Updated: Oct 29, 2020
I had been digging deep trying to figure out what the first recipe post should be, but after deep contemplation I decided to let my followers choose. I have also decided to dedicate the first official tip under ‘Recipes+’ to be about the best recipe-following methods, cooking prep, or mise en place, as the French say. Mise en place is the French culinary term for “everything in its place” aka have all of your ingredients, supplies, and gadgets in order before beginning.
I used to work in a teaching kitchen as a professional chef’s assistant. Before each class began, I would measure out the main ingredients and have everything orderly and ready so that when class started there would be no rummaging of the pantry slowing down the cooking process. The chefs would always emphasize the importance mise en place.
As I said before, mise en place in the culinary world can be translated as “everything in its place”, though I believe the direct translation is “setting up”, essentially what I’m trying to emphasize. If you get everything set up and ready it makes cooking 100x easier, especially for bigger, multipart meals.
I’ve always known that cooking wasn’t easy for everyone, but I learned semi-recently that following recipes isn’t always either. It was more of a wake-up call and perfect timing situation that made me rethink my recipe structure. My goal is for everyone to be able to make my most difficult recipes with positive and tasty results (and little stress in the process). I’d rather have an abundance of details and information, than not having enough and leaving someone to have to improvise.
I believe the best way to follow a recipe is to read the ingredient list thoroughly and the steps fully. Go through the ingredient list at least two times to ensure that you have all of the ingredients listed or a substitute, it’s never fun when you think you have everything and you realize mid-way through cooking that you’re missing or don’t have enough of an ingredient. I also recommend that you read all of the steps to a recipe entirely before beginning. It saves time and prevents you from realizing you were supposed to marinate something for 3 hours an hour before dinnertime. It’s also important to know which ingredients cook together and in what order (i.e. a recipe might say “heat butter and sauté onions, after onions become translucent, about two minutes, add carrots”).
My last recommendation for mise en place is ramekins and pinch bowls. Ramekins are those small dishes used for individual baking, think souffle or crème brûlée, and pinch bowls are those tiny dishes (similar to ramekins) used for single ingredients or condiments. I use both ramekins and pinch bowls when prepping the ingredients before cooking. I cut, chop, dice, etc. all the ingredients for a recipe beforehand, I measure liquids, and I sometimes measure out spices, all before turning the stove on (if it’s a baking recipe pre-heat that oven first). I then like to separate everything into their own ramekin, pinch bowl, plate or bowl so that it’s easy to grab what I need when I need it once I start cooking. That may be too much for some, and that is okay, but I’d recommend at least trying it because it really does make executing larger recipes easier.
To restate the main points: thoroughly read the ingredient list, read the recipe start to finish before starting, mise en place. Welcome to My Dose of Sunshine ‘Recipes+’ section, and happy cooking!