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The way we word our recipes...

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by anon3372, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Have you noticed that most of us rarely, if ever, give measurements?
    We all seem to speak of "splurges" "blobs" "slathering" "squirts" "dollops" "dashes" - if very technical we may say "about a handful"...
  2. Have you noticed that most of us rarely, if ever, give measurements?
    We all seem to speak of "splurges" "blobs" "slathering" "squirts" "dollops" "dashes" - if very technical we may say "about a handful"...
  3. Si N. Tiffick

    Si N. Tiffick Occasional commenter

    That's because most of us are instinctive good home cooks. My mother never followed a recipe, so I grew up knowing to taste and judge by eye rather than measure things out. The only time I ever measure anything is when I'm baking!
    My friend, on the other hand, follows recipes to the letter and gets really flustered if he is missing an ingredient- in all the years he's been following recipes he hasn't picked up any instinct for what goes with what and what can be substituted for what, or how to tweak a recipe to his own tastes. It's a shame, really.
  4. Smattering

    Almost all of my recipes have a smattering of something or other.
    Years ago my SIL actually bought me something useful - a book called Dips, Dollops and Drizzles.
    She meant it as a joke but we have fed her a few of the recipes and she likes them.
    Volcano chicken, margerita prawns.... and the sweet creams - yum!
  5. Ditto [​IMG]
    Goodness knows how many recipe books I own and how many bookmarks I have for recipes I have found on the internet - but I never, ever stick to them. I just play it by ear or replace an ingredient with something I think would taste better or that I prefer.
  6. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    I only measure things when I'm baking or doing desserts. Saying that, I didn't measure anything for the crumble I made earlier. My fiance was quite horrified that I wasn't weighing anything - his Mum weighed everything and still does. I think its down to instinct. You'll probably get it wrong a couple of times but you learn and improve.
  7. Not sure it is instinct per se - practice, perhaps. Just trying things out. Maybe our upbringing (you know - no money left and so much month to go, look in the fridge and think "what can I make with half a cucumber, an egg and a lump of cheese?" kind of thing).
    Or maybe we are just greedy gannets.
  8. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    Making cakes as a child, I learned to add flour until the mixture 'felt' right! You couldn't state an exact amount of flour because the eggs came in all different sizes. You just got used to the consistency that was needed for the cake batter and added more flour or more milk as needed.
    And every batch of bread dough is different!

  9. Most of the time I don't measure things. Even when baking a cake - I don't measure. Learnt from my mum just to judge it by eye - the texture and consistency. It always turns out well anyway.
  10. That is true - I judge on how "elastic" it is and add more flour or water as needed. It has to "feel" right in the hand!
  11. lapinrose

    lapinrose Lead commenter

    The way I dem at school is different to the way I cook at home, yes for cakes egcreaming, whisking, accuracy is needed, ditto for melting, I teach this as I teach accurate weighing, a much needed skill. But when I cook meals at home I rarely weigh accurately.
  12. Have you read any books trying to explain 'dropping consistency' - they sound ridiculous!
    I also have to watch my language when we have a staffroom cooking/baking chat. I said something about cake batter and got a near hysterical look and accusatory "why do you call it batter if you mean the cake mix?"
    I have called it cake mix ever since!
    We were talking about boiled sweets and I I chatted happily about a sugar thermometer and soft and hard crack - never again!!!
    As for bread.... you'd think it was from a different universe, delivered by demi gods daily! I know mine isn't up to much at the moment (it has been about 25 years since I last tried it) but for heavens sake!! It's bread!!!

  13. If I ever ask my Mum how to make one of her dishes, she is incredibly vague, 'you add enough of xxx to make it delicious' and 'you cook it till it's ready...' There's no substitute for instinct.
  14. I call it batter.
    A cake mix to me is a ready made thingie you buy and add liquid to.

  15. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    I have a young colleague who is an aspirant cook and always asking for ideas - fo rhim (yes, him!) I think about quantities and talk tablespoons etc, but fpor fellow "cooks"t is always a "splurge" etc as they are experienced enough to judge how much of any ingredient they want!

    Baking is, of course, an exception!
  16. Exactly! Perhaps they only make cakes from a packet???
    I always thought they were weird! Just add and egg/some milk.... My sister still swearsshe can only make pancakes form a packet [​IMG]
  17. Harking back to measurements- I had a cookery book once that called for a mouthful of wine as an ingredient......
  18. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    If I'm honest I often only have a vague idea of what ingredients I'm going to use at the start of the cooking procedure, never mind quantities. My wife gets highly frustrated when I cook something new that she ends up liking, only for me to say that I think I'll change it slightly next time, or to inform her that I've adapted a favourite of hers to suit what ingredients we have to hand. She, on the other hand, can't even contemplate adapting a recipe and would go so far as to go to the nearby massive Tesco on a busy Saturday just to pick up one ingredient.
    It's definitely something that comes with lots of experience; to cook without set quantities and adapting as you go. The only dish I even vaguely prepare for, in terms of gathering ingredients and chopping etc. before starting cooking is when doing a stir-fry.
  19. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Carefull, nick. Your cooking style somewhat resembles mine. We had a similar discussion here about a year ago where I was arguing it wasn't necessary to weigh the ingredients and follow a recipe to the letter. I got a bad press from some posters including one that described my cooking as slapdash.
  20. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I'm not experimental, though, MM. I mean that unless I'm cooking something fairly standard, I'm happy to tweak it as I go along. I might decide to use different herbs or omit garlic. I might decide to use wine instead of stock. I might decide to add a spritz of lemon or a dash of cream at the end. It will always be something that I'm certain will work, though, and not just something entirely random thrown in for the hell of it. On that basis, I see nothing wrong with not following a recipe or paying much attention to quantities. I've got a lot of cookery books, and generally only use the recipes as a guide, and certainly only tend to follow them closely the first time I try them, adapting them the next time.
    The only time I don't do this is when following authentic Thai, Sichuan or Indian recipes, as I sometimes find it interesting to find true authenticity when cooking such types of cuisine. That's not to say I don't concoct my own b*stardisations of such cooking styles, cause I do, but I also make no claim to their authenticity!

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