Martha Stewart Recipes Don't Work

I don’t mean to pick on one person. It’s not only Martha Stewart recipes that don’t work.

The best cookbooks have recipes that don’t work. You can take a food TV network recipe and try it three times, you’ll get three results. As a matter of fact, search food network recipes and you’ll find multiple ideas pointing to the same result.

Why would these people and publishers have recipes that don’t work?

The answer is simple.  Recipes don’t teach you to cook any more than having sheet music teaches you to play piano.  Certainly, the step-by-step instructions of the best cookbook recipes can be reassuring to many home cooks.  It’s much easier to follow someone else’s opinion of how something should be cooked than to create your own recipe.  The sacrifice you make in following a food TV network recipe is that you’re trying to duplicate what was originally created by some food TV show.

Your stove is different than the “test kitchen”.  Theirs is gas, yours is electric.  Your pans are made of a different metal than theirs were.  Your chicken breast is twice as thick as the one used to write the recipe.  With all these variables, how can a written recipe, even if it is a Martha Stewart recipe, be duplicated exactly every time by people of varying skill levels in the kitchen?  It can’t.

Here’s someone’s lament published in the Washington Post entitled “Martha Stewart Recipes Don’t Work” by Kim O’Donnell.

I found a recipe for a cranberry meringue pie (supposedly a Martha Stewart recipe) that calls for boiling the fruit and setting it with corn starch. First time I made it, it was gorgeous. It took hours to set, but was a huge hit. Second time, it didn't set at all and we had lovely "soup"(we poured over vanilla ice cream and ditched the crusts) Third time, it set in the pan and was rubber and inedible. As far as I know, I followed the recipe each time.”
The response:

“A few things to note: The recipe, as published on the MS site, is for a batch of mini pies made in a muffin tin. I’m wondering if this is why you’re having uneven results with the filling --- there’s just too much volume in a nine-inch pie plate for a consistently “gelled” filling.  I also noticed a discrepancy at the cornstarch “slurry” stage…... “

Rather than reading piano sheet music to learn one song, learn to actually PLAY the piano by studying the notes and how they combine for a melody.  Instead of following a recipe to create one meal, learn to cook by studying Basic Cooking Methods to create your own recipes and meals that come from your creativity and desired ingredients.  When you create the recipe, you’re better than the best cookbook recipes, and Martha Stewart recipes won’t ever let you down again.

I’ll be examining some of the most popular and successful cookbook recipes for ways that basic cooking methods can solve the variables we find.

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About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.


Leave a Comment

  • Christina
    9:08 PM - 30 March, 2010

    I agree I just tried to make this Martha Stewart pasta dish that calls for you to roast walnuts in bacon grease on high heat (gave no time)
    Viola they smoked and burned after like 30 seconds.
    Disaster house smells bad!!

    • Heather
      6:06 PM - 1 April, 2010

      That's because everything comes out perfectly at Martha's house! LOL
      What exactly does "high heat" mean anyway?
      Plus, why add the fat of bacon drippings to walnuts?

      I'd toast them in the oven. Dry process, no fat.

      Chef Todd.

  • mary simmons
    9:43 AM - 4 December, 2009

    the chocolate pretzel recipe in the cookie cookbook have absolutely NO TASTE.

  • Polprav
    7:38 PM - 22 October, 2009

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

    • cheftodd
      8:31 AM - 24 October, 2009

      Yes, most certainly. Feel free to quote and post a link.

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