper, or do you try to stuff the butter into a Tablespoon measure. And if you use a volume measure (spoon, cup) do you take into account the density difference in butter?

                                                                                                                                                                  Assuming you are using American butter that is wrapped in 1/4 lb sticks, a stick and its markings are an accurate way of measuring butter. It's actually a weight measure, not a volume one. For many applications, the 10% (or so) difference between weight and volume measures does not matter.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                    smtucker Jul 28, 2012 07:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I weigh butter. The lines on the butter sticks always seem to be askew.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                      paulj Jul 28, 2012 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I just eyeball an offset from the lines.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                        Emme Jul 28, 2012 08:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        i only use the askew lines to guestimate where i need to cut when i'm weighing... most of the time i forget the lines are there actually. i would be in a right pickle without my scale... hence why i own three..

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Emme
                                                                                                                                                                          paulj Jul 28, 2012 09:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Do you actually add or remove bits of butter from the scale to get the right weight?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                            JohnMich Jul 29, 2012 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I do. That's what scales are for. To get it right.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                              Emme Jul 29, 2012 09:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              i'm not sure i understand the question... i place whatever vessel necessary on the scale, zero it out (press tare), and put in what i'm weighing... too much? take some out. not enough? add... i don't weigh directly on the platform...

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: applgrl
                                                                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                                                                        thursday Jul 28, 2012 09:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        This one bothers me too. Growing up, I seem to remember the sticks as being longer - my mom used to buy packages that had two sticks in them, not the four sticks I get now. That could be COMPLETELY wrong on my part and just a memory glitch, but it throws me every time I read that in a recipe. Just give me a measurement! Especially because I often buy Kerrygold that comes in one block instead of sticks.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thursday
                                                                                                                                                                          pdxgastro Jul 29, 2012 11:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          No, you're right Thursday. On the East Coast they use long, narrow sticks and on the West Coast they are wider and shorter. But they weigh the same (1/4 lb, 4 sticks to a 1lb carton).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                                                                                                            John E. Jul 30, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            The longer, narrower sticks are the standard in the midwest as well. Land O Lakes, one of the largest butter producers in the U.S., makes the longer sticks of butter. I did not see the short, fat butter sticks until I was in Arizona.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                                                              sandylc Jul 30, 2012 07:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              I first saw them at Trader Joe's! Right here in MSP.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                John E. Jul 30, 2012 09:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                I guess their store brand butter is made in their home state of California. I first saw the fat butter sticks in Arizona before Trader Joe's came to Minnesota. Outside of their cheap wine, I still don't get the attraction of Trader Joe's.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                                  sandylc Jul 30, 2012 09:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, you have to shop carefully there, but you can find some real bargains and unique things.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Off the top of my head:

                                                                                                                                                                                  frozen mango chunks
                                                                                                                                                                                  cheap butter
                                                                                                                                                                                  whole milk mozzarella
                                                                                                                                                                                  generally good-quality/inexpensive cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                  haricots vert
                                                                                                                                                                                  nuts and peanuts
                                                                                                                                                                                  coconut oil
                                                                                                                                                                                  shampoo
                                                                                                                                                                                  dishwasher soap
                                                                                                                                                                                  various crackers and snacks

                                                                                                                                                                                  and so on....

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                    John E. Jul 31, 2012 06:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I know about the products they have in their stores. I just never saw the attractions to them unless of course the store was nearby. Such is not the case for us. I remember they had an interesting selection of pastas years ago but they seem to have reverted to what everyone else has now.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                                                                                      sandylc Aug 1, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      But I was not just listing products; I was listing products that they have that are SPECIAL in some way.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                        John E. Aug 1, 2012 06:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, I got that (he says with little enthusiasm).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                                                                                          sandylc Aug 1, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          What's your deal?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                            John E. Aug 2, 2012 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            My deal? That's another thread:

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860930

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.
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                                                                                                                                                                                              sandylc Aug 2, 2012 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Clever! (not)

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                                                                                                              Caitlin McGrath Aug 2, 2012 06:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              I grew up in California, with shorter, fatter sticks all that was available until Land O' Lakes started being sold on the west coast in the '80s (my mother told me that my folks had to buy a new butter dish when they moved to CA). Dairy was regional, but margarine brands made both shapes, I guess, to sell in the two halves of the country/

                                                                                                                                                                              The funny thing is that there's a dairy local to where I now live (Northern CA) that makes both shapes: their organic butter is in longer, thinner sticks (http://cloverstornetta.com/products/organic-dairy/butter/salted-butter/) and their conventional butter is in the shorter, fatter sticks (http://cloverstornetta.com/products/n...).

                                                                                                                                                                        2. mudcat Jul 23, 2012 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          "nutty flavor" ???? What is a "nutty flavor"? What kind of nuts? I want my meat dishes to taste like meat, seafood to taste like seafood, etc. If I want "nuty flavor" I will cook withj nuts. Give me a break.

                                                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mudcat
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                                                                                                                                                                            evansp60 Jul 23, 2012 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Try some Cajun cooking. First time you make a really dark roux you'll get an idea of a "nutty" flavor that actually integrates with the meat your cooking with.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                              mudcat Jul 24, 2012 04:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Born and raised in Southern Louisiana I have made and tasted many a roux. They all tasted like browned flour to me.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                evansp60 Jul 24, 2012 04:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe its just more distinct to me as I'm not from there.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                  mudcat Jul 24, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Talking about a roux reminded me of my Mothers instructions when making a roux. "Be careful not to bern the roux." She would repeatedly mutter that when making a roux. She always said "bern" or "bernt", never burn or burnt, a typical New Orleans accent. She was like the lady in one of the foregoing post who kept all her recipes in her head and never wrote them down. She cooked by taste and ate very little when we sat down to the meal. I believe that is why she enjoyed going out to eat on occasion. She would have an appetite.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                                    evansp60 Jul 24, 2012 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd love to make a real Southern roux with a pro to see if I get mine as dark as it can be. I believe I get mine dark enough but you never know until someone gets it darker.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                      John E. Jul 24, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      You have me stumped. How is the pronunciation of 'bern' different from 'burn'? (Or bernt vs burnt for that matter).

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                                                                                                                                                                                        sandylc Jul 24, 2012 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I wondered that, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                          mudcat Jul 24, 2012 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          You have to hear it spoken by aged New Orleans native,

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                            pdxgastro Jul 27, 2012 09:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Why not try to find the corresponding IPA (Int'l Phonetic Alphabet) for the sound?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                                                                              CalicoPaisley Aug 26, 2012 06:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I sort of imagine it being said like that by a Scotsman

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: mudcat
                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                        cstout Jul 29, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Roux tasting like brown flour, you betcha! Kinda always thought it was me & I was missing the whole Louisiana taste tradition, but I feel better now that you have popped up & said that. Good stuff once you get the taste of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                        jvanderh Aug 15, 2012 11:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's burnt popcorn, to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. AmyH Jul 22, 2012 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Another one occurred to me while I was making dinner tonight: recipes where you make a marinade or sauce as part of a larger recipe, and then you find out that the actual recipe only calls for a small amount of that marinade/sauce. This also occurs with spice rub mixes. Why make a cup of something when the recipe only calls for a few tablespoons of it? If I read the recipe ahead and realize this is the case, I'll do the math and make only as much as I actually need, but sometimes I don't realize it until it's too late. I realize I could put the rest in the fridge and use it another time, but how many little containers of marinade/sauce do I need in my fridge, waiting to be used up?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. John E. Jul 20, 2012 09:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok, here's my minor pet peeve addition to the list, and I do mean minor. When a recipe calls for a 'stalk' of celery it bugs me. Do they really want that MUCH celery in the dish? The singular for celery is a 'rib' of celery and a bunch of ribs make up the 'stalk' of celery. An explanation that is easy to understand is corn. The ears of corn grow on the corn stalk. The ribs of celery are part of the stalk of celery.

                                                                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.
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                                                                                                                                                                                          sandylc Jul 20, 2012 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Bedtime, John E!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc
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                                                                                                                                                                                            JohnMich Jul 20, 2012 09:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Eh? Wot?

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                            JohnMich Jul 20, 2012 09:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Spot on, John. It is not that minor either. It is the same category as a large onion or medium tomato. Such measures are meaningless. As someone wisely pointed out much earlier in this thread my large potatoes may be a lot smaller or larger than your large potato therefore a reference to a large potato has no useful meaning without a reference to the weight of the prepared product.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                              pdxgastro Jul 22, 2012 09:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              No, I believe you are mistaken. A stalk and a rib are the same thing. A whole unit of celery is called a head, just like lettuce.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                                                                                                                                paulj Jul 22, 2012 10:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Looking around the web, I see bunch and head used for the whole thing, ribs for individual parts. I find examples of stalk used in both ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The Wiki article for example stalk = rib, head
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.foodsubs.com/Stalk.html bunch = stalk
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/facts/hhpfacts/New_HHPFacts/Veges/HHFS_CELERY_FRESH_F195_Final.pdf bunch of stalks
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/...
                                                                                                                                                                                                gardeners debate this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                To be safe, use head or bunch and rib. Stalk is ambiguous. Leafstalk and petiole are more technical terms.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. t
                                                                                                                                                                                              timpani_mimi Jul 16, 2012 11:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              haha - love this reaction. i get this from jamie oliver and nigella a lot:

                                                                                                                                                                                              - scoops in mascarpone (but does not empty the whole 250gb tub and does not show what kind of measuring spoon is used), says "now, some mascarpone, but not too much."

                                                                                                                                                                                              - stirs in milk, poured straight from bottle, described as "not too much, don't go crazy, just enough."

                                                                                                                                                                                              what?

                                                                                                                                                                                              25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: timpani_mimi
                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                JohnMich Jul 17, 2012 04:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Spot on! I watch in wonderment as the splash of wine is half a bucket and a pinch of someting else looks more like a handful. Then they ooh! aah! over a decent looking result put together by some offline lackey who took twice as long to cook it as the touted time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                IMHO the majority of celebrity chefs are frauds and could not cook a decent meals = to what a good home cook does
                                                                                                                                                                                                PS: Particularly the whackers who introduce to a fairly basic recipe an ingredient that comes from base camp on Everest picked by a lefthanded Sherpa at midnight on May Day - just to make it exotic. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon of shredded iceberg lettuce. Geez!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JohnMich
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                                                                                                                                                                                                  timpani_mimi Jul 17, 2012 04:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ooh ooh - did i just pick up on a reference to oliver's pink himalayan sea salt from his range of seasonings?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  but surely not, say it ain't so. i saw oliver cooking on that iron chef episode, against mario batali. somehow the fact that he lost makes me believe him even more.. ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: timpani_mimi
                                                                                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                                                                                    JohnMich Jul 17, 2012 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sarcastic? Who, moi? Not sarcasm just a breath of truth. It might not be quite as I said but far, far too many come up with things like 2 tsp of Grand Marnier as a vital component. The last time I had GM I bought it duty free and it did not last that long anyway - but too dear to buy to get two tsps- or just guzzle. If they said but substitute a 1 1/2 tsp of common brandy and 1 tsp of grated orange rind (picked from anywhere on the tree !) as a substitute I would have a lot more respect for them. All I do now is look at their recipes and go and find similar by a non-whacker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    PS: The brandy trick works!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                                                      AmyH Jul 18, 2012 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I usually buy miniature bottles, or pint bottles if miniatures aren't available, of liquor for recipes only needing a small amount. More expensive per fluid ounce, but saves me from having a collection of big bottles of liquor. We don't drink much and have teenagers in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AmyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                                                                                                        timpani_mimi Jul 18, 2012 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        it does raise the question of what to do with the liquor we buy just for recipes. i don't drink much at home, either, and i have more than half-full bottles of limoncello, marsala wine and vodka (ok that's just for me) lying around. the first two are part of a year-long tiramisu training exercise i put myself through. problem is, i''m almost done with the tiramisu phase and not sure what to do with them now...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: timpani_mimi
                                                                                                                                                                                                          AmyH Jul 18, 2012 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can't help you with the limoncello, but chicken or veal Marsala is always good. And you can use the vodka in a vodka cream sauce for your pasta, or in the Cook's Illustrated vodka pie crust that a lot of chowhounds have been talking about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AmyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kris in Beijing Jul 18, 2012 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Limoncello Icebox Pie?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://sarasshindigs.blogspot.com/201...

                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kris in Beijing
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                                                                                                                                                                                                              JohnMich Jul 18, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kris, that is a great recipe and I think using ginger snap instead of the graham cracker style biscuits is a top idea. Next on my list of things to try because the bloke next door makes his own limoncello so nothing to buy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                sandylc Jul 18, 2012 04:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ah, OK....new information....I can tell that you are not in the same country as I am! Disregard the lime entry below.....all explained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: AmyH
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                                                                                                                                                                                                              timpani_mimi Jul 18, 2012 08:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              thanks, will look into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: timpani_mimi
                                                                                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                                                                                              JohnMich Jul 18, 2012 03:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mimi, I find that off-season limes are so expensive if attainable at all but are so often necessary for Asian recipes (particularly Thai) that buying limes when cheap is a necessity. Having juiced them freezing as icecubes does not really work because the flavouring oils evaporate off. Solution - put an airline miniature of vodka into the lime juice (750 ml) bottle and keep it tighly corked in fridge. If all else fails drink it and drown your sorrows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JohnMich
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                sandylc Jul 18, 2012 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm confused.....limes are always available in every store here, year-round. They're usually about the same price, as well. Do you live someplace exotic that does not have limes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  paulj Jul 18, 2012 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In another thread about metric measures, he signs his post
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JohnMich from Australia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sandylc Jul 18, 2012 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Very good! Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JohnMich Jul 24, 2012 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes Sandy I do live somewhere exotic. It's called Australia. Paulj is quite correct and thanks. But there is a bit more to it than that. From your posts you seem very interested in things generally so ...Australia is by 713 sq. miles in land area bigger than the USA not counting Alaska. But its population 3 million less than Texas at around 22.6 million. Population density of the US is 83 people/sq. mile, Oz 7.8! Its generally closer to the equator than the US and does not have any significant areas where any snow lasts in the streets for more than an hour - and even that is infrequent.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Limes are seasonal needing cold winters to fruit properly. So with the lack of cold places and very small population limes are very expensive off-season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We live on the Gold Coast, Queensland and it's into winter - the temperature at nights is plummeting down to 10C (50F) but the days are a glorious 23-24C (73-75F) and brilliant sunny skies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Limes abound at the moment because its quite a bit colder south of us, and can be got at 40c each where off season they can be $1 (AU$ ~ US$). So that's why I buy in season and preserve the juice and freeze some rinds. With Asian dishes particularly Thai being a regular at our place (most Chinese restaurants have been supplanted by Thai and Vietnamese), we go through about 3 litres (~100 US fl.ozs) of juice a year so buying well is important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And if you are ever thinking of an exotic holiday place forget Florida or California,come to Queensland "Beautiful one day - perfect the next!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JohnMich
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sandylc Jul 24, 2012 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That is very interesting and it sounds lovely there...thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    timpani_mimi Jul 18, 2012 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sometimes i'm just lazy to save unused, dying fresh produce (limes are a culprit for me - "oh i'll need those, i'm sure i'll use them on thursday.. cut to four thursdays later and they're browning in their own liquid in the bag), so i just buy and use that brand of pure lime juice that sells in bottles in the supermarket in the baking/cooking section. the name eludes me, but they have a small, round squeeze bottle size of it thats tres cute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: timpani_mimi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      paulj Jul 19, 2012 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the few things that bugged me about the Frugal Gourmet shows years ago was Smiths repeated badmouthing of bottle lemon/lime juice in favor of the real lemons he was using. I can accept that freshly squeezed juice is better, but I don't like being reminded again and again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As you write, when the real limes have grown fuz in the bottom of the vegetable bin it is nice to have a bottle of preserved stuff as a backup. Though I am more likely to use vinegar in a salad if I don't have fresh lime/lemon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        AmyH Jul 19, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And when you have a recipe that only calls for 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, is it that critical to buy a lemon for that amount? And then let the rest of it rot in the vegetable bin? I keep a bottle of the minute maid frozen lemon juice for those occasions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          John E. Jul 19, 2012 09:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What bothered me about the Frugal Gourmet's recipes is that they frequently did not work. I actually enjoyed his shows back in the day. Now, I would never admit that in public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JohnMich Jul 20, 2012 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Even better would be to squeeze the limes and save the juice so you can use the real thing instead of spending more money on a different product. Your use of vinegar instead of lime juice has my taste buds cringing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              paulj Jul 20, 2012 06:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Obviously vinegar works better in some styles of salad than others. If I want some of that sweet/sour quality of citrus, pomegranate molasses is an option (though dark).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JohnMich Jul 20, 2012 06:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why not just use saved lime juice instead of buying yet another product or is that too simple?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Incidentally on the question of usage of Chow.com I just looked up Alexa.com and 1/3rd (33% rounded) of Chowhound vistors are from metric measure countries ie. all the world except the US, Liberia and Burma. I reckon that is enough for Chow management to think about, dont you?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But then again people from metric countries who look up US measure cookery sites are pretty dab hands at converting to their measures so perhaps it doesn't really matter that much anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          jvanderh Aug 15, 2012 11:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can attest. Off season limes are a FORTUNE. When I was there, I think they were probably 10x what we pay in the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JohnMich
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      paulj Jul 18, 2012 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any recipe that calls for a liqueur has this issue. Some have a well stock cabinet that they can raid for cooking, others won't allow the stuff in the house. For largely economical reasons, I've rarely bought anything stronger than sherry. That means winging it if the recipe calls for a flavor liqueur, or skipping the recipe. That's not a fault of the recipe, just that it does not work for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. firecooked Jul 16, 2012 10:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Number one pet peeve is totally unrealistic times listed. There seem to be a lot of recipes that to hit the time, you need to start with the ingredients on your counter, already washed and diced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Number two are recipes which call for twice as many pans as needed. Especially for a "timesaver" recipe which takes 10 pots, pans, and bowls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LadySaiga Jul 16, 2012 03:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peeve # 1 is when the ingredient list is out of order based on how you make the recipe. Yes, Cooks Illustrated, I'm talking to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peeve # 2 is when the instructions take SO many more steps than they need to, to do something simple. If you're in a hurry you just follow the steps and get halfway through before you realize what a waste of time they are. Some recipes, by the instructions, take TWICE as long to do the identical thing as need be! I've got a lovely Mexican cookbook that's guilty of this. Everything needs to be rewritten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    lseavey Jul 16, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Sauté boneless skinless chicken breasts til cooked through, about 5 minutes." Where is this author buying said breasts? These days they are so huge they take more like 25 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Laharre Jul 16, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My big pet peeve is when bread/anything with flour lists it as a volume measurement. If you measure your flower by volume you're just asking for trouble... If you're going to list a volume for people without a scale, at least put a weight in parentheses with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Laharre
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        paulj Jul 16, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wonder how my mom's generation ever managed to bake cakes, cookies, bread and biscuits without digital scales. Maybe the same way their traveled without GPS and Google Maps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          jvanderh Aug 15, 2012 11:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly the same way. Someone had to show you, and you stuck to the familiar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Midknight Aug 16, 2012 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They also died younger back then. Just sayin'. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Laharre
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            juliejulez Aug 9, 2012 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know, I'm a pretty experienced baker and I've never had a problem with measuring flour by volume. The only things I'm careful with is baking powder and baking soda. Salt I measure in my hand, just like my mother did. Actually, I just finished eating a couple of cookies I made last night where I "eyeballed" 4 cups of flour, and 1.5 cups of both sugar and brown sugar, since the pyrex measuring cup doesn't allow you to level off. They were delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, I'm not baking advanced french pastries or anything, but I think sometimes people get a little too hung up on the details with baking.... as long as it's close it works for me and I've rarely had something turn out poorly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              eLizard Aug 13, 2012 08:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ITA! I've seen recipes that call for a knob of butter the size of an egg in a moderate oven..... made a delicious blueberry cake.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            josephlapusata Jul 15, 2012 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When the recipe says add a can of cream of mushroom soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. CallAnyVegetable Jul 13, 2012 06:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I once read somewhere recently (can't remember where, sorry) that cookbooks are often edited with a certain formula such as 'do not make a recipe's ingredients long enough to have to turn the page'.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Of course this happens a lot and the first ingredient they usually cut (to make the recipe fit the book layout) would always be the garlic!! Now that I know I add extra garlic to everything i try from a book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CallAnyVegetable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                GH1618 Jul 13, 2012 06:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "... I add extra garlic to everything I try from a book."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A ridiculous rule-of-thumb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  CallAnyVegetable Jul 13, 2012 06:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LOL at your lack of repartee and kitchen technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: CallAnyVegetable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pdxgastro Jul 14, 2012 09:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Look, if you want garlic, add garlic. But don't use the cockamamie excuse that it's *always* lacking from the recipe. Some recipes use it, some don't. Plain and simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pdxgastro
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drongo Jul 15, 2012 05:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I believe CallAnyVegetable's post was tongue-in-cheek. I thought it was pretty funny.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jzone Jul 23, 2012 12:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't have any fancy reason for adding extra garlic except that I like garlic. I double or triple the garlic in every recipe I make because they just never, ever have enough in the recipe. Seriously, 2 cloves in a recipe to serve 4 people is usually useless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One big exception though is if the garlic stays raw in the recipe, then I'll follow it exactly, or maybe even less. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jzone
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Michelly Aug 9, 2012 08:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm with you. We LOVE garlic, so I automatically double the garlic in any recipe...sometimes more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not a peeve, though. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  btnfood Jul 13, 2012 02:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When listing measurements, 3 teaspoons annoys me, as it's so much easier to measure out a tablespoon. Same with 4 tablespoons versus a quarter cup. I also think 5 tablespoons should be listed as 1/4 cup plus one tablespooon, the logical way one would measure out this amont.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And who actually measures butter in cups? Ounces are more logical, and at least tablesoons can correspond to the markings on the butter wrapper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: btnfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    paulj Jul 13, 2012 04:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When a recipe calls for a cup (or fraction thereof) of butter they mean for you to go by the markings on the stick. For example, a 1/4 stick (from a 1lb box) is '1/2 c = 8Tbl'. Trying to stuff that butter into a measuring cup is wrong. The water displacement method works, if you let the butter float.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: btnfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      GH1618 Jul 13, 2012 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just checked a stick of butter I have on hand (Tillamook). It's marked in tablespoons up to eight, and also in 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2 cup (the whole stick) divisions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: btnfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Elster Jul 14, 2012 04:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Although then you have to get both your 1/4 cup measure and a tablespoon dirty... anything that reduces the washing up for me is a plus! :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. butzy Jul 13, 2012 03:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For me it is also measurements.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I prefer metric but can work with imperial if I have to, but what annoys me are the books that have both and then tell me to use 102.5 grammes of something and pre-heat the oven to 161 oC. Or 1 oz per gallon being translated as 28 gr per 3.78 ltr (I had to look that one up :) )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please make it 100 grammes, 160 oC and 7.4 gr per litre !!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I bought the book because I wanted the metric amounts and I still have to sit there with a calculator!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: butzy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          paulj Jul 13, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Can't you do the rounding yourself?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Converted measures like this might have been made by some editorial assistant, or a program. Do you want to trust their judgement as to how much rounding is ok? Should measures be rounded, regardless of what it does to ratios?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What if 1 US cup is rounded to 250 ml? That's a 6% increase. Should 1/2 c of something else be rounded to a nice 100ml, or 125ml?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ideally a recipe should be tested with both the American measures and the metric ones, with each adjusted as necessary. But I think that rarely happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The equivalences become even more complicated with converting between volume measures and weight ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            GH1618 Jul 13, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The rounding should be done by whoever does the translation to appropriate significance. However, anyone who has read Julia Child's account of writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking will know that there is more to translating recipes from one country to another than getting the measures converted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              butzy Jul 13, 2012 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Surely I can do the rounding off, but I buy books with metric measurements so I don't have to do that (and some of these are not cheap ones).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To me metric is much easier to work with especially if you want to increase or decrease a recipes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My point is basically, that if you do pretend to give both, then you should do it correct. It is not that difficult!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you round of the cup to 250 ml, that's fine, just increase the rest by a similar amount.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In this case 1 oz can become 30 gr (also about a 6% increase). Some books do this very well. James Petersen's "sauces" comes to mind.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But putting an oven temperature down with a precision that is not possible, is just weird. It like asking you t oput the oven at 482 F (250 oC). Surely it would be more normal to ask for an oven temperature of 480 F?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey, it's just a pet peeve :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: butzy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                paulj Jul 14, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One plus to not rounding - it gives a clue as to which way the conversion went. I expect the original to be in convenient rounded quantities. It's with those quantities that the recipe has been tested.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A curious thing about metric weight units. I just made a batter from the UK source
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The crumpet recipe calls for g of flour, ml of water. But using the scale, I added g. of water. Fortunately 1g = 1ml of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's also curious that the crumpet recipe calls to 5g of yeast, 10g of salt, 1 tsp baking powder. Why the mix of units? Probably because we are used to scooping baking powder, and leveling the spoon on the rim of the can. Also my scale, while registering grams, does not measure small quantities like this vary well. Fortunately the 10g of salt is close to the salt measure I'm used (1 or 2 tsp). For the yeast I just went by experience on what I normally use with this amount of flour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So even though the recipe was metric, I still had to draw on my American volumetric baking experience to measure quantities appropriately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  drongo Jul 14, 2012 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Got to be careful though because a British teaspoon and tablespoon are not the same as US teaspoon and tablespoon (and even the ratio between the two measures is not the same --- British tablespoon is not 3 British teaspoons, but more like 3.3). Similar issues apply to the cup and pint. UK pint is 20 British (Imperial) fluid oz, US pint is 16 US fluid oz... but US fluid oz is 4% larger than British fluid oz. Moral of the story: if you have US measuring equipment, be wary of UK non-metric volumetric measures (unless approximate is OK).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (I live in USA, but grew up in part of the British Commonwealth during the 1960s before metrication, and hence am familiar with the old measures.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    paulj Jul 14, 2012 12:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So far with British recipes differences in ingredients to be more challenging than differences in measures. For example, when a parkin recipe calls for oatmeal, is that rolled oats the Americans are most familiar with, or a coarse oat flour?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most of my British books are from Hermes House which has a note at the start about equivalences that they use

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 tsp = 5ml; 1 T = 15ml; 1 cup = 250ml
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    These are close enough to the spoons and measures that I have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It also says eggs are 'medium'; though I believe there are national differences in egg sizing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drongo Jul 14, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree Paul. I need to be particularly careful about tomato paste, tomato purée or sauce, ketchup in USA, which are (more or less) tomato purée, passata, tomato sauce respectively in recipes from back home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DunkTheBiscuit Jul 30, 2012 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oatmeal to make parkin would be the equivalent of Steel Cut Oats, if that helps. At least in my part of Yorkshire - those traditional recipes tended to use what was available :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DunkTheBiscuit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          paulj Jul 30, 2012 01:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The steel cut oats that we get in the USA are, I think, too coarse to be used directly in a baked good. I think I tried them once, and had hard bits that stuck in my teeth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A US miller, Bobs Red Mill, sells something they call Scottish Oatmeal, which are more like a coarse meal. That seems to give the best texture. I approximate it by briefly chopping (in a spice mill) regular rolled oats, or the steel cut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            staughton Jul 12, 2012 05:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, on both coasts of the USA, I've known Indians from India and Trinidad/Guyana as well as Bangladeshis who use jarred/packaged garam masala (or similar) type mixtures. Not all the time or with every dish, but they use them. Most of them add things like fresh ginger or coriander and extra doses of some spices that are already in the mixture and some that are not. If you honestly think every Indian cook is grinding up a different mixture with their mortar and pestle and toasting it for every individual dish every time they cook, you are mistaken. That's just foodie-talk. Maybe that's how they're doing it at the palace in Jaipur, but no one I've ever known is doing it that way every time--any more than every Italian grandma is starting with tomatoes right off the vine for her sauce every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Father Kitchen Jul 12, 2012 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Recipes that give volume measures only, not weight. It is particularly vexing when you have a baking recipe and the book doesn't specify whether it is a sifted or spooned-in measure (normal in pastries) or scoop and scrape (normal for flour in bread baking). The margin of error is huge. Or what is a cup of dice? The density (and weight ) of the cupful will vary according to the size of the dice. I don't mind volume measures as many are used to them, but I think there is no excuse for editors of new books not to provide weights as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Antilope Jul 12, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lists about recipe pet peeves. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jns7 Jul 12, 2012 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Loss of standardization of recipe terms:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. "fresh breadcrumbs" used to mean crumbs from fresh bread rather than from dried or toasted bread; now it sometimes seems to mean "make your own" rather than store bought. So I'm no longer sure what to do when I see "fresh bread crumbs" in a recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. "1 cup pitted olives" clearly means a cupful of pitted olives.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "1 cup olives, pitted" sounds to me like it could either mean the same thing, or could mean measure 1 cup of olives and then pit them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The latter I'll guess at in the context of amounts for other ingredients in a recipe. But the breadcrumbs business stumps me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spice_zing Jul 12, 2012 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A major pet peeve of mine is when a recipe is supposed to be a copycat but tastes nothing like the original. (I’ve messed up a lot of chicken trying to duplicate KFC’s 11 herbs and spices.) I always read thru the comments and make changes if several people agree (i.e. use more black pepper). But it’s frustrating when you think you’ve found a good copycat recipe only to waste a lot of time and ingredients on an inferior recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Spice_zing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drongo Jul 12, 2012 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Copycats are tough because even if the recipe is right, your ingredients are different. E.g. if a recipe calls for 1 tsp oregano, the taste differs depending on the type (Mediterranean, Mexican), ground vs. flakes, freshness, etc. When I try a copycat, I set my goal as being to produce something similar but better -- that way I'm not disappointed when it doesn't turn out exactly the same (and I can rationalize that it's better -- a psychological "out", lol). But I do understand your point!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. drongo Jul 12, 2012 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is not really a pet peeve, but I got an Emile Henry tagine and it came with recipes with some ingredients measured in "glasses" rather than cups or milliliters. I presume a translation glitch. I filled my glass with wine and proceeded undeterred.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        evansp60 Jul 12, 2012 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good call, when in doubt add alcohol! - - to the chef!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. almond tree Jul 12, 2012 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Comments on an online recipe from people who haven’t actually prepared the recipe. Reading “Mmm … can’t wait to try this!” or “Wow! Chocolate and peanut butter! Looks so yum! Lol!” doesn’t help me A) decide whether the recipe is worth trying or B) answer any questions that may come up in the midst of preparation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Especially annoying if the commenter includes a link to his/her blog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: almond tree
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          drongo Jul 12, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, I agree. Even more irritating than the positive comments (such as your examples) from those who haven't tried the recipe are the negative comments -- often oozing with arrogance and superiority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: almond tree
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JohnMich Jul 24, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You are so right about that, Almond Tree. My feeling is that no-one who has not tried the recipe should be allowed to comment. Some sites I notice now ask the question 'have you made this?' It is not liar proof but it is a start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sparklebright Jul 12, 2012 03:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Medium can of ___
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Large can of _____
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            WHAT? Give me some ounces or mls or or somethin!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For many purposes going a few ounces over or under won't really matter but if a Large can is the Family club pack size can..well the finished product sure won't look like the picture!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sparklebright
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tastesgoodwhatisit Jul 15, 2012 11:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For a related peeve - I hate ounces in recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There's a weight based ounce (~30 g) and a fluid ounce (~30 ml). For something like a can of tomatoes, it will be given in ounces and not specify which. Given that canned goods can be sold by weight or volume, I'm left not knowing which I should use. For water, they will be equivalent, but not so much for other ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                paulj Jul 16, 2012 08:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is there really an ambiguity with canned goods? If the label says 'Net wgt 15 oz' that means weight. Only if it is a liquid item like evaporated milk will it say 'Net wgt 12 fl oz'. Can labels also have metric, gm or ml.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it safe to assume that a recipe that specifies something like 'xxx oz' can of tomatoes, means the same units that are commonly used for that product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  CanadaGirl Jul 16, 2012 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm in Canada; most cans do not have ounces, only ml. Manyt cookbooks and magazines are written for the US, and so use ounces. I have measuring cups and a scale, and so can measure both weight and volume in ounces, but I have no idea which products are normally measured by which ounce. I just wing it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: CanadaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    paulj Jul 16, 2012 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yea, I just looked at some President's Choice cans - they all list ml and fl.oz. even for items like corn and green beans that US caners would use oz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless it's vacuum packed, the two measures are close enough. Plus recipes using canned goods seldom require precise measures. It doesn't matter whether your cans of green peas and sticks of butter match Paula Dean's or not. You put corn on your Pate Chinois by instinct and preference, not the cups or ml of a recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              evansp60 Jul 11, 2012 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Somebody just did it here on Chowhound.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here's the post:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857471

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A "scratch" curry recipe that uses curry from a packette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How can you create the dish if you don't have the ingredients for the spices...SERIOUSLY!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a curry, the curry is an essential flavor to the dish. if you can't recreate the curry mixture you won't get the right flavor. Lot of work in this recipe just to trash it with a packaged curry powder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Aaarrrggg!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 08:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ummm, that's a link back to this thread ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sandylc Jul 11, 2012 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What if someone who really knows Indian cooking chooses the spices and hand mixes them for a particular type of curry, then packages it and sells it. Is that bad?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 08:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not in my mind. It also isn't bad if you take an existing curry powder or other masala and build your own recipe around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you always use the exact same packaged masala for every recipe, though, that isn't exactly BAD per se, but it sure would be monotonous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      cowboyardee Jul 11, 2012 09:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think pre-ground curry powders suffer from a major weakness beyond the lack of customization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Powders wind up tasting less interesting than making your own spice mix because of the fineness of the grind. The flavor of the curry becomes very homogeneous, so while the curry might taste good in the first bite, there's nothing to keep it interesting. Grinding your own spices, you'll get bright bursts of flavor from particles that have not fully dispersed through the curry, which keeps things interesting and adds depth and complexity to the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A good cook can still make a tasty dish that uses pre-ground curry powder, but making and grinding your own mix is usually tastier and more interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 09:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see I didn't make it clear, when cooking with ANY masala powder, it is not the only spice you put in the dish. At least not most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Frankly I don't always want something complicated. Sometimes I want something simple. Although I have to admit, when that sort of craving comes over me, I'm more likely to break out the skinny blue box of yellow stuff than to whip up an Indian meal of any sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Jul 11, 2012 10:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I understood your post. My point was that there's a whole lot of people debating curry powder in this thread, but AFAIK no one had pointed out one of the biggest reasons WHY things flavored mainly with curry powder don't taste like things flavored with a mix of fresh crushed spices, even if they are the same spices. After your post was as good a place to note that as any.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 10:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are too many factors at play to make that kind of blanket statement. For one thing, there isn't anyone outside a few people at the factories where such spice blends are made (or small family businesses that have special spice blends, there are still a lot of these throughout SE Asia, not just India) who knows what all the ingredients and the proportions are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The other thing is the age of the spices, whether it's a masala or individual spices. Plus, how they are stored. So even using fresh crushed spices is unlikely to give you the same flavor every single time, across all households/cooks. I don't think it's a problem that they don't taste the same; either way (crushed spices or using a good commercial masala) it's the flavor you want. Of COURSE it's different from some other flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's been my experience, based on cooking Indian food nearly every day for, oh, gosh, over 35 years, that if you stick with a particular brand of curry powder, and given that they don't change the formulation, you can and do get consistent results. If that's the result that you WANT (and in the case of the dishes where I would use that masala) then it doesn't matter that it's "different" from what fresh ground spices would be. I contend that these masalas (at least the well-made ones) have their OWN "subtleties" and nuances. Given that my recipe has been built around these subtleties and nuances, trying to replace that prepackaged Masala with something else isn't going to give superior results, it's just going to give you a DIFFERENT result; it may in fact give you an inferior result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've finally found a source of the long sought after 777 curry powder; I'm just afraid that when I get it, it will have been so long since I've had it, that my ways of cooking have changed trying to make up for it's lack all this time and I may not be able to recapture the original methods that made it so well-suited in those dishes which I originally developed around it, or was taught to use it in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have to admit that would make me sad. That 777 curry powder is so closely linked to my memories of my MIL, who has been dead for decades now, that it would just make me sad for it not to be the same anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              cowboyardee Jul 11, 2012 11:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It seems you didn't understand my post. I was talking about the difference grind size makes. A powder disperses differently in a liquid than a larger grind does, simple as that. For example, a theoretical pre-mixed and store-bought packet of curry spices could actually taste exactly the same as a well made traditional curry if the spices in it were roughly crushed rather than uniformly ground to a powder (and sufficiently high quality, obviously). I'm not talking about snobbery or making blanket statements - I'm talking about the mechanics of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you like curry powder, then keep using it. It's only inferior or superior to the extent that a person prefers it. I personally prefer roughly crushed spices (at least when making an actual curry) for the reasons I stated above. I prefer making my own blends because I don't see a wide variety of high-quality roughly crushed blends on the market. The important thing in cooking well is to know how to get the effect you seek. You'll never get the same flavor from powder-ground spices as you will from roughly crushed spices - which you prefer is a matter for you to decide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 11:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Again - OF COURSE it's different. I just don't see why that matters. Obviously you use the techniques and ingredients that give you the effect you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What you said was:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I think pre-ground curry powders suffer from a major weakness beyond the lack of customization. Powders wind up tasting less interesting than making your own spice mix because of the fineness of the grind."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What I'm trying to convey is that this ISN'T a weakness, since your very use of the masala is part of the "customization" of your recipe. An INTEGRAL part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's the idea that masala blends are "weak" and hence inherently inferior, and that they somehow make your dish banal (not customizable) and "uninteresting" to which I was responding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Biting into a chunk of cloves or (worse yet) a piece of cardamom may be a pleasant experience for you, but it isn't very pleasant for most people. If you like chunks of spices in your curry, then by all means, go for it. But the fact that I DON'T want chunks of spices in my curry only makes them less "interesting" to YOU, it's not a universal given.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cowboyardee Jul 11, 2012 11:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "OF COURSE it's different. I just don't see why that matters."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ________
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Why not? I pointed out more precisely how grind size affects the end result - why wouldn't that matter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As I just said, you're welcome to prefer what you prefer. I think it's a weakness - in other words, I think a curry tastes more interesting when the spice flavors are less homogenized through the sauce. My preference. If you like that effect, more power to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you debating that pre-mixed powders and crushed spices create different taste effects? (of course, you could use both in the same dish)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or are you offended that I admitted to preferring the effect of crushed vs powdered?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KitchenBarbarian Jul 12, 2012 12:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not offended at all, I just think you were wrong in making a blanket statement that "making and grinding your own mix is tastier and more interesting".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It wasn't stated as a preference. Your preference is absolutely fine. So is mine. So is the guy who hates anything remotely resembling any Indian food at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's all good. The Zen of Food - every dish is perfect in and of itself. Even if it's perfectly burned, LOL! (OK, being a little facetious there, forgive me)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      cowboyardee Jul 12, 2012 12:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How can a statement that 'X is tastier than Y' not be a preference? I don't include a disclaimer because it's obvious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do think there is value in taking care that individual flavors stand out, and that little flavor and texture variances and changes within a dish can fight palate fatigue, which helps the second half of the curry (or whatever) taste as good as the first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For more info on this philosophy, look up some of Heston Blumenthal's writings on 'flavor encapsulation.' It's been very influential in the way I think about cooking. But it's still only one philosophy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MGZ Jul 12, 2012 02:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Powders wind up tasting less interesting than making your own spice mix because of the fineness of the grind. The flavor of the curry becomes very homogeneous, so while the curry might taste good in the first bite, there's nothing to keep it interesting. Grinding your own spices, you'll get bright bursts of flavor from particles that have not fully dispersed through the curry, which keeps things interesting and adds depth and complexity to the dish."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is a very good point. It is going to be true regardless of one's preference for any spice blend, not just curry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      evansp60 Jul 12, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      update,,,sorry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/275003

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The quanitities and mix of spices is different for every blend.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A "scratch" recipe that references a prepackaged spic blend is assuming
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that you have that available. If not, what do you do with it? If you give the spices
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      and their quantities it is replicable and the cook then adjust if they choosse.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The recipe in question is fairly involved if you choose to follow the whole process.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The fact that it includes a packaged spice mix spoils it completely, at least for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. kosherfoodies Jul 11, 2012 12:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      when the ingredient list doesn't have water. i gather my ingredients all ready before i start, and when all of a sudden i read "add 1/2 cup of warm water," i get annoyed, even though i know i was supposed to have read the instructions all the way through, i still think it's an ingredient and should be treated as one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kosherfoodies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CanadaGirl Jul 11, 2012 05:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. dave_c Jul 11, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Only pet peeve is not listing all the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However, I'm pretty much in the state of zen with cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) All recipes are only guides. If you're off a little, it will not make a difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Hank Hanover Jul 10, 2012 09:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yet another recipe peeve of mine. You can't either download all the recipes in the book or a disc doesn't come with the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you pay for the book, you should be able to get access to the recipes without hand typing them onto your hard drive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            paulj Jul 10, 2012 10:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How many of your cookbooks have recipes in electronic form like this? None of my do. But then I don't buy the latest books. I wait till I find them at the used book store (used or clearance). Plus some of my favorites precede the digital age.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hank Hanover Jul 10, 2012 11:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Very Very Few. Just thought I would throw it in while we were talking peeves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 01:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scanner ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Hank Hanover
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              drongo Jul 11, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This would be nice, Hank. I always get any recipe I make into Living Cookbook. Before I turn to the scanner, I usually search for the recipe in Google (since sometimes someone has transcribed and posted it) and also look to see if the relevant page is available in Google Books or in a "Look Inside" preview at Amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hank Hanover Jul 11, 2012 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I do my best to find them online. I also have Dragon Naturally Speaking so I can dictate the recipe and, if I absolutely have to, I can type it in. I haven't had much luck with scanners. I have several thousand recipes in Word format on my hard drive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. caseyjo Jul 10, 2012 03:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've got a few pet peeves:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -Too many pictures. I want the cookbook for the information, not the photography. Never understood why there has to be a picture of every. single. item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -Statements like "traditionally it's done like x, but we've done y to make it easier!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -Lack of information about the dish, especially when the dish comes from another culture. I want to know more about how, when, and why the food is prepared and eaten the way it has been written in the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm never bothered by "hidden" time requirements and cross-referenced ingredients. I learned early on that it's imperative to read the recipe through at least twice, and it's often helpful to take notes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: caseyjo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KitchenBarbarian Jul 10, 2012 06:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Statements like "traditionally it's done like x, but we've done y to make it easier!""

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why does that bother you? I'd prefer that to having them "simplify" the recipe and not tell me what they changed, hence removing the option of doing it the "traditional" way should I choose to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: caseyjo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  AmyH Jul 11, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've always been surprised, when reading user reviews of cookbooks on Amazon, at how many people complain because there isn't a photograph of every recipe in the book! Like you, I've never understood the need for pictures of every item. Honestly, I don't need pictures at all. Who can't figure out what a roasted chicken is supposed to look like? And do you really think that yours is going to look just like the author's? Pictures take up room that would be better used for more recipes. Also, it's MUCH more expensive to publish books with full-color photographs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AmyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    paulj Jul 11, 2012 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But what if the item or dish is not familiar? I happily use Joy of Cooking which just has a scattering of line drawings. But I also have large collection of picture cookbooks from HH (mostly from the clearance section). The ones I use most are for foreign cuisines. It helps to have a picture of pandan leaves, and some of the preparation steps for beef randang.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    However I tend to skip the cookbooks that have a lot of full page glamour shots. To me that's a waste of print space, one that could have been devoted to more recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      AmyH Jul 11, 2012 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh sure, illustrations are great for unusual ingredients and techniques that most readers would be unfamiliar with. Butterflying a piece of meat, for instance. The America's Test Kitchen books are great for technique illustrations, and they're line drawings so they don't add to the cost. But yeah, I was referring more to the glamour shots as you call them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AmyH
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        paulj Jul 11, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I suspect that with modern printing methods, the cost penalty to color photos is minimal. I still see books with separate color plates, while the text pages just have bw photos or drawings. But if they mix text and photos, the ratio between the two probably does not affect cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: caseyjo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    hyacinthgirl Jul 13, 2012 01:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like the pictures. Don't we eat first with our eyes? Cookbook photos inspire me to want to try to make the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Midknight Jul 16, 2012 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Completely agree. I won't buy a cookbook if it DOESN"T have pictures. "Baked chicken and potatoes" can meen so many different things, but I don't have to have to read every chicken recipe and ingredients in a book to find one that looks interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midknight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kris in Beijing Jul 16, 2012 01:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not to mention "Easy Sunday Night Chicken" without a picture. Reading the recipe to see chicken breast, spices, and a handful of other items still doesn't help much!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have some old "in a series" cookbooks that begin each chapter with several pictures, and in each are no fewer than 6 dishes. The captions nearly always begin: "clockwise from the bottom"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://bit.ly/NOzvb5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://bit.ly/OJW1z2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. v
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    VirtuaFoodie Jul 10, 2012 03:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Peeve 1 - Baking recipes that are not measured by weight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Peeve 2 - recipes that have useless ingredients in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Peeve 3 - People that look at recipes online and instead of just simply commenting on the recipe - good, bad, hard to make, whatever... they go into this long novel about what they did different to the dish, and then end it by saying, but your way sounds good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. monfrancisco Jul 10, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My peeve-- when the ingredient list (usually for something baked) doesn't specify that an item will be split. So I deploy the whole amount and then realize that some of it should have been held back for a later, different step. My fault, really, but still annoying (if I'm lucky; disastrous if not).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monfrancisco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        thursday Jul 15, 2012 09:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This!! I know I should read through the recipe ahead of time, but I am constantly ruining recipes or (more often) carefully scooping something out of the bowl with a demitasse spoon because I didn't know I was supposed to save 2 tbs of that flour for rolling the berries in or what-have-you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This has become a major pet peeve for me in the past few years when so many of my recipes are coming from the internet rather than my cookbooks - a cookbook sits next to me on the counter and willingly gets covered in flour and sugar while I go line by line; my computer stays clean in the next room while I run back and forth, so I read recipes by phrase at this point rather than step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        laliz Jul 10, 2012 01:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I want to know how many servings the recipe estimates. I find so many recipes w/out this info.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          y
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          youngmodernist Jul 10, 2012 02:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, recipes always seem to differ on what a 'serving' is. I find this to be a pet peeve. A description of what sort of cooking pan/pot was used and how high it was filled or how many units (ie chicken breasts) would somehow be better. It's to easy for one person to say a cut of steak is 4 servings and another person to call it 6-8.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: youngmodernist
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            hyacinthgirl Jul 13, 2012 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've made several different soups in the last few weeks and they keep saying 6-8 servings. I'm not sure how the rest of the world is eating soup, but apparently I'm a soup pig, because I've been finding them to be closer to 3 servings each. Kind of embarrassing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              GH1618 Jul 13, 2012 05:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With soup, it's likely that the recipe is sized for a soup course as part of a full meal. Obviously it's impossible to define serving size for any situation, so the formal meal seems like as good a choice as any.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kris in Beijing Jul 13, 2012 09:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I prefer those that say "makes 4 1-cup servings" or "serve 2 pork chops and about 1/3 a cup of dressing per person."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then I can look at that and think, nooooo, no way 1/3 a cup will do it for me!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hyacinthgirl Jul 16, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely that's greatly preferred.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              SAHCook Jul 15, 2012 06:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Me, too! When I make meals to deliver to friends, I often make new recipes from a cookbook/cook I've had good results from, or even internet recipes that look like they're what I want (you can just tell sometimes). But I'm really, really bad at estimating how much it makes! And, as stated above - what size those serving are would help, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd also like to know what "baking dish" and "pot" means - they do come in different sizes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Ruthie789 Jul 9, 2012 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My recipes can't be too complicated and if the recipe has a long extensive list and procedure, it had better be good!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I dislike recipes in the media that use obscure and wierd ingredients that you have to hunt for. I really like vintage and Amish recipes for their simplicity, and quite like the Brass sisters cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                chefathome Jul 10, 2012 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And I am the opposite. I seek complex recipes using uncommon ingredients. Part of the fun for me is hunting for that elusive ingredient!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One pet peeve of mine, like most, is not listing ingredients by weight. Another is having the first page of the recipe on the right hand side of the book so you flip the page to read the remainder and have to flip back and forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. biggreenmatt Jul 9, 2012 01:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ambiguous grammar in recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Calling for 2.5 lbs cherries, stemmed and pitted, is very different from 2.5 lbs of stemmed and pitted cherries. If your recipe leaves a precise measurement to the imagination, you really need to be clearer in your instructions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sandylc Jul 9, 2012 01:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  YES!! Very important to know at what point to measure the item.....can make a world of difference. If a person doesn't understand this, they have no business in the recipe-writing business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  chrishel Jul 9, 2012 08:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like to look at the comments for recipes to see how they turn out. I HATE when people comment that a recipe didn't turn out but they did, X instead of Y, decreased Z, increased A, omitted B, etc. You didn't make the recipe you are commenting on. How do I know that the recipe didn't turn out because of something the commenter did?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My mom once got a bread maker for $10 from a co-worker who said it didn't work. My mom used it and it was fine. She asked what the co-worker had done. The co-worker said, she didn't want extra sugar or salt in her bread so she omitted them. She essentially made a bread, water, and yeast brick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Granted, there are just as many comments, saying, "I made this and next time I would add more sugar" or the like. Those comments are helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chrishel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sandylc Jul 9, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again, my logic is, learn the rules before you break them. You can't just omit things from recipes unless you know why they're there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chrishel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      jjjrfoodie Jul 9, 2012 01:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chrishel, you just made me LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Actually more a LMAO!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rule 1: Make recipe as printed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rule 2: Adjust recipe to suit YOUR needs after making for teh first time or do not repeat step 2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Derp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chrishel
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        frannieface77 Jul 11, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To be fair, a fair amount of people who make changes on the fly already have some baking experience and know what NOT to do. I'm not experienced in making bread, but I know that you can't leave out the ingredients that feed the yeast, so I would not make that error. If making a cake, cookies, quickbread, etc, I know not to change the baking soda, baking powder, and basic ratio of liquid to dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However, I know enough to be able to tell when I can add brown sugar instead of white, applesauce instead of oil, oil instead of butter (I'm vegan), change "mix-ins" like chocolate chips and nuts to my taste. I feel that I can still comment on the recipe because I will still review it in relation to what I expected out of the original (i.e. "I subbed x for y and the texture was spot on, this recipe really has a golden ratio" or "I subbed y for z and this came out terribly gummy, but I'm relatively certain that going with the original would help"). Plus I find such comments useful in case I'm looking for a "healthy" recipe, and often discover new tips! For example, I ended up substituting a half cup of grated cucumber (!!!) for applesauce/oil in a vegan brownie recipe, which actually came out tasting like a classic (almost store bought, haha) springy chocolate cake, except with the crispy top layer of a brownie. I never in a million years would have thought to use cucumber without one commenter's on-the-fly substitution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess this relates to the "recipe as a guideline" concept discussed earlier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        evansp60 Jul 9, 2012 05:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another huge recipe pet peeve-----PEOPLE WITH SECRET RECIPES!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If your complimented by someone about your meal and they ask for the recipe, give it to them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lifes too short for such mundane secrets. I understand if your a commercial venture and the recipe is a signature product of your company but otherwise what's the big deal?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Midknight Jul 9, 2012 07:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My mother. While not "secret", almost all of her recipes are in her head, so when I ask how does she make ABC, her response "I don't know. I don't have it written down" or "I don't know how much (spice/salt). Just add enough so that would be good for you" or (for meatballs) "add breadcrumbs until it's firm enough". Give me a measure as somewhere to start, please!! lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midknight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            paulj Jul 9, 2012 07:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's the ghost writer of a cookbook who figures out the measure, not the cook herself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midknight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              evansp60 Jul 9, 2012 07:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mom's are like that. Mine as well. I found the only way to get the recipe was to make it with her and write things down as we went. Of course each time is a little different depending on what is available, in what abundance and what mood she's in. The only ingredient I haven't been able to find so far is MOM. That part is unique and there is no substitute!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jackie007 Jul 12, 2012 02:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Honestly, a lot of the time when I cook, I don't know the exact amount of spices or whatever, I just know how much is needed to make it tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Midknight
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                John Francis Jul 9, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's how moms keep us coming back to them. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                drongo Jul 9, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In some cases, maybe the secret is embarassing -- e.g. that the dish is mostly something from the freezer section of the local supermarket!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spice_zing Jul 9, 2012 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Totally agree evansp60. Also when people change ingredients so the recipe never comes out right. Asked someone for a recipe and they gave me bogus ingredients and left out key steps. Why??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Spice_zing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    paulj Jul 9, 2012 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If I have cooked from a recipe, I am happy to show it to an inquirer and let them copy it. But if I have prepared the dish from memory or on the fly, it would be a lot more work to write it down in a way that some one else could duplicate it. Even if I wasn't being duplicitous, there's bound to be omissions and errors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    AmyH Jul 9, 2012 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I once went to a brunch catered by a (now former) friend. She made some great oven-baked frittatas. I didn't ask for the recipe, only the oven temperature and baking time. She wouldn't share that with me! Said she didn't share recipes since that was her business. Which I completely understood except that 1. I wasn't asking for the recipe and 2. I don't live in the same city and don't cook commercially anyway. I found some recipes on the internet and used the temp/time from them, and mine come out better than hers ever did!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jerseygirl111 Jul 10, 2012 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed evansp60. I knew a woman that would leave out 1 ingredient whenever she gave out her recipes so that it never tasted as good as hers. Horrible. OTOH, I gave out a recipe once to someone that started making it and selling the finished product. It was not one of my own family recipes, I had gotten it from someone else, so who am I to complain but still, I was a little put out by that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bliss149 Sep 3, 2012 03:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When my dad cooked at a hunting lodge with a big group of men, he would add "secret spices" to his dishes from a bottle hidden in his pants pockets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it was often just lemon pepper but this was back in the day when that was a more exotic ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sparklebright Jul 12, 2012 04:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah! What's with that? Why the big secret? Is it worth more to you get compliments than whether your friends who care about cooking can share the love and the recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Even commercial ventures--so what?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        People eat out either because they can't or don't like to cook, whereas the recipe would be useless to them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OR they want to splurge or treat themselves and take a night off from cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can make the best quesedillas at home but I go to my local mexican restaurant instead of buying all the ingredients myself, most of which would go bad because I can't possibly use them all up in time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Even if I did have the recipe for what they put in their taco beef AND made it at home, I would still go there for their burritos for the above reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And even publishing a recipe is only half the formula. Technique is the other half.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sparklebright
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pine time Jul 13, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My friend swears that when restaurants give out a recipe to the newspaper for an article, they leave out or change some ingredients 'cause why go to the restaurant if you can make it at home? I say why go to the restaurant if the faked recipe you tried was bad? Guess she and I will never agree!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michelly Aug 9, 2012 08:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          +1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Robin Joy Jul 9, 2012 04:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A recipe with a picture that clearly shows an unmentioned ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robin Joy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            hyacinthgirl Jul 13, 2012 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes! Or when the picture shows a sauce they don't tell you about, or a serving "idea" that needs its own recipe which is not listed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Elster Jul 9, 2012 02:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I recently got a cookbook on a whim that gives you little mini-recipes under each recipe to give you an idea of how you could slightly vary the technique to get a different meal. Trouble is, they were 'variants' such as "Saute the onions and garlic as in step 1 of the carrot soup recipe. Then, instead of adding the carrots and continuing with the soup recipe, add half a pound of bacon, saute some more, crack three eggs into the pan and fry until solidified for a delicious omelette'. In my view, you can't really presume that soup and omelette are related ideas just because they both begin with an onion. :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I know this will be controversial, but I can't stand recipes that ask you to use packet cake mixes as a main part of the dessert. I'm looking up a recipe because I want to make something homemade! I might as well just buy a fantastic gateau from a local bakers otherwise...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Elster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hank Hanover Jul 9, 2012 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well...other than the baker's gateau will cost $20 to $60 and a cake mix is $2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But yes I could see why those recipes would irritate you. Although they would thrill the home cook with limited time and skill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Elster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Transplant_DK Jul 11, 2012 10:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is mine--when I go looking for a recipe and find one that uses prepared mixes (or canned soup, BBQ sauce, etc, as mentioned above). I don't buy prepackaged/prepared foods, and so those aren't recipes for me. I do use and get the reason for canned tomatoes, however, altho I tend to prefer a recipe that says canned are ok if fully ripe fresh ones aren't available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rick Jul 8, 2012 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I hate when the measurments are wrong. I made a stuffed pepper recipe that called for 1 1/2 cups of bread cumbs. It was my first time making the recipe and I should have known better, but I put in 1 1/2 cups. I'm convinced it should be 1/2 cup. I also once put in 3 Tablespoons of salt as per the recipe when better judgement should have known it was a type and it should have been 3 teaspoons!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sandylc Jul 8, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  OK, Rick...not to pick on you, but did you REALLY just typo the word "typo"? LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rick Jul 15, 2012 04:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes I did!!! lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Rick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Elster Jul 9, 2012 02:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's easily done, I have had a couple of occasions where I've almost missed a typo and almost completely ruined the whole recipe - it's shocking how many recipes don't seem to be proofread. Although you do have to use your judgement. I sent a friend a recipe for German gingerbread once and accidentally typed that you need 1800ml of honey as opposed to 180ml. Bless him, he trusted me over his instincts and bought and used ALMOST TWO LITRES OF GOOD HONEY in his gingerbread. Apparently it turned out like brandysnaps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Elster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drongo Jul 14, 2012 05:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I once posted a recipe to BigOven that called for 1 cup of red wine. But BigOven imported it as 1 carton of wine -- presumably I had written 1 c and the system interpreted the c as carton.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I then went back to edit, but I couldn't get my change to stick. So that recipe is still there with 1 carton of wine. I don't buy wine by the carton, but I guess that's about 1 gallon or 16 cups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope nobody tried that recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Needless to say, I have not again posted a recipe at BigOven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        pine time Jul 14, 2012 09:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Betcha that anyone who tried the recipe with "1 carton" was smiling happliy after eating (or imbibing?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spot Jul 8, 2012 05:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Recipes that tell you to take your (choose the protein) out of the refrigerator one hour before (choose the cooking method) so it comes up to room temperature. Demonstrably misguided, to put it politely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Spot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drongo Jul 8, 2012 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why demonstrably misguided? For meats that one wants to cook for as short a time as possible (to avoid dryness and/or toughness), starting at room temperature or slightly above seems sensible. Both McGee and Cooks Illustrated recommend this. I have seen CI even recommending warming for 90 minutes to 120F before putting in the oven. Why is this demonstrably misguided?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: drongo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Spot Jul 8, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm with you on the desirability of the idea, but not on the execution. Even a refrigerated flank steak doesn't get to room temperature in an hour, much less, say, a 10# rib roast, which takes many, many hours to get to room temperature. What my point is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Spot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        linguafood Jul 9, 2012 03:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is, quite contrarily, highly advisable to bring most food items (meat, eggs, fish) to room temp first when you plan on applying heat to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. KitchenBarbarian Jul 8, 2012 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While I agree with you that "curry powder" is not a spice (it is a masala) curry powders ARE, in fact, in use in East India. My 60-year-old mother-in-law favored 777 brand Madras curry powder over 30 years ago, and had, at that time, been using it for at LEAST as long as my husband could remember (basically another 30 years). I used to be able to get it here in the states - it came in a metal can that you had to open with one of those old fashioned can cutters. Haven't been able to find it in over 20 years. I have no idea why - other spices and pickles made by that company are routinely imported, and it is still available in India. It had neem leaves (culinary neem, aka "curry" leaf) in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's rather like some of the blends of spices folks like to use in this country, like Penzey's Fox Point blend (which is MONDO expensive) or Herbes de Provence (also not exactly a bargain, at least not from Penzey's).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course such blends are not the only string to one's bow, but I wish people would have a little more respect for curry powder. The stuff that is made INSIDE India is not, of course ANYTHING like the turmeric-laden junk you usually get here, but its still commonly used in India, the same as any other masala - many of which (garam masala springs to mind) also come in commercial blends that, just like spice blends commonly used here, range from very good to execrable. There may very well be OTHER reasons not to like a recipe that calls for "currry powder", but it's mere presence is not one of those reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess the only other thing that peeves me about recipes are when the writer insists on using obscure foreign words for ingredients for which there are commonly recognized terms in the local language. This is particularly apparent in many English renditions of Japanese recipes. Shirogoma is sesame seed. SAY SESAME SEED. Say WHITE sesame seed if that's not precise enough for you. Insisting on using foreign terms where perfectly good, commonly used words for the same stuff exist in the local language is pure snobbery. Tsukudani I can understand, to a certain extent; we don't have an equivalent term in English for a gelatinous, soy-soaked food product. But not this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't mind if BOTH terms are provided - in point of fact I rather prefer it. But don't make me go look up every single ingredient only to find out that you're talking about salt, regular rice, or sesame seed just because someone thinks its more "sophisticated" to use a foreign term for a common ingredient.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          evansp60 Jul 8, 2012 12:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Your mother-in-law must be incredibly Anglo influenced. I don't mean this in a bad way. Curry powders canned or otherwise are the concoction of the British who of course inhabited India for far too long. My father was in the British army in WW2 and was stationed in India. I grew up eating everything curry and have developed a deep appreciation of true Indian cooking. Anyone of true "Indian caste" would not use a canned spice mix. It's just too generic. I'm not saying that curry powder is bad either. It's just generic. You would not use the same spice mix on fish you would on beef or chicken. The meats are far too different in taste and texture to warrant the same treatment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do agree with you on the rest of your comment re: using foreign terms to "sophisticate" a recipe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            KitchenBarbarian Jul 8, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OMG, my mother-in-law barely set foot out of her HOUSE, let alone out of the city! She lived nearly her entire life in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, as did ALL of my in-laws except my sister-in-law the doctor, who spent time in Nepal, and my husband. Oh, and one sister who moved to Singapore with her husband. The rest never set foot out of India.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My MIL spoke not a single word of English. The idea that she was "Anglo influenced" is just ludicrous. She was married when she was eight years old, though she didn't go live with her husband (my FIL) til she was 12. I don't think she ever so much as MET a non-Indian her entire life!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As to caste, they were Brahmins. I guess technically they still are, but I don't think any of the current generation are paying a whole lot of attention to that these days. There is no such thing as "Indian caste", although curry powder really does exist and is frequently used (and has been for centuries) in India.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sorry, but this continues to be a pet peeve. There are MANY things in Indian cooking that are now considered traditional - by INDIANS, I don't much care what non-Indians think, truly - which did not originate in India but were brought by a variety of different invaders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Prime case in point - the chili pepper. No such thing existed in Indian cooking before the discovery of the Americas in the 17th century. Try cooking an "authentic" Indian dish without one now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Curry powder" is just another masala, and like any Indian masala there are variations. All "garam masala" is not the same, nor is any other masala. Boxed spice mixes have ALWAYS been sold - before there were boxes, even. When you were taking your spices home in a twist of cloth 300 years ago, there were pre-mixed masalas that home cooks ROUTINELY relied upon. The idea that every single masala is and always has been made at home from scratch is just plain wrong, ESPECIALLY in homes where they didn't have servants to do all that complicated work for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Indians laugh at people who think all Indian food is "curry", but they laugh at people who think no "real" Indian would ever cook with a curry powder, too. (And, it must be said, they usually laugh pretty hard at what passes for curry powder outside India as well).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There's no doubt, the masala mixes labeled "curry powder" in India are really nothing like the stuff you buy in the grocery store, but curry powder DOES exist in India and has ever since somebody first came up with the idea of mixing spices together. British "curry powder" was a poor imitation of the masala mixes available to Indian householders in India - but it was an imitation of something whose existence pre-dated the British Raj by quite a bit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for the British idea of "curry" - well, that's about as different from what's cooked in India as is the British (and now just generally "Western") idea of "curry powder".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Western curry powder may be "generic" - but Indian curry powders are not. There are a TON of different blends, all called by some variation of the name "curry powder", which are routinely used in Indian cooking. These do not replace individual spices or other masalas; they complement them. Had you said, "No good Indian cook" (let's ignore the caste faux pas) "would dump a bunch of one kind of masala in every single dish they cook", THAT would be true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But "real" Indians do cook with locally concocted blends which are now called "curry powder" and have done so for centuries - only the names have changed, not the process, and most times, not the blend, either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For heaven's sake, there are even special curry powder blends concocted to enhance or minimize specific aspects of health and behavior, according to Ayurvedic principles. These blends have existed for HUNDREDS of years, and some of them are now classified as "curry powders".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's only the name that came from the Brits; the spice blends (and their use, inside India) are the same as they always were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              evansp60 Jul 8, 2012 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm certainly willing to conceed the point. You are the first person, with any connection to India, that has ever mentioned curry powder was a staple in their cooking. My sister-in-law did not even know what curry powder was when I first mentioned it to her, about 25yrs ago. She and I have cooked together many times and all spices were blended as needed, never premixed. News to me. Having said that, I still prefer to blend the spices myself. I can at least tune the flavor to where I'd like it to be. But that's just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: evansp60
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KitchenBarbarian Jul 8, 2012 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remember that India has over 170 different languages and over 200 dialects. I frequently have to try one term after another before I stumble on one the person I'm talking to recognizes. Your SIL might have recognized the specific brand and type, but not the English phrase - for instance, even though the 777 Madras style curry powder was labeled that way in English, my MIL (who neither spoke nor read any English, only Telugu) just called it "Triple 7 Madrisi Masala" (in Telugu, of course). She also (and most of the women I met of her generation) called "curry leaf" as "neem" - but not the same "neem" as the neem that's used in Ayurvedic remedies. We used to only be able to get this dried in this country, in little boxes that were all labeled "neem" and had pictures of a pot or a thali or something food -related to differentiate it from the Ayurvedic stuff which you do NOT eat. (The fresh stuff is MUCH better, btw. I was sooo glad when we started being able to get fresh neem leaves for cooking instead of those dried up crumbly things!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The other day I was in the local Asian market and an young woman from India came in and was looking for taro - but she only knew what it was called in Orissa (I think). I didn't recognize her word for it, the owner couldn't help (being Thai) and I had to stumble through 3 or 4 different words for it before I hit one she recognized (Arbi, incidentally, which is the Hindi term).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or maybe your SIL wouldn't recognize it by any term used - there are 1B people in India at this point, after all, and they don't ALL use every Indian product on the market. But it'd be pretty unusual if she had never come across ANY spice blend from ANY manufacturer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never found a commercial blend of garam masala I much cared for so I've always made my own. And I've never been happy with ANY curry powder since I stopped being able to get the Sri Ganeshram stuff (777). My recipes (many taught to my by my mother in law) don't taste right with other blends. I make several different masalas, but I still miss the 777 curry powder. I can't make it myself anymore than anyone I've ever met has had any luck making up their own versions of the Fox Point seasoning blend from Penzey's. Which, btw, I have never tasted, but since I suffer from a similar theres-no-replacement-for affliction, I can sympathize with Penzey's Fox Point blend addicts - errr, aficionados, yeah, aficionados is what I meant. LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can "tune" the flavor just as well with a commercial blend as if you made it yourself - as long as the commercial blend is a good blend to start with and they don't change it on you, LOL! After all, it's not the ONLY spice going in to your dish (or at least not in mine).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now, that Kitchen King masala - that's sort of the Indian version of a generic "spice blend". I've never used it myself, but it is advertised as an "all purpose" spice blend. There just ain't no such thing! But I see it being used more and more that way in India. I'm not sure if they even had it 30 years ago, or if they did it may have been named something else. I guess it, too, could have its place as a complement to other spices - but not as the only thing you dump in the pan when you're cooking, LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And you know what - after 25 years or however long it's been since I last saw the stuff - and I just looked for it again a couple of months ago - being reminded of it by this thread, I went out and searched again - AND I HAVE FOUND A US SOURCE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I can only get 100g packets, but what do you know, I've finally found it after all this time. Now if I can only justify the shipping (whatever it's going to be) on $2 worth of spices, LOL! (with my luck they've changed the formulation!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Harters Jul 8, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "As for the British idea of "curry" - well, that's about as different from what's cooked in India as is the British (and now just generally "Western") idea of "curry powder"."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although, at long last, south asian restaurants are now starting to cook regional and more traditional foods instead of the generic gloop that they've been cooking for 40+ years. It is hardly surprising that we Britons have assumed that what we've been eating for that time was authentic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  evansp60 Jul 8, 2012 03:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I enjoy some of the British versions of curry. My dad made a wicked lamb pilaf that was Indian inspired. I recall him frying the rice, adding beef consomme, hot black pepper water (from India), green apples and bananas amongst other goodies. It was good.....and hot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KitchenBarbarian Jul 8, 2012 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree totally. It's the same over here. Most American Indian restaurant fare is a bowlderized version of something based on the British version of something that may have started out being Punjabi (a lot of the early Indian restaurants in this country were started by folks who had worked in the British version of Indian restaurants, way back in the 60's and maybe a few even earlier than that).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pretty much, if you've been to one Indian restaurant in this country, you've been to them all. They differ in quality of course, but the menu items are pretty standard, with a few "house specialties" thrown in that usually don't go too far off the beaten track. Don't get me wrong - I LIKE a lot of the stuff I get in the Americanized "Indian" restaurants - I just realize it's not really very representative of what people actually eat in India. And if all those "standardized" restaurants HADN'T taken the risk and paved the way, a lot of the "more interesting" restaurants that are opening now and offering a wider variety of more "representative" food wouldn't have the opportunity to get bolder and more adventurous with offerings that depart (sometimes significantly) from the "standard" fare that's been more commonly available up to now. So I'm not disrespecting that in anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hate the term "authentic" and try to avoid using it if I can - because the cuisine in India is some of the most varied in the world. Take a dish - any dish - and the version cooked in Hyderabad may be significantly different than a version cooked in Chennai - yet they may have the same name. They're both "authentic" - to their region.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We've been fortunate enough to have a South Indian restaurant open a couple of years ago and I MUCH prefer eating there over anywhere else. South Indian food is some of the best cuisine that India has to offer, IMO. (I am prejudiced towards South Indian food, I admit it!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Besides, it's nice to be able to go somewhere and get masala dosa that *I* didn't have to go to all that effort to cook, LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sandylc Jul 8, 2012 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for all of the great information. It's been really interesting. One might conclude that this probably happens all over the world with all different kinds of food. Sort of a more complex variation of "all American eat McDonald's all of the time" thing! (BTW, I haven't had McDonald's in more than thirty years). Stereotypes can be both helpful and harmful!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe you could be persuaded to share some recipes sometime?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KitchenBarbarian Jul 8, 2012 06:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm an OK cook, and I probably have a dozen or so recipes that are a little better than OK, but that's about all I can manage these days, LOL! Lately I'm on a serious diet so I'm doing stir fry with Tofu Shirataki noodles almost exclusively (except when I'm doing soup with Tofu Shirataki noodles). So lately I've been doing a lot of Thai or Thai/Indonesian/Sichuan/name a region of the SE Asian subcontinent "influenced" stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I haven't cooked anything Indian for months now - my son isn't quite sure what to think of it. He used to complain about eating TOO MUCH Indian food! (Not where his Dad could hear him though, LOL!) Now he's lucky if he gets it once every 6 or 8 weeks. (I am going to make some paneer for him tomorrow - I think he was secretly pleased but didn't want to admit it, LOL!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But I could surely help you find some good sources if there's something in the Indian repertoire that I don't feel I do very well that you're looking for in particular. And I can help you find sources and "American" names for things if that would help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Harters Jul 9, 2012 02:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KitchenB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Entirely similar response about south asian restaurants in the UK. Pretty much been to one "high street curry house" and you've been to them all. Same menu, same flavours, etc. But that's not to say that it is not enjoyable - I can enjoy it for what it actually is, not necessarily for what it is pretending to be. As I said earlier, at least a few places are now moving away from "pseudo Punjabi" to something different. I say "different" rather that "traditional" or "authentic", as I doubt whether we Anglos would spot authentic or traditional.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: KitchenBarbarian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  GTM Jul 10, 2012 11:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Unable to find the 777 Curry powder, but did find the sambar & rasam powders that you also must have found, and also the Ship Brand curry powder. BTW, I found Laotian & Thai stores selling frozen neem leaves, if that is of any help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.ishopindian.com/_search.php

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  777 Sambar Powder 17.5 oz $6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ship Brand Madras Curry Powder 500 gram $6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GTM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 01:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Amazingly enough, I found the 777 curry powder at Masalas For Less - the first time in over 20 years I've been able to find a supplier. I haven't ordered it yet, because if I'm going to mail order something, IShopIndian is where I go. I've been planning to call them and see if I could wheedle them into adding it to their inventory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I usually buy from a local Indian grocer if there is one, on the theory that supporting local businesses is a Good Thing. However he's already pretty much said he's not willing to try to stock it and keeps trying to get me to buy the Rajah brand. I dunno, that may be fine, but after over 20 years of searching for the 777 I wasn't willing to give up the fight at this point - and I'm glad I didn't. I've periodically searched for it at regular intervals for years and a search just a few days after that first post of mine on here finally turned it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's only a 3.5 oz packet, but heck, I guess I could stock up on 'em - think they'd keep better frozen? LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  tastesgoodwhatisit Jul 8, 2012 03:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My pet peeve for on-line recipes is ones where the recipe is spread out over 6-10 web pages, so you get one instruction on each page. I want a recipe where I can quickly scan the whole thing on one page, and where I don't have to touch the keyboard/mouse while actually cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The curry powder/BBQ sauce doesn't thing doesn't bother me, because I know what it means. "Curry Powder" means a standard, westernized mix of Indian spices, bright yellow in colour, that's only used in non-Indian Indian cooking. BBQ sauce means a squeeze bottle of Heinz brand or similar, which all taste pretty much the same. I know looking at the recipe that it's not going to be authentic/high quality, because an Indian cook doesn't have curry powder in their pantry, and a BBQ expert makes their own sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's the same thing for the type of recipes that calls for things like a can of cream of celery soup, or converted rice, or a cup of pancake mix, or things like that. It doesn't bother me, because this isn't the kind of recipe I want to cook from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    lamb_da_calculus Jul 8, 2012 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many times when recipes are spread over multiple pages, if you click the "Printer-friendly" or "Print" button you'll be taken to a condensed version. This works for many online articles as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      John Francis Jul 9, 2012 02:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For what it's worth, the recipes for basic cooked rice in Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen begins: "2 cups uncooked rice (preferably converted)." This in a recipe that also includes homemade stock, three other vegetable ingredients, and five seasonings including three kinds of pepper, so he isn't specifying converted rice for the home cook's convenience, though he doesn't say why he does it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I'm at it, the recipes in Rima and Richard Collin's "New Orleans Cookbook" all call for salted butter. The authors say, "All recipes calling for butter in this book require lightly salted stick butter; sweet butter is made differently and should not be substituted." So they really mean it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't have converted rice or salted butter - not worth the space just for making these recipes now and then - but I've thought about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John Francis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Harters Jul 9, 2012 03:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Converted rice"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is that "easy/quick cook" rice? I've not come across the term before (so am assuming that it's an American phrase)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pine time Jul 9, 2012 05:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Isn't converted rice (sounds so religious) "Uncle Ben's" brand?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            smtucker Jul 9, 2012 05:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Converted rice is a long grain rice that has been par-boiled. It is a "style" of rice that is used in the States and was certainly the most common rice until fairly recently. When making certain dishes, using anything but converted rice gives you unexpected results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I find it almost tasteless; a backdrop to the other flavors on the plate. This link describes the product:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.unclebens.com/Product/Deta...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Harters Jul 9, 2012 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Got it now. Thanks. I'm familiar with Uncle Ben's here in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                GTM Jul 10, 2012 11:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, converted or parboiled rice is the preferred form for many HUNDREDS of millions of people in India, Bengal in particular. Paddy, i.e. rice in the husk, is soaked, then steamed in large iron woks, sundried, and the process repeated again. The starch is gelatinized, before the husk is removed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                While US converted rice may be flavorless, that produced by the traditional methods certainly is not. Not only is the rice relished, the water in which it has been cooked is drunk as well, or used for various purposed such as starching clothes, preparing sizing for paper etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Many types of rice are processed by this method in India and Bangladesh, including the aus rices, the mini-grain aromatic type, the medium grain aromatics, and several others. Those who are accustomed to eating converted rice reject the "sun-dried"or ordinary rice as being "tasteless"!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GTM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 01:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've seen recipes for dosa that insist you should use parboiled rice (same as converted?), and others that insist you should stick with a long or med grain rice other than Basmati.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you think a parboiled rice is better for dosa/idli? I usually have to let my dosa batter ferment at least 24 hours before it starts to rise/foam up. It tastes fine that way and I suspect part of the problem is that its consderably cooler than the 80-90F I've been told is ideal for fermentation, but I've always wondered if rice type has any part in this. I use a small amount of fenugreek, the rice, the urad ghoti - I think it's a pretty standard recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm making myself an incubator box to see if higher temps will make my batter ferment in the 8 to 12 hours people keep telling me it SHOULD ferment in - but still wondering if switching to converted would help, harm, or do nothing ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KitchenBarbarian
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    smtucker Jul 11, 2012 05:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is in response to both GTM and Kitchen..... I can't begin to tell you how fascinating this discussion has been for me! I have access to several very good Indian markets. What would i be looking for if I wanted to try a "naturally" converted rice? Would this be served in place of basmati [which I understand is a very expensive ingredient and not used daily in India] or is it just used to make other dishes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I honestly couldn't tell you - I'm sorry! I've never used any of the converted/parboiled rice. I always use Basmati, which (while more expensive than other rices varieties) is usually not all that bad when you buy it 25 lbs at a time, as I do. I even buy Basmati brown rice. We do sometimes buy the sona masoor variety but I personally don't care for it - I do use it when making dosa though, that or "typical" American long grain rice such as Blue Ribbon. There's a difference in proteins and enzymes between Basmati and other types of rice that makes the Basmati a poor choice for dosa/idli, has to do with getting the fermentation process going properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Next time I go, I would like to try some of the red matta rice - the thing that's held me back so far is that there's a lot of adulteration with the matta rice. Producers have been known to take cheap polished rice and coat it with a powdered dye to give it the sort of pinkish-burgundy color of real matta rice. I'm not sure I could recognize the fake stuff, so I've been hesitant to try it yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        GTM Jul 11, 2012 09:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I cannot vouch for "traditional" process since India has taken to US food processing technology in a big way, which is good in many ways, especially in terms of hygiene and standardization. Example, we have Pillsbury whole wheat chapati flour!! Some of the fresh-milled taste is lost, but certain other parameters are assured.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The same story is true with converted rice, ESPECIALLY that exported to the US, for obvious USDA approval: most are milled and packed to US standards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That said, the 2 Indian converted rices available are the SELA, a type of parboiled long grain basmati, available in many Indian stores. Another type is the DAUDKHANI, a mini-grain basmati sold in its converted form. This will be available in Bangladeshi stores in NYC, and by mailorder from Kalustyan's. Please verify with them that their Daudkhani is indeed the converted form of a minigrain aromatic rice, since nomenclature varies from place to place. This rice is great for making Chinese fried rice, BTW!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For more traditional converted rices, it would be useful to search the Bangladeshi groceries on MacDonald Ave in Brooklyn or in Los Angeles. Ask them for Sheddho Chaul [means parboiled rice] of traditional Aush and Amon types. Aush means the early dryland summer rice, and Amon means the transplanted rice grown during the monsoons. Nazirshail, Sitashail etc.are excellent varieties of the Amon type, but I doubt you will find them in their parboiled state in the US. never hurts to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While you are messing around Bangladesh groceries, ask them supply you with pure Nolen Goor, and Pure Khejur Patali, both forms of raw sugar made from the sugar date palm, Phoenix sylvestris. The Nolen is a golden syrup to rival maple syrup, and the patali is a wonderful thing. Tell them you need the stuff that comes from Madaripur, but will accept material from Jessore district/Jhinaidah with extreme reluctance, as a distant second. They will be really impressed at your knowledge and perspicacity, and even more when you are very reluctant to accept anything at all as unadulterated!!!! They will not be insulted, just impressed, and may even bring out the good stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GTM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          KitchenBarbarian Jul 11, 2012 10:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I quit buying jaggery, which used to be palm sugar but lately seems to always be cane sugar, because the last time I bought it it was actually MOLDY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, fortunately, there's a large Asian grocery there that sells several types of palm sugar - and it is the taste I remember, or at least close enough to it, even if it may not be the same palm trees they're getting it from. IT TASTES GOOD AGAIN!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Jaggery I've been getting the past few years didn't really taste very good. I'd been resorting to using brown sugar more and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I haven't been in India for over 30 years, but I know things have changed a lot - if by no other sign than all the pre-packaged foods I see commonly available now. It kind of makes me sad, but the truth is that my MIL and all the sisters worked very hard cooking every thing from scratch, even making besan by hand, pounding spices by hand, all that stuff is very very hard, grueling work, so - well, convenience foods are for convenience. I know *I* am not about to go through the trouble of making papad by hand from scratch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's like those folks who insist you can only make proper Thai food from scratch, no prepackaged curry pastes, no prepackaged coconut milk or coconut cream - that all may very well make a better end product (although I feel that is arguable), but that kind of cooking was based on the assumption that a woman was going to spend all of her time doing all the hard grueling labor that went into hand pounding those spices and pastes etc etc etc. I'm thinking of Dave Thomas here. Thank you, but no thanks. A good quality commercial paste and machine processed coconut cream is all that there is ever going to be in my kitchen. I'm broken down enough, without subjecting myself to further abuse, LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm partly kidding - there are some pastes I make myself, just as there are several masalas I make myself, the 777 curry powder is the only one I actually would ever buy - but I'm just not going to go to all that trouble. It's too hard on the body. There is no mortar and pestle or grinding stone in my home, and there never will be. It can get whirred up in my electric spice grinder, or mooshed up in my small wet grinder, but it's never getting pounded to heck and begone by the strength of MY arm, LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: John Francis
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                evansp60 Jul 9, 2012 05:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can use unsalted butter and then add what you feel is the appropriate amount of salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Vetter Jul 7, 2012 07:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Any recipe that calls for minced garlic to go in the hot pan too early/with something else that will ensure that it's burnt to heck by the time the adjunct ingredient is cooked through. Eg. 87% of all recipes? Kills credibility for me.

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