Most helpful positive review
202 of 205 people found the following review helpful
Reading pleasure as well as recipes
on July 2, 2002
Cooks Illustrated is like no other cooking magazine I have ever read. It's a sort of Consumers Reports for cooking, aimed at the beginning gourmand. The magazine includes recipes, tips sent in by readers, standard methods for important cooking procedures, reviews of gadgets or food items, and reviews of cookbooks. All of these are accompanied by beautiful black-and-white illustrations and photos of the foods and techniques used (which explains the "Illustrated" part of the magazine title).
My favorite articles are those that delve into the development of the recipe featured. These articles all provide a standard format of describing the "perfect" representation of the items and then the authors explain their process for creating their final recipes and the method by which to read and make the recipes. While this sounds scientific (and indeed, it is), the writing is delightful and down-to-earth, not dry or esoteric as other gourmet magazines. In addition, sidebar articles explore choosing particular ingredients or comparisons of different brands or gadgets relating to the recipe shown and give clear direction where the more elusive ingredients and gadgets can be purchased.
While I am not always confident that the recipes in other magazines or cookbooks have been tested, I am always certain that the recipes in Cooks Illustrated have been rigorously reviewed and have been designed to be made by the average cook, not trained culinary experts. If you are seeking a magazine that provides tried-and-true recipes for basic food items (ranging from Beef Stroganoff to Salade Nicoise), this is a perfect choice. It is obvious that this magazine is a work of love for its editors and writers. There are no advertisements, and the only color photos are on the inside of the back page of the magazine.
(At one time, Cooks Illustrated had a special featured area on Amazon.com. The articles posted there are still available on Amazon.com, but you have to dig. Search under the book The Best Recipe, click through to the book description, and under "Book Information" in the left column, click the Amazon.com articles link and explore from there. These articles are great--albeit more brief and non-illustrated--versions of the articles in the magazine.)