Even good cookbooks & magazines have quirks in their recipes, and lesser ones can be rather annoying. Here are a few that especially bug me:
– No/poor index: How can you not put an index in a cookbook? And some have indices that are poorly organized or incomplete. Then there’s the inconsistent listing of ingredients between books. Do you look under Beans, white; or White beans? Peppers, green; Green peppers; or Bell peppers? I get intellectual whiplash trying to remember which book does it which way.
– Ingredient lists not in recipe order: Yes, you should always read the whole recipe first, and I’m a big fan of getting everything ready before I start. It’s still easier to get things right if all the ingredients are listed in the order you need to use them.
– Major steps/time gaps buried in the recipe: You’re moving right along, until you run across that buried “let chill overnight” or “prepare X the day before”. Yeah, read ahead, but I love cookbooks which state right up front that there’s a longer prep stage. Same goes for cooking time; don’t just say “stir until ____”, give us a sense of how long to expect. This helps too if you’re skimming a recipe to see if it’s worth proceeding on.
– Lazy/nasty substitutes: This is partially me being a food snob, but I hate processed ingredients that have no business being there. Garlic powder? How hard is it to chop a clove of garlic? Everyone will define this cutoff differently, and I’m pretty far toward the snooty end (rejecting anything with corn syrup, among other things). Italian dressing in marinades is a big reject, as is orange cheese (we actually cancelled a cooking magazine over this one, though it was just the last straw in a string of annoyances).
– Blatantly unseasonal combinations: Yes, I know most people don’t grow all their own food and take seasonality literally. But some things just don’t make sense together, especially when the recipe is from a monthly cooking magazine that makes a point of touting seasons. And some things just aren’t very good when out of season; again the gourmet cooking magazines should know better. Asparagus and peppers in the Februrary issue? Uh uh.
– Placing wet ingredients before dry ones, especially in baking. It’s easier and more efficient to measure and mix all your dry ingredients first, then move on to the wet ones with the same utensils when practical. You can get around this, but why not write the recipe in the most efficient and fool-proof order in the first place?
I’ve sure I’ve violated many of these ideas in writing up recipes for this blog, and will only justify it by noting that I’m not paid and am not selling them. So even with my glass house, these are what annoy me about real recipes. Anyone have others, or comments on these?