Unorthodox, "better-way" approaches abound. For example, a fried chicken formula instructs the cook to wet the bird's dry coating slightly before it's applied for an extra-crunchy crust. Predictably, side bars feature equipment and ingredient evaluations, on bottled salsa, for example; "good food/bad food" photographs show readers what to aim for when producing fare like holiday cookies; and there are tips, charts, and "Cooking 101" sidebars galore. Step-by-step photos offer more direction still.
Though the majority of recipes are sound and yield tempting results, readers poring through the book will note gaffes and curiosities. The recipe for poached eggs, for example, offers the option of extra cooking for "firm yolks" (hard-boiled poached eggs, anyone?) and hamburgers receive an indentation before cooking to avoid "puffy" domed burgers, a novel problem that could, in any case, be solved by proper shaping. The addition of sugar to some savory dishes--for example, a pan sauce for steak--is misguided. Readers should also know that the book, which comes in loose-leaf form, requires some assembly, and that the pages themselves are quite thin, making them vulnerable to spills and tearing in daily kitchen use.
These things said, the book delivers solid, family-friendly dishes with enough fully orchestrated "how- to" to make even novice cooks feel secure when tackling the basics or more ambitious fare.
What's New in the Revised Editon?
First out in 2005, Americas Test Kitchen Family Cookbook was praised for its recipe ease, inclusiveness, and wealth of helpful information, but was also criticized for its physical production. A loose-leaf book with its pages included separately, readers found it inconvenient to assemble and its paper impractically thin. The revised edition is printed on heavier stock, and arrives with its pages already on its rings (there are two more now, for sturdiness) with only chapter dividers to insert, a simple task.
In addition, new inside front and back covers provide information on emergency substitutions, roasting guidelines, equivalent measures, and more--and a "Light Recipes" chapter has been included. Without defining precisely what "light" means--fewer fats and carbs, or a combo?--the section offers attractive all-course recipes, such as turkey chili, veggie burgers, meat and cheese lasagna, and chocolate bundt cake. Some readers will welcome the "slimming" of familiar dishes while others will find some of the manipulations--using cornstarch to thicken the sauce in fettuccine alfredo or ricotta to add body to a reduced-fat pesto, for example--unappealing. The book, however, remains a valuable kitchen tool--and one with greater convenience and durability than before. --Arthur Boehm
Exclusive Recipe Excerpts from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (Revised Edition)
Light Chicken Parmesan
Classic Apple Pie
The Best 30-Minute Recipe
From the Back Cover
We know how frustrating it can be when things go wrong in the kitchen. Thats why every single recipe in this book has been tested not once, not twice, but often as many as 20, 30, or even 40 times. And then, just to make absolutely sure, we often test our recipes using cheap cookware, mediocre stovetops, and the wrong ingredients. All of this work results, we hope, in a simple promise: our recipes work, the first time and every time. As we like to say, "We make all the mistakes, so you dont have to." So here are 1,200 recipes you can count on. And thats a guarantee from Americas Test Kitchen to your kitchen.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
However, I must agree with another reviewer that while some of the recipes are straight out of their episodes and other cookbooks, there are several I've tried so far that seem "safe" and therefore bland. The blueberry muffin recipe turned out dry and crumbly. The chili had to be kicked up a notch with some additional spices at the last minute, and the spinach dip was watery and unremarkable.
But there are lots of recipes and I like the way they're organized, so I would say it's worth purchasing, but not worth the honor of the "go-to" cookbook that never fails you.
This book recommends brands for ingredients and equipment, and they are almost always right. (My husband and I can't tell the difference if I cook with their recommended chicken broth or the generic canned stuff.) It's also good at demonstrating techniques such as slicing chicken breasts into cutlets.
It also explains WHY they think it's important to use this ingredient rather than that one, or to do the steps in the prescribed order, or to do a certain technique their way.
Overall, this is a great cookbook for someone with just a little experience who is eager to improve their cooking. Not great for a total novice--they expect you to know how your range works, how to boil water...but they illustrate the differences between chopping, dicing, mincing.
This cookbook is one of the best gifts I've ever received, and my husband agrees. We're really enjoying going through these thousands of recipes.
The chefs in America's Test Kitchen try so many variations and publish the best, and they're always right! The recipes are specific and easy to follow. If ever I need to cook to impress, this is the book I use.
For example, a simple roast chicken is exponentially enhanced by the brining they recommend and a liberal rubbing of tarragon butter under the breast skin and all over the skin. The pan-seared chicken breasts with vermouth and tarragon sauce come out perfectly when I use the combination stovetop and oven bake technique they prescribe. The corn chowder is significantly creamier thanks to their recommendation to puree the corn kernels beforehand.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent heirloom quality w wonderful recipes..a hand me down for any family!Published 1 month ago by D.
Bought two of these as gifts for family members. The science and documentation approach seems to be very appealing to the men in my family. They consult their books frequently.Published 1 month ago by Tesh
I love and use this book several tims a week. As the years have passed, I realize that some of their odd solutions may not be necessary, but I appreciate the work that went into... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Old Knees
Every cook should own this book. GREAT explanations and easy to follow via pictures and directionsPublished 2 months ago by Jan Goist