The purpose of testing a recipe is to see if it makes sense and if it works -- that is, can a normal person follow it and get the desired outcome? (Well, as normal as any of us
may be. :o ) I tested recipes for Paula Wolfert for the update of The Cooking of Southwest France
and tried out to test recipes for an upcoming cookbook from Gourmet
magazine. I found it fun, and yes, you may get to do some dishes you might not otherwise, but it's more like working in a science lab than cooking in your own kitchen. You need to discipline yourself to follow everything to the letter.
Things to remember when you test recipes:
- If they give you guidelines on how they want things written up, follow them precisely. They may give you a report form to use -- if so, use it, and answer all the questions they ask with as much detail as you can. If they don't give you a form, be as clear and complete as you can.
- Follow the recipe you are given EXACTLY AS IT IS WRITTEN, or as closely as possible. Don't change anything unless you absolutely must (see #4 and #5 below).
- Keep very specific notes on what you did when making the dish, what (if anything) you didn't understand in the recipe, and what you had to do differently if you couldn't follow the recipe as written.
- DO NOT TRY TO BE CREATIVE. No extra ingredients, nothing left out (because you don't like it), no different procedures from those specified, no changing measures. Substitutions should be as close to what's called for as possible, and ONLY if you absolutely cannot find the listed ingredient. And of course, if you need to make a substitution not suggested in the recipe, make sure to tell them in your report what you substituted, and why.
- If it is clear to you that something is not working -- for example, the pie shell is still raw after the prescribed baking time -- make the necessary adjustments, but tell them what you did, and why.
- If the recipe doesn't seem to work, be very specific about what seems to have gone wrong. This is not the same as just not liking the finished dish; you don't have to like it, but you DO have to be able to explain why it might have tasted funny to you, or looked bad, or whatever.
So no, you didn't goof -- but you have to be prepared to cook in a way you may not normally, following a recipe closely and keeping notes on everything you do.