Few software developers probably look forward to "postmortem reports", the kind where you look back at what went right and wrong with a project. One developer-turned-cook has found that taking a similar approach to recipes, however, can fast-track your cooking skill development.
Linda writes in her Cook for Good newsletter about her use of an IBM tactic to improve the recipes she's just made. After tasting the results of a dish she pulled out a recipe, she uses a four-step process to look at the recipe, her efforts as a cook and the result. Two of those steps:
- Analyze your results. What went right? What went wrong? How did your results compare to your target? You might think about how delicious this batch of ice cream is compared to other ice cream you've made or enjoyed. I compare the price of a meal to my current average, always trying to get it lower.
- Adjust to improve. If the results should have been better in taste, texture, or appearance, note what the improvement is you are after and how you might reach that goal. For example, write "too sweet" and then note to cut the amount of sugar by a teaspoon. If that change throws off the texture next time, you can look for a different way to get the improvement you want. Write down any time-saving improvements too, such as assembling the ingredients in a different order so you can use (and wash!) one bowl instead of two.
My own cookbooks are filled with vague notes — "More espresso powder", "Make sure flour is dry-weight" — that don't help all that much the second run through. Can you find some value in Linda's boardroom-to-kitchen adaptation, or do you have your own recipe improvement system?
Improving your recipes plus Butterbean Hummus recipe [Cooking for Good]