How to Turn Your Dishes into 5-Star Recipes on Kitchen Stories
The Kitchen Stories team shares their secret tips for better recipes, food photos, and videos!
Finally, you can be even more active on Kitchen Stories by uploading your very own recipes to share with our global community! However, it’s one thing to be confident in cooking your favorite dish for friends and families over and over again, but it’s another matter altogether to share the cooking process with others and visualize a recipe in photos and videos.
To present your recipes in the best possible light, we asked the experts in our Kitchen Stories team for some insider tips: Our photographer Wioleta shares how to make the most of your mobile phone’s photo function, video editor Jovan gives his top tips for taking videos, while our editors Lisa and Julia tell you how to find a catchy title for your dish, plus what to look out for when writing recipes.
How to find the perfect recipe title
4 tips from Lisa, editor at Kitchen Stories
The title of your recipe is the first piece of information that other community members will read. With a quick glance at it, they’ll decide if the recipe sounds interesting or if they’d rather continue scrolling. To avoid the latter, here are a few tips on how to write the perfect recipe title that is both informative and appealing.
1. Ask yourself: What makes your recipe special?
Going for something standard, like “Tomato soup” won’t make your recipe stand out—no matter how tasty it might be. What makes people curious are specific details or special twists so this information should definitely be part of your recipe title! Does your recipe contain an unusual ingredient, does it taste spicy/sweet-sour/etc, is there something special about the preparation method, or was it inspired by a particular cuisine? If so, then instead of calling your recipe ‘Tomato soup’ why not call it “Roasted tomato soup,” “2 ingredient tomato soup,” or “Mexican-style tomato soup” instead? And yes, this doesn’t only apply to a tomato soup, but to any other dish as well!
2. Remember: Your title is not an ingredient list
So we know by now that a catchy recipe title is key—however it’s important not to give too much information. A recipe title is not an ingredient list. Instead of naming a dish “Linguine with fresh basil, pine nut, and Parmesan cheese pesto” choose a short and more succinct title like “Linguine with basil pesto”.
3. Tell your story!
Cooking is all about emotions and memories, so why not share them? If there are special moments that you associate with a dish, why not add it to the recipe title? Who wouldn’t be interested in “Grandma’s best apple pie,” right?
4. From a bed of vegetable to a sea of sauce
We’ve all heard fancy recipe titles like, "Salmon fillet on a bed of creamy carrots accompanied by mashed potatoes with a hint of saffron." Oh my. Before you place a lime sorbet on a sea of berry sauce served with a melange of caramel and cream, you should consider whether the title might distract others from the actual dish, or think it’s far more complicated than it is! So, go easy on the wording and get straight to the point.
How to write a recipe that others will be able to re-cook
8 tips from Julia, editor at Kitchen Stories
If you’ve ever cooked from a recipe, chances are you’ve found yourself in the following situation: You’re in the kitchen, ready to finally cook a dish you found online, be it a food blog, or Pinterest. But, mid-way through you find yourself left with questions marks: The steps are confusing, details are missing, and it's impossible to tell what to do next. As delicious as a dish can be—nobody can enjoy it if the recipe isn’t well written. So let’s go a bit into detail here: How do you write a recipe that is easy to understand?
1. Divide your recipe into useful steps: Every recipe consists of several steps that guide the reader through the order of the cooking process. Each step should describe a coherent action, such as cutting ingredients, cooking pasta, or serving a dish on a plate. In order to follow your recipe easily, keep step descriptions short and focus on one key process per step, e.g. cutting vegetables or frying meat.
2. Separate important from unimportant information: The goal for a recipe is to write short steps that still include all the necessary information. All further hints, notes, or anecdotes should go into the “chef’s note”. This is the part at the end of our recipe upload that let's you share the story behind your recipe and tell others which ingredients could be exchanged, what to serve your dish with, or what this dish means to you and why.
3. Think practical: In our recipes, we like to start with preparing all ingredients. This has several advantages: It’s handy to prepare everything in the beginning so you’re all set and know what you’re working with, plus you’ll quickly see if you’re missing anything from the ingredient list! Once you’re a pro in the mise en place game, cooking will be much more relaxed as you won’t be reaching for the cutting board mid-step. Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid unnecessary waiting times. While something is in the oven or needs time to simmer, it’s a good idea to prep something else in the meantime (e.g. a sauce). This will save you and others precious time.
4. Be precise: You don’t have to describe every single detail of the cooking process, but if something is important for the success of your dish, it should be mentioned, e.g. the size of a baking dish, the width of a pie crust, or how certain ingredients should be cut: finely diced, roughly chopped, or cut into bite-sized pieces? It all makes a difference!
5. Give relatable settings for ovens and stoves: Information on heat levels of stoves and ovens can quickly end in confusion. Avoid specific numbers of heat levels that other people may not be able to follow, e.g. “fry the chicken at heat level 3”. Instead, use descriptions such as low, medium, or high heat. If the oven setting is critical for your recipe, give more details about this, too, e.g. circulating air, top and bottom heat, or if the baking sheet should be in the lower third of the oven, etc.
6. An extra tip for timings: Preparation and baking times are essential and should always be given in a recipe. But what’s even more helpful is to give others an indication of what should have happened during prep or baking time. For example you could write, “Bake the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown” or “Fry onions for 2 minutes, or until translucent”. This information can help others to judge if they have achieved the desired results, or if their onions might need a minute longer!
7. Explain technical vocabulary: Our Kitchen Stories community is made up of many kinds of cooks, from beginners to professionals. So anyone can easily recreate your recipe, try to formulate your steps using straightforward language that everybody can understand without using a glossary. Instead of just “carving a goose”, it might make sense to, literally, break this process down.
8. Use exact quantities in the ingredient list: A can of beans is a can of beans, right? Unfortunately: no—it can vary from supermarket, to region, to country!Instead of writing about “cans” or “bunches” give specific amounts in grams, milliliters, tablespoons, etc.
How to take better food photos with your mobile phone
6 tips from Wioleta, photographer at Kitchen Stories
Not everyone owns a professional camera and the proper lighting equipment, but here’s the good news: You also don’t necessarily need it! Most of today’s mobile phones are well equipped to take proper food photos. Here are some extra tips that will make them even better!
1. Unless you’re a pro, stick to one source of light only. This will help to avoid ugly double shadows. That basically means: Turn off your lamp when you’re using natural light.
2. Take some time to read and learn about composition, which is the structure of your photo. Depending on how you arrange individual objects on a photo, you can draw the focus on essential details, and create a dynamic and coherent image.
3. Find the best perspective to make your dish the star of the show! Try out different viewing angles for your photos. You’ll quickly see that some dishes look way better when they are shot from above than from the side. Try to get close, but not too close—others should be able to identify your dish as a whole.
4. Find out which colors harmonize with each other—and which colors do not.
5. Cheesy but true: Don’t rush yourself, but put a little love in your photos. People will notice it.
6. Get inspired! Learn from your masters and watch them! If you found a person whose photos you really like (it doesn’t matter if that one is a professional or another community member), take a closer look at their pictures and find out what you like about them—whether it’s their compositions, lighting, or color palette. You can then implement these details in your own photos!
Find even more tips in this article.
How to take proper food videos with your mobile phone
7 tips from Jovan, video editor at Kitchen Stories
Just like photos, video on mobile phones is only getting better! Especially when it comes to cooking, it’s great to show some actions on camera as other users might understand better what they need to do. But there are a few things to watch out for:
1. Natural light is always the best choice for videos, especially if it’s diffused! The term “diffused light” refers to a soft light that illuminates the surrounding evenly. The contrary would be direct light that only illuminates a specific spot. So if there’s a window, use its light!
2. Light, again: Just like with photos, don’t mix different light sources but use one light source only. Pay attention to light and darkness—don’t shoot in too dark areas. Expose the highlights, otherwise no one can see what’s on your plate.
3. Stay sharp and focus on the food, not on the things that are surrounding it.
4. Composition is also very important for video! The “Rule of thirds” always helps. Never heard of it? Then it’s time to google it now!
5. When arranging your plate, think about the colors and the background—it should all match and not distract from your dish. In the worst case, an overwhelming background can ‘eat’ your dish.
6. Take your time to find a good perspective! Play around until the light, plate, and camera are at the right angle.
7. To avoid shaky videos, it might make sense to invest in a smaller tripod for mobile phones. This way, you have both hands free to cook!
Published on July 11, 2019