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Recipe etiquette


nessa
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Here, in its completely revamped version, is the recipe for the awe-inspiring avocado dip.

Evergreen Avocado Dip*

Group One

2 Hass avocados, mashed

2 shallots, minced

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. minced parsley

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 T. fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Group Two

1/2 c. chopped pistachio nuts

minced parsley (1 T or less)

Combine all Group One ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least eight hours.

Top with Group Two (the chopped pistachio nuts and minced parsley). Serve immediately (with tortilla chips, pita triangles, and/or veggie sticks).

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This recipe has been so built up that people will be inclined to hate it. Try it, it's tasty and also, I stoled it off the fridge!

i wonder if google was inundated with "avocado mousse" searches yesterday. I never did find one like this one though ... thanks. I know i'll be adding avocado's to my grocery basket this weekend. And keep your eyes on the fridge door for all of us.

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Hi all. I have a question/response that up until now thought was simple. Here goes.

With all of the cookbooks, and professional chef's books, and training/inspirational books (eg Escoffier, LaRousse, Pepin, Robuchon, Child) on the market today, are all of the recipes and techniques new? Maybe to Adam and Eve. They are new to the novice. Many are new, or should I say unique, to a great many professionals. It had to start somewhere. It had to be shared in order for this site to happen. Have they never been reborn or transformed into something new and exciting? Is not "anything that's old is new again"?

I believe food is so inspirational and it is complete unadulterated love. Not to share is devoid of the compassion that brings us to this place in the first place. The heart of the home is truly the kitchen. When you share your food, humble bites to extravagance, you already share yourself, your heart, your love, and your culinary skills. It is so flattering. That's what we crave. Why not share your recipe? They will never make it the way you did. Have you ever made anything 'just like' your mother, or grandmother, or aunt, or uncle, or whomever? Probably not. You created it to suit you. And they did what they did to suit them. It's like getting 15 people to sit in a circle. Begin with a story at one end, and see what happens to it when it finally reaches the end. Will it ever be the same story? Never. It's evolution. It's a beautiful thing. Pass it on. See what happens.

In my humble opinion. Kate

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but I cannot see what I would gain by keeping the recipe to myself 

My thoughts exactly. So long as you are not a commercial producer of a product, like Coke or Pepsi, how petty it is to keep it secret. I'm suprised that a person with such an attitude would even attend social events where something they say or do might provide enjoyment to others.

What's the worse that could happen? Someone else might cook the same dish and serve it to other people? Someone else might make it, and bring it to a potluck supper to which you have brought the same dish? So _______ what? You're still the inventor of the dish. Be proud that other people enjoy it.

I would suggest that not an hour goes by without our lives being made easier or more enjoyable because someone at some time in the past discovered a better way to do something. If you can contribute, you're just doing your part.

Edited by lueid813 (log)
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  • 2 months later...

On leaving out ingredients... I knew I'd seen MFK Fisher rant about that somewhere, and as I was browsing through With Bold Knife and Fork I found it.

A recipe is supposed to be a formula, a means prescribed for producing a desired result, whether that be an atomic weapon, a well-trained Pekingese, or an omelet. There can be no frills about it, no ambiguities... and above all no "little secrets." A cook who indulges in such covert and destructive vanity as to leave out one ingredient of a recipe which someone has admired and asked to copy is not honest, and therefore is not a good cook. He is betraying his profession and his art. He may well be a thief or a drunkard, or even a fool, away from his kitchens, but he is not a good cook if he cheats himself to this puny and sadistic trickery of his admirers, and no deep-fat kettle is too hot to brown him in.

I just love MFK Fisher. :wub:

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On leaving out ingredients... I knew I'd seen MFK Fisher rant about that somewhere, and as I was browsing through With Bold Knife and Fork I found it.
A recipe is supposed to be a formula, a means prescribed for producing a desired result, whether that be an atomic weapon, a well-trained Pekingese, or an omelet. There can be no frills about it, no ambiguities... and above all no "little secrets." A cook who indulges in such covert and destructive vanity as to leave out one ingredient of a recipe which someone has admired and asked to copy is not honest, and therefore is not a good cook. He is betraying his profession and his art. He may well be a thief or a drunkard, or even a fool, away from his kitchens, but he is not a good cook if he cheats himself to this puny and sadistic trickery of his admirers, and no deep-fat kettle is too hot to brown him in.

I just love MFK Fisher. :wub:

I love Mary Frances also!

I am always happy to share my recipes with anyone who wants to try them and I never omit an ingredient.

If it is something that I prepare sans recipe, I try to record everything the next time I prepare it, hanging a microrecorder around my neck.

I have never been able to understand people who pull stunts such as omitting an ingredient or a particular step in a recipe. I bet they wouldn't share their toys when they were children.....

:raz:

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Ditto, andiesenji! There is no greater joy than preparing a meal for friends except being asked for a recipe for one or another of your creations.

I have many chef friends and am always delighted when a variation of some dish I've prepared for them appears on a menu. No other acknowledgement necessary. :smile:

Jay

You are what you eat.

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  • 1 month later...

Whoa! What a hot thread! I'm somewhat new to egullet, and most of what I've read and posted has been in the pastry and baking section. I must say that I'm intrigued by all of this recipe etiquette talk. I share my recipes for the most part, since someone shared them with me to get me started. But a lot of times, what I will do is ask them how familiar they are with the techniques and ingredients I used. Often times they are not, and I will say, "If you are really interested in making this, why don't you come over the next time I'm making it, and I'll show you how." This is the way I learned a great deal of the things that I'm "famous" for making.

For example, there was this wonderful old lady at my parents' church, and she was known as the "Butterhorn Fairy", because she always made these fantastically wonderful butterhorn rolls. She used to knock on our door Christmas morning, run away, and leave a basket of them with a note saying "Love, the Butterhorn Fairy". Actually, I've never known anyone else who made them. People would constantly ask her for the recipe (including her daughter-in-law) and she would always tell them that there really wasn't a recipe, that they really needed to bake along with her in order to learn how to make them. So one summer, I took her up on her offer. We spent two blissful days making butterhorns, and sipping lemonade on the porch while the dough was rising. As far as I know I'm the only person she taught (and the only one who truly wanted to learn). I feel incredibly honored that she chose me for her protege'. I think she knew I would understand that the learning process has to be as enjoyable as the accolades you get from them in order for the end product to have true integrity. And she knew that I would use them to spread joy, just as she did.

This is also the way I learned to make aebelskiver and kleiner, two of my favorite Danish recipes. By working with my aunt, who was the only one old enough to learn from her grandmother before she (my great-grandmother) died.

So I feel honor-bound to pass these on to someone. The world would be a much less happy place if there weren't people making these wonderful things to feed and give joy to others. However, it really is true that these recipes have to be learned by making along-side. So far, I haven't had any takers. I just hope I live long enough to pass it along to someone worthy! I'm only 24, so I'm sure I have time, but you never know!

BTW, I also live by the parable "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime" I think it's quite applicable here.

Katie

"First rule in roadside beet sales, put the most attractive beets on top. The ones that make you pull the car over and go 'wow, I need this beet right now'. Those are the money beets." Dwight Schrute, The Office, Season 3, Product Recall

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  • 1 month later...

The thing about writing down recipes for someone is partially how serious the person asking for the recipe is.

Lots of times it is just pleasant chat and a bit of fantasizing in the 'recipe-askers' mind. Certainly it is complimentary to the cook, but unless one has a written recipe (often I don't, unless it is for baked goods) and a copy-machine handy, there is the element of finding time to write out the recipe and get it to the person.

My solution to this has been, if someone asks for a (non-baked goods) recipe, to say "Do you have a piece of paper and a pencil? I'll do my best to tell you right now...".

:wink::laugh:

Often, in the face of having to pick up a pencil themselves, they get lost on the way to find it in some other conversation....

With a recipe that does require exact measurements, generally I will lead the conversation to what sorts of things they have baked previously to assess their level of dedication and competence. If it then sounds like the recipe is 'do-able' for them, I'll tell them to e-mail me. That makes it easier to remember to find the recipe then to type it out and send it along.

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The thing about writing down recipes for someone is partially how serious the person asking for the recipe is.

My solution to this has been, if someone asks for a (non-baked goods) recipe, to say "Do you have a piece of paper and a pencil? I'll do my best to tell you right now...".

Often, in the face of having to pick up a pencil themselves, they get lost on the way to find it in some other conversation....

Thanks for a brilliant solution to a very frequent occurance for me. I can't wait to try it.

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I know a woman who is a caterer and quit giving out recipes years ago because she tired of people making substitutions, having it turn out badly, and then tell everyone it came from her. I can understand that after giving my smoked salmon recipe out twice and the first guy decides to leave it in the cure over night instead of 4 hours and the second guy decides not to rinse the cure off and both complained of how salty the fish was....well, duh. It does tweak me a bit when you give detailed instructions and they just get blown off.

The funniest one involved a strange stock I had made. I was given 12 veal heads that were complete except for the tounge. I made stock out of them and then reduced it to a demi. Used it for a dinner for a couple hundred people. One of the women just had to have the recipe for the sauce and I was at a loss for what to tell her. "Just go get a veal head...."

Other than that I share.

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As usual, Karen (Carrot Top), bred from hardy Maine stock, is right:

The thing about writing down recipes for someone is partially how serious the person asking for the recipe is. Lots of times it is just pleasant chat and a bit of fantasizing in the 'recipe-askers' mind. ...

Let's face it: most people asking for recipes are non-cooks. Do you ask for recipes much? You probably ask things like, "Wow, I've never thought to add broccoli rabe to a frittata? Did you blanch it first?" Which is to say, you basically know the recipe; you're interested in a different technique, or an effect (good crust -- my kingdom for good crust), etc. If someone asks for a "recipe", I find it's just a slightly nudgey, self-important way of saying, "I like that."

But that can strike fear into my heart.... Read on:

With a recipe that does require exact measurements, generally I will lead the conversation to what sorts of things they have baked previously to assess their level of dedication and competence. If it then sounds like the recipe is 'do-able' for them, I'll tell them to e-mail me.

That also gives you a sense of what your "recipe" should say. But this is risky business -- and big-ass egos are on the line. Well, my big-ass ego, at any rate.

Long ago, I remember writing out "my recipe" for fried chicken once for a cookbook, and then went to the test "chef"'s house to give "my recipe" a trial run. But, Dr. Frankenstein-like, I watched as my little index-card of glory was deformed into a horror show.

See, I hadn't thought to write out things like "submerge the chicken in enough oil to cover, or use a really small saucepan with your stingy amount of oil and fry a small number at a time." So, I watched as the "cook" decided that the egg and flour dredging could be combined into one, and not kept separate as two, steps, put three tablespoons of oil ("Why waste all that oil?") in a Reverewear frying pan, dump all the chicken into the pan at once ("That oil's smoking hot! Must be ready! ... Hmmm... now it doesn't seem to be as hot..."), and wonder why it burned.

"Guess you'll have to revise that recipe, huh, Chris?" :blink:

With someone who knows concept one about fried chicken, I could sum up that recipe in a few phrases: large cubes of white meat; make a spice rub with this and that; douse cubes with spice rub and hot sauce; submerge in 1-2 beaten eggs and a little milk; dredge with spiced flour, half unbleached, half corn; fry in 375 oil until the chicken stops hissing; drain and serve hot.

With someone who doesn't, each of those steps requires detailed explanations. Though MFK Fisher might want to boil me in oil, I ain't going to the trouble of teaching someone how to cook so that they can use my recipe to learn basics they should know already -- especially if they're going to cut corners and wonder why "the edges are overcooked" (bad knife skills) or "the chicken is pink" (didja listen for the hissing to stop?).

Sorry, sorry ... I'm being moralistic.... I'm haunted by having to watch "my" chicken scorch in that damned pan and cringing as everyone looked at me wondering, "You think you can write a recipe? For shame!"

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 2 weeks later...

A few years ago, a dear family friend, without hesitation, shared a special recipe with me. It was for what we'd always known as "Edna's Cookies"... wonderful things baked on a waffle iron. When I was growing up, we ate them either one row at a time, or by chomping the edges off, to form a square, and then by popping them, whole, into our mouths. She died eighteen months ago, and when I just have to be near her again, I make her cookies, and snatch spoonfuls of the whiskey-spiked dough with my finger, just as I did when I was four and sitting on her kitchen counter. The smell of the cookies baking brings back all of the wonderful memories of her... she was truly one of the most wonderful human beings ever to grace the earth, and her five highly-educated, extremely successful professional sons wept out loud at her funeral.

Sometime later, my friend Greg reluctantly parted with his family's recipe for a special cake. Whenever I make it, I think about him, though I haven't seen him in years, and all of the insignts about food and about life I gained from being around him. I didn't realize I like parsnips until he served them at dinner one night.

I could go on and on about recipes other friends have shared. Some of those friends remain part of my life; others I've lost track of. But their memories are vivid when I fix the recipes they shared with me.

Want to become immortal? Share a recipe.

Yes, I've had all of the crap happen to me, too. A co-worker and his wife recently fixed my White Chicken Chili recipe, and he was disappointed because it was so bland. "Didn't you use any of the condiments?" I asked. It's supposed to be served with salsa or sour cream or shredded Monterey Jack or chopped cilantro or diced avocado... or all of the above. No, just the chili, he said, complaining again about its blandness. What an idiot. All that money and all that effort into the recipe, but didn't serve it with the accompaniments it was designed to be served with. It's his loss. But my gain, since the recipe was given to me by Cliff and Steve... who are the most wonderful cooks, and I'll never forget them, especially when I make their chili.

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A few years ago, a dear family friend, without hesitation, shared a special recipe with me.  It was for what we'd always known as "Edna's Cookies"... wonderful things baked on a waffle iron.  When I was growing up, we ate them either one row at a time, or by chomping the edges off, to form a square, and then by popping them, whole, into our mouths.  She died eighteen months ago, and when I just have to be near her again, I make her cookies, and snatch spoonfuls of the whiskey-spiked dough with my finger, just as I did when I was four and sitting on her kitchen counter.  The smell of the cookies baking brings back all of the wonderful memories of her... she was truly one of the most wonderful human beings ever to grace the earth, and her five highly-educated, extremely successful professional sons wept out loud at her funeral.

So, um, jgm....can I please have the recipe for Edna's Cookies?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Long ago, I remember writing out "my recipe" for fried chicken once for a cookbook, and then went to the test "chef"'s house to give "my recipe" a trial run. But, Dr. Frankenstein-like, I watched as my little index-card of glory was deformed into a horror show. 

See, I hadn't thought to write out things like "submerge the chicken in enough oil to cover, or use a really small saucepan with your stingy amount of oil and fry a small number at a time." So, I watched as the "cook" decided that the egg and flour dredging could be combined into one, and not kept separate as two, steps, put three tablespoons of oil ("Why waste all that oil?") in a Reverewear frying pan, dump all the chicken into the pan at once ("That oil's smoking hot! Must be ready! ... Hmmm... now it doesn't seem to be as hot..."), and wonder why it burned.

"Guess you'll have to revise that recipe, huh, Chris?"  :blink:

I ain't going to the trouble of teaching someone how to cook so that they can use my recipe to learn basics they should know already -- especially if they're going to cut corners and wonder why "the edges are overcooked" (bad knife skills) or "the chicken is pink" (didja listen for the hissing to stop?).

Sorry, sorry ... I'm being moralistic.... I'm haunted by having to watch "my" chicken scorch in that damned pan and cringing as everyone looked at me wondering, "You think you can write a recipe? For shame!"

No, Chris, you're not being moralistic....food is not only a pleasant part of our lives but part of our emotional interiors. So if you watch someone slap-hazardly (yes, I meant to write that for it says what I mean :wink: ) make a mess of something that has been beautiful to you ....

This is the second part of this recipe-giving thing...is that words, even in the same language, are not the same thing to one person as they are to another. Even in simple talk of food.

And it is not just the home cook that can be susceptible to this sort of mistake...it can happen in professional kitchens too.

When I first became responsible as a chef for more than one kitchen with me in it able to keep my eye on everything that went out...talking my way through directing what needed to be done by anyone else to them...able to be there in what is sort of a...partially choreograped and partially free-style dance that ends in lots of plates of food going out as perfect and glowing as they could be to the diners sitting in their anticipatory chairs...I made the discovery that even chef-to-chef, simple words can mean different things.

I used to write little vague descriptions on index cards too, with ingredients and very very general method...and would give these to the cooks or chefs that were responsible for making them...as I would have to leave to go to client meetings, or to the other kitchen...or out into the office to discuss menus, budgets, staffing, bills, goals.

Ouch. Phone calls. Complaints. Questions...from the guests. What was that that they had been served? It wasn't like 'you' made it. It wasn't the way it's 'supposed' to be. It wasn't the way we expect it.

Sigh. Trust me, every thing I have ever really learned was learned by screwing up badly then jumping around in mad crazy circles to fix it.

So...that is why (in a non-professional setting) I will tell other people to physically write down the recipe themselves as I talk through it...so that there is already a participatory sense...and so when or if things go wrong...well...it was not just a one-way communication. They were involved in the process and had the opportunity to ask questions if they needed...

And that is why (in a professional setting) I learned how to write the easist-to-follow (i.e. short and to-the point) while at the same time most painstakingly specific 'Standardized Recipes' that could be written.

There is a lot to learn even in this simple category of communicating by words.

I love the idea of a 'verbal tradition'...the idea of dishes of delicious food wrapped inside a few warm words transferred from person to person

in a happy sharing way...and having everything turn out right.

But :unsure: as with so many other things...all I can say is...(ironic tone here) 'How often does that happen?'

:laugh:

But we keep trying, we keep trying. What else can ya do?

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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So, um, jgm....can I please have the recipe for Edna's Cookies?

My pleasure. I'm pasting this in from a MS Word file. If it doesn't work, I'll retype it.

Edna’s French Cookies

1 ½ cups butter or margarine

5 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups brown sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

3 ½ cups flour

1 shot of whiskey (or a little more. . .)

Cream the butter and eggs; add the sugars and vanilla. Add flour slowly, and then the whiskey at the end. The dough will be very soft. You can refrigerate it to make it easier to work with.

Drop by tablespoonfulls on a hot, greased waffle iron, close the lid, and bake as if you’re making waffles.. My iron is round and divided into quadrants, so I usually make four cookies at a time. They should be about 1 ½ inches across when finished. Remove them as best you can; I think it’s easiest to use 2 forks to gently pry them up and move them to a cooling rack. The first batch or two usually crashes, but you get to eat those right away and they don’t have any calories. :biggrin:

Every now and then, Edna would dip one end of the cookies in a thin chocolate glaze. Sometimes she'd use leftover chocolate buttercream frosting on them. They're best on the 2nd or 3rd day.

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