I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a recipe developer by a colleague from my previous position and as it turned out they needed a Recipe Tester right away! How serendipitous is that? And cool. The experience is amazing! I know I’ve talked about what it is to be a recipe tester briefly so here is a more detailed synopsis. And no, I won’t be posting any of those recipes here.
You read the recipe thoroughly with a highlighter in hand and highlight any discrepancies or things you need clarified. You ask the Recipe Developer questions re your highlights. The recipe is hashed out. Now switch to a different coloured pen. Start your stop watch, you need to time how long it takes you to prep (mise en place) and cook the ingredients. Follow the recipe to a “T” making notes along the way, there is no “a little this and a little that” when you’re testing! Once you have finished cooking the recipe, stop the stop watch and make a note of the time it took. Baking time is noted separately than the prep and cooking time; there is always a bake time on the recipe but you need to confirm that it’s accurate, one of the recipes I recently tested had to have its bake time doubled!
When the recipe has finished cooking or baking, you review it for appearance, texture and taste (yes, you have to taste the recipe!). Sometimes you are required to take a volume measurement of a product after its cooked for reference. Usually there is more than one recipe tester and the results are accumulated and assessed by the recipe developer. The finished recipes are usually for your consumption but sometimes they are just not your taste so your neighbours get lucky! My recent testing was baking sweets and I divided the bounty up between two friends who were very happy to receive the food!
Just before Christmas my Recipe Developer asked me to participate in a client tasting; I had to shop for the product, prep about 1/2 day on a few recipes and then finish cooking the recipes on the day of the tasting. We had 10 recipes in total. We cooked each recipe to its full volume and then spooned out small portions for tasting, I kept the tasting portions warm while the previous portion was discussed and evaluated. Each recipe was discussed for about 10-20 minutes and the discussion resulted in approved recipes with minor changes or complete revisions. The full portions are prepared to show the size the recipe yields for a family dinner. It’s actually quite an interesting process. Photos of the tested recipes are only used as reference. When the recipes are finally approved, the client will hire a photographer, a prop stylist, a food stylist and hopefully a food stylist assistant ;-)! The food stylist will prepare the final approved recipe and make it pretty for the photo.
I suspect that when you develop a recipe for your blog you work in much the same way that a recipe tester would work. It really needs to be buttoned down otherwise there may be disappointment if someone tries to make the recipe and it doesn’t work out. I really appreciate the detailed photos some bloggers do to show each and every step but I decided at the beginning of my blog that my photos would be only of the final product.
When I started blogging I came to realize how undisciplined I have been cooking, a little of this, a little of that; blogging makes you button down really well, measure, measure, measure and write it down — it has been a great starting point for my recipe testing. I am going to be doing more recipe testing in the new year!
But now, back to what we really eat! I’ve been making a lot of soups lately and this soup came together beautifully; the nutty roasted garlic and the earthy and sweet mushrooms were a great combination. I don’t think I would change a thing but I won’t mind if you do!
Roasted Garlic Mushroom Soup with Cognac
Makes 4 servings, about 250 mL each
- 35 g or 1 1/2 cups of dried mushrooms (I used Chinese Mushrooms with the crackle-like tops and Chinese Black Fungus)
- 2 cups water
- About 1/4 cup of puréed roasted garlic (1 head)
- 3-4 tbsp EVOO
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 85 g or 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
- 200 g (2 cups) Fresh Cremini and Shitaki Mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 fresh thyme branches
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp cognac
- 2-4 fresh finely sliced Cremini and Shitaki mushrooms for garnish.
- Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water (about 2-4 hours). Drain through a fine sieve and reserve the drained liquid. Chop mushrooms finely.
- Roast 1 head of garlic in a small ramekin with about 4 tbsp EVOO and sea salt, about 45 minutes at 350°F. Cool and remove the softened cloves and the olive oil and set aside.
- Sauté the shallots in the butter until soft. Add the all of fresh mushrooms and rehydrated mushrooms to the shallots and cook until soft.
- Add the reserved rehydrating liquid and 2 additional cups of water. Add the thyme and lemon zest and bring to a boil.
- Using your immersion blender, blend until very smooth, add the roasted garlic cloves and roasting EVOO. You may wish to press it through a fine sieve so that it is silky smooth. Set aside until you are ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, reheat the velvety smooth soup.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan, add the remaining sliced Cremini and Shitaki and sauté until soft. Remove from heat and add the 2 tsp cognac and stir well.
- Serve the hot soup in a warmed rimmed soup bowl, garnished with the softened mushrooms and drizzled with the cognac butter.