I call this rating category “flavor” but it is really the quality of the overall final product including texture, execution (based on what the recipe calls for), and of course the taste in reference to balance, seasoning, and whether it is pleasing to my taste buds or not.
Let’s just say, I really hope this is a superfluous rating…. it would be truly unfortunate especially since these recipes are all from some of my favorite and most influential chefs. I would consider recipes that are severely unbalanced, burned, overcooked, or just bad flavor combinations to belong in this category. Fingers crossed you never see it on this site.
These recipes are edible (ouch! Sounds harsh but it’s not all bad…), with some redeeming quality or qualities but possibly some major flavor or technical flaw that I found ruined the overall success of the dish. For example, this category could have a recipe that tastes good, but has some major technical issues that prevent it from being in the top half of the category.
Mmmmmm, my taste buds are happy! Excellent overall recipe with possible minor flaws… sort of the opposite of the oyster fork in that the small imperfections do not ruin or overpower the delight of the dish. These recipes make me smile!
YES please! Seconds? No, thirds! Well balanced, perfectly cooked recipes are in this category. Flawless flavor and techniques only for this category. Irresistible and delicious. These dishes are so good they inspire appreciative silence around a happy dinner table (and I may blame them for my waistline as well!!)!
Equipment and Ingredients: Spoon
Don’t you hate when you see a recipe and think “yum” but when you go to make it, you are missing key ingredients or equipment? This should steer you away from getting your hopes up halfway through those recipes that call for irregular kitchen equipment and ingredients!
Just the basics here! Saute pans, pots, spatulas and whisks! Do you have flour and eggs?
The word for this category is: reasonable. Types of reasonable equipment include food processor, blender, and stand mixer. Even if you don’t have the equipment specified, it is something that can be substituted by another piece of equipment relatively easily. Ingredients must also be reasonable both in availability and price. Seen the fresh ginger at the store? If not already, recipes here will use those types of ingredients!
Here lives the enthusiastic hobbyist! You’ll find recipes requiring more specialized equipment such as a vitamix blender, deep fryer, ice cream maker, and the like. The ingredients will be a lot of fun, both for advanced home cooks and for newbies trying out some of these fun recipes! The ingredients are more expensive and less mainstream including fresh morels or chanterelles, duck and bison.
Pleasant hobbyist, please meet the obsessed technician. Be prepared to have your sous vide machine and anti-griddle ready! Also get ready to search at least 3 grocery stores to find these rare and/or expensive ingredients. Truffles, caviar and fresh foie gras come to mind…
Whether you feel like a challenge or are looking for something more low key for dinner, this category will give you my opinion of skills required and also for overall attention and concentration required to execute the recipe with the intended and (hopefully) delicious results!
Can you boil water? Heat a pan? That is the level difficulty of the butter knife!
Let’s say an ability to chop vegetables somewhat uniformly but no major butchering skills required. Some very basic, but important culinary skills may be needed such as concasse, pince, making a roux, and multiple steps or even recipes within recipes may be required, uh oh! Even so, all must still be simple without much culinary skill involved.
Both skill and overall labor are taken into account here. Practice your brunoise and tourné and also make sure you’re comfortable breaking down a whole chicken! These specialized skills will be involved as well as some recipes that are just plain labor intensive—is your hollandaise bicep in peek fitness?
Warning: it may be harder than it looks, and even well seasoned hobbyists may not be able to properly execute… True chef territory here. Tempering white chocolate, perfecting the towering soufflé, poached eggs with egg whites exactly intact, meticulous French macarons, tortellini from scratch, and the smoothest, lightest panna cotta… need I go on?
(-) and (+)
Sometimes a recipe doesn’t quite fit neatly in the four categories, so I have a plus and minus to give a little more detailed positions just in case one needs a little boost above or comes just short of a category rating!