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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
on March 19, 2016
This is hands down my favorite cookbook in my large collection.
The great thing about Test Kitchen cookbooks is that they do a lot of trial and error and testing to ensure that they've got a solid recipe on their hands. Everything is well explained, and they give good reason why the failed variations of recipes didn't work.
While it is a great cookbook, it's not perfect.
The photos are black and white, so if you're used to glossy photos of food, you're out of luck here.
The layout and structuring of the numbered lists also leaves a lot to be desired. The layout seems to value saving paper (this is one thick tome already) as opposed to presenting a clear and easily read recipe. The layout is a multi-column, text-dense layout, with multiple sentences/instructions per numbered step.
I prefer more whitespace and that unrelated items get their own numbered step. If you're in the middle of following a recipe and going back and forth to the book, you don't want have to re-skim a list to figure out where you were last only to miss a step.
Flaws aside, they are annoying but not deal breakers. This book was the gateway for me buying many of the other Test Kitchen cookbooks.