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What is your biggest recipe pet peeve?

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


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


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??

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  1. A recipe that has a long litany of ingredients but doesn't list those ingredients in order of their deployment irritates me. Fortunately, I don't see this too often.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Perilagu Khan

      This is mine, too. PLEASE list ingredients in the order they're called for.

      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        when I read the OP's question this immediately popped into my head... shows sloppiness

      2. Ingredients listed for which there is no inclusion/instruction in the recipe. Anne Burrell does this a lot.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcf

          Or just the opposite, as in, "Slowly stir in the broth." Uh, what broth? How much broth? What kind of broth?

        2. Time-consuming steps buried 2/3 of the way into a recipe. I'm not always great about reading the entire recipe thoroughly and have missed many "marinate overnight" or "set aside for 2 hours" types of instructions. I'd like a flashing neon warning right under the recipe title that says ALLOW 12 HOURS FOR XYZ.

          5 Replies
              1. re: tcamp

                Or even worse, the past participle:

                "Add the beans which you have been soaking overnight."
                "Top with the carrots which you have carved into exquisite little flowers and serve immediately."

                1. An issue with recipes in printed media, not internet..........giving ingredient quantities in anything other than that used in the country where it's intended to be read.

                  We use freaking metric! Not pounds. Not cups. Just freaking kilos, etc. .......if you blag a recipe from another country, make the freaking effort to convert it. It's not hard and we're paying real money to buy your magazine or book. Make the freaking effort.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Harters

                    The internet may be global, but printed media are local. If you buy a book or magazine published in the U.S., the recipes will of course be written for the people who live there - and almost none of them use metric. Make the effort to find this out before you buy, if it's a problem for you.

                    1. re: John Francis

                      As you say, printed media is local. Exactly the issue! The problem, as I am a Briton living in the UK, are recipes published here where the publisher hasnt been arsed to convert from pounds or cups into the metric system we have here. It's simply sloppy work.

                      If I find an American recipe on the internet that interests me, I am obviouisly able to do the conversion from your pounds or cups into something more meaningful to me.

                      Perhaps the best example that I know of in a publisher getting it right was the complete reworking of Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cookbook. The work was undertaken by Anna del Conte who, not only converted the ingredient quantities back to metric but also renamed the ingredients, etc, away from their American names to those we'd understand in British (and Australian) English.

                  2. I hate when weights of ingredients are used... like half a pound of carrots or two pounds of apples. Give me some kind of a ballpark idea of how many I should be using!

                    38 Replies
                    1. re: Njchicaa

                      Heh... I prefer just the opposite since I have a scale on the counter in my kitchen and the stores I frequent also have scales readily available.

                      1. re: drongo

                        I have to agree with drongo on this one. It makes me crazy when a recipe calls for a medium onion (for instance) but what is medium to the recipe's author might be small or large in my store. This is especially true with chicken breasts. Any more, the ones in the store are from monster chickens and can feed about 3 people. Plus they are so thick they don't cook in the time given by the recipe if the author was using petite ones. It's very easy to end up with too much (overflowing the pan) or too little of ingredients when just the number is given. Now some better newspaper food sections, like the Washington Post, give both number and approximate weight. Makes everyone happy ande eliminates confusion.

                        1. re: AmyH

                          how hard can it be to include both? cooks magazine has been doing it since their start in 1994! bon apetit still does not do it, they must have worked these recipes out in their test kitchen and know all the weights. include them!

                          1. re: hyde

                            That's probably mine- you developed the recipe by weight, it works great by weight, and then you converted it using one of the 9,000 options for how many grams a cup of flour weighs and then mine came out mediocre.

                        2. re: drongo

                          Agreed. Except for ingredients too small to realistically weigh--garlic, for instance--I prefer the specificity of weight measurements.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Along the same lines, when it calls for "the juice of one lemon, orange, lime, etc. Those things come in different sizes and some are "juicier" than others. Just say "1/2 a cup of juice" and I'll keep squeezing until I get there.

                            1. re: Philly Ray

                              I still want approximate numbers. I don't have any idea what one lemon yields generally.

                            2. re: drongo

                              Yep, me, too. And a scale that does metric really helps when I'm using a metric recipe and all my measuring utensils are in cups, etc.

                              1. re: Isolda

                                Unless you're specifically BAKING, none of the measurement stuff bugs me that much. The variation, for example, of juice content between lemons is not really an issue because that much precision is just not that necessary in cooking, and I can taste as I go. I'm sure the juice is around 2 oz or so, but who is going to measure out the juice of a lemon to make sure there's enough? Just like I don't need to be told precisely how much salt and pepper to add.

                                Then again I only look at recipes to approximate cooking times... Outside of baking I don't find recipes too helpful in general.

                            3. re: Njchicaa

                              I have the exact opposite pet peeve. If you're going to give only one measurement, give the invariable one - weight.

                              For example, a cup of flour can have vastly different amounts (by weight) - depending on measuring method, "fluffyness", etc. Same with something like brown sugar and salt - is that big grained kosher salt you're using or ultra fine grain pickling salt? Huge difference if you're measuring by volume - NO variance in a weight based recipe.

                              Real baking depends on weights - if a recipe calls for a 85% hydration - that's 85% of the flour's weight in water. Salt is frequently around 2% - and that's 2% of the weight of the flour.

                              Bottom line - weight always yields an accurate recipe. Volumetric recipes are only for people who can't use a scale.

                              1. re: NE_Wombat

                                Does weight take into account moisture that the flour might have absorbed from the air? Or is only accurate when used in relatively dry air of an air conditioned/heated home?

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Either way, it's FAR more accurate than trying to measure by volume. You may still need to do some tweaking, but it's a lot LESS than if you start with volume measures for something as variable as flour or powdered sugar.

                                  I'm a weigh-it convert since I got a scale a couple years ago. I considered it when I was much MUCH younger, but back then the only reliable scales cost the earth. (this was back before digital electronics, when TVs had vacuum tubes, when dirt was still in diapers, and dinosaurs roamed the Earth)

                                2. re: NE_Wombat

                                  That's rather condescending. Are you from Europe, where measuring by weight is conventional? In the US, it is not. I've cooked for decades and never owned a kitchen scale. My mother never owned a kitchen scale. My grandmother had a spring scale with a hook suitable for weighing a gunny sack full of something or other, but she never used it when I knew her.

                                  For the home cook in the US, volumetric measures are easiest (if they weren't, we wouldn't use them), and nearly always sufficiently accurate, even for flour. That's because we almost always use standard ingredients repeatedly, and make any adjustments necessary. For example, for cooking I always use Morton coarse kosher salt. Pickling salt never figures in, unless I decide to make pickles. I haven't done that for a long time, but I remember that the accuracy of the salt measure is not such as to matter how it is measured. Normally I add salt by hand without measuring anyway. "Salt to taste" is the rule real cooks use.

                                  I am not saying there is never a need. In a commercial kitchen producing pastries of high and consistent quality, measuring by weight might well be needed. That's no reason for most home cooks to have a scale.

                                  With all due respect, your examples defending measuring by weight seem a bit contrived, not based on actual home cooking needs.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    I have to disagree. As a cook from the US, I resisted weighing ingredients literally for decades. Since I went to weighing, in fact, weighing is MUCH easier than volume measures. It's a lot easier to weigh out 14 oz of flour than to measure out 3 1/2 cups, especially when (I tested this) a "cup" for me can weigh anywhere from 4 to 6 oz, no matter how diligently I try to "fluff and scoop".

                                    Weighing shortening is a breeze. Trying to measure it by scooping it into a pyrex measuring cup until the water hits a certain level, and then scooping it back out and de-watering it, is a LOT harder and messier than just plopping it in the bowl until the scale tells me it's enough.

                                    We in fact continue to use volume measures because we are stubborn and resistant to change, not because it's the "best" or easiest way. It's not.

                                    As for salt to taste - if I salted to MY taste, nobody but me would ever eat it, LOL! Plus, sorry, but I'm not tasting my raw dough. Thanks anyway.

                                    Weighing ingredients in fact is eminently suited to the home cook, especially the vast majority of us who are just not naturally talented at whatever it takes to be able to make every cup of flour come out to be the same.

                                    A home digital scale, accurate enough for all but possibly actual drug sales, can be had for as little as $18. A GREAT digital scale can be had for about $50. Of all the kitchen gadgets many of us have in our homes, a good scale ought to be first and foremost. Since I switched to weights, I can develop a cake recipe on my own. I don't HAVE to rely on someone else's recipe, and then end up wondering why my cake is dense and dry when the originators is (allegedly) moist and light. (Remember my 6 oz cups of flour?)

                                    The truth is the vast majority of us don't have whatever talent it takes to look at a cake batter and say, "Oh, that's quite enough flour now". Maybe we aren't the "artistes" of the baking world, but those of us who lack this ability you, your mother, and your grandmother apparently had to tell by instinct when it's right can still get it right - if we are measuring by weights instead of volume.

                                    The fact that using a scale improves the quality of baking for those of us without your instinct doesn't mean we're not "real bakers". It's just a tool, and a very very useful one at that.

                                    If you don't need it, don't get it. But every time I convince someone to start using a scale, every single time, the next thing I hear from them is "I can't BELIEVE what a difference this has made in my baking! Why did I ever hold out so long?"

                                    I ask myself the same question, every time I turn out great rolls with confidence, or convert a cake recipe from 2 9" layers to one 6" layer because I KNOW exactly how much I need to reduce the ingredients by, and it's ACCURATE.

                                    I wouldn't be without a scale for baking. I'd give up my mixer first. And I AM a "real cook".

                                    1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                      Amen! I will just add that having a kitchen scale also allows you to buy some items in bulk (and therefore cheaper) because you can weigh out how much you need. I do this with beans and potatoes especially. I also buy boneless/skinless chicken breasts or thighs in big packages when on sale, cut them into chunks to use in dishes like curries, and use the scale to portion them into bags for freezing.

                                      1. re: AmyH

                                        Along that line, I use my digital scale most often to weigh out 4oz of pasta - i.e. 1 quarter of a lb bag.

                                        I also have used it for baking recipes from the UK (books or online). But I'm also quite happy to use recipes that use cups and tbs/tsp. For example I have a good feel what pancakes and biscuits require in volume measures, but not by weight.

                                      2. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                        LOVE LOVE LOVE my scale. It's made a huge difference in my cooking and baking.

                                        1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                          If you were using a Pyrex liquid measuring cup for shortening, it's no wonder it was difficult. Proper tools are essential for an efficient kitchen.

                                          1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                            Amen. There are a very few things that are easier to measure than weigh (like rice, and baking powder, things where you need a spoon or cup to scoop it out anyway). We don't do it because it's better or easier; we do it because we've been doing it that way forever. It's the ONLY way to measure flour. If the recipe doesn't have a large margin of error and you don't know what it should look or feel like, it's a disaster. It's probably why entire family trees can't make pie crust. And so many fewer dishes to wash!!

                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                              The only time I can see where measuring by weight is 'easier' than by volume is if several cups of something are needed in a recipe. I'm not weighing diced onions or chopped tomatoes. That's ridiculous.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                I'm not following you. I'm not suggesting weighing things you wouldn't ordinarily measure at all. If you're following a recipe where you would ordinarily measure, weighing is faster, more accurate, and makes fewer dirty dishes.

                                                1. re: jvanderh

                                                  Other than flour, what things do you prefer to weigh?

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    I prefer to weigh almost everything. I usually use a spoon for baking soda, baking powder, and sometimes salt- I figure I need a spoon to get it out of the can anyway, and I use a cup or my bowl or something to scoop out rice and then the same one to measure water. Just about everything else would get weighed. Hit the tare button between ingredients, and it's one dirty bowl instead of a pile of measuring cups (and having to wash them out in between ingredients, sometimes). I immediately convert recipes. I keep a Google Doc with formulas in it for the common ingredients, and hit up http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/b... for the others. Stuff like peanut butter, partly used butter, corn syrup, and honey are especially easier to weigh. It's also helpful when subbing one thing for another- you can very often get away with a 1 to 1 substitution by weight when you couldn't by volume.

                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                      Ok, you prefer to weigh your ingredients instead of measuring them by volume. Are you telling me you WEIGH the rice and water when you are going to cook rice? For white rice I use 2 cups of water for each cup of rice. How much water by weight would you use for say, 100 grams of rice? That seems unbelievably complicated to me.

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        Nope, I don't weigh rice. I use a mug or something to scoop it out, and then use the same mug to measure the water.

                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                          I always took the approach: weigh when you bake, measure when you cook

                                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                                            I would think converting a non-baking recipe from volume measurements to weight measurements would take longer than making the measurements themselves. How convenient is that?

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              It's usually faster even if I'm only making the recipe once. But I also don't usually make highly specialized stuff, if I'm using a recipe at all. So I can be pretty certain that converting a recipe for quiche or whatever is going to be worth the time.

                                                    2. re: jvanderh

                                                      When making salsa to process using a hot water bath, the chopped onions and tomatoes are measured. Other than baking, I cannot think of a reason to weigh ingredients or where weighing is significantly 'easier'.

                                              2. re: GH1618

                                                Nope. Weight trumps everything.

                                                "volumetric measures are easiest (if they weren't, we wouldn't use them)"
                                                = ridiculous tautology

                                                1. re: CallAnyVegetable

                                                  exactly what i was going to say... it's what a great number of people do, but that doesn't make it easier. it just isn't "convention" per se, to have a kitchen scale in the US. though frankly, i think it should be standard practice. heck, that was my wedding present to a friend of mine who said she wanted to start cooking and baking once she was married. she didn't know it should have been on her registry ;) so i helped her out. i wouldn't bake by volume if you paid me... unless it was a ridiculous sum of money and we didn't care about taste ;) i even look at volumetric recipes and convert them to weight. and don't get me started about metric... i converted quite a long time ago, and can't go back.
                                                  -from the US

                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    I agree. I do keep the volume measurements in my recipes just in case I need to make them at friends/family homes where they don't have a scale.

                                                  2. re: CallAnyVegetable

                                                    I think volumetric measuring was easier before we had digital scales. I remember my mother using a balance with real physical weights -- more of a hassle than measuring volume (but she still used the balance to measure by weight rather than volume for baking). With a digital scale, I'd say weight is even easier than volume.

                                                    A scale does cost more than a measuring cup. My OXO cost me about $50. But I see you can get a variety of digital scales at Amazon for $20.

                                                  3. re: GH1618

                                                    GH1618: Every country in the world uses weights and metrics. Only the US and those other world leaders, Liberia and Burma don't. The fact that you and your predecessors know instinctively the quantity of ingredients is great but you are being condescending to people without your skill. Scales are essential to we mere mortals

                                                    1. re: GH1618


                                                      I'm with you on this one.

                                                      Weighing ingredients is immensely important when cooking large volumes and identical results matter. Also when cooking that way they take moisture readings of ingredients and those will change other ingredients weights, quite fascinating to watch really.

                                                      When making grandma's meatloaf for a family of 4 weighing ingredients is not that important. For example I bake bread 3-5 times a week and only volume measure my water, yeast and salt are hand measured and flour is scooped in volume wise until the proper consistency forms. Yet people who consistently eat my breads would think I am following an EXACT recipe since there is very little variation.

                                                      One thing that I have noticed is that as you get better at cooking you begin to stop measuring so many things and instead work with ratios of ingredients, you begin to season with taste, smell and sight rather than with a 1/2 tsp of this or that.

                                                      Maybe an analogy might help. The other day I drove to a venue with a young man who used a GPS unit to get us there. The route was straight forward and pretty simple. When it was time to leave he started to program the GPS to take me home and I asked why couldn't he just backtrack the route he came. He said that he wasn't paying attention because he was watching the GPS instead of the surroundings. Maybe that's what home cooks who rely on scales do, they watch the scales rather than the product they are creating so when it comes time to replicate they can't. Just a thought.

                                                  4. re: Njchicaa

                                                    What nonsense! The only intelligent way to say what a recipe requires is by weight. If you are buying weigh them. If you have them in hand weigh them. If somone tells you 3 large carrots what does thal mean? Nothing unless you know what a large carrot weighs.

                                                    1. re: Njchicaa

                                                      Weight is ultimately more accurate than measure. Sometimes it doesn't matter, but it can make the difference between a great outcome and a total disaster.

                                                    2. Recipes that suggest brand name products......As in Uncle Be's "Perverted" Rice or Hormel Cure 81 Ham etc.

                                                      12 Replies
                                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                        The worst offenders are those in old-fashioned cookbooks that call for stuff like "one #2 can of tomatoes." What the hell is that? Still, I love those old community cookbooks. Where else can you find recipes for things like date roll and cafeteria carrot pudding?

                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                          If they specify the can size then it's easy to interpret what they mean... e.g. see http://whatscookingamerica.net/Inform...

                                                          I have a problem when they say "1 large can".

                                                          I have quite a number of community cookbooks (e.g. church cookbooks) that I bought to help fund-raising efforts. but I've rarely cooked from them. One good purchase was from Poulsbo, WA, which had some Norwegian recipes -- and my wife is Norwegian so I was able to make some comfort food for her (horrible food to me, lol).

                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                            Isolda, forgive me if you were already aware of this, but the # sign is used in some recipes to mean pounds - so that would just be a 2lb. or 32oz. can of tomatoes.

                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                              That should be written "2#" for "two lbs." but even then it would be objectionable. I would assume "#2" means "no. 2" but the common "large" can is no. 2 1/2. "Large" never means a #10 (commercial) can in home cooking. Who cooks with that?

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                Oh, I just figured it was a typo and that the # should have come after the 2. I don't think I've ever seen a numbered can...

                                                              2. re: biondanonima

                                                                In that case it should be written as 2# of tomatoes, or 2# can. #2 should be understood as a standard size, which according to the linked conversion table is 20oz.

                                                                It is silly to be peeved at a cookbook written 60 yrs ago for following the standards of the day. Yes, those differences might make it harder for me to use the recipes, but I'm the one who has to adapt.

                                                                #1, #2 etc cans were the industry standards at one time, used, for example by the canner when ordering new empty cans and labels. But with changes in can size to hide cost increases, those standards have fallen out of use. Now it's just as easy for a canner to use a 15oz can as a standardized #1.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  That's a good point about the standard can sizes being less "standard" now, except for your interpretation of the reasons for it. Suffice it to say that food producers have a greater variety of can sizes and types available to them than they once did, so can choose packaging sizes which best fit their needs.

                                                              3. re: Isolda

                                                                A #2 can is not (NOT) 2 lbs. Google it. There were a number of specific can sizes back in the day.

                                                              4. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                Uncle Bob, love your sense of humor - Perverted Rice cracked me up!!

                                                                1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                  And more hideous yet, three organic peaches (don't even bother making my recipe with regular peaches, riffraff).

                                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                                    Or how about "Farm Fresh"????? Bypass the store & run right over to the "FARM" & get some whatever.

                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                      Right. I'll have my housekeeper swing by on the way to our summer home in the Hamptons.

                                                                2. Recipes for meat - especially roasts - which provided the desired internal temp but not an
                                                                  approximate time per pound for cooking. How do you know when to start checking ? I've
                                                                  been cooking long enough that I remember a ball park figure for many cuts but a clue would
                                                                  be helpful for unusual cuts as well as for newer cooks.

                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                    I agree that's an issue. Here in the UK, recipes rarely give temperature and I doubt whether many home cooks use a thermometer. We have one but hardly ever use it - preferring the time per pound method. As you indicate how do know when to start checking - and cooking the rest of whatever the meal is made up of.

                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                      A minor peeve is a recipe that only gives the oven 'temperature' as 'gas mark'.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        It must be. I have no idea what "gas mark" might be.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            Could be. Since I posted my partner tells me that the oven control on British gas cookers used to be marked with "gas marks". That's many years back, apparently - but possibly still is (We've never cooked with gas).

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              I saw a chart on some site that listed temperatures in F, C and gas marks, If i can find it again I'll link it.

                                                                              Found it - http://www.helpwithcooking.com/temper...

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                I have a few British cookbooks published within the past few years (e.g., those by Yotam Ottolenghi) that specify gas mark in recipes, though to be sure they also specify temperatures.

                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                  My gas oven (in the UK) has errr...gas marks so I find it very useful. As many recipes don't include gas mark, I have a thermometer in the oven as well, although being old and gas, the variation on the top shelf is massive to the bottom shelf.

                                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                                              I've seen "gas mark" in quite a few old recipes.

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                Me, too. I "convert" it in my head by asking myself, "What temp would a modern cook use for this sponge cake/genoise/greasy, fatty cholesterol bomb of a casserole?" Usually works fine.

                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                  Gas mark is alive and well in Germany. I was living in Berlin this spring and the woman with whom I was staying had just put in a new oven. It had NO temperature indication whatsoever other than the Gas Mark (or Stufe, as they call it there) and even though I was able to find approximate equivalencies online, it made oven cooking something of an adventure. When I asked if she had a separate oven thermometer, she seemed completely baffled as to why anyone would need such a thing. Then again, the only thing she ever cooked in the oven was frozen pizza, so...

                                                                            3. re: paulj

                                                                              Where did you find these recipes???? Gas mark? I would be peeved too if I came across a recipe like that.

                                                                              1. re: cstout

                                                                                I see it all the time. I think it's just the notches on the burner control.

                                                                            1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                              For every roast-type thing, use an alarm-type thermometer

                                                                            2. One day I was watching America's Test Kitchen and when I went to their website to see the recipe part of it was only available to 'premium customers". So you could only get half the recipe? Wut??

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: treb

                                                                                Don't go there. ATK annoys a lot of people, me included. There are a number of threads on this.

                                                                                1. re: sr44

                                                                                  As a newbie hound, I made the mistake of providing a link to America's Test Kitchen' paid site, and was sent to the penalty box. I'm not a member and get the recipes from their books and dvds in my local library.

                                                                                  I have found ATK's recipes easy to follow and work for me most of the time. They are detailed in ingredient choices, measurements, timing, etc., with supporting reasoning for each. IOW, I usually don't have any pet peeves with them.

                                                                                  However, when it comes to some ethnic dishes (which they don't seem be that familiar with), ATK's recipes fall short of authenticity.

                                                                                  1. re: eatntell

                                                                                    ATK's fundamental purpose is best described as "appeal to the masses" - which, if your a student of formal logic, you will recognize as a fallacy. Of all the recipe generators to refuse to slavishly follow, their's should top the list. In a way, they are the most genericifying cooking teachers out there - and, it's by design. The techniques may be sound, but have you ever agreed with the results of one of their audience taste tests?

                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                      You may not like ATK's recipes but if the recipes and techniques are followed they always work. I learned a lot from watching their program and will admit that several of their recipes have landed in our kitchen and get repeated with frequency. Enough so the recipes are no longer needed.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Agreed. The recipes always work, even of the result is sometimes not to my taste. But, that's not the fault of the recipe itself. I like how they specify WHY the nitpicky details are in the recipe.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          I'm glad you like them, but that doesn't change the fact that they are designed to appeal a "mass" palate, hence the testing approach. (In fact, it's why watching Chris taste items after they have been "polled" is fun. It's clear his palate is not the same as the average taster.)

                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                            Not all of ATK's recipes appeal to me, I'd say maybe 30% but those that we do end up liking, we repeat with some regularity. I would guess there are probably six or eight that made it into the rotation over the last 12 years.

                                                                                  2. re: treb

                                                                                    Happens a lot. I watched them smoke a chicken one day, and failed to take notes because I assumed I could just go to their site and get the recipe. Nope. But I did the best I could from memory and my chicken came out only slightly too dry. I'll shave 10 minutes off the smoking time next time I try it, and it will be perfect. So pfffth on ATK.

                                                                                  3. "dinner in half an hour" type time monikers.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                      That's a Trader Joe's dinner in our house, using all sorts of prechopped, precooked ingredients from their produce dept and freezer, but you don't need a recipe to make a dinner like that!

                                                                                      1. re: Isolda

                                                                                        Oh, I meant those magazine cover headlines screaming: FOUR PORK DINNERS IN LESS THAN 30 MINUTES! With DESSERT!!!!

                                                                                    2. Ditto on the curry powder. I've never seen it used in any authentic Indian recipes...seems it's used only by American cooks.

                                                                                      Other pet peeves of mine include:

                                                                                      * giving baking measuring (for flour, sugar, etc) in volume instead of weight. precision is critical in baking! please use grams not cups.

                                                                                      * giving vague quantities for cooking. like three potatoes or juice of one lemon. do people realize how wildly veggies & fruits can vary in size? and the amount of juice in citrus fruits can vary depending on size and season? tell us how much chopped onion or ratio of lemon juice.

                                                                                      * omitting salt. i'm an experienced enough cook now that I can approximate/compensate for salt when a recipe doesn't state it, but back in the day my food would often end up being underseasoned because of this. important to specify how much salt to add and when because many people new to cooking have no idea

                                                                                      * any recipe which lists processed or canned food as one of the ingredients

                                                                                      * using inordinate amounts of fat to make food taste good. food network recipes are notorious for this. i'm all for using animal fats and deep fried foods in moderation but some people use mayo, butter, cream, etc. with reckless abandon. not only does it make the food unnecessarily heavy but it also indicates that you don't know how to prepare food that's tasty without drowning it in fat

                                                                                      * insipid pizza dough. maybe it's because i've spent too much time hanging out at pizzamaking.com but this one really irks me. almost everyone seems to recycle the same crappy basic pizza dough recipe: "...add some yeast to sugar and warm water, then mix together flour yeast and salt in a mixer, let it rest in an oven till it doubles, ...." none of the so-called experts ever talk about the other variables critical to making good restaurant quality pizza: high-gluten flour, kneading technique, dough fermentation, baking temperature, etc.

                                                                                      22 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                        Here here on the canned food. As soon as I see can of cream of mushroom soup in the ingredient list I shudder and turn the page.

                                                                                        1. re: DeLobstah

                                                                                          Same here. If I see "1 can of cream of (insert flavor here) soup" I, too, move on to the next one.

                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                            Cream o' Shroom is great in a pork chop-and-rice casserole.

                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                              I discovered how easy it was to make a roux and then make a nice sauce from there. I've never looked back.

                                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                I can do those things too, but in this case, why?

                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                    I don't give a flip about the health aspect and I sincerely doubt a roux will taste better than the canned soup. At any rate, it won't give me the flavor I know and love.

                                                                                                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                    If for no other reason, there is way too much sodium in a can of cream of (insert flavor) soup. (36% RDA per serving) Not only that, but I can actually see the mushrooms I put in, and there is no soy protein concentrate, yeast extract, or spice extract in my sauce.

                                                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                      Since 1 tsp of (table) salt is about equal to the (USA) RDA, this serving of soup has about 1/3 tsp of salt. How much salt do you put in your cream sauce?


                                                                                                      I looked up white sauce in an old Joy of Cooking - no help, it just says 'season to taste'. Isn't that the kind of thing that people have been complaining about?

                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                        I actually prefer recipes that tell you to season to taste, unless of course it is for baking that needs something more specific.

                                                                                                  3. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                    FWIW James Villas tried to 'improve' his mother's green bean casserole with bechamel, veloute, etc., but found that it worked best with good ol' Cream of Mushroom, just like Mom always used.

                                                                                                    1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                      One Thanksgiving I sampled both a traditional version, and one with fresh beans and custom sauce. I thought the texture of the canned beans worked better in this dish. The softer texture blended better with sauce, where as the fresh beans remained too distinct. Frozen frenched beans might be a good compromise.

                                                                                                      To make effective substitutions you have to understand what is appealing about the dish in the first place.

                                                                                                  4. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                    My mother made pork chops by browning them and simmering them in the Crockpot with cream of mushroom soup. She always added extra mushrooms and milk. We loved the tender pork chops and mushroom gravy on baking powder biscuits. I still make it a few times a year. It's family comfort food. My 80 year old father makes it for himself on occasion as well.

                                                                                              2. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                Great post. A couple of points:

                                                                                                I like baking recipes that include ALL: Grams/ounces/volume, because while I weigh things at home, I might need to bake at someone's house who doesn't have a scale and I don't want to be unable to bake without a scale. Also, seeing all three helps me to learn equivalents.

                                                                                                Salt. An issue for me. Almost as bad as not including salt is the phrase "salt to taste". If it is a dish that I am unfamiliar with, or one that I don't want to taste in the initial steps (raw meat, eggs, etc.), or if an inexperienced cook wants to make the dish, of what use is this phrase? A range of qty. would be at least better; like 1/4-1/2 t., for example.

                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                  Yes! Salt w/o an amount specified or "salt to taste" makes me crazy. I'm a notorious under-salter, so salt to my taste is not helpful when I want my food to actually taste good to other people. Plus it's one thing in something like a soup where one can actually taste it and adjust the salt level. But I've seen it in recipes like meatloaf.

                                                                                                  1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                    This I can understand, though. Salt is usually used in small enough amounts to make weighing it problematic, and volume measurements can vary by more than 100%, depending on whether you are using fine grained salt, or larger grained sea salt. So the measurement would have to be for a particular brand of salt to be really accurate.

                                                                                                2. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                  "any recipe which lists processed or canned food as one of the ingredients"
                                                                                                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------So, you only use fresh tomatoes? fresh pumpkin? whole mustard seed?

                                                                                                  Precluding processed and canned foods would dramatically restrict most folks' recipe options.
                                                                                                  What DOES irritate me is when a recipe calls for "a packet of", or "a can of" without specifying the net weight. A given item may be available in more than one size, depending on where the reader lives, not to mention that the gradual downsizing of contents means that there may be several ounces' difference between what was used in a decades-old recipe and what today's cook would buy in the supermarket.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                    I agree on the canned ingredients except for tomatoes. Here in New Jersey, the canned tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes except for mid-July through mid-Sept (i.e. starting very soon -- yay!!)

                                                                                                    1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                      As an Indian, I would say that there is indeed a place for the very high quality US curry powders, e.g. McCormick's, to create an American-style chicken or lamb curry which is excellent in the right hands, or something like Country Captain.

                                                                                                      Indian origin "madras" curry powders have legitimate use in several Indian preparations that have evolved over the 20th century and are as genuine as any. For example, there is chicken masala fry that has faintly Southern origins but goes well with skin-on or skinless US broiler thighs or leg quarters, or even necks and backs. Such pieces are placed with a good dose of madras curry powder, a generous amount of finely grated fresh ginger, finely chopped fresh thai green chilies, or serrano or jalapenos, according to your spice tolerance, salt, a bit more turmeric, and scant water and brought to a simmer. Cooked to a firm-tender stage, water nearly evaporated, leaving a thickish spice paste enveloping the meat. Carefully fry the pieces, under a splatter screen, in a very thin film of vegetable oil on a seasoned cast iron pan or a heavy non-stick pan, until you get a good crust all over. Eat with hot converted rice, or use a bokkum/Korean technique to stir fry the converted rice into the spice and chicken in the pan for a somewhat greasy but tasty dish.

                                                                                                      There are many other useful roles played by madras curry powder, including in western-type curries enjoyed by Indians, slightly doctored to their regional fancies. Then again, modern Indians in India have little knowledge or time for cooking and extensively use packaged spices; e.g. certain brands of chicken masala and meat masala have become de rigeur for addition into everything, including vegetarian dishes and all sorts of peculiar applications. In New Orleans, Zatarain's Liquid Crab Boil is used in minute quantities in their jambalayas, gumbo and even red beans to add a little hint of mystery, and this is something akin to that. Some also use packaged biryani powders the same way. So the days of urban Indians religiously hewing to the canonical forms in their daily cooking are LONG GONE! Just a reality check!!

                                                                                                      1. re: GTM

                                                                                                        Yeah, I see all those masalas in the groceries these days, just with generic labels as you describe (Meat Masala indeed! LOL!)

                                                                                                        It sort of makes me sad. Some of the masalas are so easy to make at home = and they taste better! Those box masalas just can't substitue for your own masala blend.

                                                                                                      2. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                        Right with you on the salt. Just give me a basic amount and I'll add more if I need it. Usually do. But don't give me some lovely complicated recipe with exact amounts for a zillion spices all ground and toasted, then tell me to salt to taste. If I wanted to wing it, I'd do just that, rather than using a recipe.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                          Amen. I am in no way afraid of fat, but stuff like the Pioneer Woman blog just makes me gag. Sure, use the fat, but use it to its best advantage. There's no art to making a big pile of fat and sugar taste good.

                                                                                                        2. For me it's recipes that start with cans of what the recipe is for:

                                                                                                          Grandma Mary's Secret Baked Beans

                                                                                                          2 Cans Baked beans

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                            Hahahah. I had a good laugh at this one. But in truth this is indeed probably how Grandma's wonderful baked beans were made, lol.

                                                                                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                              A lot of old-fashioned Southern and New England cookbooks do that. They are craft directions rather than recipes! A can o' Play Doh, a bottle of Elmer's glue, a quarter cup of blue glitter....

                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                Salt measurements in a lot of recipes scare the heck out of me. I do a lot of bacon/panchetta curing as well as rib rubs, pulled pork recipes and 95% of the time I cut the salt measurement in half. The few times I didn't knock the salt down the food was almost inedible. My personal rule with salt is to add what I think makes sense and then adjust it when I serve. Salt to taste is difficult as I am also an unsalter.

                                                                                                                1. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                  If I make a dry rub, I leave out the salt from the rub and then salt whatever I'm rubbing separately so that I know how much salt is going on my ribs, etc.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                    If your curing Pancetta you need the salt as part of the cure, I just cut it down by about 50% on average. I don;t know how some of these recipes work with the enormous amount of salt they are using.

                                                                                                                2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                  "Remove from package before eating."

                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                    That's ALWAYS good advice! lol

                                                                                                                    Althoguh, you have to wonder WHY they have to put that direction there in the first place...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                      must have been a lawsuit somewhere!!!!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                        Day by day, the nation grows stupider.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                          Do you mean that I can't up my daily fiber intake by eating the package? Darn! :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                            The plastic bag WOULD explain why, when I put the entire loaf in the oven to warm up, it came out so STICKY.

                                                                                                                    2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                      OMG. My mother was given a recipe book as a wedding present in the 1940s (apparently the only recipe book she received) in which every recipe ended that way. We kids thought it was the funniest tag line ever.

                                                                                                                    3. Recipes that are unnecessarily specific about ingredients, for example specifying that the eggs or chickens must be free range organic, or that the salt must be from the sea. In effect, recipes that preach.

                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        In the same vein, recipes that order me to use "good olive oil." Why would I use bad olive oil? Why would I even *have* bad olive oil?

                                                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                                                          I have to differ on this one. My best olive oil is usually only used as a dressing or condiment so to speak. I still use a just ok olive oil where the flavor will be covered up or destroyed. My best olive oil is too pricy for me to go frying stuff in it.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Darkshin

                                                                                                                            So if a recipe called for "good olive oil," you'd use "just ok olive oil"? I agree that it's silly to use expensive olive oil to saute onions. But anyone who keeps more than one olive oil in the house already knows that. So who would be guided by this particular recipe instruction? Me, the woman with one pretty decent olive oil, who is going to use it in everything? You, who have several different grades of olive oil and can decide for yourself which one to use where? Neither, and we represent the entire olive-oil-using public. That's why I think it's a stupid thing to put in a recipe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                                                                              Agreed, but I really would, just once, like to see a recipe that called for my crappiest olive oil or half a cup of undrinkable wine, just for fun.

                                                                                                                          2. re: small h

                                                                                                                            The worst offender with the "good" notation is Ina Garten. She tells you to use "good" things at least once in every recipe she presents on her show. Good oil, good vanilla, good rum and good stock are some of the ones I hear the most. Beyond annoying.

                                                                                                                          3. re: paulj

                                                                                                                            I've never encountered sanctimony in a recipe before. If I do, I'll use that recipe for target practice.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                              Sancimonious recipes are generally found on packages of organically grown fair trade oat flour, whole wheat pasta, vegan mayo, and the like. If you avoid Whole Foods, you will probably never be subjected to these.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                "Undrinkable wine", "Sanctimonious recipes..." LMFAO!!! I've been skimming this and only reading Isolda's comments, and... let's just say, if this were Kindergarten, I'd be chasing you around the playground trying to kiss you. You are my hero.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                  Fortunately, Whole Foods has never blighted my horizon.

                                                                                                                              2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                In the same vein, what about the recipes that list an ingredient with the stipulation "preferably imported"? Imported from where? (Actually, usually they mean imported from Italy although they don't specify.)

                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                  I completely agree. I'll add in any ingredient with the word good in front of it. Like I'm going to use a crappy one?

                                                                                                                                2. I take it that if a recipe does not specify the curry powder or bbq sauce brand, that those details are not important to the author, and I can use my own judgement on the matter. Come to think if, I use my own judgement anyways.

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    I suggest that the "curry powder" in a curry recipe is a game changer as is the BBQ sauce in a BBQ recipe. They are not important flavors, they are ESSENTIAL flavors.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                                      I agree. In authentic Indian food you don't usually encounter recipes that call for curry powder unless it is "inspired" or fusion food. They'll call for every ingredient of a curry powder added separately (which can often mean ten different spices or more). I'm Indian and when I finally decided to learn how to cook my family's food my spice cabinet began to overflow.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: nafrate

                                                                                                                                        But curry powder is used in many non-Indian dishes. Usually it is used to evoke Indian cuisine, but rarely meant to be authentic. I mentioned an old American dish, Country Captain, as well as German and French uses of curry powder. China and Japan both have their 'curries', usually using commercial pastes or powders. Thai curries might not use a 'curry powder', but commercial pastes are widely used.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: nafrate

                                                                                                                                          When I start exploring a cuisine, I tend to use commercial spice mixes, pastes and sauces. For example with Thai dishes, I have always used the curry pastes, never trying to make one myself. I have a jar of randang seasoning the fridge. I have Chinese 5 spice powder (even though I also have most of the 5 spices as well). I have several jars of Indian pastes (usually Pataks). If I tried Ethiopian, I'm sure I'd start with a berbere mix. I got into Texas style chili via Two Alarm mixes.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: nafrate

                                                                                                                                            When I was in my 20s and a novice cook, I made a recipe for curried fruit and was surprised to find that it did not call for curry powder. But I was blown away when I tasted it and realized that all the called-for spices had added up to a delicious curry flavor. That was the first time I realized curry powder was actually a mixture of spices. I thought I was a culinary genius at the time!

                                                                                                                                      2. People who actually follow recipes.

                                                                                                                                        30 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                          HA! You gotta start somewhere. Recipes are a guideline and certainly the more complex ones require some following to get to where the creator wanted you to go. Once done you can then adjust to taste. If you don't start with a recipe at all you are either incredibly gifted in your ability to take any international cuisine and invent it in your mind or your stuck on simple mac n cheese out of a box.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                                            What can I say, people learning to drive or surf get on my nerves too. Bottom line, like with many things, I just appreciate the ability to understand that a recipe for a dish is a guideline - not a mandate.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                              That's my thinking exactly. A recipe (with a few exceptions) is a guideline. "One medium onion" is fine with me. I don't want to know the weight. I'm familiar with onions, and will put in what feels right, or none at all if I so choose.

                                                                                                                                              Usually, when attempting something I don't make regularly, I will read a few online recipes to get an idea how it goes, then do something which likely doesn't follow any of them exactly.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                I have to completly disagree with you, MGZ. I, for one, would have no clue how to make the jambalya mentioned below. A recipe would be my only recourse. Everyone learns the first time from a recipe.
                                                                                                                                                And while it's fine, and fun, to experiment (I for one LOVE making my own changes), if someone if making their nonna's tomato sauce, if you want it to BE nonna's tomato sauce, and not MGZ's tomato sauce, then you follow nonna's recipe.
                                                                                                                                                As previously mentioned in this forum, baking also requires following a recipe.
                                                                                                                                                Like evansp60, sandylc, and John, I don't understand your displeaure for someone trying to recreate something they like.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                  I'm sorry you don't understand - I tried to be clear. Perhaps, I'll leave it with the following notion: Recipes are for reading, not obeying. Personally, I don't ever want Nonna's tomato sauce - I just want today's tomato sauce.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                    +1 Thank you for saying what I was thinking. Cheers.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                      In some ways I agree with you.

                                                                                                                                                      I don't have anything against recipes - I read lots of em, cook from em occasionally, sometimes even follow em to a T.

                                                                                                                                                      But I disagree with the point of view that they're how you should learn to cook, especially learning to cook things in a cuisine whose techniques you're not already familiar with. In so many dishes, they leave out all the real magic, those things that really make a dish distinctive or great. You learn so much more by simply tasting things you're unfamiliar with, asking the cook questions about how they get a specific effect, watching (or helping) someone cook.

                                                                                                                                                      Even at their most detailed (with elaborate descriptions and pictures, etc), recipes tend to explain WHAT to do without answering WHY you do it or HOW it affects the dish. And it's understanding those whys and hows that allows you to learn more from cooking something new than just how to cook that specific dish; the whys and hows are what give you access to the infinite possibilities not recorded on paper. I just don't find that thinking about cooking largely in terms of recipes is useful. It turns you into the kitchen equivalent of a police sketch artist, only as good as your source material.

                                                                                                                                                      Recipes are an adjunct to cooking, not the process itself, and deifying recipes to the point that you insist they are to be followed word-for-word (the first time or any time) strikes me as the mindset of a person who hasn't sorted this out.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                        I see your point, and agree with much of what you say. However, I thInk that fr many people, following a recipe exactly the first time, then following bit really closely with change or two after that is a great way I get the feel for cooking that I think you are talking about.

                                                                                                                                                        When I was younger, I was a slave to the recipe. But, as I've cooked more and had both success and failure in the kitchen, I can see where a recipe is a starting point. I honestly believe that if I hadn't followed so closely earlier, I wouldn't have the skills to create on my own now.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                                                          IMO, recipes are a default way to learn when you don't have a better method available to you. You might have become a good cook learning from recipes, but just the same, imagine how much better and quicker it might have been for you to learn by watching or cooking alongside someone who knows what they're doing. Recipes have a couple major weakness as a tool for learning to cook. For one, as I said above, they too often leave out the real magic of a dish, the little technical touches that make something excellent rather than passable. Secondly, when you think you've followed the recipe pretty well but your results aren't perfect, you seldom know if it's your fault or the recipe's.

                                                                                                                                                          I know not everyone knows an excellent cook who's willing to take the time to teach them the ropes. Even then, I'd suggest that some of the video instruction now ubiquitous on youtube and elsewhere on the internet can be far more helpful than simply following recipes. There are hundreds of Pepin's videos uploaded, for example. From a guy like him, you learn technique not recipes. And with technique, you are no slave to what's on the page when you try something new.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                          Seems that often the WHY is 'because that is how my grandmother did it'. The recipe author may not have any real idea of the WHY, except that is how they were taught to do it, or that is what the recipes they work from did it.

                                                                                                                                                          While a comprehensive cookbook like Joy of Cooking explains the use of baking powder versus baking soda plus acid, it does not explain why a particular recipe has 2 tsp of bp, while another has 3, or why some recipes have both baking powder and baking soda. And to learn the pros and cons of various baking powder formulations I have to go to professional or science oriented sources.

                                                                                                                                                          There are also 'old chef's tales', things like searing to seal in the juices.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                            You are so right about one recipe specifying 2 tsp of bp & another has 3, that has always bugged me. Which one is correct? How do I know if I've never made either recipe before?

                                                                                                                                                            Which reminds me - how 'bout 3 recipes for cheeseballs in a cookbook? How about just 1 recipe for cheeseballs followed by the 3 suggested variations? Every "southern" cookbook has to have a recipe for cheeseballs, I could just scream when they pop up everywhere. I don't want them in cookbooks & I don't want to eat them - ever again. Amen.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                  "People who actually follow recipes"

                                                                                                                                                  You have to learn the rules before you can break them.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                    Come on, let's not be snobs. If the jambalaya I serve you is Paul Prudhomme's and not my own concoction, believe me, you'd be happier. What counts is the result, not the method, whch is the cook's private affair.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John Francis

                                                                                                                                                        I prefer to learn than be taught. I believe in reason over rule, process over product, and prefer journey to destination. I'm way past the point in life where calling me a name is likely to dissuade me from my opinions.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                        Amen to the nth power! These folks are probably unaware of how great a percentage of published recipes have never actually even been tested before printing. Being a stickler about following them to a tee is a waste of effort. In the movie, Julie and Julia, when Julia encounters Irma Rombauer (Joy of Cooking) and compliments her on the effort of trying out all those JoC recipes, Rombauer laughs and says if she'd actually made all those dishes she never would have finished the book. Dirty little secret there.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                            Undeterminable, since it's not something to which the authors would willingly admit. Having read many a recipe that I KNOW is incorrect, based on amounts (which may or may not be typos) or my own experience, I'd say recipe errors are far from rare. I once won a local recipe contest for dishes using frozen ingredients, with a recipe for a soup that I made up. I have enough cooking experience to know what the soup would have been like, but have never made it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                          For me, people who follow recipes so slavishly that they can't see that there is an error. I promise you, you do not want 8 tsp of salt in your cake, you want 1/8 tsp.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                                                                            You can't assume that everyone knows even the basics of how to cook though - I live with someone who has absolutely no idea, and it often pains me to go in to the kitchen to see how he has massacared his (usually very expensive) ingredients!

                                                                                                                                                            The other day he was making boeuf bourguignon - with fillet steak (£30 worth of it!). Recipe said 'to brown' - I walked in just as he was laying out bits of the meat in a roasting tray, putting a bit of water in the bottom and placing in a cold oven which he was then about to turn up to about 150 degrees. He simply had no idea - people like us, who have an interest in food 'know' about the basics: seasoning, heating ovens/pans etc first, browning etc, and many recipes also assume this knowledge, which isn't necessarily always there! ( I won't even start on the time he decided to make profiteroles with 5kg of flour instead of 500g.)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pj26

                                                                                                                                                              5kg of flour? Was he making enough for 100 people?

                                                                                                                                                              Reminds me of the time my father in law asked me if I needed anything from the store and I told him yes, a bag of unbleached flour. He left out the part about the store being Costco, and I ended up with a 25 lb bag. I have no idea why he thought I'd need so much, but I did end up using it all. Eventually.

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps my pet peeve has more to to with the proofreader than the cook!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pj26

                                                                                                                                                                Yes, exactly, you have to start somewhere. Which leads me to my pet peeve, vague directions or ones that assume the reader has basic cooking/baking knowledge. I've had to try certain baking recipes so many times because I didn't have knowledge of basic baking techniques and nothing in the recipes indicated I should do further research. I followed what was written and got a horrible end product.

                                                                                                                                                                Only with tips here and further research did I learn that much of what I needed to do was not included in the recipes. You don't know what you don't know so it's hard to realize that you're missing something until you see the messed up end product.

                                                                                                                                                                I can prepare things that are not simple as long as I have clear directions on what I need to do. From those directions, I learn, and the next time it is much easier, and yes, eventually you can change things around, make your own recipe, etc. But it's a process and not everyone is starting at the same point. Many learn baking and cooking skills when young, and don't realize that for some it's like a whole new language.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bythebay

                                                                                                                                                                  Can you give some examples of the tips and things you learned from later recipes?

                                                                                                                                                                  Where did the earlier problematic recipes appear? Online recipes and magazines are not going be as good for the beginner as a general purpose cookbook. I'm thinking for example of Joy of Cooking, with chapters on ingredients, and recipe headers that discuss many details that don't appear in the recipes themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                    One example: I tried to make shortbread cookies. It said to mix flour, sugar, and butter in an electix mixer. I don't have one so I mixed it by hand. The end product came out like a super thin, hole-y wafer. Not bad, but not shortbread by any means.

                                                                                                                                                                    I learned on here and through other reading that I should first cream the butter and sugar then add the flour. Previously I'd added them all at once based on the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                    I learned not to mess with the dough too much. I learned to really press the dough into the pan before cooking. I learned about poking holes with a fork and about scoring. None of this was in the recipe. All of it helped tremendously and after a couple tries I got great cookies. I've had to watch videos and look at pictures to get a sense for how things should be done, how it should look, etc. I like recipes to say something like "beat till stiff peaks form" not just "beat till stiff," as in the more specifics I have the better it works for me. I understand an experienced baker cook might know all that but I don't think it hurts to be as specific and clear as possible and not assume prior familiarity.

                                                                                                                                                                    The recipe was in the BayWolf cookbook. I'm loving the recipes in there when I get them right but they're all written that way, unclear for me and often cake take a few tries to get right. As you can see from the above I know nothing really about baking. But, now I know more than I did and will keep learning.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bythebay

                                                                                                                                                                      Looks like that's a restaurant cookbook. The Amazon reviews are quite positive, but seem to focus more on layout and extra material, not so much the usefulness of the recipes. Not to be a 'told you so', but it probably is not the best book for learning, especially not cookie baking. Are there many dessert recipes, or discussion of techniques? I assume the recipes are ones used in the restaurant, adapted for home use. Often that translation is done by a ghost writer, not one of the chefs.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah I wasn't really using it to try to learn. As in, I didn't realize it would be any different than any other book I've used. I've made sweet and savory foods from lots of restaurant cookbooks including the French Laundry cookbook for example with no problems at all.

                                                                                                                                                                        I think it's just poorly written for those who aren't experienced enough. There are a lot of dessert recipes but no discussion of technique at all that I can recall. The recipes I've tried have all been great, but sometimes it's taken more than one try. Mostly the shortbread one was the biggest disaster. The rest came out pretty well although I felt there were unclear parts in other recipes too. I also wish there were more pictures. For certain items I wasn't sure how the final product should look and that made the process harder too.

                                                                                                                                                                        I would give it a good review too because the food comes out great, once you know what to do, but I'd maybe deduct a star for not being clear enough, although I know many people don't need the level of specifity that I do. I definitely recommend the book. I just made an upside down plum cake from there that was amazing.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                              Exactly, Evanspo. You must first Learn the rules to then Break the rules. Just like art.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                People who DON'T follow recipes, and then complain because they didn't come out.

                                                                                                                                                                "I made this and it was TERRIBLE! I used honey instead of sugar, and cucumbers instead of bananas, and I doubled the butter, and it was TERRIBLE!"


                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                                                                                                                                                  You must read the reviews at AllRecipes! I vacillate between laughing out loud and being outraged that people who didn't make THIS recipe were allowed to review it and bring down the rating.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                    There you are again, taking the words out of my mouth. If you were on YouTube, I'd subscribe to you. I once had one of my snarky comments REMOVED from Allrecipes because I blasted someone for changing the recipe and THEN writing about how they DIDN'T LIKE IT !!!! The hausfraus over there don't take kindly to snark.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Recipes that end "serve immediately". Fine when dining alone - but a nightmare when entertaining.

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                                                                                                                  yes, but isn't the point to not choose a 'serve immed" recipe if it needs to be held. I find this helpful, actually.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: magiesmom

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree, that instruction helps me skip over the wrong recipe for a night of entertaining

                                                                                                                                                                2. The only time I use curry powder is when making retro chicken curry. And for that dish, it is essential.

                                                                                                                                                                  Incidentally, Indian companies such as Deep make curry powder (and the label includes a French translation) so I assume Indians and citizens in Francophone regions also use the stuff, at least occasionally.

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                                    The sauce for currywurst uses curry powder. One of the classic French sauces is a curry sauce, essentially a Bechamel flavored with a bit of curry powder.

                                                                                                                                                                    here the base for sauce au curry is veloute

                                                                                                                                                                    When talking about curry and curry powder you have to have specific country in mind. A recipe for Country Captain that requires me to pull out my masala dabba is just as suspect as aaloo mutter that calls for curry powder.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                      To quote wikipedia:

                                                                                                                                                                      "Curry powder is a mixture of spices of widely varying composition based on South Asian cuisine. Curry powder, and the contemporary English use of the word curry are Western inventions and do not reflect any specific Indian food"

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I guess my biggest pet peeve is a recipe which uses odd ingredients that you can't always find in the local supermarket. Also, I sometimes get frustrated with a recipe that calls for 1/4 teaspoon of some spice that costs me $10 to buy in a jar that I'll never be able to use up.

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't mind a recipe requiring an extremely obscure ingredient as long as it suggests a commonplace substitute.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mwk

                                                                                                                                                                        Then there are those who complain about recipes that have been Americanized or watered down, making so many substitutions and adaptations that they are no longer 'authentic'.

                                                                                                                                                                        and in sense your peeve is exactly the opposite of the OP's. The curry powder that the OP complained about might contain 1/4 tsp of cardamon, a spice which you might not have. Or the authentic Indian recipe that the OP likes might have a pinch of asafoetida.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                          If the ingredient is opscure I will surf the net for a substitute.
                                                                                                                                                                          In some cases I have made a substituted version and stubled
                                                                                                                                                                          upon the missing ingredient and have had a revalation.
                                                                                                                                                                          Some ingredients you just have to have..ie, fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves,
                                                                                                                                                                          fresh Galangal root, fresh lemon grass

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. My wife is not a fan of liver of any kind and refuses to even try any form of pate, so when we dicedied to try our hand at making a beef welington for our brother, I searched long and hard for a substitute of finely chopped then reduced mushrooms as a replacement.
                                                                                                                                                                            Because my wine can't do wine for medical reasons, my b*tchin' French onion soup recipe uses home-made beef broth instead of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mwk

                                                                                                                                                                          Excellent point. I agree. If there were a thread on my biggest recipe loves, it would be the ones that say "you know . . . a little bit of sour cream . . . or some cream cheese. . . mayo will work in a pinch". Cooking needs to reclaim its rightful place as a way to get quickly and economically fed.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. Forever I've complained about otherwise perfect recipes that do not specify oven time as
                                                                                                                                                                          "covered" or "uncovered" !
                                                                                                                                                                          I end up opening the oven 20 times an hour to cover, uncover, check on browning, check on bubbling, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. A recipe will tell you to "preheat oven to 350 degrees" at the beginning of the recipe and then the pre-baking process takes more 45 minutes to prepare. My oven doesn't take that long to warm up. Of course, pre-reading through would solve that problem, but still....

                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Leslie

                                                                                                                                                                              "preheat oven to 350 degrees"

                                                                                                                                                                              "Pre" means "before." How do you heat the oven before you heat the oven? The proper way should say, "Heat oven to ..."

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure why, but this drives me nuts!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                I wonder if there really are people who think that the oven doesn't get turned on until the food goes in???

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hah! My dad was an engineer, very frugal, and knew nothing about cooking/baking. He never understood why you couldn't turn on the oven at the same time you put the food in!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                                    America's Test Kitchen once did a recipe for pound cake that went into a cold oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Marion Cunningham has a popover recipe which, counterintuitively, starts in a cold oven.
                                                                                                                                                                                    You'd think bakery items would always need a preheated oven, but it's not necessarily so.
                                                                                                                                                                                    ATK further elaborated that the difference in baking time between preheated and cold oven was negligible. In the case of the pound cake, the cold start gave the batter a chance to rise longer, and more, before the top sealed over from the heat it's exposed to.
                                                                                                                                                                                    On the other hand, bread will be crustier (desirable in most cases) if it goes into an extra-hot oven to which moisture is added, then turned down. You might also use an intial blast of high heat for poultry and roast meat. But if you are, for example, braising, or baking cupcakes, it may not matter if the oven is not preheated.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ha! Thanks for the reminder....I do like to make cold-oven popovers, but my recipe comes from Beth Hensperger....just shows that there are always exceptions, hey?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                        And if you're in a hurry to make bread, you can add some extra yeast, insulate it with a heavy pan or a pan of water, and it'll rise in the oven as it preheats. It also works for me when I'm slow roasting meats. I turn the oven to 250 F, it gets brown as the oven heats up and then slow roasts- which is exactly what I like.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: KSlink

                                                                                                                                                                                        With some of the clay pots (Romertopf etc) it's better to start with unheated oven else the pot may crack.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                        Many ovens that I've had actually HAVE a "preheat" setting.
                                                                                                                                                                                        The oven heats hot and fast-- I suspect it's the same function as the "clean" function.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                          My oven has a preheat function as well and it takes four (4) minutes, tops. However, when a recipe states "Heat oven" and then goes into a lengthy preparation including a marinade (sometimes up to 24 hours) I just roll my eyes. Martha Stewart recipes are bad about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you looked up preheat in the dictionary?

                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Dessert recipes, especially fruit recipes, that call for so much sugar that you're never even going to taste anything else. For example the many peach cobbler recipes out there that call for 4 cups of peaches and 2 cups of sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Recipes that have all lousy ingredients (canned stuff, miniscule amounts of seasonings, etc.) and a ton of cream or butter. To me that's trying to "cheat" the lousy ingredients into tasting good.

                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: visciole

                                                                                                                                                                                          Or the ones that have you make some delicious, elaborate filling, only to call for a chemical-laden storebought crust. Why on earth would I pit all these cherries only to dump them in crust I didn't make from scratch?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                            I can do lots of things in the kitchen very well. Dough, especially dough that requires rolling, transferring in one thin piece, and pinching, like pie dough, is NOT not of them. A friend of mine, who is an excellent cook, told me over 25 years ago, "My pie crust is better than Pillsbury or Pet Ritz, but not so much so that most people notice." That was just what wanted to hear.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I have since learned to make several varieties of pies, savory and sweet. All have been gobbled up and no one has ever turned down a slice because I revealed I used (Gasp!) Packaged Crust.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                              al b. darned: I make a good tasting piecrust, but it's ugly. In fact, a friend once said she'd like my "good" pie even better if she closed her eyes. Le sigh.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                              But do you really make your crust from scratch, or are you just one step back from the premade crust? You use prepared flour, wheat that has been harvested, milled, sifted, etc. You did not (probably) churn your own butter, or extract your own salt from sea water.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Any ways does it matter whether the recipe suggests a premade crust, or gives directions for the author's favorite? You don't have to follow the recipe in either case, just so long as you choose a crust style that works with the filling. It's hard to imagine circumstances in which you couldn't substitute your favorite homemade crust for a store bought one.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                Isolda, I'm with you. Storebought crusts are full of garbage and they taste like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Count me in on Team Isolda. Never met a store-bought crust I liked as much as even my sloppiest home-made ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. One of my little peeves is describing in minute detail how to sweat vegetables or cream the butter and sugar. That being said, I understand why they do it. A newbie hasn't been taught what sweating or creaming is and they have to describe it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It is just a mild irritation for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that one recipe-writing method could be to have short-form and long-form for each recipe...you could choose the version that suits your skills best....

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                    An excellent idea, sandylc! I'm a bit surprised I haven't seen it used. Yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe the recipes of the future will be individualized, sort of scaled to suit the experience of the user... I could definitely imagine that happening within a few years, at least for Internet recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It seems to me the trend is going toward elongating recipes. Have you seen the recipes where they have a step and a picture then another step? Luckily, most of the sites that have those kind of recipes have the regular recipe without all the pictures, somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've seen photos of step by step preparations of the most mundane dishes (think scrambled fucking eggs w/some chopped veggie) right here on CH.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Really, *this* is what a cracked egg looks like? Oh, and *this* is how an egg looks .... uncracked? WOW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So... are you going to get off the fence and tell us what you really think? :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Haha Linguafood, I know what you mean. However I do like to see a picture of the end result of the dish, especially for desserts. My niece, 21, a beginning baker/cook will not try any recipe that doesn't have a picture, and she loves the step by step pics, but I'll bet a picture of cracking open an egg would be a bit much even for her!


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, but I would have appreciated that when I was trying to teach myself how to cook. Of course, that was back when the only cookbooks were illuminated by monks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't understand the need for a picture of every step. I know what a pile of sliced mushrooms or diced onions looks like. Even a picture of the finished product only shows me what a failure I am, because mine never turns out like the picture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I like those picture recipe blogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Very helpful when it is something I am learning about. I started making my own caramel sauce recently and found some picture blogs very helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                What peeves me more is people who do utube videos of a recipe and spend lots of time yakkin about irrelevent stuff and won't even let you look in the pot.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not so much a recipe pet peeve I suppose, just felt like mentioning it here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I'm looking for visual cues I don't really want to hear about how much your daughter likes it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Omg this. People drag those videos out to the point of ridiculousness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Long winded food videos - why in the world do they even attempt a video other than to show off?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chow videos are quick & to the point - one of my favorite places to watch a cooking demo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like it even better when the good videos list the ingredient measures as they go along so you can write it down & not have to refer back to another site to get the quantities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Which, when done via hypertext, leads to the hilarity like the Epicurious recipe for salted water, which has some precious comments. It exists so that everywhere they tell you to boil pasta in salted water they can link it, so that someone who'd never heard of salting pasta water before (hey, it happens!) can click through and learn something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously, though, hypertext is IMHO a fantastic way to present this. Make every instruction a link to a detailed how-to. Best of both worlds, though it works a lot better electronically than having (see page 35) scattered throughout a printed recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: antimony

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You are reminding me of the famous Serious Eats thread regarding how to boil water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And wasn't there that Food Network recipe on Chocolate as a Snack?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. My pet peeve is USDA cooking temp guidelines listed as the desired finished temp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ha! YES! I learned to cook so that I wouldn't HAVE to eat rubber.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Vetter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This happens to me with high temp roasting in the oven. Even when I mix the chopped garlic with oil or whatever, the garlic inevitably burns before the dish is done, ruining the flavor. I now refuse to put fresh garlic in any of those high temp roast recipes. I use--garlic powder--instead. Hate those recipes...glad to find out it's not just me.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Isn't converted rice (sounds so religious) "Uncle Ben's" brand?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Got it now. Thanks. I'm familiar with Uncle Ben's here in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You can use unsalted butter and then add what you feel is the appropriate amount of salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. 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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          777 Sambar Powder 17.5 oz $6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ship Brand Madras Curry Powder 500 gram $6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GTM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OK, Rick...not to pick on you, but did you REALLY just typo the word "typo"? LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Betcha that anyone who tried the recipe with "1 carton" was smiling happliy after eating (or imbibing?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. A recipe with a picture that clearly shows an unmentioned ingredient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's the ghost writer of a cookbook who figures out the measure, not the cook herself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's how moms keep us coming back to them. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chrishel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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. I want to know how many servings the recipe estimates. I find so many recipes w/out this info.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: evansp60

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: evansp60

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "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



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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. 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!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sparklebright

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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.

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