Your ingredients for a great recipe?

    Chocolate cakeEvery time I think about new recipes to write I ponder this question. It could be a simple yet stunning idea done really well; a dish that uses fairly ordinary ingredients with new levels of skill; a clearly written recipe that inspires confidence in the kitchen, or a flavour combination that you'd never thought of, but heck it works. Or perhaps a dish that comforts you or links you to a particular culture or person, or simply a recipe that you make again and again and everyone loves it.

    Maybe your visual sense is just as important - brilliant food photography that hooks you in and you can't go past without wanting to eat it. I've come across plenty of those.

    I suspect that all those answers appeal to someone out there, but where do you come across great new recipes? Do you always need a recipe of Delia's informative proportions or are you happy just to be inspired? Nigel Slater is adored but there is always someone who does not buy in to his 'vagueness on some measurements'. Nigella Lawson is loved and hated in equal measure for her TV show, but I've rarely found a cook who thinks her recipes are dreadful (provided they can get past the language).

    Thai cookingFor me, it is the obscure books and recipes on scraps of paper that I find really interesting. The instruction manual from a Thai cooking class that you can only follow if you were there in the first place and translate your hastily scribbled notes in the margin; the pudding granny used to make that, shhhh, uses marge and not butter; or the recipe clipped from a magazine or paper that you stick on the fridge and intend to make (you love the way it looks and sounds) but never quite do. But you still love the idea of it.

    What makes a really good recipe for you?

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