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The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook: Featuring More Than 1,200 Kitchen-Tested Recipes Hardcover – October 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Over time, twin enterprises Cook's Illustrated magazine and America's Test Kitchen have published many books dedicated to providing exhaustively tested recipes--"best" versions of traditional dishes plus definitive takes on kitchen equipment and ingredients. Some series readers have complained of endlessly recycled or rejiggered recipes; others take each book at face value, finding the formulas and cooking insights good and helpful. America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which calls itself a cookbook, cooking school, and kitchen reference in one, offers over 1,200 approachable recipes for a very wide range of dishes--from "weekday" fare like Creamy Rice Casserole, Cheesy Nachos with Spicy Beef, and Skillet Lasagna, to dressier recipes, including Pan-Seared Lamb Chops with Red Wine Rosemary Sauce, Roasted Trout Stuffed with Bacon and Spinach, and Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse. There are "specialty" chapters devoted to sandwiches, drinks, and slow cooker and pressure cooker dishes; a grilling section is a tutorial in itself.

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. --Arthur Boehm

Amazon.com Exclusive
Read a letter, written exclusively for Amazon.com, from Christopher Kimball, host of America's Test Kitchen and founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, as he talks about the years-in-the-making new project, America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook--an 800-pages-plus collection with 1,200 classic recipes.

Exclusive Recipe Excerpts from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

French Onion Soup

Skillet Penne and Sausage Supper

Bake-Sale Brownies

More from America's Test Kitchen

The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

Here in America's Test Kitchen

Inside America's Test Kitchen

America's Test Kitchen Live!

Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen

From Publishers Weekly

The 800-plus pages in this thorough volume are crammed with accessible, family-friendly recipes, variations, tips, product and brand information, and technique instructions from the crew at America's Test Kitchen. At the same time, it feels almost as intimate and friendly as a specialty cookbook from a single chef. Recipes range from utterly simple (Easy Homemade Pita Chips, Perfect Popcorn, and the Simplest Green Salad) to somewhat more involved—but never intimidating—contemporary interpretations of such dishes as Pasta Primavera, Chicken Piccata, Rosemary Foccacia, and Triple Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie. All the basic food categories are included, starting with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, soups and stews and moving through fish and shellfish, poultry, meat (plus a separate chapter on grilling), slow cooker and pressure cooker meals and all kinds of baked goods and desserts. The preface promises that "the recipes in this book will work in your home kitchen almost all the time," and the extensive, repeated testing reportedly conducted in America's Test Kitchen backs up that promise, meaning this volume could easily become a foolproof go-to resource for everyday cooking. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; Lslf edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936184876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184876
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 9.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,837 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

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 97 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
`The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook' is a production of the editors of `America's Test Kitchen', lead by Founder, Christopher Kimball and Editor in Chief, Jack Bishop. This organization is best known as the editors and publishers of the magazine, `Cooks Illustrated' and the PBS television show based on articles in the magazine and hosted by Kimball.

In short, this is simply a wonderfully comprehensive source for cooking at home, comparable in size and range to classics such as `Joy of Cooking' and `James Beard's American Cookery' and modern do-it-all titles such as Mark Bittman's `How to Cook Everything'. It could easily be the only cookbook you own. Aside from it's size and range, one very good thing about this book is that it does NOT follow the same style of other `Cooks Illustrated' cookbooks, most distinctively represented by `The Best Recipe'. While the theme here is that we are being given good recipes, all of which have passed muster with `America's Test Kitchen', we do not get the long narrative describing how the editors and recipe testers came up with this recipe. This means that virtually all of the 848 pages (to the end of the index) are chocked full of the recipes and not much more than the recipes. This compares well to `Joy's 914 pages and Bittman's 944 pages, although it does suggest that `Joy of Cooking' with it's two column, small print style does have a higher recipe count at, according to the cover, 4,500 recipes compared to American Test Kitchen's advertised 1200.

The book designers have done us the great favor of putting the pages in a loose leafed notebook, similar to big cookbooks from `Better Homes and Gardens' magazine.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jim Curry on November 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My Mom's kitchen was her exclusive domain. So, most of my adult life has been diminished in quality by my cooking skills. For a person like me---someone in the cheapest of the cheap seats---this book is glorious. It's a blessing. It's wonderful beyond words. It does everything I need done, and it does it well. It explains clearly what equipment I need in the kitchen, and it helps me identify good equipment as opposed to rubbish. So, I can get what I need---and not more than I need. I can acquire high quality items, knowing they will serve and last. More importantly, perhaps, it explains how to cook each recipe in a very competent way, and it does that without being vague or relying on some deep cooking knowledge or professional jargon that leaves me cold. It says what I need to do. It says it in English I can understand clearly. When I do what it says, I get good food. For a person whose cooking skills are totally a wreck, this is a wonderful help. One reviewer complained that the production quality of the book is not so good. Yes, the paper is thin and a bit fragile. However, it is my opinion that the content offers me access to a whole new standard of quality in my cooking and my eating. It would be ungrateful of me to gripe about the paper it's printed on. Strangely, someone complains because the book is worth so much more than the paper it is printed on. Wouldn't you rather have that situation than the reverse?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John A. Studdard on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was a bit leary of buying another cookbook. I already had "Better Homes and Gardens" and "Betty Crooker" and wasn't too impressed with either book. However I saw someone write a review that said "America's Test Kitchen" was better than the "Better Homes and Garden". They were definitely correct. They have excellent tasting recipes that appeal to our more modern tastes unlike the old fasion cook books that unsuccesfully try to imitate grandmas cooking. I 100% recommend this cookbook and wish I had found it as a single guy earlier. It has top notch recipes that make me hungry even as I write this. This is the only book I've taken the time to recommend and thats only because I love the food and want everybody else to enjoy it as much as me. I sound like an promo person. Sorry.
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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey R. Balikowski on December 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wow, I cannot believe the effusive praise this book garners in other reviews. Has anyone actually tried cooking these recipes? How about the inaccuracy of the cooking times? I nearly burnt my Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken (p. 354) after 3 minutes in 375 deg. F oil. It was so bland because they thought a measly 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1/2 tsp garlic powder would provide substantial flavor in 5 humungous cups of flour! And what about the suggestion of putting Grilled Sausages, Peppers, and Onions (p. 475) on a hot dog bun? Any hot dog bun would fall apart with so much food in it. And using red onions and red peppers for this recipe is un-American and makes an overly sweet meal. The Chicken Teriyaki (p. 348) was too salty by the time I reduced it to the "thick and glossy" texture they recommended. The Puttanesca Sauce (p. 216) had to be boiled vigorously rather than simmered to reduce all the tomato juice they recommended that I should dump into the saucepan. I love Cook's Illustrated and I think they publish the best cookbooks but I have to say that they oversimplified recipes from previous cookbooks (they watered-down a few recipes from their Best Recipe cookbook). I guess they did this because the normal American family would be annoyed following the lengthy recipes they published in their better cookbooks. But in the process they left out some crucial information.

What really gets under my skin is that they haven't thought about the economics of cooking in publishing their first family cookbook. A family cookbook should be marketed to all kinds of families, especially families who are living paycheck to paycheck. That means they shouldn't have sandwich recipes that have all types of fancy cheeses in them like Boursin or goat cheese. C'mon, cheeses are expensive these days.
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