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Food For Thought: When Recipes Go Wrong

When a recipe fails, do you blame the recipe or the cook? In this encore presentation of Food for Thought, Dick Stein and KPLU food commentator Nancy Leson talk about whether cooks should stray from the recipe or stay the course, even when things aren’t turning out the way you imagined.  

Don't blame yourself. It is absolutely not your  fault. After all, you could never make a mistake. Could you?

The sad truth is that not all published recipes are carefully tested. Still, my policy with a new one is to follow it exactly the first time, even if that little voice in my head is whispering "This looks iffy." That way, if it all goes south at least I'll have have a better idea of what to change next time. If there is a next time.

Dick's Picks

In the audio portion of this week's Food for Thought my comrade in colanders Nancy Leson and I share some favorite Old Reliables among cookbook authors. The first two to come to mind for me are Molly Stevens' All About Braising and All about Roasting.   

Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Asian Dumplings and new Asian Tofu are also full of great recipes that always come out as advertised. I drop by her Viet World Kitchen blog often.

Nancy's Fancy

Leson loves  the original Silver Palette Cookbook and Beard foundation's 2012 Outstanding Restaurateur, Seattle's Tom Douglas for his Seattle Kitchen and  Tom's Big Dinners. She says they are among her "most stained" cookbooks. High praise, indeed.

How about you? Post your favorite, most reliable cookbooks and authors below. 

"First, find a young boy"

– From a biscuit recipe requiring the dough to be beaten for 20 minutes with a stick.

Food for Thought” is a weekly KPLU feature covering the world of food as well as the thinking that goes into it. The feature is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.