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America's Best Lost Recipes: 121 Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget Spiral-bound – October 1, 2007

75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Cook's Country magazine, published by the indefatigable America's Test Kitchen, also home to Cook's Illustrated magazine, culls homey recipes from cooks nationwide. America's Best Lost Recipes contains 120 of these traditional family formulas, judged worthy of modern attention. These include the likes of Summer Squash Soufflé, Poor Boy Stroganoff, Almond Crescents with Burnt Butter Icing, and Clara's Chocolate Torte.

As with other America's Test Kitchen efforts, the goal has been to present "best" versions of favorite dishes. Original recipes have thus been tweaked where necessary (for example, extra yeast has been added to a monkey bread formula to speed its preparation) to ensure convenient, tasty results. Included also are "biographical" notes that place recipes in context, and useful tips that explore the testing process and thus provide technical insights. Color photos and a spiral-bound book add to the attractiveness of this tempting collection. --Arthur Boehm


Here are updated heirloom favorites including Corn Dodgers and Great-Aunt Ellen's Upside-Down Lemon Pudding Cake. Here, too, are the stories surrounding such regional specialties as Benne Wafers, linked for centuries to South Carolina, where slaves were said to have smuggled sesame, or benne, seeds from Africa. A spiral-bound collection compiled by the editors of Cook's Country magazine, America's Best Lost Recipes includes notes on technique, photo how-tos and a pocket for your own stained recipe cards. If you're hankering for old-fashioned pleasures, look no further. --People Magazine

Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cook's Illustrated (October 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933615184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933615189
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

America's Test Kitchen is a 2,500 square foot kitchen located outside of Boston. It is the home of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines and is the workday destination for over 3 dozen test cooks, editors and cookware specialists. Our mission is to test recipes until we understand how and why they work and arrive at the best version. We also test kitchen equipment and supermarket ingredients in search of brands that offer the best value and performance. You can watch us work by tuning in to our public television show, America's Test Kitchen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 110 people found the following review helpful By katefromva on November 12, 2007
Format: Spiral-bound
I can see why this is getting relatively lower reviews. If you're not familiar with the magazine, it has a feature where readers can write in and ask other readers for recipes that they have lost or have never been able to find. In some cases, the magazine will take one of these recipes and rework it and publish it along with the back story. This is a collection of those recipes, and for some reason, there are a lot of Eastern European ones. For example, Hungarian Cabbage Noodles, Kolotny Borscht, Szekely Goulasch, Kolaches, Potica - you get the idea. Maybe a disproportionate number of readers have an Eastern European background, maybe they are more forgetful with their recipes than other groups, who knows. In any case, I have the book, have tried several recipes and yes, I have an Eastern European background. I like the book so I give it 4 stars. Another good book similarly titled is Marion Cunningham's 'Lost Recipes'.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By NuJoi VINE VOICE on December 20, 2007
Format: Spiral-bound
Here are my biases:
1. I love America's Test Kitchen.
2. I collect "historical" cookbooks -- I like a good story with my recipes.

This cookbook has 121 recipes divided among the following chapters:
-Starters, Salads and Sauces
-Soups Stews and Main Courses
-Breakfast and Breads
-Cakes (most robust section)
-Pies, Puddings and Fruit Desserts
-Cookies and Candies

For those who are frustrated with ATK's approach to recipe writing, this book may be refreshing for you. The background information is about the origin of the recipe and is very condensed. The recipe notes are about a paragraph in length. There are also plenty of photographs, including both finished dishes and how-to pics.

I wouldn't consider these recipes fancy; they represent good, simple American fare. Use these for casual dining. Many of them may seem odd by today's standards. Because some of these recipes are older, you'll see more of our regional differences. I didn't see a lot of Southern or African-influenced old favorites, but I think that's a function of who submitted recipes.

This book is a nice-to-have, but not a must have, at least for my kitchen. I'm looking forward to the Brooklyn Cheese Puffs, Buckwheat Pancakes, Fluffies and Hummingbird Cake.

I recommend this cookbook for collectors or for those who want to reach back and make some forgotten dishes.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Plum Mojo on November 3, 2007
Format: Spiral-bound
I have had this cookbook for a week now and have made 4 of the recipes. Each one turned out great, and I can't wait to try another. The Phantom Stew recipe was the best stew I have ever made. These recipes are home-cooking from scratch, no mixes. It's like finding old recipes in Grandma's recipe box. I really like the test kitchen tips and the pictures on assembling, etc. If you have little ones around, the "Fluffies" pancake recipe is a must. I even used wheat flour in place of white and they were excellent! I love this cookbook and would recommend it to anyone who likes to cook/bake from scratch and isn't afraid to try new (old) things!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Peters on December 11, 2007
Format: Spiral-bound
I love this cookbook. In typical Cook's Illustrated style all the recipes use ingredients that are easily found in any grocery store and contain directions that are detailed and easily followed along with photo illustrations for some of the more complicated steps. I can understand why some people thumb through the cookbook and don't think the recipes look good, some of them sound disgusting by the title alone (Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake - sounds very unappetizing but the sauerkraut adds moisture to the cake and a texture that is coconut like. The end result has no sauerkraut flavor. Oh and it is sinfully delicious!).

My only complaint is that some of the recipes weren't all that lost. Granted in a few cases ATK offers a twist on the recipe (Real carrot cake uses a rum glaze instead of the standard cream cheese frosting). But in a few cases the recipe seems just like the one I was already using (Gram's Doughnuts - though very good - wasn't different from the other doughnut recipes I had in any of my other cookbooks).

If you get a chance, thumb through the book before you buy it. It certainly won't be for everyone. But right now this is my favorite cookbook. The Monkey Bread and Just Chicken Pie alone are worth the price of admission.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jerry i h on February 10, 2010
Format: Spiral-bound
This is one of the more useful cookbooks I have seen in recent years, and I expect my copy to become quite dog-eared as time goes on. I give it highest possible recommendation.

It is the happy union of 2 useful but nettlesome culinary resources:
**grandma's recipes - heirloom recipes proudly handed down through the generations that are surefire crowd pleasers. Sadly, they do not always work as advertised, and are often lacking in key details.
**Cooks Illustrated - famous for re-engineering recipes that always work. Sadly, the longish and rather fussy recipes are not always better than standard ones.

The result is a collection of rather amazing recipes that always work.

The recipes were submitted by readers of Cook's Country magazine, which explains their high quality. The editors selected the best of the best, and came up with a variety of distinctive and creative recipes that you will want to try. Even the editors snuck in a few of their own favorites (strictly speaking, some of them are not authentic, viz Chocolate Blackout Cake or Red Velvet Cake).

The recipes are fastidious, but there are a few problems:
**the flour measurements are all in cups rather than weight, and the editors do not tell you if they used spoon-and-sweep, sift-and-measure, or scoop-and-sweep. However, in a table at the very back, a cup of flour is listed as 5 oz, implying that they use scoop-and-sweep.
**the molasses ingredient is listed as mild or robust flavor, and the editors are careful to not mention any name brands. Sadly, I have a bottle of Grandma's in my pantry, and it is not so labeled, but says only `unsulphured'.
**in the cake recipes, most do not explicitly tell you when or how to unmold cooled cakes.
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