recipe writing examples

recipe writing examples

Effective Techniques for Writing Recipes

1. Introduction to Recipe Writing

At times, you may appear to be on a treasure hunt when working with a recipe. One such instance is when the ingredient list is in some order other than the way it is used. You may need to read through all the instructions several times to locate a particular ingredient. Another instance is when the writer assumes that an ingredient is already in the kitchen. Some recipe authors, like some bridge players, think that the rest of the world knows exactly what they have in mind and what they have in their hand. The same applies to ingredients. Writers frequently neglect to remember that one person’s mindset is not always in tune with another’s when entering new territories such as this. Toss in less than clearly defined ingredients, uncertain quantities, or ambiguous techniques and you can paint a picture of some of the writing pitfalls of a poorly written recipe. The following techniques and guidelines will greatly enhance your recipe writing.

Writing a good recipe involves more than just simply listing the ingredients and following it up with a few lifeless instructions. Here are some techniques and helpful hints to guide you through your recipe writing efforts, along with the do’s and don’ts of recipe writing. You likely have your own collection of recipes you have amassed over the years. The good ones are likely well written and the bad ones probably so bad that you may have trouble following them. This latter group may not always make good sense but definitely do contribute some humor to your collection.

2. Key Components of a Recipe

There are several key components to a recipe; the list of ingredients being the most important of course. Key ingredients used in the preparation should be itemized and listed in chronological order. However, assumptions should not be made as to the recipients’ cooking knowledge. For example, a single stalk of celery versus a tablespoon of diced or sliced celery may require different preparations.

Many famous chefs are notorious for not distributing a large portion of their delicious recipes. Sharing original recipes of delectable concoctions with peers or even creating cookbooks is becoming a popular concept. However, many people do not realize that recipes are much more than a list of steps and ingredients. What most people do not understand is that recipe development is much more than just tossing together ingredients based on taste. Let’s begin by identifying the key components of an effective recipe.

3. Writing Clear and Concise Instructions

Describing texts should be clear and direct. “Stir in gently” is a clear way to state that you should mix the new ingredient into the mixture. “Before adding the tomatoes to the mixture in the blender, the mixture in the blender should be left to cool.” is not a clear instruction. It’s overly complicated and verbose, and the ingredients should be introduced as they should be prepared. Use a variety of different words and not the same word several times consecutively. Consider employing the word “mix” instead of “stir”; “cook” rather than “cook or bake” because cook can mean either in both cases. Clarify text that describes several ingredients, such as ‘butter and flour’ by indicating the amount of both ingredients first and then describing the mixing.

Keep instructions simple and direct, and describe objects and tools in a similar manner: knife and ladle rather than the sharp knife or the long-handled spoon. Indicate the size or kind of utensil to use: a small bowl, a large plate. Use the active form; for example, write “pour” instead of “should be poured” or “should be used for pouring”. The order in which the ingredients are used is the same order in which they are presented in the list, unless the recipe specifically tells you otherwise. Temperature and cooking options, not microwave power levels, are important.

In addition to a clearly stated list of ingredients, a well-written recipe has instructions that are easy to follow. Measurements should be given consistently with metric or imperial measures exclusively, not mixed, for the same ingredient. Consistency is important for all areas of the recipe, including the name of an ingredient and how it is prepared (does the recipe say “melon” and then “watermelon cut into wedges”?).

4. Incorporating Measurements and Conversions

Information that is not cookbook standard must be provided when standard products are not supplied. For instance, a recipe should say “one 6-ounce package frozen fruit punch concentrate, thawed” rather than “one pint” that the chef may be tempted to say. The recipe should also specify if the particular line in the grocery store where you will find this product, for example, “one 6-ounce package frozen fruit punch concentrate, thawed — found in the frozen juice section of the grocery store.”

Conversions are always an issue. Supermarkets will sell products in unit quantities that are convenient for their suppliers, which are not convenient for the supermarket customers; for example, chicken broth sold by the pint in the United States. Liquid broths sold in the cooking segment are usually sold by the quart, to allow a half of a quart to be used in class. Items used in very little quantity, such as saffron or edible gold leaf, may be sold in packages that will last for an extended period of time. Other products such as evaporated milk, fresh mango, fresh herbs, or smoked oysters are packaged for single use.

When your recipes are foolproof and written for easy accessibility, guests can follow them at home with minimal questions. Offering quantitative measurements helps to identify the exact quantity of an ingredient that should be used in a dish. Most people prefer to work from a written recipe; however, some chefs are very good at using the spoon or ladle in their hand to visualize the proper amount and have difficulty communicating the exact amount for a written recipe. It is the responsibility of the chef instructor to identify and record exact amounts that are appropriate for the instruction and for the generation of a written recipe.

5. Tips for Engaging and Inspiring Readers

It’s not always easy to write a clear recipe. There is tension between providing too little direction and providing overwhelming guidance that no one has ever read or felt. If you really want to interest someone, they need to know enough to start cooking on the first day. While keeping the directions neat, give as much guidance as possible. When deemed applicable, offer cutting techniques, let the reader know they need to taste and smell elements of the preparation, and teach them about how the ingredients react. Being a knowledgeable guide is a great way to hold your reader towards the end of your recipe and give an excellent dish a shot.

Engaging your reader is not just about using action verbs and pithy prose. Combine that language where appropriate, including your own experiences with the dish, and where the dish came from. Drop personal stories when they are relevant and remember that every recipe you prepare for yourself and others is known to the cause of love.

To write a fantastic recipe, great, clear prose must be supported by a number of other techniques. A few simple approaches can make your recipe come alive, and the right amount of information flowing between sentences can make your finished dish that much more delicious. Frequent recipe developers have developed various tricks for keeping the audience involved, entertained, and intrigued, and what follows are a few less compelling guidelines to engage readers and inspire them to make the dish they are creating.

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