To answer my own question, perhaps it's like what we are told, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. On the other hand, ingredients, preparation techniques, etc., enter into the equation as well. As I see it, though, the final test of any recipe is the response of whoever eats it. But, the whole process starts with opening a cookbook and seeing a recipe for the first time.
With a hundred plus cookbooks in my collection, from time to time, I like to just sit down and browse through them. Not in search of any particular recipe, but rather just for my own enjoyment! Often times, though, a particular recipe will catch my eye and simultaneously make my mouth begin to water! In those cases, I write down the recipe and put it in our R & D file. (Research & Dinner!) I confess it's my nature, in most cases, to use any given recipe as a starting point and adapt it to my style of preparation and cooking.
On the other hand, there are many recipes I pass over for various reasons. As a cook with limited access to large grocery stores, it actually turns me off to find a recipe that requires an entire page of exotic ingredients, followed with two full pages of detailed intricate preparation instructions. An example being a recipe designed for the ultimate in dining cuisine that features a couple of small, but very expensive, cuts of meat prepared and served with a fancy sauce, reduced and drizzled over the meat. Accompanying the main dish, and I use that term loosely, is a small ice cream scoop of a vegetable dish, requiring as many ingredients, and as much prep time as the meat. The recipe then calls for the two items to be served with a garnish of fresh herbs, and a bottle of imported wine.
Without belaboring the number of ingredients, the cost of the ingredients, the preparation time involved suffice it to say, I'd be laughed out of elk camp for good if I ever set such a dish in front my hunting companions! I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but I am saying the cost-benefit ratio might leave the camp cook laughed at and over budget. I'll admit the groups I cook for may be a bit more interested in quantity, given the strenuous nature of the day preceding dinner. But trust me, quality does indeed enter into their opinion as well.
When selecting recipes for my own use, or inclusion in a book, I gravitate towards the simple side. Cost and availability of ingredients are two of my major concerns, along with preparation instructions that don't require a degree in the culinary arts. In addition, I tend to stay away from recipes that call for brand-name ingredients that may only be available regionally. As an author, it's not my expectation that folks who use my recipes follow them verbatim. It's my philosophy that most recipes should be considered a framework for any cook to modify in order to fit their own needs.
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