In its many publications and on TV, Cook's Illustrated/Americas Test Kitchen offers exhaustively tested "best" recipes, tips, and product evaluations. Among its cookbooks, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe offers over 300 formulas that can be prepared in advance, held, and finished later. The recipes range widely from pre-prepared oven-ready dishes like Baked Fish Provençal; "double-duty" recipes, such as Mexican-Style Pork and Chorizo Stew, that use leftovers imaginatively; slow-cooker items like Tuscan white bean soup; and desserts, such as a chocolate soufflé that can go from freezer to oven successfully. In addition, the fully illustrated book offers helpful charts like How to Reheat, which provides advice according to portion size and heating method; special-occasion menus that can be started up to a month ahead; and discerning product and equipment advice.
As with other Cook's Illustrated projects, Make-Ahead includes recipes that have appeared previously in its other works, though a majority of these have been amended with make-ahead or scaling-up data. Almost all the recipes are prefaced with their trademark testing "diaries," exhaustively detailed accounts of the recipe-making process ("With the onion shells figured out, we focused next on the filling...," gives the flavor), which some readers will find enlightening, but others will think excessive. Of course, certain recipes, or recipe classes, like that for desserts, are necessarily made wholly or partially in advance--but the book's point is to provide formulas designed to yield superior results even when the uncompleted dishes are held, as most can be, in the refrigerator or freezer. Mission accomplished. Readers will find the book a consistently reliable resource for superior make-ahead dishes for everyday and special-occasion cooking. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The thorough, ever-reliable experts at Cook's Illustrated (The Best 30 Minute Recipe, The New Best Recipe) return with definitive make-ahead recipes for a number of classic dishes. Busy cooks will find recipes for standards such as Lasagna and Twice-Baked Potatoes as well as Slow-Cooked Barbecued Brisket and Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka. It should be noted that while the final steps-thawing a dish or throwing a prepared casserole directly in the oven-are easy, preparation often requires some planning. The authors' well-known compulsion to test recipes multiple ways before declaring a "best" version leads to text-heavy introductions for each dish, but readers are frequently rewarded with helpful tips and tricks. Flat no-bake lasagna noodles make fine stand-ins for the titular pasta in Baked Manicotti, and flank steak frozen for twenty minutes firms up the fibers before it's sliced to accommodate a cheese and spinach stuffing. Combined with a plethora of recommendations for everything from dutch ovens and hand blenders to "the best dark chocolate," this title makes a helpful resource for cooks with a passion for doing their "best."
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