The great thing about recipes is that they allow us to consistently reproduce the same result. For a professional chef that is priceless. The danger with them is, they tend to get treated like the bible, rather than a guideline, which is what they are. I understand the reason for it, if you're not familiar with food and cooking then how are you to know what can be substituted for what, or whether you can increase the time and lower the temperature, or how to adjust a recipe that serves 4, when you need to cook for 7 people?
When you are learning to cook, a recipe will get you from point A to point B. The problem arises when something doesn't work out and you don't know how to fix it or get yourself out of the situation.
Mise-en-place is a French term which means everything in place. Cooking well comes down to being prepared, and mise-en-place is all about preparing, or having everything in its place. Mise-en-place is all about cooking.
Reading recipes is important. How many times have you plunged headlong into a recipe, only to find out halfway through that you need an ingredient or tool to finish the job, or been half way through the directions only to realize that the directions are telling you to layer the spinach on top of the lasagna and the ingredients made no mention of spinach, cooked or otherwise.
Those are both good examples that illustrate why reading recipes before you begin cooking is important for successful cooking.
Read through the ingredients list and the directions, slowly - word for word. Are there any unique instructions or tools called out?
Next, head into the kitchen and go back through the ingredients list. As you're going through it assemble your mise en place, preparing the ingredients as they are called out in the ingredients list. As you prepare the ingredients place them into separate bowls. That way you know you have everything and you don't have to stop and think about measuring a half tablespoon of salt. Instead, you are free to concentrate on the directions.
If you take nothing else away from this page, this idea alone will solve 80 percent of future problems with recipes.
CIA is the Culinary Institute of America, not the other guys.
Tags: all about cooking, mise-en-place