It’s the season for recipe testing for my Passover cookbook, and as I did with my first cookbook (A Fistful of Lentils) I have decided to distribute various recipes to friends, acquaintances, family members, and willing participants to see how they would play out in the general field. It’s a bit nerve wracking for me, as unlike in a cooking class where I am able to give guidance to a student, in this case I am sending my instructions out and have no idea how it will return. What if after writing all of these recipes, many of them just don’t work or taste good? What if I have to rewrite them all? It’s also a bit tricky to find the perfect recipe tester. While someone who is anxious around the kitchen and does not know the basics of cooking may not be the best one to rely upon, expert cooks can be too creative, refusing to follow anyone else’s instructions but their own. The best tester I have found is one that likes to cook, but prefers some structure. I need a perfectionist.
So here’s how it all worked: I send out an invitation to a dinner party, but the catch was that I would be the only person NOT cooking. With the invitation also came rules:
- Select one or two recipes from the list I have attached that appeal to you.
- Please follow recipe EXACTLY as I have written, following all measurements (including weight), steps, and ingredients I have listed (no substitutes).
- If anything does not make sense, please call, text, email me at any time!
- Take notes on the recipe you have printed out and bring them along with you to the dinner along with the dish. (Things to look out for and note: cooking time is out of range, steps are confusing, yield is totally off, ingredient amounts appear to be too much or too little in this case you should contact me before proceeding.)
- If you normally prefer to leave out salt (or sugar) in your food, please do not cut it out or reduce the amount when following my recipe.
- Try to to have fun 🙂
Thus far I have conducted two different recipe testing dinner parties, and overall the results have been good. Most of the feedback has been that the steps were clear and organized, and that they liked the recipe and would do it again. Some even said that they enjoyed being challenged with a recipe from a particular part of the world that they normally would never make, and even felt better about having structure without the pressure of improvisation. Still others expressed how they were a bit skeptical about some parts of the recipe, and were either pleasantly surprised or had suggestions with how to improve it. The following are some examples of what was made and the reviews from the cooks who prepared them. With each recipe (some more, some less) I obtained some valuable information about how to improve them.