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Best American Side Dishes (Best Recipe) Hardcover – January 1, 2005

19 customer reviews

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"Cuban Cocktails: 100 Classic and Modern Drinks"
From the renowned Cuban rum bar Cienfuegos—owned by the co-owner of Death and Co., named Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail® in 2010—comes this spirited collection of 100 recipes that celebrate Cuba’s rich history and culture. See Details

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sweet three-bean salad, creamy coleslaw and cheese straws shine under the scrutiny of America's Test Kitchen in this latest addition to the Best American cookbook series. Most of the book's recipes offer variations on potluck basics- like deviled eggs, stuffed zucchini and potato salad-but all go through the same "scientific" taste panel test that made Cook's Illustrated famous for producing simple, agreeable (though sometimes a tad boring) flavors. For example, after determining that the best way to cook broccoli is by steaming (boiled broccoli absorbs too much water and becomes "soggy tasting and mushy"), the editors perfect the techniques of uniform floret cutting and offer a series of variations on the theme: e.g., Steamed Broccoli with Sesame Vinaigrette, Steamed Broccoli with Balsamic-Basil Vinaigrette, Steamed Broccoli with Spanish Green Herb Sauce. Next they perfect the techniques of Stir-fried Broccoli, Sautéed Broccoli, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, and Broccoli Rabe. Each side dish presented in the book benefits from this meticulous step-by-step method. A few more unusual recipes are also included in the volume, like Savory Noodle Kugel with Caramelized Onions & Cauliflower, and Pissaladière, a kind of French olive tart. But there's no snobbery here: the Pissaladière is followed by a four-page discussion of nachos, including the results of a tortilla chip tasting. Insets with illustrations examining different equipment, techniques and ingredients get down to the nitty-gritty of cooking. What can of beans to use? How to cut up butternut squash? Like a mini-cooking school, the detailed instructions and illustrations insure that even the most inexperienced cook can follow these recipes with success.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Best Recipe
  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; 1st edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093618485X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184852
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Amalfi Coast Girl on June 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A passionate home cook that has been honing her cooking skills for the last 25 years, concentrating on Italian cooking for the last 10 years, writes this review. My favorite cookbooks are "The Professional Chef" by the Culinary Institute and "Culinary Artistry". With more than 500 cookbooks in my collection I am usually disappointed in my recent cookbook acquisitions. If you do not own "The New Best Recipes" by the same editor you will like this book, if you do, read on.

The book is outlined as follows:
1. Appetizers
2. Salads
3. Vegetables Sides and Casseroles
4. Potato Sides and Casseroles
5. Rice, Grain and Bean Sides and Casseroles

The "Side Dishes" by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine is a nice book provided that you do not own either "Italian Classics" or "Best Recipes" by the same editors. If you own either of these two books (as I do) you will find that this book contains many of the same recipes. The books are not entirely duplicative, but at least 50% of all the recipes are in either and sometimes both of the other two books.

In the first chapter on Appetizers even the order of the recipes is the same as "The New Best Recipe" book. I stopped looking after the first five recipes were the same, and in the same order.

Many of the recipes in this book have a strong Italian influence. Most of these recipes are Italian classics. The recipes themselves are very good, and authentically Italian when appropriate. There are also some Mexican and French recipes included as well.

If you don't own either "Italian Classics" or "Best Recipes" this is a nice book. The recipes are strong and the dishes routinely turn out well. This book is written in the usual Cooks Illustrated Style.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Poston on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have used this cookbook over and over again, it's an excellent adjunct to my cookbook library. In fact, I've enjoyed it (and it's recipes) so much I purchased two copies as gifts for two "foodie" friends. They each had complimented a dish I prepared from the cookbook--I know they will like the gift! The recipes are sophisticated enough to satisfy their "foodiness" yet simple enough to accomplish fairly quickly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Garden Fanatic on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When first I thumbed through this book it looked like familiar terraine. However, even though the recipes were like ones I had they were also different. Careful thought has gone into the selection of ingredients that lead to a better product. Recipes for German potato salad in many books call for the use of vinegar and mustard; this book explains that white distilled vinegar and german mustard are the perfect choice in terms of flavor.

The how-to explanations and illustrations are very good. I tried the pizza crust and for the first time in my pizza-making career got a crust that was crisp on the bottom and chewy (but not gooey) for the inside.

An isssue I have had with recipes from America's Test Kitchen is the amount of fat and saturated fat in recipes. The German potato salad recipe uses 1/4 cup of bacon fat - Yikes! It certainly makes the salad taste delicious but one cannot have a diet of saturated-fat-filled recipes and expect to not get coronary artery disease.

My pet peeve aside, this is a good book of yummy recipes. As another reviewer has said, an estimate of the time it takes to prepare each recipe would be helpful. I gave it less than 5 stars because of the amount and choice of fats in recipes. But, for those who eat in moderation and balance their diet with lots of fresh greens, vegetables, fruit, and excercise, this may not be a concern.

This book would be a good choice as a gift for newly-weds who are inexperienced cooks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By aimless on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was my second purchase of this cookbook - the first was for me and this was a gift, so I obviously like it. I mostly stick to the vegetable sides and they are very good, although a little oily at times. I love how they explain and illustrate all the different cooking terms that I didn't really know. Also the articles on WHY to prepare a vegetable a certain way are very helpful. My only desire to "improve" this would be to star the ones that are small prep time. It is difficult for a cook like me to be doing the excellent green beans (with maple pecans) that require standing and stirring while I am getting the rest of the meal ready.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lindy on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Well, you certainly don't need 65 cookbooks for recipes! I own so many cookbooks because I enjoy reading and comparing different recipes and approaches. Even if it's the first time, I'll often read 3-6 versions of the same dish then make up my own variation. Out of this selection, cookbooks fall into 1) my "go-to" cooking standards, 2) specialty, e.g., regional/international cooking or breads, cakes and pies, 3) techniques 4) foodie experience, 5) haven't had time to evaluate the book or 6) the ones that don't make the cut but I haven't had time/heart to donate/sell.

This book would be the equivalent of a chapter or section in other cookbooks intended to cover every course from appetizer to dessert. Since Cook's Illustrated has so much content, they've broken the sections into separate cookbooks (and do they charge you for it!).

Within a week this cookbook made it into category 1, 2, 3 and sometimes even 4. That's a feat. I have other books that have been sitting on my shelves for years which I haven't tried out yet. The quality of the instructions and recipes is very high, the reasoning behind the approach is clear (which allows me to cut loose from the recipe) and darn it, the stuff tastes good. Note to those who have never tried Cook's Illustrated recipes: they err on the overly finicky and complicated side. Over the years, they've become more time conscious but still many other authors/books have more straight forward preparations. Finally, the recipes themselves are a mix of modernized comfort food mixed with restrained versions of fashion forward dishes. Tasty but not daring.

I also have other Cook's Illustrated cookbooks plus back issues of the magazine. Many of the recipes/articles are covered in different places.
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