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on December 16, 2004
Would you like to be a fabulous cook? Can't afford a ritzy cooking school? Ever wondered if the mortals in your kitchen could learn to cook like GODS??!!
Wonder no more...this cookbook comes to us courtesy of the team at Cook's Illustrated magazine, which while not widely known, is the single best source of cooking information and recipes on the planet.
Cook's takes classic recipes, deconstructs them and puts them back together, streamlined for the home kitchen but sacrificing nothing in terms of knock-your-socks-off flavour. Bonus: these recipes don't fail, unlike those in most other cookbooks.
I was always a decent cook, but after finding Cook's Illustrated I became an amazing cook...this book will make you one too. I didn't know food could taste this good; you will produce dishes that rival 4 star restaurants, I kid you not. The directions are crystal clear, and you get lots of expert advice on how to choose ingredients and equipment. Most recipes show you master-chef level tips and tricks that are easy to learn.
I can personally recommend the Coq au Vin p. 341 (my family literally begs for it), and if you cook the steak and Madeira pan sauce p. 389, they will probably name a religion after you. Other highlights, French Onion Soup p. 43, various pastas with garlic and oil pan sauces p. 238, Fresh Tomato Sauce for pasta (INCREDIBLE!!!) p. 241, Molasses Spice Cookies p. 785, Lemon Pie p. 907, Key Lime Pie p. 908, Creme Caramel p. 958. Well, you get the idea...I could go on and on, the recipes are so utterly delicious.
This cookbook is kick-ass, world class. Everyone you cook for will wonder where you learned to cook like that. I have lots of cookbooks and almost never look at any of my old ones any more. This one is just that good!
Get it, get it now, you will be so very happy you did, and so will any cook you get it for. The Best Recipe rocks.
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on September 3, 2005
I do not profess to be the world's best cook but, if I do arm myself with a spatula, I want the best results possible. Every recipe that I tried in this book worked out with spectacular results. Having had years of flat Yorkshire puddings, these hit the roof of the oven. The creme caramel had a texture like velvet, as did the creme brulee. Yellow layer cake was moist and did not even need frosting, just raspberry preserves in the middle. Tasted far better than the boxed version. Oven fries were great, as were roast potatoes. I love the explanations as to why and how a particular method was arrived at. This book has become an absolute firm favourite.
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on January 13, 2005
This book is huge and pricey, but IMO it's worth every penny.
I own a number of cookbooks and have read a million recipes on the 'net and other cookbooks, but no other publication imparts a sense of confidence in the reader like this book does.
Every recipe is preceeded by a background story from the ATK crew in which they discuss their experience perfecting every recipe. You really get a sense that they care about making sure everything is perfect before they tell you how it's done.
While there are no real exotic recipes in this book, I would recommend it for anyone interested in Western-style cooking. A superb buy!
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on November 29, 2006
I have a few hundred cookery/culinary/professional chef books but turn to this for basic recipes when I am in the mood for something simple. I often do not use recipes but when I do, the lasagne, bolognese sauce, cream scones, prime rib, carbonara, brining, coq au vin, maple glazed pork, beef burgundy, etc. etc. are excellent. Nearly every single page is dog-earred in my book! I teach cooking classes and recommend this book to learning cooks. The recipes are simple, easy to make and a pleasure to eat.

The advance testing prior to recipes is very interesting as well - it is helpful to know how and why things work and don't work. An excellent read and highly recommended.
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on June 12, 2008
This is the single most useful cookbook i own, and i own quite a few. After cooking cook's illustrated recipes, i find myself doubting recipes from other sources. The articles included with the recipes tell you exactly why they call for specific techniques, equipment and ingredients and what happened when they tried other things. It also provides an excellent reference with a multitude of supermarket taste tests and equipment ratings. The entire cook's illustrated series is wonderful but this is an absolute must have for anyone to loves to cook or wants a fool-proof collection of fantastic recipes.
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on May 15, 2005
This is a Fabulous book in every way! The recipes never fail, each time I'm amazed. What I like the most is that the recipes are easy to follow. It's a must Have!
I also bought Simple and Simply Delicious by Sylvie Rocher, which I thought, was very interesting.
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on November 16, 2007
Honestly it's that good. Every recipe I've tried from this cookbook has been great and has turned me in to a very good cook. I would highly recommend it. The price is excellent for so much information. This is the only cookbook I feel I need now.
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on November 11, 2006
I'm cooking for 100 at a church dinner and have tried several cornbread recipes. I wanted it to be tasty, slightly sweet, and moist without being crumbly. The cornbread in this book is the only one that fits the bill. It was even good the next day, which is rare for cornbread. Haven't tried any other recipes in the book, but I can't wait.
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on July 29, 2014
I was eager to get this because I have the first edition and use many of the recipes, and this was expanded. While I love the new arrangement, what ruined it for me was that they deleted the white cake recipe. I mean really--how many freaking chocolate cake recipes do you need? (I know--many people will say you can't have too many, but I'm afraid I can't agree. Sorry!) So now I have both editions. I still like the explanations for how they came up with the final recipe and their choices, and love the tips and product recommendations. I recommend this for someone who has some cooking experience and is looking to expand their recipe collection.
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on April 10, 2014
I purchased this booked based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews and am very happy that I did. This is an amazing recipe book for many reasons, and for me, the explanations, tips, and equipment recommendations have been imperative to how I cook now. And of course, there are the recipes which made my husband exclaim "this is the best chicken I ever ate" when referring to the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic dinner. He made the same exclamation for the Pan Seared Filet Mignon and the Roast Beef. And indeed they were devine. The focus of these recipes are on a simple blend of flavours, but with the proper guidance from the authors, the food comes to life.

Some things to note:

1) The recipes are not for those who want a quick dinner. You need to be patient and put in love and sweat in order to get the best meal. Many recipes are best meant for a weekend or an evening when you come home at 6 pm and don't mind eating at 9 pm. But there are plenty of good ones that aren't time consuming as well so don't be discouraged by that. You will be so inspired by your first success, that the time it takes won't phase you because you'll want to improve as you take on more recipes. This book has really made me love cooking even more than I thought I did.

2) You will discover new tools that you will want to make your new found love of cooking even that much better. I since purchased a blow torch for the awesome creme brulee recipe (they recommend one that can be found at Home Depot), a cast iron dutch oven, and a scale ($20 from Costco). The scale is a must by the way and you will surprise yourself by using it more often than you thought you would. I already owned the Al Clad skillet recommended in this book and before this book, hardly used it because I didn't know in what circumstances I would use it. Since owning this book, the skillet gets plenty of use from me and I love it.

3) Your grocery bill is likely to go up, at least it did for me when I started making a new recipe from the book each day for awhile. They suggest the 'best' ingredients to use and cuts of meat which can be pricey depending on what you make. I rationalized that by the quantity made and getting to eat tasty leftovers for lunch the next day.

4) You are guaranteed rave reviews. When my husband took a bite of the oven fries (which are one of my favorites), he also said "these are the best potatoes I've ever had". The book allowed me to make restaurant quality french fries without being deep fried which was wonderful considering I haven't eaten restaurant fries in years to keep slim.

5) The book isn't organized well in terms of the table of contents. It's broken down generically so with over 1000 recipes, sometimes it makes it hard to find a recipe you are looking for. But since I've used it so many times, a quick flip through is good enough for me or the index at the back is excellent. It would also be extremely helpful it they included the total prep and cooking time on each recipe. It can take awhile to read through the steps and add the time up to figure out if it fits your schedule.

6) Don't be turned off by having no glamorous photos of food. There are plenty of instructions and the illustrations are detailed enough that anybody can follow. The instructions are so good, that when I compare them to other cookbooks I love, it just makes me appreciate this book more. I love how the authors tell you what pan to use, what size pan, when to do this or that. The instructions are clear cut and you don't have to make any guesses.

7) I must say also that the recipes are not wildly trendy or 'creative. Most of it is basic North American type of recipes despite a few international ones here and there (e.g., pad thai). Think chicken pot pie, brownies, roast chicken, mashed potatoes, etc.

I have been raving about this book since I purchased it and have called it 'life changing' because it is. It makes you a better cook, will inspire you, and those you love with love your meals and you can actually see them take pleasure in eating what you created. Food brings people together, especially when it is fabulous food. I just purchased this book for a friend and I am looking forward to hearing about her success in the kitchen. Do buy the book!
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