New Best Recipe Hardcover – Nov 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
A literal encyclopedia of recipes (culled from the magazine), this revision to Cook's Illustrated's popular The Best Recipe is almost double in size and includes more than 1,000 recipes. Cook's Illustrated is known for careful (some would say compulsive) testing of recipes with a focus on foolproof technique; detailed line drawings that take readers step-by-step through recipes; and opinionated guides that assert that their way is the best way. This methodology appeals particularly to a specific kind of cook, one with a primarily scientific rather than artistic or intuitive approach to cooking. Though there are a few photographs, readers who buy cookbooks for full-color photographs and personal anecdotes aren't likely to be drawn to this work. Twenty-two chapters cover appetizers to desserts. Even the simplest tasks, such as blanching vegetables or peeling an egg, are explained and illustrated in detail. More involved techniques include brining poultry and roasting a turkey. Pad Thai gets a full-page description with photographs to help home cooks learn how to properly soak the noodles. Well organized and extremely clear, the book has only one drawback: its heft may make it tough to hoist onto kitchen counters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cooks Illustrated Magazine, has a simple philosophy about cooking. Essentially, it comes down to precision. Like any science, recipes should be exact when it comes to ingredients, quantities, cooking times and temperatures, cook ware and other instruments, and the preparation of ingredients before the use of oven or pot. I mention this knowing full well that many proud cooks reading this review will scoff at the notion of such precision. Shouldnt the preparation of food leave room for experimentation, culinary talent, or simply personal preference? Depends on the market. I for one fear guesswork in the kitchen. The more instructions and pictures showing me precisely how to execute everything within a recipe, the more confident I feel that Ill be able to pull it off. It seems that Im not the only one who thinks this way. The original Best Recipe, published in 1999, was an instant success. We have sold almost 400,000 copies since then, Kimball writes in the Introduction to this new book, which offers 500 new recipes and 800 hand-drawn illustrations. Personally, Im reassured by the editors stated mission to test recipes over and over again until we understand how and why they work and until we arrive at the 'best' version." I appreciate that [they] make the mistakes, so [I] dont have to.
True to their word, just about all of the recipes in the book are accompanied by a great deal of text that explains what is right or wrong about the traditional or most common method of preparing a dish. This is followed by a detailed account of how the Test Kitchens cooks arrived at their best recipe; the pros and cons of various approaches is described so that a knowledgeable cook will know what not to attempt if she still believes that a different avenue could lead to better results. The following portion, one fifth of a preamble to a recipe for Shrimp Bisque is typical:
The fundamental challenge in making a shrimp bisque is extracting flavor from the shrimp and shells. The recipes we tested did this in a couple of ways. Some recipes we tried pureed the shrimp meat into the base and left there; others simmered the shrimp in the base until spent and then strained them out. The bisques made with pureed shrimp were grainy with shrimp curds; the ones in which the shrimp were strained out achieved the velvety texture properly associated with a bisque. . . .
Its impossible to discuss 1,000 recipes. Suffice it to say, the book has a marvelous international range of French, Italian, Oriental, Middle East, and Mexican dishes as well as many North American favorites, and covers everything from appetizers (my favorite section) to a great variety of desserts. I liked the illustrations throughout the book which depict everything from types of roast (in the Pot Roast section, Beef chapter) to ways of cutting and deboning fish before and after cooking (Fish and Shellfish chapter).
The instructions and illustrations in the Guide to Grilling and Barbecue are based on the same principle of determining the best recipe and technique. Outdoor Cooking 101 explains everything to do with charcoal grilling and gas grilling (even suggesting the best, most reasonably priced grills). There are 450 recipes and numerous accompanying images. One section addresses how to buy beef steaks for the grill. It includes pictures of 14 types of steaks and rates their tenderness, flavour, and cost. Many other types of illustrations follow: for example, were shown how to pare away outer layers of fat on a rack of lamb, bone a leg of lamb, butterfly chicken, remove pinbones from a side of salmon and then barbecue it without leaving chunks stuck to the grill. All this might seem basic to some, but in fact there are enough tips to enlighten even the expert. Not so basic are some of the wonderful recipes: Greek, Indian, Turkish, Caribbean recipes for marinates, salsas, kebabs, various parts and cuts of beef, lamb, and poultry (duck, turkey, and quail included), as well as shellfish, vegetables, side dishes, rubs and sauces. This book is a treat for the summer.
Olga Stein (Books in Canada)
-- Books in Canada
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
I also bought Simple and Simply Delicious by Sylvie Rocher, which I thought, was very interesting.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read more
Yes, very interesting and has some great information in all areas of cooking!Published 6 months ago by Shirley
Fantastic cook book, recipes are for the most part easy to follow and well described. Perhaps not the healthiest out there, but certainly delicious!Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
The cookbooks from America's Test Kitchens never disappoint, I recommend them allPublished 9 months ago by BigWalter
Fantastic cookbook with a wealth of information and tips.Published 11 months ago by Gabriel Hillier-Lowden
love all the recipes there. kind of wished there were more pictures and the paper was better quality, but the book is surprisingly light for its size which is great.Published 13 months ago by qtip72
One of my go-to cook books, on the best way to do a recipe. Great ResourcePublished 18 months ago by Cam D
The recipes have been optimized through thorough experimentation and produce fantastic results. This is the only recipe book I'll follow to the letter (well, the first time I make... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer