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Jul 6, 2012 08:23 PM

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 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 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.