I didn't visit many sites this week. Too crazed. But yesterday's post reminded me of this gen about whet it takes to develop a recipe:
I do very much the same as XX--I would add if a magazine comes after the fact (and payment agreement/contract) and wants recipes from sources, I say I will approach the sources, but that the pay doesn't cover my reformatting or testing the recipes--that takes time. So if you think they will need it, ask about it and make sure you are compensated. Sources, chefs included, often have little written well or scaled to serve 6 people. You might be doing the scaling.
I've also gotten permission to use both a recipe and photo from a cookbook publisher. That's fine and great. I don't test those and let the magazine know I'm not testing those--they get printed with full info, where they appeared, etc.
When I develop a recipe, I write it first--like Bev, I will research things such as proportions for a sauce, best techniques, etc. I list ingredients in the order I touch them in the recipe. I work in the kitchen with paper and pen/pencil--my recipe has arrows moving ingredients around, adding salt here, deleting another ingredient there...things that just don't work when I'm in front of a stove.
I second the use of a spiral notebook. I recently lost a recipe I had written on a separate piece of paper--I had tested it and it had my notes on it. I did a quick recreation, but that was painful.
Know the audience as best you can. They very well may not be eating truffles. Ever. So don't write a recipe with truffles. Ever.
If I can, I like to use weight vs. volume, but of course, I have to follow a recipe's style. If you are writing a recipe, it is easy to follow a style--just read the recipes in the magazine you are writing for. Don't use "Tbsp" for tablespoon if you see "tablespoon" written out.
Pay attention to whether they number steps or bullet point them or write them as a paragraph.
I time the recipe, but I also ADD time/round up to prep times when I am asked. I am very fast in the kitchen, and I know others are not. I never add time to cooking time--if it takes 15 minutes at 350F in my home, it ought to take 15 minutes in someone else's 350F oven.
I do a lot of meat recipes--they are hard to always make pretty (lots of brown)--I like to cook rare to medium rare to get some pink (one client gets food photography from me, too)--and garnishes MATTER. A lot.
Speaking of seasonality and cranberries: I always buy extra cranberries for the freezer in November and December because someone always asks me to develop a cranberry recipe for them in ...July.
I try never to develop a fresh pumpkin recipe for someone in May. No, you cannot find sugar pumpkins or jack-o-lantern style pumpkins ANYWHERE in May. (You can often find other squash recipes, so I will develop squash recipes or canned pumpkin recipes)...
When I proof, I look at ingredient list and tick it off as I read through the instructions and see it mentioned--it is really easy to skip something important (yesterday, I caught the sugar missing from a panna cotta recipe)...
Know your strengths, too--I know if I am developing a dessert recipe I will work harder than if I am developing anything else...If you fail once, hit the books looking for reasons before you test again--one recipe that comes to my mind is a lemon meringue pie that brought me to tears at a photo shoot!
Pay attention to--and list--the little things--recently I asked did readers REALLY be need to told to slice a steak when they have cooked a 1-pound steak and later are directed to put 2 1/2 ounces of the steak onto a roll (building a steak sandwich)--I mean, how ELSE would one get there? Bev wisely talked me out of snark: Yes, Barb: they really need to be told to slice the steak. So I repeat: list the little things. Write them.