5 Recipe Pet Peeves

Fussy amounts of spices, recipes that require other recipes...
11/01/2013 11:57 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

First Appeared on Food Riot, by Amanda Nelson

When someone (very nicely) tells me I'm a good cook, I protest by saying I'm actually just a good recipe follower. This is the absolute truth: put me in a kitchen with a full pantry but no internet access or cookbooks, and you'll get pasta with red sauce every. Single. Time. All these years of recipe-hoarding have made me kinda snooty about them. There are a few things (beyond just not liking a food item) that a recipe can contain that will make be drop it like it's hot. Here are a few recipe pet peeves:

1. Cream of Anything Soup. I love a good ooey-gooey casserole, or a nice one-pot slow cooker meal on a lazy day, but it's surprisingly hard to find recipes for those things that don't have cream of something soup in it. And I hate that stuff. I hate the glop sound it makes coming out of the can, I hate how the cans contain almost no real food in the ingredients, I hate how they only make a dish taste like salt. I don't care if this makes me a snob, but I'll skip any recipe with this stuff in it.

2. Fussy Amounts of Spices. When I see more than one "1/8 teaspoon" in a recipe, I can't control how far back into my head my eyes roll. One small amount of a certain spice, fine. I'm sure it adds a little somethin' somethin'. But more than that and I'mma let you finish, recipe, but only if you direct me to a spice blend that I can scoop one spoonful of into this dish.

3. "Ethnic" Recipes. Adding shredded cheese to something and wrapping it in a tortilla does not Mexican food make, nor does tossing some soy sauce and ginger powder from the back of the cupboard make a dish "Asian" (as if all food on the continent of Asia is the same). This one's so irritating that I won't stop at skipping the recipe- I'll start skipping the blog or cookbook author entirely.

4. Recipes That Don't Tell You How Many They Serve, Or How Long It Will Take To Make. Few recipe-related things are more irritating than having to guess how many people a recipe will feed, or having to skim all the text of the recipe, adding up minutes to see how long it will really take to make. Most cookbooks are good about this, but a lot of food bloggers don't have a handle on it yet. Please, please, please, foodternet: include this info under the title of your recipe. Please.

5. Recipes That Require Other Recipes. I'm looking at you, Emeril, with your recipes that require more recipes for your spice "Essence." This doesn't mean I don't like multi-part recipes- it's a hard thing to get around, especially if you're baking anything that requires you to make a crust and then a filling, or a cake and then a frosting. But don't make me search for a recipe for pie crust, or some obscure spice blend. Ain't gonna happen.

I also crowd-sourced this issue on our Food Riot back channels, and here are a few recipe pet peeves from our contributors:

Danguole: ""Skinny" anything, just on principle."

Caitlin: "Packets of ranch dressing. Big old NOPE for me. Or anything "asian" that has a tablespoon of soy sauce and nothing else (or, in the same vein, "Mexican" that's just chicken and a can of salsa)."

Jill: "Anything that involves you to microwave one of the ingredients in the process of assembling things. Mainly because I don't OWN a microwave. But even if I did, I feel like it's cheating/weird."

Laura: "When something is going to dirty a ton of dishes. I'm all about cleaning as I go but if something demands a million separated components, I'm out."

Tasha: "If the recipe requires a food processor. Mainly because I don't own food processor and it annoys me that chefs just assume everybody has a _insert kitchen gadget here_."

What are your recipe pet peeves, readers?

Read more on Food Riot