Commentary: Reading Recipes 1
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Starting a series of cooking classes on reading recipes, interpreting some of the terminology used, and how to deviate from a recipe (determining what ingredients are critical to the recipe and which ingredients can be omitted or substituted.)

 -The first step in working with a recipe is to read it completely through:

  • how long the recipe will take to make- an important key to serving all dishes at a meal at the same time and whether some of the mise en place (a French term that means “everything in its place”-the organized process of preparing the ingredients for a recipe- refer to archived show  May 9, 2005 for complete details) can be done ahead of time

  • how many people will it will serve- does the recipe need to be halved or doubled to feed the number of people being served

  • what ingredients are needed- so all the ingredients are available before starting

  • what tools are needed to complete the recipe- knives, pans, whisks, etc.

  • what skill is needed to make the recipe- sautéing, chopping, deep frying,  etc.

 -Understanding terms used to describe the measuring of ingredients creates a perfectly made dish:

  • "Dash" or a "pinch"- less than 1/8 teaspoon.
  • Firmly Packed- a dry measure term- tightly press the ingredient to the top of the measuring cup
  • Lightly Packed- a dry measure term- lightly press the ingredient to the top of the measuring cup
  • Level- a dry measure term- filling of a measuring cup and then removing the rest of the ingredients that is above the rim using a straight edge, such as the back of a knife or spatula
  • Rounded- allowing the ingredients to pile above the rim of the cup naturally, into a soft, rounded shape
  • Heaping / Heaped- pile as much of the ingredient on top of the measure as it can hold.
  • Sifted- sift with a strainer or sifter before measuring to ensure ingredient is not packed down or lumpy

 -Knowing how to convert measurements from teaspoons to tablespoons to cups to ounces speeds up measuring time, especially if the recipe is being enlarged:






3/4 teaspoon

1/4 tablespoon



1 teaspoon

1/3 tablespoon



3 teaspoons

1 tablespoon

1/16 cup

1/2 oz

6 teaspoons

2 tablespoons

1/8 cup

1 oz

12 teaspoons

4 tablespoons

1/4 cup

2 oz

16 teaspoons

5 1/3 tablespoons

1/3 cup

2 1/2 oz

18 teaspoons

6 tablespoons

3/8 cup

3 oz

24 teaspoons

8 tablespoons

1/2 cup

4 oz

32 teaspoons

10 2/3 tablespoons

2/3 cup

5 oz

36 teaspoons

12 tablespoons

3/4 cup

6 oz

48 teaspoons

16 tablespoons

1 cup

8 oz

1 1/2 cups

12 oz



2 cups

16 oz


1 pint

3 cups

24 oz


1 1/2 pints

4 cups

32 oz


1 quart

8 cups

64 oz


2 quarts (1/2 gal)

16 cups

128 oz


1 gallon




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