Recipe Redesign Redux

Got some great ideas from Part 1 and continuing to iterate!

Two Part Recipes

I almost figured this out before, but in more detail: Recipes should have 2 parts. One is the “Strategy” view, one is the “Tactics.” The Strategy view is what we recognize as a recipe today: long prose description of the steps. The Tactics is all our new additions. The Strategy could be published in a book, the Tactics should be a tear-out sheet (or a page formatted for ease of photocopying) for quick access while you’re cooking.

Improved engineer diagram

The “cooking for engineers” diagram isn’t quite all you need while you’re cooking. You need to know which steps time-depend on which steps. But I don’t want to make this too terribly complicated; someone should be able to pick one up and understand it the first time.

A couple things might help:

Other things

Another example: Masala Beans Poriyal

Recipes v2.1, this time with another randomly chosen one: Masala Beans Poriyal from Dakshin Vegetarian Cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan

Masala Beans Poriyal recipe

Masala Beans Poriyal, improved

Because this recipe is pretty simple, this “Tactics” view could in fact replace the “Strategy” view. But in general, consider this Tactics view a complement to the Strategy.

What has improved? At a glance:

Hard mode: Pita

Is that too easy? Have we gotten lucky with two pretty simple recipes? Here’s a more complicated one, and a family favorite. Serbian Pita with spinach and cheese is a layered pie, similar to Burek. The recipe lives in my mother-in-law’s head, but she taught T and I enough that we could write it down here.

Again, the Tactics recipe doesn’t replace the Strategy recipe1. But viewed alongside the Strategy, it goes from multiple paragraphs to a clear visual schema.

Recipe for Pita

Here we have 4 parts, but because they’re split out nicely, you can see which ones are easier and harder. The trickiest part is layering the whole thing at the end, and it may help to improve this diagram. But this gives you a start.

The journey continues

I’m pretty happy with this format, at this point. But there’s always room to improve! Send me anything that you love or hate about recipes; I’m sure I’m still missing a few obvious improvements. And I’d love to know if anyone else is experimenting with redesigning recipes too.


  1. And neither replaces her expertise! But this is a whole different conversation. In short: I want recipes to scaffold up to that expertise: to get you to the level where you can play around and develop expertise on your own. ↩︎


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