Writing a Recipe

Writing a recipe is like taking a cook’s hand and leading them, simply and directly, through the construction of a puzzle to an impressive (and delicious) result. It involves clear and simple explanations that create visuals in the minds’ eye; the cook must understand and “feel” the right way to proceed.

Here are the basic components of a well-written recipe:

  • Title – a title says what the recipe is and should be clear and enticing without being fussy. Take these two titles: 1. “fluffy Egg Pouch Flecked with Fresh Herbs” and 2. “Fresh Herb Omelet”. Which would you use?
  • Headnote: this isn’t obligatory, but it’s nice to anchor the recipe with a phrase or two that either says where the recipe comes from, or explains an aspect of the recipe in more depth. Here is an example: Fresh Herb Omelet – “This is a staple of French cuisine, nearly always served at lunchtime. The recipe calls for tarragon, but feel free to use the fresh herbs you have at hand, remembering to mince them just before you add them to the omelet, so they offer the utmost flavor.”
  • Ingredient list: Each ingredient is listed in the order in which it is used. After the ingredient, you tell the cook what to do with it. Example: “1 clove garlic, green germ removed, minced”. By the time the cook has made her way through the ingredient list, the cooking can begin.
  • Method: Use all the descriptives you can think of, concisely, to make it clear what is happening, and what is supposed to happen, then back it up with times. Example: “sauté the garlic until it is just beginning to turn golden, about 4 minutes”. Always use descriptive first, time afterwards. This pushes the cook to develop instincts rather than relying simply on timing, which is subjective since every oven and stove is different, as are ingredients.
  • Serving instructions: very helpful for the cook, down to describing how the plate/platter/bowl should be garnished.
  • Number of servings: subjective, because you don’t know who is eating, nor their appetites. That said, judge by experience. Most recipes are written for 4 servings.

    Omelet hot from the pan
    Omelet hot from the pan


6 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh herb leaves

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pinch hot paprika

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  1. Whisk together the eggs and salt in a large bowl just until they are broken up.
  1. Mince the herbs and whisk them immediately into the eggs along with the cheese. Season lightly with hot paprika.

    Almost ready omelet
    Almost ready omelet
  1. Heat the oil in a 9-1/2 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the eggs, which will puff up, and cook, using a spatula to pull the eggs back from the edges of the skillet as they solidify, allowing the uncooked egg from the center to run out to the edges. When the omelette is evenly set on the bottom but there is still a fair amount of uncooked egg on top, cover the pan and let it cook until the surface of the omelette is nearly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Flip the omelette out onto a large plate, then slide it back into the pan and continue cooking until it is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Slide back out onto a large plate and either eat hot, or at room temperature.

4 to 6 servings


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