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The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook Hardcover – November, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Boston Common Press; First Edition edition (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093618454X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184548
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Based on the popular PBS TV series, Cook's Illustrated's America's Test Kitchen Cookbook presents more than 200 recipes in short, essay-like investigations that reflect exhaustive ingredient, equipment, and method testing. Over the years, Cook's Illustrated magazine has set itself to the task of finding the best versions of favorite dishes. The result has been often-definitive reports on how to achieve fare like thin-crust pizza, oven-fried chicken, and blueberry muffins. Readers who look to the magazine for the last word on dish preparation, and others seeking reliable, enlightening cooking counsel, will welcome this book.

Each recipe includes a What We Wanted statement (in the case of french fries, for example, "Golden brown fries with a nice crunch on the outside and an earthy potato taste"); explores various dish approaches (the perfect fat for fries is investigated and determined, among other cooking issues); What We Learned ("Use russet potatoes, soak them in ice water, and fry in peanut oil twice); the recipe itself; and other features such as Testing Lab (a detailed view of the dish's perfecting process). A full range of dishes are explored, from puréed soups, sandwiches, and barbecue fare to holiday dinners, seafood classics, and sweets such as apple pie, bar cookies, and chocolate desserts. Fully photo illustrated, and with useful step-by-step technique drawings, the book is a valuable kitchen resource that will help readers cook better. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

This impressive compendium of basic recipes follows the format of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the television series America's Test Kitchen. Accordingly, it presents painstakingly tested standard recipes for American classics like Grilled Hamburgers and Brownies. Chapters are thematic: a Thanksgiving chapter includes Crisp-Skin High-Roast Turkey and Turkey Gravy; another on Steak Frites provides recipes for Pan-Seared Steaks, various sauces and, certainly, French Fries. Recipes have been tested with all possible variables e.g., the editors cooked both commercial and specialty bacons in a microwave, a skillet and an oven before settling on oven-roasting. Also included are the results of numerous blind taste tests of everything from canned tomatoes to lemon oils and extracts, and equipment evaluations. After being subject to this kind of scrutiny, these recipes are guaranteed to work perfectly, and all the "Science Desk" reports are a boon to kitchen nerds who may wonder about such things as "Why Potatoes Turn Brown." Sometimes, however, this attention to the minutest detail and the constant quest for "the best" can seem misplaced. For example, it's nice to know that challah makes top-quality French Toast, but this dish is often a last-minute whim made with whatever's in the house, making the four pages of instructions, analysis of griddles, two recipes (one for challah and the other for day-old European-style bread, with a few caveats) feel overblown. Nonetheless, culinary geeks everywhere will love this book. Photos and illus. (Jan.) Forecast: The magazine's popularity promises steady sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

I've enjoyed the cooking show, America's Test Kitchen, for several years.
Rosemary
This much analysis really helps you experiment more intelligently, though it's dangerous to open the book if you're in a hurry.
audrey
I really wanted to give it 3 1/2 stars, and rounded up because I don't like being cheap with praise.
Brian Connors

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By G. Reed on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This cookbook, and the associated magazine "Cook's Illustrated," try hard to discover the best methods, equipment and ingredients for cooking in the home. And they do so by exhaustive (at least it would be for me!) comparisons. They then explain the results and why they were achieved. If you have a scientific bent at all the explanations will suck you into trying the recipes. Then the tastes will hook you forever. For example, brining almost all poultry is now a staple technique in their repertoire, and after reading why (and going through the drawing of what happens to protein molecules during brining) it's now a staple in my home as well. Some discoveries that they share were serendipitous, too, such as leaving a brined turkey uncovered overnight in the fridge, cooking it anyway, and discovering that the resulting bird had both crisp skin (from drying out in the fridge) and juicy meat (from the brining). If understanding why something does what it does, if being shown why one thing is considered better than another, if comparisons are important to you -- then this cookbook is one you should have.
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101 of 109 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
These books are great! I love my Cooks' Illustrated Books and use them all the time. My one and only complaint is that they have now published the Best Recipe series and now the Test Kitchen books and they don't have enough recipes to fill them each one with enough unique recipes to distinguish one book from another.
A few repetitions is understandable, but they have gone way over the top. If you buy more than two of these books, the third is bound to be composed of a third the recipes from each of the first two. Same test info, everything. This only leaves 1/3 of the recipes as original.
Because of this, I say look carefully before deciding which one from this series you purchase unless you want multiple copies of the same testing articles and recipes.
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162 of 179 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I fell in love with Cook's Illustrated magazine -- I've subscribed since the charter issue ten years ago. So I bought Chris Kimball's COOK'S BIBLE when it appeared. It included many of the same recipes lifted from the magazine, but that was okay, because it made searching for a particular dish easier. Shortly after that came his YELLOW FARMHOUSE COOKBOOK. More of the same. Meanwhile, the magazine is issuing individual-theme "booklets" for... It's up to a couple dozen by now, and all of them simply riffs on previously published material in the magazine. Then came Pam Anderson's (she was former exec ed and her absence is sorely missed) THE PERFECT RECIPE, which contained 30 of her COOK'S magazine articles. More repeats of the same information. A year later Cook's puts out THE BEST RECIPE, virtually identical to Pam's. More repeats of the same classic American fare. Now we have the BEST RECIPE SERIES, up to four at last count, the most recent being, AMERICAN CLASSICS, yet ANOTHER spin redux on mac-cheese and lemon meringue pie. What sets AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN apart is that at least it's based on something other than magazine articles -- in this case, the TV series, which in itself, however, is incestuously bound to many of the same tried-and-true recipes from the magazine (and all those previous books). All of this is perfectly legal of course. You can't be arrested for plaigirizing your own recipes. But is it ethical? How many more printed versions of the same roast chicken recipe do we need? You can find nearly the same one in all of the COOK's books. Furthermore, I've begun to notice that there are odd discrepancies creeping into their recommendations.Read more ›
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on October 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was the first Cooks Illustrated cookbook I bought (I now have three) and it's... well, limited. It's meant to accompany the TV series, though in actuality it's really only a small part of what the TV show is about. Like other Best Recipe books, it occasionally nicks material from the other books (a frequent Cooks Illustrated annoyance) but it still manages to work nicely, and the recipes in it are still enough to get the reader going.
It's the odd one out of the series, limited as it is to a fairly narrow selection of items, and it has a rather strange but appetizing Southern accent (strange because of the show's basis in New England). It also has plenty of pictures that give it a playfulness that the bigger books lack.
I do recommend this book, with some reservations (though the recipe that teaches how to butterfly a turkey is not something you're going to find anywhere else, and might be worth it if it saves someone some frustration on Thanksgiving). I really wanted to give it 3 1/2 stars, and rounded up because I don't like being cheap with praise. Just understand that it's a sample of what Cooks Illustrated is all about, and really just a cleverly done ad for their bigger books, and you will definitely not be disappointed.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By skytwo on May 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After falling in love with the series, I decided to give the cookbook a try. I wasn't disappointed-- the casual presentation translates well into text, and the book is entertaining enough to read on its own merits.
As a would-be cook who lacked a wise mentor who could pass on simple but indispensable techniques, this was the answer to my prayers. Not only are the recipes simple and thorough, but the results have been phenomenal. As if that weren't enough, the reviews of different ingredients, utensils, and appliances have been a huge asset to me as I begin to fill in the gaps in my kitchen. The folks at Cook's Illustrated have done a fine job of presenting a show and a cookbook that are the perfect starting point for those who love to cook but don't have that certain something-- a painless way to go from apprehensive producer of so-so dishes into confident creator of attractive and tasty meals.
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