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The Best Make-Ahead Recipe Hardcover – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 435 pages
  • Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; 1st edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933615141
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933615141
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In its many publications and on TV, Cook's Illustrated/America’s 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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The recipes were all very well explained!
A. Hottenstein
This cookbook takes the stress out of entertaining because you can make these dishes ahead of time and enjoy your guests!
amanda berris
I have tried several recipes in this cookbook and they have been great.
L. Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

388 of 402 people found the following review helpful By NuJoi VINE VOICE on August 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you don't own "Cover & Bake," this a five-star book; skip down to "Here's What I Like ..."

I think this may be the lowest rating I've ever given to a CI book (I own seven in the Best series and a handful of others.) If you own "Cover & Bake," you have many of the recipes in this book, hence the low rating.

Some of the shared recipes include:
Slow Cooker Favorites (5 of the 17 are shared with C&B)
-Pot Roast
-Beef Stew
-Brisket
-Chili
-Beef & Barley Soup

Sides (There are two shared recipes)

Casseroles (There are more variations of the recipes in this book) both books share:
-Baked Ziti
-Lasagna
-Manicotti
-Mac & Cheese
-Chicken Enchiladas
-Chicken Pot Pie
-Beef Pot Pie
-Tamale Pie
-Shepherd's Pie
Lamb & Eggplant Moussaka
-Chicken & Rice Casserole

Breakfast & Breads (only the bread recipes are unique to this book. What irks me is that the same photo is used for the start of the breakfast chapters in each book.) Shared recipes are:
-24-Hour Omelet
-French Toast Casserole
-Breakfast Strata

Here is what I like about the book
-TOC in each chapter
-The Double-Duty Cooking Chapter is great -- cook a little extra now for tomorrow's dish that won't taste like leftovers
-All of the stews and the majority of the casseroles can be made ahead and frozen. Outside of those categories, you'll find maybe 10 additional recipes that can be frozen.
-Desserts
-Make-Ahead Holiday Menus

If you don't have "Cover & Bake" get this book. When reviewed in isolation, it is a five-star book. If you're deciding which to choose, this book has a range of recipes across appetizers, sides, main courses and desserts. If you're looking for a complete make-ahead meal, this book is the way to go.
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107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By L. Martin on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have purchased other make-ahead cookbooks, such as Once a Meal Cooking and Frozen Assets. This cookbook is the best I've found. This cookbook teaches you how to prepare dishes so that they test fresh when reheated.

I have tried several recipes in this cookbook and they have been great. I was skeptical that it was possible to freeze pasta dishes and reheat them without the pasta tasting mushy. But to my pleasant surprise, the pasta dishes were very good.

Some of the recipes in this book are not recommended for freezing. They are considered "make ahead" since they can be stored in your refrigerator for a few days before cooking or baking.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By R. Lickman on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Once a month I get together with a friend and we make 10-12 meals to freeze for future use. I purchased this book with the understanding that there would be lots of recipes that I could make ahead and freeze. This book was not helpful for this purpose. There just weren't enough recipes that fall into the true make ahead and freeze category.

This book is well-organized, has good details/descriptions and some good recipes (some may be repeats from other publications). If you are a person who likes pictures, this book is not for you. I am a big fan of the publisher's other books. Sad that this one was such a disappointment!
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful By S. Gott-Dinsmore on June 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I have used the book a few times and had good to medium results, only 1 recipe I have connected with the freezer. I find it easier to cook once a week and freeze the meals, but most of the meals in this book don't lend easily to freezer cooking. Since freezer cooking was in the description when the book was available for pre order I expected a little more in that category.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By mbc19103 on November 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many of the recipes in this book were not only the best make-ahead recipes I've used, but some of the best recipes I've used. Pureed butternut squash, baked ziti, chicken and rice casserole, macaroni and cheese, and baked fish provencal are very good recipes whether you make them ahead or eat same day.

A unique feature of this book is the straight from freezer to oven approach for some of the baked goods. I have not previously seen a muffin recipe that goes straight from the freezer to the oven. This halves the time of making muffins, eliminates clean-up and results in warm fresh muffins for breakfast.

I used the make ahead mashed potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving. The recipe is too complicated to do if you have enough time to mash same day, but for a day when you're making 5 side dishes at once, it was great to pull these from the refrigerator, microwave and serve.

Like many Cook's Illustrated recipes, the recipes can be a little fussy and time consuming, but in most cases the results are worth it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Salsbery on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was so interesting the trial and error of each recipe. They make suggestions why you use one product over another when you refrigerate or freeze your food. Great information regarding kitchen gadgets as well. I have several recipes marked to whip up and have made several things already. Some I didn't care for and others where very time consuming. The manicotti recipe is great fresh or from the freezer. It was hard to tell the difference between the two. I can't wait to make the chocolate molten cakes and the apple turnovers. You can freeze both of these and have them ready for company.
The roasted chicken filled my kitchen with heavenly smells yesterday and it tasted yummy. So tender and juicy!
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