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What is a Recipe?

- is a set of instructions that show how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish.


A recipe consists of several components or sections. Not every recipe is the same however and some information may not be included. Most recipes at least will have 2 main sections and a name that may or may not describe the item. The Ingredients and Method are included in all but very old or very advanced recipes as well as heat and serve prepackaged meals. The following list shows what you will find when looking at most modern recipe books

* The name of the item.

* The required ingredients along with their quantity (ingredients)

* An ordered list of preparation procedures (Method).

* The number of servings it will yield.

* How much time it will take to prepare.

* Equipment needed and any environmental concerns.

Often there will be notes on how long the items will keep, if it can be frozen, often you find nutrition information and other things related to the recipe.

Although the recipe may have many sections and the notes are interesting, the important parts are Ingredients and Method or preparation.

What is a Recipe?

Don't trust the picture.

The photographs of food you see are in most cases are the real product produced from the recipe. These photographs however are taken by professional photographers and made by professional chefs and\or food designers and have been composed for the image. There is no reason you can't make your food look as good, but don't be disappointed if your creation doesn't match the photograph in the book. Remember cooking is part art and part science.


The ovens temperature.

One of the most common mistakes is not to let the oven preheat or an oven that gives an incorrect temperature. To make sure that your ovens temperature is correct place an oven thermometer roughly in the center of the oven to check what temperature it reads. If it is the same as what you set the oven to all is good, even if the temperature is off by 3 or 4 degrees. If it is way off then you can calculate how much you have to turn your oven up or down to reach a desired temperature.

                                           (Thermometer temperature - Oven temperature = Amount to adjust oven temperature by)

The ingredients section should contain all the items and how much of each you need in order to prepare the final item. One of the biggest problems with ingredients is when they refer to a product that you do not have, or can not get. This is where you have to use substitutes and often there is no problem and substitution list can be found on the web. Sometimes using a substitutions can have disastrous effects, so until you are comfortable with your skills try to avoid recipes that use items you can not get easily. It is also advisable to do a little reading about any ingredient you are unfamiliar with this can be done by doing a simple search for the ingredient using a search engine like Google or Wikipedia.

The method section is the directions on how to put the ingredients together, what to put them in and if you need to apply heat(cook) or cold(set) in order to create the final item. These are the steps involved to make the product. If you follow the steps most things work out just fine.

Follow the Directions - How to read a recipe

- First thing to do when reading a recipe is to read through the whole recipe. Actually read it, you may find a surprise ingredient or other interesting information regarding the dish and its preparation. One of the most common, is when you need one ingredient twice in a recipe. The ingredients list will only list the ingredient once with the full amount needed, but in the method they will tell you to add part at the start and part at the end. This can be very confusing.

- It never hurts to copy out the recipe in a way you understand, or to make notes about the recipe before you start. This way you can see the ingredients and how they are used, you can list an ingredient twice if used twice and the method can be changed to a simpler point form of what you have to do including the relevant information for each step on its own line or two. Do not change the order or method of the operations as this could cause the final product to fail.

Recipe methods and directions have to be followed in proper order, or the product will not turn out right. It might seem a little obvious even uptight to mention it but it is important to follow them step by step or the item you are making from scratch or a package will just not turn out right. There are exceptions of course where everything just goes in together and you are done. These too often have at least 3 steps. Add everything together, Mix, Cook or set.


Collect all the items you need together, if possible measure out all the items into individual containers so you then you only have to follow the method\directions for adding the ingredients together. This way you know you have enough of what you need and are not running around later trying to find something.

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With use you may notice the oven has a few hot spots that cook things faster than other areas, or that the top rack always seems to cook quicker. This is normal and you will find out your ovens own idiosyncrasies as you use it more and more. Convection Ovens, those with fans inside tend to have a more even heat, but they are still prone to having areas that vary in temperature. Often this is the top or bottom of the oven.


The stove top burners are another place that can have temperature problems when you are cooking. A medium flame and medium heat should be about the same and a high flame or full heat are roughly equivalent. The general problem is you do not know the temperature of the burner, with most multiple burner setups you will have burners that operate at different high temperatures. They are often calibrated for simmering or keeping food warm. As a general rule the smaller the burner the less powerful it is. Unless a recipe calls for using a specific burner or element use the largest one, The one that fits the pot perfectly isn’t always the best choice. If you do not know how powerful each burner is. It is fairly simple to find out. Use the same size pot and the same amount of water and time how long it takes the water to boil on each burner.. It is worth noting that from burner setup to burner setup the maximum heat can be different Commercial grade appliances will usually have significantly higher burner heat than a consumer model.

Electric stove top burners vary widely in control, many of the old ring type don’t provide a lot of control over the temperature. Some newer model glass tops have better control, but it varies widely depending on manufacture and model.