Multiplying And Dividing Recipes

Q. I have a large quantity recipe for creamed spinach that I would like to reduce to a more family-friendly size. Do you know of a website or formula that will scale down the ingredients to a smaller yield?

A. That’s an interesting idea that someone will no doubt create someday. But I wouldn’t trust such a formula. My experience with restaurant recipes is that dividing the ingredient quantities by four (or multiplying them–many restaurant recipes make just one serving) often fails. For example, if a recipe calls for sauteeing a cup of onions in a tablespoon of olive oil, if you cut the onions by half you usually still need the whole amount of oil. Also, some quantities don’t cook properly when you use smaller or larger amounts. Hollandaise, for example, must be cooked in a totally different way if you start with a dozen egg yolks instead of one.

The good news is that a creamed spinach recipe is not likely to be so affected. I think you’re safe just dividing the quantities. (Unless there’s nutmeg in it, which some recipes for bechamel include. That should never be more than a sprinkle.)

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