Monday, March 31, 2014

When Recipes Lie

Yesterday, I made a really good recipe I found on, for a “wild mushroom and beef stir fry.” But it illustrates one of my pet peeves re recipes: when recipes grossly underestimate the amount of oil (or butter) necessary to sauté or, in this case, stir-fry, something. I think recipe writers do this because, then, their nutritional information comes out looking better. In this particular case, the recipe called for you to drizzle one teaspoon of oil into the wok. Woks are huge; a teaspoon of oil, or even a tablespoon, doesn’t begin to cover the surface.

Another pet peeve: recipes that grossly underestimate the time it takes to make the dish. You’ll find a recipe that calls for you to zest and juice several lemons, shell and devein multiple pounds of shrimp and mince about a dozen different things – and the prep time given will be “15 minutes.”  Yeah, right.

Some recipes get gratuitously fancy. In one of my newest cookbooks, which actually does have some nice recipes, every time the author calls for allspice, she doesn’t just call for allspice, she calls for allspice berries which she then instructs you to grind yourself. Really?

Or the recipe author will instruct you to keep that turkey carcass or the muddy outer leaves of your leek, and “use them to make stock.” That makes me feel guilty when I do what I do: I take all those weird organs out of the chicken and I throw them the hell out.

I don’t mind if they tell me I could do something with these things or I might want to try using a mortar and pestle, but don’t make out like it’s the only option.

I’m trying to get dinner on the table here.

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