Recipe testing is something we take very seriously at MasterChef Magazine, as our principle aim is to ensure readers have the same success we have every time. We test all our sweet recipes at least three times. We get different people to do this, as different people pick up different things.
We test foremost for a perfect outcome and fabulous taste. Taste is more important than looks at the early recipe testing stage. Usually, once we’ve got the taste side of things addressed, it’s easy to fix how the dish looks. We also want to make sure that the methods we’ve given are the most streamlined, and if there’s a way we can save time or combine techniques, we’ll adjust the recipe so it’s easier for readers. We’re fully aware that most home cooks don’t have kitchens like the MasterChef Kitchen – and nor do any of our recipe testers or I, though I wish I did! So, because our recipes are tested in a home environment and we wash all our own dishes, we’re know full well if a recipe is too complicated or takes too long, and can address it.
Assumed knowledge is not something we take for granted either – we know our readers have varying skill levels, and that people approach recipes in different ways. For this reason, we’re very careful to describe everything as accurately and minutely as possible, so as not to leave you guessing. Unless you cook in a science lab, there’ll always be an element that can’t be controlled, so we take this into account – so not only do we provide cooking times, but meaningful visual descriptions so you know what to look out for as you go.
All the recipes that appear in the magazine are tested, not just those created by the food team. We simplify chefs’ and contestants’ recipes that appear on the show to make them a more realistic proposition for home cooks – hands up who has a sous vide machine! A contestant might use 11/2 cans of tomatoes, which may not work for you at home, so we try make small changes that make them easier for you, without the drama.
Most of our cooking is about nourishing and keeping our families happy, so testing and developing fast, simple recipes is a big part of what we do. We try to offer recipes with a twist, something they won’t find elsewhere, but at the same time keeping them simple by using everyday ingredients that can be bought from a shopping centre and don’t involve a day trip across the city – or to Outer Mongolia! And for those times when our readers are feeling more creative, have more time or want to experiment or entertain, we’ve got this covered as well, being mindful that people still want to spend time with their guests – not chained to the cooktop! All recipes come with detailed cooking and prep times and what can be prepared ahead, so it’s easy to plan.
Photography is also an important part of the testing stage, as it also acts as another test. What we present in our photos should be very close, if not identical, to what our readers can achieve. Our style is vibrant and our plating is deliberately kept loose and relaxed to reflect the real food that it is. No wacky tricks like painting a steak with Vaseline to make it glisten. What you see is what you get!
And of course, some recipes take longer to perfect than others, but we just keep plugging away at it until we’re happy – so you’ll be happy.
Sophia Young is the Food Director of MasterChef Magazine. More from Sophia and MasterChef Magazine here.