The Recipe Box
An antiquated version of keeping all of one’s personal recipes together in one place, the recipe box is still a term widely used by all chefs as to where they go to find their own list of ideas, creations and notes on what works and what doesn’t.
I would keep them like this, but my handwriting is just so messy…
And I don’t seem to have one.
Well of course there are recipes that I have typed up on my computer – since I have to give my students something when they come to my classes – but there is no one central location for where all my my recipes are located.
There are the collections of recipes from my classes, and then my collection of recipes that other people have sent me that I’ve played with, and there’s of course the collection of recipes I’m putting together for my cookbook. But it was a class I recently taught at Open Kitchen that really shined a light on how much I needed a centralized “recipe box.”
The class was on the topic of Spanish Tapas – and uses a collection of recipes that we had used many times before. Over the many classes that I had used these recipes, I had improved them since some of them were just flat-out wrong in the order of steps and procedures that are listed in the creation of the dishes. So I re-wrote them, improved them, and sent the corrected versions to the person who maintains the recipes.
Well here we were many months later, and when I arrived at the event, there were the old, outdated, wrong versions of the recipes in the packets for the students…
Now there was little I could do for that event, but it made me think about my own recipes. I would hate to give my students an out-dated version of a recipe, but how do I prevent that? After a class, if I have an idea on how to improve a recipe, I make the changes to that class’s list of recipes, but the next time I offer the class, how do I know I’m pulling the most recent version of this recipe?
Pictured: The fun life of a chef.
And thus I have begun the monumental project of pulling EVERY SINGLE ONE of my recipes out individually, and creating a master recipe box for myself. Each recipe is housed as its own entity, with source information and notes about how it was created and other variations as well. Additionally, I’m making a spreadsheet of my classes which lists which recipes I need to pull when I’m compiling the handouts for a class.
Sure, it makes good sense, but the one thing that I’ve realized in the process: I’ve written a HELL of a lot of recipes in the past few years. I had no idea.
Maybe I should write a cookbook. Oh wait…
P.S. Since this article is about writing recipes, and I mentioned Tapas, I figured it’s only fair I share one of my tapas recipes with you. So here you go:
Yield: Serves 4-6 as a tapas
Note: You will likely have leftover tomato sauce. Save it for future batches of Patatas Bravas, or use it as a topping in places where you would normally use ketchup.
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