Insights to Recipe Writing

I’ve been trying to get a few recipes for my next book written up on the computer. I start off with the recipes written by hand in a file which I keep in the kitchen. There they get added to and changed until I think they are vaguely ready to type up on the computer. That sounds like it should be an easy job as the recipe is done, and it works, but it can take forever. Below is an example of my thought patterns when typing up a recipe from my last book Easy Tasty Healthy.

Writing up a recipe for Slow Roast Leg of Lamb.

Oh dash, the recipe has lemon in it and so does the roast chicken – I need to change this one as it sounds too similar.

I’ll change it for one of the variations I have – done.

How many does it serve?

Would a leg of lamb serve 8? How many meals do the two of us get out of a leg of lamb?

Let’s have a look at Delia’s. Go downstairs – Check

She hasn’t got a leg only a shoulder.

I’ll put 8 for the moment and I must try to remember to check that one – trouble is I don’t often cook a whole leg. Done

How much paprika did I sprinkle on the chicken? I need to keep it the same in all the roasts. Check

1/3rd of a teaspoon – difficult amount – I need to make it ½ or 1. Which shall I go for?

OK, ½ – need to change the chicken recipe too. Done

Put the lamb and water in the casserole dish.

Need to explain why I’m using a casserole dish – did I put that in the forward to roasts. Check – Yes. Done

Also need to put a reference to the forward in the recipe. Done

Did I put the water in with the meat in the other recipe or just before cooking? Checked and changed but still not sure whether to put the liquid in at the beginning or end. Normally you would put it in just before cooking but don’t want to wash off all the lovely things I’ve rubbed into the lamb.

Need to think about that one.

Need to put something about fitting a leg of lamb into a casserole dish.

I’ll put that under the recipe heading. Done

Also need to write about putting extra liquid in if you don’t have a casserole dish and are using a roasting tin. I’ll put that under the slow roasts heading. Done

So you are probably getting the idea – here I am writing a recipe to make cooking a roast really easy but getting to the finished article can take an age. It’s my least favourite part of writing cookery books. I love the creative process of inventing but find the computer bit hard work.

Once written up the recipes go into a new file and back in my kitchen to be tested following the new wording. They will end up with more scribbling on them as I test them again so will need another session or two on the computer making corrections before they are finally ready.

PS Having thoughts about changing the leg to half a leg then it will definitely fit into the casserole dish but that will mean re-timing. Checked at Waitrose but half legs were really small. They do have a boned leg though. This debate isn’t over yet!