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Nov 3, 2013 04:11 PM

Frequently used recipe instructions

I know there are many more than I am coming up with at the moment. What are some of the most frequently used phrases in recipe instructions? I’m trying to come up with ones that are like second nature for experienced cooks, and I would love to hear more of these because I’m not having much luck coming up with them at the moment. These are the examples I have so far:

Stir occasionally
Fold in gently
Bake until golden brown
Lightly beaten
Whisk until smooth
Dust with powdered sugar


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  1. bring to boil, reduce to simmer
    salt to taste

      1. Cream butter and sugar
        Bring to a boil
        Sift dry ingredients
        Preheat oven to ....
        Peel, chop, slice, mince, cube, grate, zest.....
        Drop by teaspoonfull....

        And of course, "serves 4". Right..............

        1. "Reduce until (half, or third) of original volume"
          "Deglaze the pan with...."
          "Fold in"
          "... until carmelized"

          1. To what end are you compiling this list?

            5 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              My guess is that it's to provide a momentary interlude to reading those posts about "How to peel hard boiled eggs" or "What went wrong with my [insert cooked dish]?" threads.

              1. re: greygarious

                Sorry, I could have given a little bit of an explanation about what I’m trying to do. Someone who recently married into my family came to me and asked me to teach her how to cook. I was flattered and humbled, and not sure where to start. She explained to me that she has no absolutely no confidence in the kitchen and that she struggles with preparing even the most processed meals. She also told me that she is embarrassed by it because she has been teased about it, and she really wants to be able to make home cooked meals for her family. In addition to that, she feels pressure to entertain her husband’s business associates and would like to be confident enough in her cooking to do that.

                Like I said, I’m not sure where to start because I’ve never taught someone like this before. I really want to help her, not only because I care about her, but also because her husband is someone who is very important to me. She did tell me that she doesn’t understand the instructions in recipes (and doesn’t know what a lot of the ingredients are as well), so I thought I would try to go over some of the most frequently used ones with her. I won’t be doing much of this in person because we live so far away from each other that I only see her about once a month. I was thinking of trying to make some kind of book for her or taking pictures of different steps in the process. I really don’t know what I will end up doing, and I gladly welcome suggestions.

                1. re: needcoffee

                  Just to clarify, is English her primary/first language?

                  1. re: needcoffee

                    In that case, I think you should explain to her that terms like simmer and boil are a bit imprecise. Some cooks will describe a simmer as having virtually no bubbling; others as
                    gentle or occasional bubbling. The latter is, to others, boiling. Hard or rolling boil appears to be noncontentious.

                    "X sifted" is not the same as "sifted X". In the first, you'd scoop-and-sweep your dry ingredient, then sift that amount. In the second, you sift an ample amount of X, THEN scoop-and-sweep the specified measure.

                    There've been a number of threads on this board and General Topics about how to teach a newbie cook. They might be a little hard to search for but you'll get some, if not all of them. Try including "teen" or "child" in your search terms since some of them were about teaching neighbor kids or grandkids. There are also threads about cookbooks suitable for newbies and kids. These days, though, beware of people using lack of knowledge as an excuse not to try, or for failures. There's a Youtube video for practically everything, and blogs with photos going into excruciatingly-superfluous detail (do we really need to see the unopened can of tomato paste?) so it only takes a soupcon of initiative to learn the details of a particular recipe or method.

                    I bought Essential Pepin a while back but only recently looked at the techniques video in the back of the cookbook.
                    He has an unerring knack for knowing what details to point out. I don't have cable but have been given to understand that its food shows are light on teaching, so your relative should watch the cooking shows on PBS and PBS Create, both over-the-air channels. There's quality teaching in many of their cooking shows.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    Why does it matter? Seems interesting.