Recipe For Success


Have you noticed how published recipes share a common language? Onions are always fried for “five minutes, until golden” (which as anyone who cooks will know, is an outright lie: make it 10 minutes at least); eggs whites are whipped to soft peaks; custards must be thick enough to “coat the back of a spoon”.

Recipes have created their own shorthand, and any half-decent home cook knows where they stand.

Recipes straight from the professional kitchen can be more of a mine field, though. They are often full of impossible quantities – 75g egg white, 27g corn flour, 3 litres veal stock – and assume too much knowledge, telling you simply to “cook out” a dish or “create a sabayon”. User friendly, they are not.

Now, it’s not always easy getting recipes out of chefs, and I’m enormously grateful to the PRs who badger their clients on my behalf. But I’m even MORE grateful to the PRs who then apply a bit of common sense and cast a critical eye over the recipes before they forward them on.

I can always put them into recipe-ese – whipping them into soft peaks and cooking them until golden, if you will – but if they’re not home-cook friendly or don’t make sense in the first place, I’m only going to be coming back to you to ask just how many eggs you need for 75g of egg white and how to make a sabayon.

And when I get the invoice, as I once did, from a reader who’d bought six 500ml pouches of veal stock from Waitrose to poach his piece of beef, I’m forwarding it straight on to you.