How to create the family cookbook: how to write perfect recipes

Whether it is simply a handful of family cupcake recipes or an elaborate collection of cherished family recipes, the family cookbook is a lovely holiday present. Lovely, because it captures memories special to your family. And lovely because it is the type of present that gives down the generations. To help you create your own heritage cookbook, below are the ten best tips for writing perfect ingredient lists and five best tips for writing perfect recipe instructions. Tomorrow, I will provide the top five resources for printing your book.

Ten best tips for perfect ingredient lists
Ingredient lists are not difficult just as long as you keep them clear and logical. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

  1. List ingredients in the order they are called for in the instructions.
  2. If needed, divide your list into sublists (such as Filling or Sauce).
  3. If an ingredient is used more than once in the same form, combine the measurements such as: 1 cup plus 1/4 cup heavy cream.
  4. Do not have more than one ingredient on a line – exception: salt and pepper.
  5. List the preparation method before the ingredient name if the ingredient has to be prepared before it is measured, such as 1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves. List the preparation method after the ingredient name if the ingredient is to be prepared after measuring, such as 4 carrots, peeled and shredded.
  6. Capitalize wine or cheese named after a place (Brie, but not mozzarella).
  7. Avoid brand names and sizes (such as 1 can Lombardi crushed tomatoes). Brands go out of business and container sizes change.
  8. Use numerals for measurements (15 minutes, 2 tablespoons, etc.) and spell out all units of measure (cups, teaspoons, etc.)
  9. Don’t place a comma or any other punctuation after items in your ingredient list
  10. Be specific where it will make a difference such as:
  • cake or bread flour
  • bittersweet or milk chocolate
  • canned or dried beans
  • salted or sweet butter
  • balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • olive or walnut oil
  • sweet or hot paprika, etc.

Five best tips for perfect recipe instructions
The goal here is to just walk your reader through your process. Think it through and be clear and appropriately specific. And have fun.

  1. Be efficient (don’t require the cook to prepare the last-minute vegetables before the long-cooking roast goes into the oven)
  2. Use the correct cooking method
  3. Follow safe cooking practices (www.foodsafety.gov)
  4. Provide visual clues (such as browned or crisp)
  5. Each major step requires a new paragraph