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Cover & Bake Hardcover – Nov 18 2004


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About the Author

Cook's Illustrated, Home of America's Test Kitchen producesthe very popular America's Test Kitchen Public Television series that is seen inboth the US and Canada by over 1 million viewers. Additionally, it is associatedwith Cooks Illustrated Magazine, a leading and highly respected foodpublication that is available throughout Canada.

Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen titles includingThe New Best Recipe - revised and expanded from the classic, The BestRecipe, which has sold over 350,000 copies, companions to the America's TestKitchen Public Television series, and many other bestselling and award-winningcookbooks such as Baking Illustrated, Cover and Bake and TheBest Kitchen Quick Tips.

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Amazon.com: 41 reviews
318 of 325 people found the following review helpful
The Best of the Best Nov. 15 2004
By Richard W. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I own all 12 volumes of the "Best Recipe" cookbook series as well as all other volumes issued by Cook's Illustrated. I purchased all of them as they were issued. When the fourth volume in the Best Recipe series, "American Classics", was issued, their began to emerge complaints concerning Cook's repeating recipes from volume to volume.The tacit accussation was that Cook's was dishonestly repackaging already published material for additional profits. The review by Hoc Stercus, below. seems to be levelling this same accuasation at the current volume, "Cover and Bake". I would like to put this notion to rest once and for all. Each of the issued volumes (as does "Cover and Bake") has presented a plethora of new recipes and useful culinary information. They have also included pertinent recipes (and other information) tested and presented in previous volumes in the series, as they should. For example the best recipes for stove-top and baked macaroni and cheese were presented way back in the first volume of the series. Since the subject of "Cover and Bake" is just these sorts of recipes, would it be fair of Cook's Illustrated to omit these classic casserole recipes and refer the reader to a previous volume ? This would be the height of dishonesty and profit grubbing. Or do you think perhaps that Cook's, for the sake of novelty, should offer a recipe for mac & cheese other rthan the best the've developed to date? When I want the best recipe for fried chicken, I would be disappointed if it did not appear in the volume "American Classics" simply because it was published at an earlier date in the first book in the series. I expect such classic recipes to appear in all of the volumes to which they are appropriate. There is inevitably some overlap in volume coverage (e. g,. mac & cheese is a casserole and an American classic and a pasta dish. It should and does appear in all of those volumes). It is a matter of convenience and honesty that Cook's does not force the reader to purchase additional volumes just in order to aquire all of the recipes in a given area of the individual cook's interest. If one does have all or many of the volumes in the series, should you really have to use detective work in order to determine in which of the 12 volumes the best recipe for brownies might be? It should be in every volume in which the recipe is appropriate. Thankfully it is.

As an avid home cook and having been associated with professional cooking, in one form or another, for over thirty years, I cannot recomend this cookbook (or any other in "The Best Recipe" series) too highly. Though my library contains well over 1,000 cookbooks, the cookbooks in "The Best Recipe" series are the ones I most highly recommend. I have by now cooked hundreds of recipes from the volumes in this series and have never met with any thing but absolute success. The instructions and testing information for each recipe are so thorough and detailed, that even in areas where you might differ on matters of purely subjective taste (degree of spiciness for example), you'll know precisely the adjustements that need to made without fear of jeapordizing the outcome of the recipe as a whole.

Anthony Bourdain, in his excellent, but rigorous and highly professional new French bistro cookbook, "Les Halles, recommends only three "Source Materials" as further reading. One by Joel Robuchon, another by Paul Bocuse, but also "The Best Recipe-Cook's Illustrated".

If you are interested in casseroles and other one pot dishes that are as easy to prepare as they can be, without compromising taste and having to resort to questionable and unneccessary prepackaged ingredients then do not hesitate to purchase this book. You will be well rewarded, not only because you'll have at your command the multi-tested best classic and neo-classic recipes possible, but also because of all the useful testing results for common supermarket items and kitchen equipment and appliances that you'll have at your disposal
235 of 239 people found the following review helpful
Practical Cooking for Busy Households March 15 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I love to cook. I love to eat good food. But, I have a job, a preschooler, an old house, elderly relatives that need my help...the list goes on. Life is too busy for all of us and we are all guilty of making poor food choices because of our lack of time.

I'm not going to repeat the praise offered by other reviewers; I concur with all of it. The reason why people should buy this book (or give as a gift) is because each and every recipe has detailed instructions for making these dishes ahead of time and refrigerating or freezing them. Most of the dishes can be frozen for at least one month, many for two or even three months. And, best of all, they taste great no matter when they eat them.

This cookbook has made my busy life simpler. I love to share good food with my friends and family, and Cover & Bake makes that easy to do. I have relied on recipes from Cook's Illustrated for years and now, when I'm at a time in my life where time is scarce, I can continue to produce great food in a short period of time.

Just a sampling of how I've been able to utilize this book:

1. Spend one day every month preparing 4-5 casseroles that go straight into the freezer.

2. Make one "fresh" casserole each week that is eaten right away.

3. Prepare the food for a party 2-3 days in advance so my final hours before the party are focused on cleaning up after my preschooler!

4. Share one casserole each week with elderly relatives; I can even make up individual sized portions easily.

5. Made a few casseroles for a friend's freezer while she was recuperating in the hospital.

6. Shared a few casseroles with a friend who was at home with her new baby.

This is a great cookbook to have, and great cookbook to give away. I am excited by it.
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Lots of new recipes Nov. 12 2004
By Lisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Cooks Illustrated web-site said that over 60% of the recipes in this book are new. I only have one other CI book, but I get the magazine (for a long time), and most of them are new to me.

I am very happy with this cookbook. I have cooked from it several times a week since I received it 2 months ago. So far, I would like to make most of the recipes again. A few I didn't care for, but probably because they were not my tastes, not because they were bad recipes.

The techniques used in this cookbook are great and can be used in your own recipes. For example, they suggest to only partially cook raw chicken in your sauce, etc., as opposed to adding diced cooked chicken, like so many casserole recipes require. The chicken tastes so much better this way.

In addition to casserole recipes, there are great recipes for making meals all in one skillet, recipes for using in your slow cooker, and some great breakfast dishes. There is also a good chapter on side dishes.

Another feature I appreciate is the "planning ahead" that accompanies most recipes. It tells you exactly what can be done ahead, and how to adjust the cooking time if you do. This is something they rarely discuss in their magazine, and I am happy they tackled this, because it will be very helpful for entertaining.

There are recipes using meat, poultry and seafood. There are also quite a few good vegetarian recipes, like tamale pie, vegetable pot pie, sopa seca, plus side dishes and some of the breakfast casseroles. They say in the book that they made some of these recipes from scratch, and I believe it. There is some real creativity in here, while at the same time you are getting recipes for some old standards you would expect, like mac n' cheese and pot pies.

If you like casserole type dishes, and/or if you like Cook's Illustrated recipes, I highly recommend this book. It is a new favorite of mine.
170 of 185 people found the following review helpful
A Rare Disappointment from the Cooks Illustrated Series March 16 2006
By J. Fuchs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I usually rave about Cooks Illustrated books because they are the best all-around cookbooks out there, but I have to rant a little about this one. The idea behind Cover and Bake is to improve on classic casseroles by getting rid of sub-par ingredients like cream of mushroom soup and pre-packaged bread crumbs, and simplifying cooking procedures so as to allow as much one-pot cooking as possible. The people at Cooks Illustrated make a lot of references to "Tuesday night dishes," i.e., main courses that can be prepared, cooked and served quickly and don't result in a lot of clean-up.

This, however, isn't that book. The dishes that look so quick and easy when you watch them on America's Test Kitchen aren't so quick and easy at home because they have someone else to pull the leaves off of enough fresh tarragon that they have 3 tablespoons ready and waiting when they start cooking their Chicken with Spring Vegetables. When at home you have to trim and cut the chicken, pull the leaves off of the tarragon and chop them, wash and cut leeks, carrots, and asparagus and measure out cream (rather a lot of it) and chicken broth as well as various spices, and make home-made bread crumbs in the food processor, it all adds up to several hours of preparation before the casserole even makes it into the oven, and along with the casserole dish itself, you end up with a dutch oven, food processor, cutting board, knife and several prep bowls to clean. You can make the basic dish in advance, but you still have to wait for the mixture to chill down before you can put it in the refrigerator, and you have to leave it out at room temperature for an hour before you can put it in the oven. Yes, it tastes much better than the chicken casserole you would make with precut pieces of chicken and cream of mushroom soup, but unless you make it on a weekened and have someone to take it out of the refrigerator for you before you get home from work, it's not a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

As mentioned by someone else, this also isn't healthy eating. Most of the dishes have cream or cheese, and vegetarian isn't a word the folks at Cooks Illustrated seem to have learned, although the dishes seem to have a lot of mushrooms. Even the side dishes aren't truly vegetarian as a lot of the recipes in the book use one form or another of pork for seasoning, or otherwise rely on cheese or cream. For a book called Cover and Bake, I certainly expected at least some recipes which make star use of grains, rice, beans and vegetables, which are nice to have even for meat eaters. Those also aren't here. These are basic beef, pork, chicken and fish with rice and/or potatoes and they are hearty dishes. The side dishes are basically rice dishes to serve with the meat.

Don't get me wrong -- the resulting food tastes good. But their "paella," for instance, bears no resemblence to paella. It's shrimp with tomatoes and rice and while it's quite tasty, for an expensive dish, it just isn't the star it ought to be. When you make a dish that calls for 1 1/2 pounds of extra large shrimp, which is going to run you at least $25, plus the costs of the other ingredients, the dish should be more than tasty -- it should be spectacular. No one is going to complain about this dish, but it's doubtful they are going to rave about it either.

On the plus side, everything is extremely easy to prepare, especially if you like making food that serves 4-6 people and makes use of 9"X13" baking dishes, dutch ovens, and large skillets. There are, as always, plenty of useful illustrations, and the instructions are easy to follow. I'll use this cookbook since I still like the idea of dishes I can make over the weekend and keep in the refrigerator for several weekday uses, but it's not going to replace Cooks Illustrated's New Best Recipe or The New Basics or other recipe collections I own. This is really for people who like chicken and rice, beef and potatoes and other combinations that classically go into casserole dishes with thick and creamy sauces. If that describes you, this book is probably a 5-star book for you. Otherwise, you may search hard for recipes that sound worth the trouble.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Resource and Recipes Nov. 19 2005
By Jennifer Donovan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a cookbook lover. I love to read cookbooks, and this book is great for that. It is filled with tips from Cook's test kitchen about the best way to do things. But I also like to cook and to be able to make things that my husband and children will eat. This book has given me enjoyment on both of these levels. I have made many of the recipes and have not been disappointed and plan to make many more. The mac-n-cheese recipe is excellent, the lasagna great, and I recently served the potato, bacon and egg casserole to rave results. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking of how that smelled while it was cooking.

This book is especially helpful, because it features one dish meals, but not casseroles that you throw together with a can of cream soup and bake for an hour. This is good tasting food! Each recipe features tips on when/if it can be frozen, or steps that can be done ahead.


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