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What, to you, counts as a "recipe"?

ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 08:38 AM

Is something as simple, and basic, as the following count as a recipe?

1. Get pot
2. Fill with water to midpoint
3. Turn on stovetop
4. Bring to boil on stovetop

Is that a recipe?

Or does it have to be a bit more nuanced and complicated? If so, how?

  1. t
    tastesgoodwhatisit Oct 22, 2012 11:55 PM

    Personally, I would mentally divide things into recipes, skills, techniques/procedures, and instructions.

    A recipe consists of detailed instructions on how to make a particular food. It includes details on the amount of each ingredient, and steps that includes things like cooking times and temperatures.

    A skill is a specified task that might form a part of a recipe. Chopping onions is a skill. Kneading dough is a skill. Boiling water is a skill.

    A technique/procedure is a generalized set of instructions, more complicated than a single skill, but generalizable to multiple recipes. So frying meat would be a technique, but making steak au poivre would be a recipe. A set of steps for making pureed vegetable soups would be a technique, for carrot ginger soup would be a recipe.

    Instructions would cover things like microwaving a TV dinner, adding hot water to instant noodles, reheating canned soup, or making tea. It's a set of steps that produce food at the end, but the actual recipe/cooking of the food was done by someone else - the end user is doing the final step to make it edible. So adding milk to condensed cream of mushroom soup and heating it would be instructions. Making tuna noodle casserole with it would be a recipe.

    6 Replies
    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
      sunshine842 Oct 23, 2012 12:11 AM

      Excellent summary.

      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
        chowser Oct 23, 2012 04:10 AM

        Nice.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
          ipsedixit Oct 23, 2012 07:32 AM

          A skill is a specified task that might form a part of a recipe. Chopping onions is a skill. Kneading dough is a skill. Boiling water is a skill.
          ______________

          So by that definition, If I'm understanding you correctly, there are better boiled water, and worse boiled water? If so, what differentiates the better from the bad?

          1. re: ipsedixit
            sunshine842 Oct 23, 2012 11:32 AM

            c'mon, ipse -- I love most of your obtuse questions, but let's not turn this into the definition of what is is.

            1. re: sunshine842
              ipsedixit Oct 24, 2012 08:07 AM

              If I wasn't so obtuse, I'd almost be offended by that.

            2. re: ipsedixit
              chowser Oct 23, 2012 11:49 AM

              It might not be the final product but the performance that determines the skill. Someone could boil water w/out the lid on, on low heat, do too much or too little, not pay attention and burn the pot, too much water and boil over. So, as minimal as it might be, there is skill involved Think of it like running is a skill--most people can get a short distance but there is skill in getting there.

          2. k
            kengk Oct 22, 2012 03:42 PM

            Consider this: somebody asks for a recipe to make XXX. It's something I make frequently but don't have a recipe that I refer to. So, says I to myself, I will explain my simple "method' of making XXX.

            Type for five minutes and decide that it is more convoluted than I thought and what I've just typed out makes no sense.

            Like roasting a chicken.

            1. HillJ Oct 22, 2012 12:20 PM

              A recipe written down or memorized still involves more steps than just slicing and salting a tomato ...I hope so anyway.

              4 Replies
              1. re: HillJ
                twyst Oct 22, 2012 12:21 PM

                Not always!

                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                1. re: twyst
                  HillJ Oct 22, 2012 12:30 PM

                  LOL...okay I'm officially OUT!

                  1. re: HillJ
                    twyst Oct 22, 2012 12:40 PM

                    You should definitely read the comments on the "recipe" before you go out! Some are quite funny.

                    1. re: twyst
                      HillJ Oct 22, 2012 12:44 PM

                      oh twyst, I've seen that link/pea recipe a gazillion times and the comments r very funny...i'm just at the end of my brain cells for this fun topic.

              2. paulj Oct 22, 2012 12:16 PM

                http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...
                sliced tomato salad recipe
                :)

                2 Replies
                1. re: paulj
                  c
                  calliope_nh Oct 22, 2012 04:16 PM

                  Only give that sliced tomato salad recipie 1 *, it isn't very good. I didn't have tomatoes so I substituted another nightshade, potatoes. I didn't have olive oil so I used castor oil... :)

                  1. re: calliope_nh
                    paulj Oct 22, 2012 06:32 PM

                    to me most recipes are a inspiration, not something follow exactly. But I don't usually comment on them.

                    One salad called for slicing cucumbers very thin, and laying them out on top of a dressing. I often use young zucchini instead. I don't recall the dressing either, except it probably used olive oil and a good vinegar. I do, though, draw the line at castor oil! Come to think of it, I only know that by reputation.
                    :)

                    Oops, here's the Chow Zucchini carpaccio
                    http://www.chow.com/recipes/10981-zuc...
                    My memory of it is even worse that I realized! I some times uses cucumber instead of zucchini, and I rarely use feta or pine nuts.

                    With my style of cooking, it doesn't much matter whether the recipe is short and obvious, or long and complicated. Either way it is just a starting point.

                2. twyst Oct 22, 2012 12:08 PM

                  I saw an interesting discussion on this somewhere recently that was brought on when someone tweeted

                  "If a recipe calls for a box of cake mix, it’s not a recipe."

                  This blog post will be highly controversial here, but I think it's pretty thought provoking as well. I agree with parts and strongly disagree with others.

                  http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/05/h...

                  .

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: twyst
                    chowser Oct 22, 2012 12:13 PM

                    I don't agree with that. I think the Cake Doctor is a book of recipes. I've seen cookie recipes that start w/ cake mix and would consider them recipes. We all start w/ some form of processed food for the most part. You can make beef wellington with processed puff pastry but it's still a recipe.

                  2. PesachBenSchlomo Oct 22, 2012 09:37 AM

                    It's an algorithm for combining and treating ingredients to make something edible, and preferably enjoyable.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo
                      c
                      ChiliDude Oct 22, 2012 11:42 AM

                      I can dig it! Sounds very mathematical to me or maybe like a computer processing program.

                    2. HillJ Oct 22, 2012 07:27 AM

                      Is there really anything limiting about the standard definition of recipe:

                      A set of instructions for preparing a particular dish, including a list of the ingredients required.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ
                        ipsedixit Oct 22, 2012 07:36 AM

                        So why doesn't the boiled water in the OP count as a recipe? Or does it?

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          HillJ Oct 22, 2012 08:09 AM

                          By that definition, yes. Were you looking for a new definition or how CH's hold to THE defintion?

                          1. re: HillJ
                            ipsedixit Oct 22, 2012 08:12 AM

                            I was looking, or really curious, as to "your" definition.

                            As passionate food people, I'm just curious how our view of food preps differ, or not, from the general public.

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              HillJ Oct 22, 2012 08:14 AM

                              "my" definition rests above.

                              I agree learning how the word recipe evolves IS interesting. my college age son would call doctoring up a commercial chicken cup o soup a recipe because he added some soy sauce...but when he's home enjoying a dinner prepared by Mom..my defintion would be soup from scratch...would work for him.

                              1. re: HillJ
                                ipsedixit Oct 22, 2012 08:25 AM

                                I wonder if, as people become more learned or knowledgeable in one area, they tend to elevate their standards.

                                To take your example and apply it to cars. A general Jane Doe off the street would probably consider checking and filling the air on her car tires as "working on her car" but ask a certified mechanic the same question and her definition of "working on a car" might be something like "it has to go on a lift, involve X number of wrench tools, etc."

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  HillJ Oct 22, 2012 08:24 AM

                                  Elevating ones standards (what I would call experience) absolutely. Btwn your comment here & chowser, lies a good enough answer for me.

                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                chowser Oct 22, 2012 08:22 AM

                                What about a recipe is directions for making something that someone doesn't know how to make; a technique gives more general method for doing it w/out the details. So your recipe for boiling water would be a recipe for some, a technique for others. The same for roast chicken. For something specific, like Zuni roast chicken, that's a recipe because people need to follow it to make an exact Zuni roast chicken.

                                An analogy is like directions: How do you get to your grandmother's house? Directions/recipes would be step by step turns. Location/technique would be: go across town off xxx street.

                                There's probably a lot more to it than I'm thinking of right now.

                            2. re: ipsedixit
                              GraydonCarter Oct 24, 2012 07:50 AM

                              >So why doesn't the boiled water in the OP count as a recipe?

                              A recipe for a particular dish must include a goal, the name or description of the dish.

                              In the OP ipsedeixit never says what is being made. If it had stated "this is the recipe for soup that tastes like boiled water," it would be a recipe.

                              1. re: GraydonCarter
                                ipsedixit Oct 24, 2012 08:02 AM

                                Edited: "This is a recipe for boiled water."

                                Better?

                          2. c
                            calliope_nh Oct 19, 2012 09:45 PM

                            I just sent the following to my mom last month after we tried and liked the Hannafod deli's "Crunchy Veggie Salad" is it a recipie going by 1st set of measures which I put in for mom so she wouldn't worry, but not using the second set? I think it is still a recipie either way. It doesn't matter how big you chop or shred or what veggies you use or what size bowl you use.

                            Crunchy Veggie Salad
                            W/10oz bag of "California Slaw" or shredded or chopped broccoli, carrots, cabbage, what have you

                            1/3 cup mayo (big spoonful)
                            1/8 cup sugar/Splenda (some)
                            2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (a little bit)
                            1/8 cup sunflower seeds (generous sprinkle)
                            1/4 cup raisens/crasins, apricots (about that much)

                            Mix

                            I use the second set of "measures".

                            I think it is a recipie even if not precise.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: calliope_nh
                              ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 09:50 PM

                              Love it.

                              I need to find me a set of measuring spoons with a spoon labeled "a little bit"!

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                sunshine842 Oct 20, 2012 02:11 AM

                                my MIL sent me a set a few years ago that have spoons for drop, smidgen, pinch, dash, and tad.

                                I don't use them, but I keep them around because they make me smile.

                                As I mentioned upthread, I have the box of recipes that my grandmother used -- many of the cards bear only a list of ingredients -- my cousins regularly send me messages asking how she made such-and-such, because I'm the oldest by a decade, and thus the only one who was old enough to cook with her and remember what she did.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  c
                                  ChiliDude Oct 22, 2012 07:21 AM

                                  Funny that you should mention such spoons. I received such spoons many years ago as gift for subscribing to a home cooking mag. The 3 spoons are labeled "smidgen, dash and pinch" in order of size. I have yet to use them because I eyeball amounts of additions.

                              2. ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 07:50 PM

                                I wonder if the resistance to labeling the steps to boiling water a "recipe" is because we all know how to do it?

                                And we somehow, innately perhaps, feel that a recipe needs to be something that imparts additional knowledge, if not to us on a personal level, then to the human race as a collective?

                                In other words, a recipe needs to be a teaching mechanism. And because we all consider boiling water to be so basic, so rudimentary, so elemental, so universally understood, that it is against our very nature to consider such a thing a recipe?

                                It is, in fact, so counter-intuitive that we have to make up artificial constructs (i.e., two additional ingredients, transforms a substance, etc.) to convince ourselves of that?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  HillJ Oct 19, 2012 08:37 PM

                                  Just because you have the steps to a recipe memorized doesn't mean it's no longer a recipe. You learned how to make xyz at some point with the proper recipe in front of you or demonstrated enough times for you to understand it.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    s
                                    sedimental Oct 19, 2012 09:05 PM

                                    Maybe I think that the OP is a recipe because I don't automatically assume that a "recipe" has to do with making food.

                                    I use lots of recipes for many things: including bug spray, booze, glue, cleaning agents, weed killer,paints, papers, fertilizer, etc. Some of these things have more details in the "process" than in the "ingredients" (like your boiled water recipe).

                                    1. re: sedimental
                                      ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 09:10 PM

                                      Some of these things have more details in the "process" than in the "ingredients" ...
                                      ___________________

                                      I think this is very poignant, and very well-put.

                                      A good example that comes to my mind is making dumplings. Making the filling, the dough (and skin) are pretty rudimentary, but it is the process -- rolling, stretching dough, filling the dough, folding it, pleating it, etc. -- that is significantly more complicated than the actual ingredients.

                                      I think this is why some people resist calling PB&J a recipe because making such a sandwich is more process driven than ingredient driven.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        s
                                        sedimental Oct 19, 2012 09:30 PM

                                        Exactly, even the difference between pizza dough, pie crust, and pasta noodles is not much in terms of ingredients (flour, salt, fat)- the process and details of putting it together determines what it will end up becoming.

                                        Many good things begin with just a big sticky flour ball.

                                  2. s
                                    sandylc Oct 19, 2012 06:53 PM

                                    http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2010/...

                                    1. goodhealthgourmet Oct 19, 2012 06:01 PM

                                      gotta trot out that Potter Stewart adage for this one - i know it when i see it.

                                      if i had to come up with a list of requirements, in order to qualify as a recipe it would require ALL of the following:
                                      - a minimum of 3 ingredients
                                      - amounts of each ingredient (they don't have to be exact, but you must at least provide approximations)
                                      - directions for manipulating the ingredients (cooking methods, pan sizes, oven temps, slice/cut size, etc)
                                      - changing the form or temperature of at least one ingredient
                                      - combining two or more of the ingredients in a way that results in a new conglomeration (e.g. creating an emulsion)

                                      that infamous Rachael Ray "recipe" for Midnight Bacon Snack isn't a recipe, it's instructions for microwaving bacon.

                                      telling someone how to prepare a PB&J or ham & cheese sandwich isn't a recipe, you're providing them instructions for assembly. same goes for grilled cheese or a panino - you're just assembling ingredients and applying heat, not really transforming anything.

                                      explaining the method for roasting a chicken is just that - a method. but if you provide a list of additional ingredients to add to the chicken for changing the flavor and/or creating a pan sauce from the drippings, that's a recipe.

                                      i'm sure there are exceptions, but this is the best i can come up with at the moment. does it make sense?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                        ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 07:44 PM

                                        >>>telling someone how to prepare a PB&J or ham & cheese sandwich isn't a recipe, you're providing them instructions for assembly. same goes for grilled cheese or a panino - you're just assembling ingredients and applying heat, not really transforming anything.

                                        So grilling a steak would not count as a recipe? There are many a people walking the face of the earth that would disagree.

                                        >>>explaining the method for roasting a chicken is just that - a method. but if you provide a list of additional ingredients to add to the chicken for changing the flavor and/or creating a pan sauce from the drippings, that's a recipe.

                                        What if the only additional ingredient to that roasted chicken is salt. Still not a recipe and only a "method"? But it certainly "chang[es] the flavor" as you put it. And what the hell is the difference between a "method" and a "recipe"? Isn't a recipe just a fancy word for a particular type of method on how to do something?

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          goodhealthgourmet Oct 19, 2012 08:16 PM

                                          yes, i do disagree with the "many people walking the face of the earth" who think that a simple grilled steak constitutes a recipe. but if you provide ingredients and instructions for marinating it first, or for preparing a sauce or condiment to serve on/with it, THAT, in *my* opinion, is a recipe.

                                          as i said above, i wasn't sure how to explain it, i just know a recipe when i see one.

                                          oh, and in my earlier post i should have used the term "technique" instead of method. my mistake.

                                      2. danbuter Oct 19, 2012 04:14 PM

                                        If someone who has never made a certain meal can take your directions and accurately create the desired dinner, the recipe is a success. Following the format of any major cookbook will help immensely, of course.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: danbuter
                                          GraydonCarter Oct 19, 2012 06:50 PM

                                          >create the desired dinner

                                          I think that is what is missing: the name of the dish.

                                          If you had said, "here is the recipe for making soup that tastes like water," it would be a recipe.

                                        2. w
                                          weem Oct 19, 2012 04:08 PM

                                          Interesting question. I remember browsing through an antique grange cookbook that my mother had (the kind where members submit recipes, and the collection is published as a fundraiser), and I came across a cookie recipe that was just a list of ingredients. I remarked to my mother that there were no instructions on how to prepare the ingredients, and she said that people then would just have known what to do. Personally, I would want more direction than that, but it was obviously enough of a "recipe" to be published in that book.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: weem
                                            sunshine842 Oct 19, 2012 04:48 PM

                                            several of my grandmothers recipes are like that - just a list of ingredients; no instructions or measurements.

                                            I think a key part of having a recipe is having something come *out* of the cookware that is obviously different than what goes *into* the cookware.

                                            Flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda = cookies or cake.

                                            Water=water, regardless of the temperature thereof.

                                            I'm on the fence as to whether something like steamed green beans is really a recipe or not -- because green beans are green beans...but the texture and flavor have changed.

                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                              Savour Oct 22, 2012 10:46 AM

                                              What about a roasted chicken? I roasted some chicken quarters this weekend with nothing but salt and pepper. It might not be a recipe to you, but it would probably be useful to my husband, who wouldn't have the background knowledge about what temp to cook it at or for how long.

                                              1. re: Savour
                                                sunshine842 Oct 22, 2012 10:49 AM

                                                but obviously different than what went into the cookware....

                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                  Savour Oct 22, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                  But so are steamed (or boiled) green beans ...

                                                  1. re: Savour
                                                    sunshine842 Oct 22, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                    but one will have you saying "eh, I could have cooked these a little more", the other could leave you in the hospital.

                                          2. k
                                            kengk Oct 19, 2012 03:26 PM

                                            Interesting question. I see people on here all the time asking for a recipe for something or other and even if it's something I make frequently I realize I don't really have what I think of as a "recipe".

                                            It would never occur to me to refer to written instructions if I were making a pot roast or a roast chicken etc.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: kengk
                                              chowser Oct 19, 2012 05:19 PM

                                              It is an interesting question. My initial thought was that the answer is obvious but it's not, especially when you're answering a lawyer. I think the same as you when it comes to savory and I'll describe what I do but not have a recipe. If I think the person might need clarification, I'll post a recipe that is similar to my technique.

                                              We all know what a recipe is, eg if tollhouse cookies and not disagree. It's when you start drawing the line, you realize it's shades of gray, although maybe more than 50... I first thought the final product matter, eg ice or boiled water is part of a final product but not something in and of itself, for the most part. Add a squeeze of lemon to water isn't a recipe but there are recipes for lemonade which is just adding sugar to that. Are baked potatoes a recipe? But, if you double bake them, there is. Maybe it comes down to simplicity.

                                              1. re: kengk
                                                m
                                                MelMM Oct 22, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                But you have "way" of making those things. And doesn't that mean you have a recipe, even if you haven't written it down? There are many things that I never look at a recipe to cook, but I think I am following a recipe. It just happens to be one in my head, memorized in its most basic form, but varied at will, and never written down. It's still a recipe, isn't it? Does a recipe have to be written to be a recipe? I don't think so.

                                                1. re: MelMM
                                                  chowser Oct 22, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                  But that's like saying you follow directions to brush your teeth. When you're learning, you're following directions. Once it becomes rote, you're just doing it. It's the same w/ a recipe. It' doesn't have to be written down to be a recipe, eg. I make Tollhouse cookies and have the recipe memorized. But, I can also make cookies, just winging it where there is no recipe involved.

                                              2. Will Owen Oct 19, 2012 02:13 PM

                                                I'm voting with JoeBob. If it's something that tells me how to make something I can eat or drink, it's a recipe. If it needs to be made more specific or modified in some way, I'm competent to do that. For instance, if my friend David describes something he or his daughter made for supper, as he frequently does, I can figure out how much of everything is needed and make the dish from his description, although if it's complex in any way I will probably transcribe it into the more common ingredients-and-actions format. But his original description is usually still a useful recipe. If not, I just ask.

                                                1. c
                                                  ChiliDude Oct 19, 2012 12:34 PM

                                                  A written recipe to me is an ingredient list and the method of preparation. Then there's something I do often. I combine ingredients like leftovers and just mix them together for lunch. That usually turns my wife off. Also, when I'm experimenting in the kitchen, I wear an apron given to me by my 47-year-old youngest daughter. The statement on the apron is "I don't need a recipe...I'M ITALIAN"

                                                  Vivi, ama, ridi e mangia bene! (Live, love, laugh and eat well!)

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: ChiliDude
                                                    tcamp Oct 19, 2012 12:37 PM

                                                    Recipe for disaster? ;-}

                                                    1. re: tcamp
                                                      c
                                                      ChiliDude Oct 20, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                      Which of my statements makes you wonder about that? BTW, I consume my disasters as well as my triumphs.

                                                      1. re: tcamp
                                                        c
                                                        ChiliDude Oct 21, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                        This is not a recipe!

                                                        This is an ingredient list of the comestibles that went into my lunch today, 21Oct12 :
                                                        olive oil
                                                        leftover roast chicken breast meat, hand torn
                                                        2 leftover broiled scallops, diced
                                                        reserved kale stems (used instead of celery), diced
                                                        1 very small onion, diced
                                                        3 sliced garlic cloves
                                                        1 hybrid chile (looks like cross between a ghost pepper and a serrano)
                                                        2 cups of water
                                                        splashes of Worcestershire sauce
                                                        splashes of soy sauce
                                                        1 4-oz. can of mushrooms, drained and diced
                                                        1 package of ramen noodles (crushed in the bag, flavoring envelope discarded)

                                                        The purpose of combining these ingredients for lunch was to use up the leftover chicken and scallops.

                                                        The resulting soup was DELICIOUS!!!

                                                        1. re: ChiliDude
                                                          Will Owen Oct 21, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                          If I can make soup from that, I call it a recipe.

                                                          Whole cookbooks have been written over the years with nothing more than the principal ingredients being mentioned, no quantities, perhaps instructions like "season it well" and "serve it when done." I think it was Fanny Farmer who set the current style, though many books were published with the old-fashioned format up until WW2.

                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                            c
                                                            ChiliDude Oct 22, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                            Thanks for your input.

                                                            1. re: ChiliDude
                                                              m
                                                              MelMM Oct 22, 2012 11:55 AM

                                                              I know you are biased against recipes, as you have made that point many, many times. But really, what is a recipe? And what is the problem with following one. To me, a recipe is a cook's shorthand for communicating with another cook, or to himself, for that matter. Do great chefs follow recipes? Absolutely. They have been taught, through schooling or through apprenticeship, how to make many basic things, and they use these recipes again and again. Not by looking at them, but from memory, and they make variations on that recipe as they see fit. Do Italian grandmothers use recipes? Yup. The recipes may never have been written down, but they have been passed on, just like with the chefs... a way of doing something, committed to memory. A written recipe is just what we use so we don't have to memorize, like our grandmothers did and like professionals still do.

                                                              There are many things I make, where I would say I never use a recipe. Gumbo and chili come to mind. But the truth is, I am using a recipe. Even though I might make a variation every time, there is a basic WAY to make it that is in my head, and I am following it. A memorized recipe, that is an amalgam of all that I have learned about these dishes over the years.

                                                              1. re: MelMM
                                                                c
                                                                ChiliDude Oct 23, 2012 04:52 AM

                                                                Your comment about my bias is interesting. I'm not against recipes, but I am for creativity. I have at least 200 cookbooks and other kinds of culinary documentation on my bookshelves to which I refer very often. My wife has forbade me to acquire any more altho our eldest daughter keeps giving them to me as gifts.

                                                                If one watches any of the cooking shows on TV, one notices that the culinary expert who is the star of the show most often demonstrates culinary innovation. The only food show that I refuse to watch is one on which the demonstrator uses only processed food for every preparation.

                                                          2. re: ChiliDude
                                                            tcamp Oct 22, 2012 12:40 PM

                                                            I think I'd agree that the above is not a recipe, it is something less formal. And, really, the way I cook most of the time. The soup sounds great!

                                                            My "recipe for disaster" was more of a free-association than a direct comment on your post. I was thinking about a few disasters that have befallen my spouse when attempting to prepare a meal without benefit of a recipe. I don't think he has enough cooking experience to succeed at free lance efforts.

                                                      2. ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 11:25 AM

                                                        Alright, for those that say the OP is not a recipe, then what if we added these steps (or something substantially similar):

                                                        5. Open instant noodle cup
                                                        6. Pour boiling water into cup
                                                        7. Seal and let sit for X minutes
                                                        8. Open, eat and enjoy.

                                                        Recipe? It produces something edible (snarky comments about "edible" and "instant noodle soup" notwithstanding)

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                          HillJ Oct 19, 2012 11:36 AM

                                                          I would still call this a preparation because you're using prepared soup; not following a recipe for noodle soup.

                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                            HillJ Oct 19, 2012 03:17 PM

                                                            I would call that a manufacturer's recipe, not a recipe I followed from scratch. Now if I took that prepared cup-o-noodle and embellished it with my own prepared pork, chicken or beef, added spices, some add'l vegetables... I would call that a modified recipe.

                                                            If I make the dish, start to finish, from scratch, that's a recipe.

                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                              ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 04:15 PM

                                                              Those are distinctions without differences.

                                                              If a recipe for apple pie calls for a prepared pie crust, is that not a recipe? Or, to use your nomenclature, a manufacturer's recipe? I think most people would disagree.

                                                              Same question for things like chicken pot pie that calls for prepared puff pastry. Who the fuck makes their own puff pastry anymore? You can, but most people don't think it's worth the time nor effort.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                s
                                                                sandylc Oct 19, 2012 06:54 PM

                                                                I make my own puff pastry because Pepperidge Farm stuff has shortening in it and it tastes like it.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  HillJ Oct 19, 2012 08:35 PM

                                                                  For me a recipe consists of steps/procedures that you follow from start to finish.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                    Savour Oct 22, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                    But what if I'm making a recipe that has prepared ingredients in it? It doesn't have to be prepared pie crust --Last night I made a Kale and Onion Panade. Ingredients were onions, olive oil, kale, bread, gruyere, chicken stock. I didn't make my own stock or my own bread. It's still a recipe.

                                                                    Ultimately, I'm not sure whether the question "Is this a recipe?" is one worth asking. Is this a recipe that is appropriate to the context? Perhaps. A cookbook designed for kids may have a recipe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but if Saveur published that it would be laughable.

                                                                    1. re: Savour
                                                                      HillJ Oct 22, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                      Savour, if reliance upon definition is even necessary the standard definition from any dictionary is more than acceptable to me. When we dissect definition and/or meaning, then I think life experience, habit and exposure to other cooks can play a part.

                                                                      PB&J was a "recipe" my Mom taught me in kindergarten. Today, I would call a PB&J sandwich a simple procedure.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit
                                                              h
                                                              Harters Oct 19, 2012 03:13 PM

                                                              Yes, I think that might be - by my own definition, as above, it now includes the ingredients.

                                                              In the context of the discussion, I'll accept that the Pot Noodle (as they're called here in the UK) is an ingredient - in the same way that I would not exclude other pre-prepared items (say a stock cube, or a curry paste) from an ingredient list.

                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 04:21 PM

                                                                But don't you think that's a bit silly.

                                                                How is water not an ingredient? It surely is when I make soup. Why is the addition of instant noodle a game-changer in this instance? Certainly water is edible.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  h
                                                                  Harters Oct 20, 2012 01:17 AM

                                                                  Yes, of course, I think it's a bit silly. But isn't that the point of your thread?

                                                                  Youre asking folk to define what is a recipe and I'm agreeing that your eight steps fits my definition. There are many recipes I don't fancy eating - Pot Noodles included :-0

                                                            3. j
                                                              Joebob Oct 19, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                              A recipe is instructions that, when followed, produce something edible, so the OP is not a recipe.

                                                              1. Gio Oct 19, 2012 10:26 AM

                                                                To me a recipe ought to include ingredients and a simple description of the most likely method of producing the intended result. It may or may not include quantities of ingredients and may or may not suggest the most efficient vessels to use with the method. In the case of the OP, I consider that only an instruction for boiling water.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                  Uncle Bob Oct 19, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                  Taa Daaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

                                                                2. h
                                                                  Harters Oct 19, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                  No, the OP isn't a recipe to my mind - it's, as already said, guidelines for boiling water. There are other equally successful methods for boiling water, so they are not even particularly good guidelines (not least, because it provides no explanation of what "boil" means)

                                                                  A recipe has to include ingredients, including quantities. As for technique, it has to be sufficiently detailed for the expected reading audience.

                                                                  1. HillJ Oct 19, 2012 09:48 AM

                                                                    hot water is a procedure, soup is a recipe.

                                                                    1. j
                                                                      jjjrfoodie Oct 19, 2012 09:12 AM

                                                                      ====Is that a recipe?=====

                                                                      No.

                                                                      That is a task.
                                                                      Some may say technique.

                                                                      Recipes should have quantified list of ingredients, defined cooking and prep techniques and cook times and final portion quantity listed.

                                                                      Throwing s&^t in a pot and sayin' cook til done helps no one and is likely the cause why the USA has so many cooking phobes.

                                                                      I can change a tire on my car in the dark with no no assistance but I know many folks that do not even know how to even begin the process much less complete it short of calling the auto club on their "smart" phone.
                                                                      Hahahahahaha.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: jjjrfoodie
                                                                        ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 09:29 AM

                                                                        See my post above http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8742...

                                                                        Again, if we are simply talking about specificity and details, then you are losing me.

                                                                      2. tcamp Oct 19, 2012 08:44 AM

                                                                        I'd say quantities of individual ingredients need to be specified for it to be a recipe. What you posted is more of a guideline for boiling water.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: tcamp
                                                                          Cherylptw Oct 19, 2012 08:53 AM

                                                                          Agreed; I didn't post this because all you had was water but a good way to gauge how a recipe should be written is to put yourself in the position of having to read the recipe if it were written by someone else. You want to know what it is you're cooking, the quantities of the ingredients and what type (a large onion, chopped vs. a cup of chopped onion) and the ingredients need to be written in order of use , the vessels needed to prepare the dish (spoons, cooking utensils, etc) ; cooking method, how long it takes to prepare each step for the most part and how long to make the finished dish. How many servings the dish makes is also helpful.

                                                                        2. Cherylptw Oct 19, 2012 08:43 AM

                                                                          I do recipe (cooking) competitions as a hobby so I write tons of recipes...IMO, it needs to be a bit more finessed. State what size the pot is based on what is going to be put in it; measure the water (for example, "add 2 quarts of water to a large stockpot or fill a 2 quart saucepan to the halfway mark". Also, indicate the temperature needed to bring the water to a boil such as "heat the saucepan over high temperature to boiling ". Hope that helps

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                            ipsedixit Oct 19, 2012 09:27 AM

                                                                            Well, we can quibble about the details, but if I am reading you right, then this would count as a recipe in your opinion?

                                                                            1. Take a 2 quart stock pot with a lid
                                                                            2. Add one quart of water to stock pot
                                                                            3. Turn on stove to HIGH
                                                                            4. Put stock pot with water on stove top area that has been turned on to HIGH
                                                                            5. Cover stock pot with lid
                                                                            6. When lid starts to shake, rattle and roll, open lid and see if water is boiling
                                                                            7. Once water boils, remove stock pot from stove

                                                                            Is that a recipe?

                                                                            If we can agree that the point of a recipe is make something -preferably something edible -- then does that count as a recipe?

                                                                            If your answer is "yes" then it makes me a bit queasy. To me, the quiddity of a recipe transcends what is listed above -- but what exactly that is, I simply cannot put my finger on.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                              s
                                                                              sedimental Oct 19, 2012 08:54 PM

                                                                              That sounds like a recipe to boil water.
                                                                              It "made" boiling hot water.
                                                                              I would say that is a recipe.

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