How To Write a Recipe

If you cook you’ve used a cook book. And, if you’ve used a lot of cook books, no doubt you are more than aware that there are many different ways to organize the presentation of recipes. It seems that every cookbook author has to come up with their own unique style. Some better than others.

The main peeve we have with a lot of cook books out there is the way they are formatted. Many are beautiful vanity pieces and make for better reading than for instructions in the kitchen in the moment when the fat is on the fire, so to speak.

For actual use in the kitchen many cookbooks are just plain difficult to follow. Have you ever had your hands full and had to scrutinize a recipe to find your place for the next step? So you know what we’re talking about.

This is a no fail, user friendly template for delivering a recipe that is easy to follow in the kitchen. A good recipe will have a story and the description/history/background at the head sets the mood and sells the recipe. Include that whenever you can. Also, give as much ancillary information as seems appropriate and/or necessary (i.e., how to serve/how to eat, accompaniments/condiments/garnishes, other menu items to coordinate with, wine/beverage pairings).

Some general rules/checklist to follow:

—Include Description/Background/History
—Include, as appropriate, photos of finished dish and the intermediate preparation steps
—Include video if available for online recipe entries.
—List serving portions/yield
—Show preparation time
—Advice on sourcing hard to find/rare/unusual ingredients
—All the ingredients are listed in bold and bulletined for visual separation (or some other separating mark).
—List the ingredients in bold in the approximate order of handling.
—Suggest alternative and additional/optional ingredients.
—The amounts are indicated alongside each ingredient, non-bold.
—The preparation for use (e.g., wash, peel, dice/slice/mince) of the item is listed with the item or just below, depending on length of instruction. The expectation is that the preparation of the ingredients is a step in itself; that prep is a set of steps prior to assembly, and the (good) cook will want to have that chore(s) completed before going to assembly.
—Where an ingredient does double duty in a recipe and has different preps (e.g., onion half-slices, onion small dice) these will be listed separately and in what amounts, as . . . a) half slice and b) minced, and so forth.
—Cooking/Assembly is placed below ingredients in italics and indented.
—Serving/eating suggestions (especially helpful with unfamiliar dishes; e.g., escargot, borlengo, ortolan bunting [search “how to eat ortolan”])
—Accompaniments/garnishes (optional)
—Menu suggestions (optional)
—Wine and beverage pairings (optional)

The recipe below is for French Onion Soup (adapted from . . . ) The headers are for structure, not necessary in actual recipe.

1. Recipe Title
Traditional Classic French Onion Soup

2. Description/Background/History
The French are a nation of traditional cooks and once they have a good recipe, they see no need to update or change it simply for the sake of change. Classic French onion soup is a great example of how a relatively basic yet perfectly balanced traditional dish has stood the test of time and is just as popular today as it ever was.

The trick to making the best French onion soup is to begin with a good broth. Beef broth, also known as beef stock, is usually used in easy recipes for French onion soup and you can make beef broth from leftover bones when you have a roast. It is also important to caramelize the onions properly when making the best onion soup recipe. You have to allow them at least half an hour of slow cooking over a high heat to bring out the natural sugars. This makes the onions extra sweet and juicy.

The following easy French onion soup uses the traditional steps and techniques for the very best results. If you have some pottery onion soup bowls or traditional French onion crocks for soup, this recipe is nice served in them. If not, you can use another kind of serving bowl.

This easy French onion soup recipe is best served in French onion soup bowls. These bowls are deep and keep every drop of the soup warm until you have finished. This rich brown colored French onion soup recipe is topped with a layer of bread and creamy Gruyere cheese for an authentic finish. There are lots of easy recipes for French onion soup and you can alter the soup ingredients or topping ingredients but this photo shows how a classic traditional French onion soup recipe should look. Perhaps you have enjoyed this delicacy before in a restaurant but it is easy to make your own French onion soup at home too.

3. Servings
(Serves 8)

4. Preparation Time
Preparation Time: 1 hour

5. Ingredients Amounts/Preparation/Assembly
6 large sweet onions thinly sliced (approximately 6-8 cups)
3 T olive oil
      —Sauté the onions in the olive oil in a big, heavy bottomed pan, over a medium high heat. Cook them for at least half an hour, until they are well browned, but not burnt.
¼ tsp. sugar (optional)
     Add the sugar about 10 minutes after you start the process to help with the caramelizing.
2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
     —Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
8 cups of beef stock
½ cup dry vermouth, dry white wine or dry sherry
1 tsp. fresh thyme (1/4 tsp. dried thyme optional)
1 bay leaf
      —Add the beef stock, wine, thyme and bay leaf.
      —Cover the pan partially and let the French onion soup simmer for half an hour, to allow the flavors to blend.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
     —Season with salt and pepper and discard the bay leaf.
8 slices French bread, toasted
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese
     —Ladle the soup into ovenproof soup bowls and top each one with a piece of toasted French bread.
     —Sprinkle the gruyere cheese on top of the bread and broil for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F or until the cheese is bubbling and melted.
     —Serve immediately.

6. Serving/Accompaniments
      —Serve along with crusty baguette and a leafy green salad. Pair with white wine dry-sweet scale to preference.

7. French Onion Soup Video

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