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Great cookbook! I think this will be the new thing I give as a wedding/shower gift although all the kitchen product reviews make it a better engagement gift, to have it when you register! I have tried a few recipes so far out of this and have also read through many of them. I like how precise the directions are, although I will admit that being a less experienced cook I have had a couple messups (like not mincing onions small enough to cook in the time they suggest, or maybe my burner was too low?) but these were truly my own fault and could have been avoided. Either way, I learned! So far I have tried the Bi Bim Bop, Shrimp and Cheddar Grits (twice! yum!), Spaghetti with Parmesan, Breadcrumbs & Fried Egg as well as one side- the Garlicky Green Beans. All were good recipes that i would make again. They offer lots of clever short cuts, so many how-to's and I think the index by ingredient is genius for allowing you to plan a week's worth of foods using up certain ingredients (like cabbage, heavy cream, ricotta cheese) by seeing what else you can make with it. That may be a feature of other cookbooks but it was new to me. There are chapters that focus more on weeknight meals, where they try to make it quick and involve few dishes but I like that they also include more involved, labor-of-love recipes. One thing I am looking forward to trying is the 2 person lasagna made in a loaf pan, though there are lots of nice ideas like that. I also have the Best of America's Test Kitchen for 2009 and although it's great, I would have gotten just this book had I seen it first. (I'll will still use it for when I'm cooking for more people though!) Just started watching the show and subscribed to Cook's Illustrated, nothing like going overboard! But if it gets me to cook more I'll take it. Glad to hear in the Amazon video that it will be an annual cookbook!
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First, a little background. I'd always wanted to learn how to cook. Everyone else in my family is a fairly expert cook, but for various reasons I'd missed out on the childhood training the rest of my siblings got. So I was the microwaver in a family of chefs, and more than a little annoyed by that fact.
About six months ago, I decided I'd had enough of not knowing, and I dug my mother's old cookbooks out of storage. The problem was that all the recipes in those books (Julia Child's Beef Bourguinon, for example) took six hours to make and seemed to feed sixteen people (and even Beef Bourguinon gets tiresome after you've eaten it for a week straight).
That all changed when my girlfriend saw this book in the store and picked it up for me (and for us). It was *exactly* what I needed. At this point I've prepared slightly fewer than half of the recipes in this book at least once (probably five or so have become staples we make regularly, two to three times a month). The portions are just right for the pair of us (sometimes there's a little left over for the dog). Out of the fifty-odd recipes I've cooked from this book, only two of them -- the ones involving chipotle peppers -- have been real duds [even the dog wouldn't eat the tortilla casserole :( ]. The others have all been excellent -- from the pork loin with mango salsa (which was so good it made my girlfriend's sister promise to start stalking our kitchen) to the tuscan white bean soup (which I've started keeping all the ingredients for ready to hand, so I can whip it up whenever).
More importantly, though, at least to me, this cookbook has actually given me what I needed to learn how to cook all those dishes.Read more ›
This book is focused on an interesting concept: A lot of recipes are for 4 or more people. What about those two person households? One cannot always just halve ingredients to produce a 2 person rather than a 4 person recipe. This book hopes to address that issue. With my son likely to leave in the near future (he'll graduate from college soon), creating his own life path, it will be basically 2 person dishes for me to prepare in the future, so this book has some value for me.
And, in my view, it does a good job. A nice touch is the description by the authors (from America's Test Kitchen) of how they go about experimenting, sometimes trying several different approaches to get just the right taste.
There is one nice "upfront" feature, stocking a "cooking for two" kitchen. But it is the recipes that are at the heart of any cookbook. So, let's take a look at a sampling. The very first recipe is nice: "Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables." Potatoes, carrots, and shallots with bone in chicken breasts and herbs such as thyme, red pepper flakes, a garlic clove. Add a bit of lemon juice. Pretty straightforward instructions. Another skillet meal is easy and delicious--"Stir-Fried Beef with Snap Peas and Red Pepper."
I find that poaching is a useful technique for keeping dishes moist. On page n31 is a nice recipe for "Poached Salmon with Herb and Caper Vinaigrette." I have my own recipe for poaching salmon, but this looks even better, so I look forward to trying it out. One of the main dish recipes is "Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce." The whiskey sauce sounds tasty--shallot, rosemary, garlic clove, flour, Scotch whiskey, chicken broth, parsley, butter, and lemon juice.
There are also pasta recipes and grill recipes and side dishes and desserts.
All in all, a good cookbook with an irresistible premise for me at this point in my life, as I am about to be cooking for two.
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.