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The Recipe Writer's Handbook, Revised and Updated Paperback – April 13, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This guidebook is one of few aimed at its select audience (professional food writers), but you don't have to be a pro to appreciate it. It's also a great resource for all of those self-publishing cookbook authors out there. Authors Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker, both experienced newspaper foodies, culled information from a fistful of sources (Williams Sonoma and Food & Wine among them) to create their guide. The results should be a relief both to food writers and to the cooks who rely on their recipes. The Recipe Writer's Handbook addresses recipe-writing style, spellings of common (and not so common) ingredients, definitions of cooking terminology, and nutritional analysis. It stresses, above all else, accuracy, consistency, and clarity; it admonishes the recipe developer to assume nothing about what the readers know (apparently, one editor was asked by a reader how far to drop drop cookies; another got a call from a woman who wanted to know whether her new oven was preheated). Most interesting is the final section, in which food professionals wax philosophical on what makes a good recipe good. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

The Recipe Writer’s Handbook Every recipe you write has the power to make or break a meal—and a cook’s reputation! That’s why it is up to you to combine accuracy, consistency, and your personal style in recipes that are easy to understand and use. Measurements must add up, vocabulary must be clear, and the whole process must be broken down into simple steps with straightforward instructions and error-free presentation. A tall order? Not with The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by your side. Whether you’re working in the kitchen or at the computer, this comprehensive handbook provides definitive guidance on how to write concise and complete recipes without sacrificing your creativity or your personal touch. The Haudbook teaches you how to "think" your way through a recipe to make important decisions and troubleshoot potential problems concerning format and syntax, spelling, cooking terminology, weights and measurements, recipe testing, presentation of the final recipe, and many other areas. In the foreword, Antonia Allegra, president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, ponders the soul of a well-written recipe. Other leading food authorities, such as Madeleine Kamman, director of the School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards; Carolyn O’Neil, of CNN’s "On The Menu"; and Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma cook-ware stores, offer valuable insights into what makes a good recipe. Filled with detailed information, plus extensive resource listings of food promotion organizations, books, and much more, this one-stop reference is an indispensable toot-of-the-trade for anyone who develops, tests, edits, or writes recipes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471405450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471405450
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Barbara Gibbs Ostmann is the expert on cookbook writing. I recommend reading this book before you start writing your recipes. I already had everything typed in one file on my computer when I first found her book.

I simply used my search tools in Word to locate all the items she discussed and believe me I had made quite a few common mistakes. The book itself was extremely useful...I was however more impressed that when I wrote to Barbara - she actually wrote back and gave me some of the best advice I have ever recieved. After using almost every principle taught in this book, I can truly say that I have produced a cookbook I am proud of and will enjoy using for a lifetime.

So, whether you grew up overseas like I did and didn't realize powdered sugar was actually called confectioners' sugar, or you are writng recipes that contain foreign words, this is also the book for you. The chapter which gave information on leading food authorities gave me a greater insight into what I needed to give my readership.

If this is the perfect guide - I hope I have produced the perfect cookbook. Thank you Barbara for taking the time to help cookbook writers everywhere. Now I am taking the next step - finding a publisher and creating a website.

~The Rebecca Review
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book! This book addressed EVERY area that I was doing wrong. I started writing my book without a guide and something in me told me to get a guide just in case. So after browsing on amazon, I found this book and immediately ordered. I stopped writing and immediately began to read and study the tips in this book. I was thrilled to see a couple of pages on how to select the right nutritional software, because I was struggling about how to select the right vendor! I did exactly as recommended and found a great source. If you are writing a cookbook, stop writing and purchase this book before you go any further!
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Format: Paperback
This book now has a permanent place on my desk as an important reference book. Too bad it wasn't around when I wrote MMMMiami--Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere. The book ranges from sophisticated information for the professional writer to general information for the novice. The book is arranged by categories such as recipe writing style and basic metrics. The authors take your hand and guide you through the difficult task of writing clear, interesting, and consistent recipes.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book and it's pretty beat up already from having referenced it frequently for the past three years. I began food writing on a whim and thought this book would be helpful. It helps the novice writer become a pro. What more can you ask for.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book while writing a book proposal for my children's food cookbook "The Petit Appetit Cookbook". This book saved me many potentially embarassing food writing faux pas with my editor. The pages are bent and highlighted, but I still rely on it when writing articles and recipes for publication.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great Book, I can't put it down. Great job, this book has everything needed to write recipes, what they couldn't put in they gave resources to find. I have used some of those suggested resource books, and am pretty amazed so far.
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Format: Paperback
I am very happy for purchasing this book because it has all the answers to my questions about how to write a cookbook in English.I am not a native English speaker and yet it helped me so much to understand what to do and what not to do and how to use the cooking terminology. I would like to thank the writers for writing this excellent book and I would definitely recommend it.
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By Megan Romer on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Wow! That's all I can really say. You think you know everything; you know your conversions, you're totally informed about your ingredients, you've made the recipe a dozen times.... BUT... just because you can follow the recipe doesn't mean other people can. This book will help you make your recipes standardized, readable, and useful for everyone from your daughter who can't cook to save her soul to your sister, the professional chef.

You don't have to be a food service pro to appreciate this book. If you've ever considered cataloguing your family recipes, making a church or community group cookbook, or submitting your famous chicken-artichoke lasagna recipe to Better Homes and Gardens, start here. It's an easy read and an invaluable reference. Wonderful!
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