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Can recipes on the Internet be reliable?

By Erica Marcus Newsday How reliable are Internet recipes? No more reliable than recipes that are not on the Net -- and possibly a lot less. If the site is connected to a media outlet that employs recipe testers or has a commitment to being a sou...

By Erica Marcus

Newsday

How reliable are Internet recipes?

No more reliable than recipes that are not on the Net -- and possibly a lot less.

If the site is connected to a media outlet that employs recipe testers or has a commitment to being a source of reliable information, the chances are higher that the recipe will be good. For example, any recipe you find at foodnetwork.com probably has been tested in the Food Network's test kitchens. Ditto epicurious.com, whose recipes come from Conde Nast food magazines Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Ditto marthastewart.com, whose recipes come from Everyday Food or Martha Stewart Living or Stewart's TV show.

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For fun, I Googled "pizza dough," and the first recipe to come up was from fabulous foods.com, a site, I learned, that was conceived and created by Cheri Sicard, who has "worked as an aerialist, clown, knife thrower and throwee, whip cracker, magician and mentalist," and Mitch Mandell, who "was responsible for all multimedia materials" at the advertising agency Chiat/Day Inc.

Now, there's no reason to think that Sicard and Mandell are not honest folks who are serious about food. Nevertheless, the recipe, Mandell's as it happens, calls for 3½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons yeast, 2 tablespoons honey and ¼ cup olive oil which, to my taste, is going to be overpoweringly sweet and yeasty.

Foodnetwork.com yielded Emeril's recipe for pizza dough, which called for 3 cups flour, 2½ teaspoons yeast, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Better.

I found a really good pizza-dough recipe at 101cookbooks.com, Heidi Swanson's site built on this premise: "When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying and start cooking. This site chronicles a cookbook collection, one recipe at a time." Swanson features a "Napoletana" pizza-dough recipe by Peter Reinhart, one of the country's foremost authorities on artisanal bread. With 4½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon yeast and as many as ¼ cup olive oil, it sounds authentically Italian.

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