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The Best Simple Recipes Paperback – March 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

This book has been tested, written, and edited by the test cooks, editors, food scientists, tasters, and cookware specialists at America’s Test Kitchen, a 2,500-square-foot kitchen located just outside Boston. It is the home of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and Cook’s Country magazine, the public television cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen Radio, and the online America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933615591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933615592
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,509 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

167 of 170 people found the following review helpful By Mimi on March 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a "seasoned" cook, I've been down most of the cooking routes: from the French classics, to one-hour gourmet, to complex vegetarian, to severe, healthy cooking by the docs. Now, I lean to this cookbook's style: simple, tasty, fresh and light -- somewhere between poached quenelles and fried tofu. This is a good grouping of contemporary recipes with zip, often with international flair (oriental, Mexican, etc.). Some recipes are updated twists on old faves like Tuna Melt but with artichokes; BLT salad using mayo-smeared croutons; vegetarian chili with corn; Southwestern salmon cakes. Others take classics but ditch the complex and daunting preparation-- like switching paper-thin potato slices for a potato chip mix or skipping the fish-steaming by laying salmon atop the asparagus, or using rotisserie chicken for a flavorful- but quick-chicken soup. Some clever ideas that work! The book has some surprising ingredient combos like kielbasa with potato leek soup. I appreciate the explanatory notes on the thoughtful but concise hows and whys of the recipes, and am impressed with the recommendations of brand name grocery items that they have tested. It's instructive without being pedantic or fussy. For those of us who like to see the cook in action, there are selected photos of some of the techniques and I picked up a few new ones. This is the kind of cookbook you can actually USE everyday, without resorting to the dumbed-down or goofy ones, or those with exotic hard-to-find ingredients or lengthy preparation. It reflects how we cook these days, and I plan to use it often.
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95 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Mark K. Mcdonough VINE VOICE on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Boy, I really disagree with the few grumps who thought this book "beneath" Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. It's not beneath, it's just different.

Here's the need it fills:

Let's say you are at least reasonably comfortable in the kitchen and want to make interesting food in a hurry. You want some down home Americana, but you also want some international flavor without having to look for truly exotic ingredients. And it's got to be *really* quick and stress free - none of this stuff with "30-minute" recipes that leave out the slicing and dicing time and actually take 2 hours to make from start to finish. You're not looking to blow the doors off dinner party guests, but just feed the family. And you don't want to read the usual CI/TK 3 pages on how they came up with the recipe - just cut to the chase, folks.

These recipes are perfect for that need - 80% of the goodness of full-bore gourmet with 20% of the effort. That's a pretty good ratio for a weekday.

I've made a bunch of these recipes (and some recipes from the associated series of supermarket cards some folks have mentioned). The ones I've made have been yummy. The family loves them. They use real ingredients and they're interesting and tasty. I'm a big fan of the whole Cooks Illustrated / Cooks Country / America's Test Kitchen empire and for my money this is one of their very best cookbooks so far - even if it is a bit different from their usual output.
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142 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Matt Morgan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a fan of America's Test Kitchen's (ATK's) cookbooks. They follow a consistent format and the recipes tend to be reliable and reproducible. Our family tends to go in several directions at once so the idea of easy to prepare, quick meals has a lot of appeal. I was anxious to see how this cookbook measures up. In summary, it's a good cookbook but it makes some assumptions about the kitchen in which it is being used.

I have used other cookbooks that tout collections of recipes that can be prepared from start to finish in 30 minutes (in particular Rachael Ray's numerous offerings). My experience is that when a recipe is supposed to be prepared in 30 minutes or less, I usually finish up closer to 45 minutes. Perhaps someone who is more organized and motivated can accomplish this but I cannot. Regardless, every recipe I have tried from this book takes me less than an hour to put together and serve, which is still very much in line with reasonable as far as I am concerned.

One thing that is special about ATK cookbooks is the inclusion of the quick tips, brand comparisons and helpful suggestions that appear on almost every page. This book includes those same helps, and personally I find them interesting and useful.

Although not every recipe in the book comes with a nice picture, many of them (more than half, actually) do. This is always a helpful tool when deciding on what to make for a meal - eye appeal of a dish goes a long way to making a dish more likely to be tried, generally speaking. Also, each recipe is written to be clear and easy to follow and the results are consistent.

There is one main flaw with this cookbook. Many of the recipes call for uncommon ingredients that are not present in the average kitchen.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Tanya McHenry VINE VOICE on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I want to start off by saying that I love this cookbook. It is simply one of the best cookbooks I have ever had the pleasure of using, and I have used a lot. Typically I have found you have two choices, great tasting complicated recipes or quick and fast artificial tasting food. This books says 30 minutes or less for making these recipes. I find it is more around 45 or less simply because I am not speedy at the prep work as some might expect. I am not in a great deal of a hurry either.

Now I have had a chance to make five recipes so far, two of them I loved, 3 of them were okay and one I didn't care for so much. Now the one of the ones I found to be okay probably had more to do with the my tortellini selection than anything, and the one I didn't care for much at all tasted plain and bland to me. The thing is though, the recipes are so straight forward that, for instance for the gumbo, I can easily add in my own seasoning the next time around and I will. The cooking method turned out great so it's just a matter of adjusting to taste.

Here are some bullet points of what I found to be good and not so good about the book overall.

Pictures: not every recipe has a picture, but there are a lot of quality pictures here including technique and info pictures ( 2 pages on cuts of beef too!)

Techniques: this is great, it talks about cutting leeks, cuts of steak, best way to make stir-fys, very instructional tips and the like that is great for novice and reminders for experiences cooks

Brand: they mention brand choices that they find to offer the best flavor, or texture, or etc. I find this especially useful when I am dealing with an ingredient I am not as familiar with.
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