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Recipes or Not Recipes   Go to last post Go to last unread
#1 Posted : Wednesday, September 6, 2023 9:29:16 AM(UTC)

Recently Food Network UK started broadcasting La Pitchoune: Cooking In France about recipe-free cooking classes. Although housed in Juia Child's French home the courses have no Child's content (other than a copy of both volumes of her and Beck's Mastering the Art of French Cooking visibleon a shelf in the kitchen).

The second espide contained an interesting observation on the attendees non-culinary backgrounds and their previous religious following of recipes. They were all either nurses or engineers both professions putting great stress on following protocls (aka recipes) to the letter. Not sure I would fork out $10K for the five-day course there (especially as careful viewing of the programes reveals much of the curriculum the course follows) but this observation got me thinking about how as a computing scientist I too like protocols to follow — sometimes large ones known as the grammar of a programming language other times specific details of some coding problem. Are recipes hard-and-fast lists of rules or general guidance to creating a dish that approximates the cookery book author's intentions?

#2 Posted : Wednesday, September 6, 2023 11:45:00 PM(UTC)
Thanks for sharing this. I took a look at this show and I enjoy it.

Of course, the whole “no recipe” movement is built on having some knowledge of technique and then once you do, trusting yourself. That seems to be most of the message of this show. On it, they make quiche and soufflé without recipes… except for the Michelin-starred restaurant veteran’s knowledge of the ratio of ingredients… so.. yeah… grain of salt.
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 7, 2023 1:51:20 AM(UTC)

Ahahah ! I like it in between, personnally, I like following a recipe but then I almost always twist it, add ingredients, skip or add steps, change cooking method, put less of this and more of that...etc.

#4 Posted : Thursday, September 7, 2023 8:39:42 AM(UTC)

I'm the same camp as petiteagnesijolie as they said everything that I would have said.  Of course baking always comes up in these conversations as the that's been said as well :) 

#5 Posted : Thursday, September 7, 2023 8:58:22 AM(UTC)
People's positions on this rules vs. general principles question have a lot to do with their own experience of learning to cook. I grew up watching my mother cook, many times from recipes but often not, so I absorbed a good bit of understanding about techniques without explicit instructions.

Nevertheless it was a huge revelation to me when, shortly after starting out cooking on my own, I read an interview with Julia Child in which she talked about methods & techniques as the grammar of cooking. All at once, I saw the commonalities of many recipes instead of seeing them as thousands of projects to be mastered individually. It was very freeing, but also made me interested in getting more proficient with the methods that thread their way through many dishes. The appearance of Jacques Pepin's La Technique shortly afterward was just what I needed (especially for knife skills, so fundamental, and not one of my mother's cooking strengths).

Oice you've made a soufflé successfully, you can apply the method to many, many ingredients -- as long as you also maintain the ratio of eggs to sauce/puree. (That's why I consider Ratio as Michael Ruhlman's most valuable book; it's a back-pocket cheat sheet to the wisdom of a life of cookery that Fyretigger notes is crucial to cooking "without a recipe".)
#6 Posted : Thursday, September 7, 2023 1:43:33 PM(UTC)

Originally Posted by: ellabee Go to Quoted Post
... Jacques Pepin's La Technique ... Ratio as Michael Ruhlman's most valuable book...  

You've added 2 books my "must check out" list. Thank you.

[Edit] I just had to come back and edit to add that the Kindle edition of Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques is only $3.99 in the US.

#9 Posted : Wednesday, September 20, 2023 9:17:24 AM(UTC)
Thank you for the heads up, Fyretigger!
#7 Posted : Wednesday, September 20, 2023 4:50:26 PM(UTC)

Originally Posted by: Fyretigger Go to Quoted Post
[Edit] I just had to come back and edit to add that the Kindle edition of Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques is only $3.99 in the US.

Apple Books has this for sale at £3, except it isn't! What they offer is a "sampler". The complete edition is £16. Are you sure that the Kindle version isn't this sampler?

#10 Posted : Wednesday, September 20, 2023 5:42:51 PM(UTC)
Ha! This is funny because used to bench scientist and loved cooking precisely because it was just like my job, but with fewer rules. Nothing to record in a lab notebook! I can put unused ingredients back in their original container! I can cook a dish a different way each time! I can be very precise if needed, but it’s so much more fun to improvise.
#11 Posted : Wednesday, September 20, 2023 8:53:07 PM(UTC)

In Kobo the $3.99 book is a "sampler" excerpted from the $22.99 ebook. But the word "sampler" is not on the page for the Kindle book.

Still, I've known Amazon to make mistakes in linking two books or two music albums as if they were the same book or album in different formats. And it used to be much easier to submit a correction to Amazon than it is now. It's all part of Amazon's becoming less customer-friendly overvthe years.

#12 Posted : Saturday, September 23, 2023 9:02:33 AM(UTC)

I beeen thinking about this forum discussion for the past few days because of 2 specific recipes I've "followed" (or not) recently. 

One was for a simple Coq au Vin where 2 EYB members both commented that adding a specific step would greatly improve the result.  I used their idea rather than the actual recipe for that step because what they suggested made why would I ignore them and then regretfully say that I should have done it their way??  PS - they were right :)

The 2nd was for a pretty simple pan of enchiladas and as I read the recipe, everything I had on hand in my fridge, pantry & freezer was running through my head.  It was a perfect time to use up garden produce (some fresh, some frozen) and various homemade things that I've made and put away to use later.  The recipe, although not truely followed, gave me ideas for ratios, seasonings, add-ins and inspired a delicious little dinner for 2.

I certainly did follow the 1st recipe more closely than in the 2nd example, but the truth of the matter is that I was making both of those dishes because of the recipes found in my books (thanks EYB!) that were open on my counter while I made them.

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