The Best Make-Ahead Recipe Hardcover – Mar 8 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The thorough, ever-reliable experts at Cook's Illustrated (The Best 30 Minute Recipe, The New Best Recipe) return with definitive make-ahead recipes for a number of classic dishes. Busy cooks will find recipes for standards such as Lasagna and Twice-Baked Potatoes as well as Slow-Cooked Barbecued Brisket and Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka. It should be noted that while the final steps-thawing a dish or throwing a prepared casserole directly in the oven-are easy, preparation often requires some planning. The authors' well-known compulsion to test recipes multiple ways before declaring a "best" version leads to text-heavy introductions for each dish, but readers are frequently rewarded with helpful tips and tricks. Flat no-bake lasagna noodles make fine stand-ins for the titular pasta in Baked Manicotti, and flank steak frozen for twenty minutes firms up the fibers before it's sliced to accommodate a cheese and spinach stuffing. Combined with a plethora of recommendations for everything from dutch ovens and hand blenders to "the best dark chocolate," this title makes a helpful resource for cooks with a passion for doing their "best."
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Top Customer Reviews
After another holiday weekend with company and spending too much time in the kitchen I wanted no-fail, tasty food that
could be prepared in advance. Not only does this book give the recipes with variations, the recipe ingredients were tested with
explanations of why they failed to produce a good result - fresh, frozen or canned artichokes; pre-cut squash; milk, cream or half& half;
bread texture, length of time sat in fridge or whether to freeze; etc. It offers how to cook/bake depending on whether you freeze or
refrigerate the food and if that impacts texture, flavour, etc. The book also provides kitchen equipment reviews - which potato masher works
best, immersion blender, etc.
With so much tested information, I know I will experiment less, waste less time and money, know which form of ingredient to buy for best
results, the best way to prepare, store and cook/bake the dish to give me more time to visit and less time in kitchen when company
comes or when I am too busy and might have resorted to take-out instead of a home cooked meal.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I think this may be the lowest rating I've ever given to a CI book (I own seven in the Best series and a handful of others.) If you own "Cover & Bake," you have many of the recipes in this book, hence the low rating.
Some of the shared recipes include:
Slow Cooker Favorites (5 of the 17 are shared with C&B)
-Beef & Barley Soup
Sides (There are two shared recipes)
Casseroles (There are more variations of the recipes in this book) both books share:
-Mac & Cheese
-Chicken Pot Pie
-Beef Pot Pie
Lamb & Eggplant Moussaka
-Chicken & Rice Casserole
Breakfast & Breads (only the bread recipes are unique to this book. What irks me is that the same photo is used for the start of the breakfast chapters in each book.) Shared recipes are:
-French Toast Casserole
Here is what I like about the book
-TOC in each chapter
-The Double-Duty Cooking Chapter is great -- cook a little extra now for tomorrow's dish that won't taste like leftovers
-All of the stews and the majority of the casseroles can be made ahead and frozen. Outside of those categories, you'll find maybe 10 additional recipes that can be frozen.
-Make-Ahead Holiday Menus
If you don't have "Cover & Bake" get this book. When reviewed in isolation, it is a five-star book. If you're deciding which to choose, this book has a range of recipes across appetizers, sides, main courses and desserts. If you're looking for a complete make-ahead meal, this book is the way to go.
I have tried several recipes in this cookbook and they have been great. I was skeptical that it was possible to freeze pasta dishes and reheat them without the pasta tasting mushy. But to my pleasant surprise, the pasta dishes were very good.
Some of the recipes in this book are not recommended for freezing. They are considered "make ahead" since they can be stored in your refrigerator for a few days before cooking or baking.
This book is well-organized, has good details/descriptions and some good recipes (some may be repeats from other publications). If you are a person who likes pictures, this book is not for you. I am a big fan of the publisher's other books. Sad that this one was such a disappointment!
A unique feature of this book is the straight from freezer to oven approach for some of the baked goods. I have not previously seen a muffin recipe that goes straight from the freezer to the oven. This halves the time of making muffins, eliminates clean-up and results in warm fresh muffins for breakfast.
I used the make ahead mashed potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving. The recipe is too complicated to do if you have enough time to mash same day, but for a day when you're making 5 side dishes at once, it was great to pull these from the refrigerator, microwave and serve.
Like many Cook's Illustrated recipes, the recipes can be a little fussy and time consuming, but in most cases the results are worth it.
The roasted chicken filled my kitchen with heavenly smells yesterday and it tasted yummy. So tender and juicy!