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.
I'm already a subscriber to "Cook's Country" so I bought this book for my niece, along with a subscription to the magazine. I checked to make sure all of my favorite recipes from the 2011 magazine were included in this cookbook, and most of them are. Some of my favorites include:
Garlic knots--mince TEN garlic cloves and cook them in butter to make a dozen of the best-tasting garlic yeast rolls you'll ever eat. I made them for Thanksgiving and they didn't last until the next day, which averaged two rolls per person.
Make-ahead Meatloaf--this recipe makes two eight-inch loaves, and is a godsend for those nights when you just want to come home and pop something into the oven. The meat is an unusual combination of bratwurst (casings removed) and lean ground beef.
Eggplant Casserole--a great way to cook all of those eggplants from the garden, and this recipe eliminates the messy breading process.
Chocolate éclair cake--a simpler version of this recipe made with a box of instant vanilla pudding and Cool Whip was being passed around in my bridge group, but this recipe, although tricky to make, is also much tastier. The complicated testing process that the authors had to go through in order to come up with this recipe makes interesting reading, especially their failures: "But rather than a perky mousse, I had a runny pool that nearly dissolved the grahams."
This book is packed with tips on everything from making fish en papillote to cutting carrots into matchsticks (each step is photographed, with detailed text). The authors also suggest the best brand name products to use with their recipes, which is how I discovered Bull's-eye BBQ sauce.Read more ›
I have all of the "Best of" ATK cookbooks. The first two volumes had over 200 recipes and are by far my favorite ATK books. The 2009 edition started the trend of less recipes for the same price. This 2012 volume has 160, which is down from 176 from the previous book.
Now I know it comes to opinion here but a lot of the recipes just didn't interest me this time. Nothing really stood out. This is the third time we have had a stuffed chicken breast recipe in this series. Grilled thin cut pork chops? Is that really the best of the year?
I'm not saying any of these recipes are bad, because I know they're not. Actually, I can guarantee they are all very good and up to the same standards of quality we have come to love and appreciate from this company. Even though I haven't cooked the two I mentioned, there has never been one dish that was not a 9 or 10 rating in my mind.
If this is the best of the year, then it was a bad year. Yet, they say they create over a thousand recipes every year, so why do we keep getting less?
The recipes that I have tried and loved: Thin Crust Pizza, Garlic Knots, Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping, Juicy Pub-Style Burgers (with crispy shallots and blue cheese), Make-Ahead Pigs in a Blanket, Split Pea and Ham Soup and Sweet Cherry Pie. They were all very tasty, especially the Garlic Knots.
Pros: Great tips, shortcuts, and information in the back. Beautiful pictures Taste and equipment tests
Con: Less recipes Could have been more diverse in the recipe choices The breakfast and dessert sections are lacking
Conclusion: If you're like me and collect this series, then it's for you. You may be mildly disappointed in this one but I still think it's somewhat worth it.
Leave it to America's Test Kitchen to succeed once again with this book. I received it for Christmas and have already made a dozen of the dishes. Every single one turned out amazingly well...hands down the best version of these dishes I have ever tasted. It is essential to follow their instructions to a T, but the pay-off is well worth the effort. If you are looking for a cookbook that you will use often, this should be your top choice. Worth every penny.
I made 20 of the recipes from this book and, without exception, they turned out perfectly. I challenged myself to cook things I never would try (because of my investment of time or interest). I am working through one recipe a day, not only because the food is wonderful but also because I have learned more about cook technique and tricks than I ever would have otherwise. I have been able to leverage this new understanding about the science of ingredient combinations and processes with family traditional recipes. We entertain clients and suppliers at least twice a week . . . people actually fly in for meals at our house and most of the recipes come from these books, starting with the 2007 publication through the 2013. I recommend the Italian cream cake, English muffin bread, morning glory muffins, and especially the Genovese Onion Ragu. Wow!
The Best of America’s Test Kitchen is able to educate cooks of all levels to follow recipes that have been broken down into a science. I am always enthralled with the idea that cooking and science go hand-in-hand and this cookbook does an excellent job of answering basic cooking and baking questions with methodical and scientific answers. For example, one of America’s Test Kitchen’s editors, Peter Barham poses a seemingly simple question: How do you bake a cake? He explains that you should beat the eggs, or in his own words, “denature the protein to expose the hydrophilic molecules,” or rather than letting the cake bake in the oven, Barham sates that one must “allow the egg protein to cross-link chemically.” This professor of physics at Bristol University has a keen understanding of the sciences which go into the cookery processes. An enthusiasm for such sciences brought on by something we can all relate to: kitchen failures. The writers of the America’s Test Kitchen, however, do not use such intimidating vocabulary. They pack each recipe with step-by-step instructions basic enough for even the tyros of cookery to follow. As an America’s Test Kitchen aficionada, I was thrilled to find a copy of one of their bestselling cookbooks at my local Half Price Books. I purchased The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: The Year’s Best Recipes, Equipment Reviews, and Tastings, 2012 Edition with the plastic slipcover still surrounding its crisp pages. What a rarity to find a used cookbook that doesn’t have bent covers and pages stained with sauces and batters! I soon found that The Best of America’s Test Kitchen illustrates nearly two hundred recipes that the authors and producers consider the most interesting of the year.Read more ›