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The Cook's Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking Hardcover – October 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0316493710 ISBN-10: 0316493716 Edition: 1st

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The Cook's Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking + The Dessert Bible + The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316493716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316493710
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What Gideon is to the hotel room, Kimball will soon be to the kitchen: inspirational, informative and probably ubiquitous. In this compendium of facts and firm opinions, the founding editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine details the research that informs his positions on the best pots, thermometers and knives and the value of pasta machines, microwaves and ice-cream makers. This evaluative approach extends to the 400 intensively tested recipes that advocate preferred methods for cooking rice, grains, fish, meat, poultry, sweets and more. Kimball dispels many widely held misconceptions as he asserts that an overnight soaking of dried beans is "vastly preferable" to a quick-soak and that a tightly trussed bird will roast unevenly. It took 33 tries in Kimball's count before he achieved the perfect pie crust; following his progress is like solving a delicious mystery. Some bread bakers may question the author's praise for rapid-rise yeast and his declaration that saltless bread is "inedible" (thereby dismissing a tradition of Tuscan bread-making), but these are quibbles about a highly personal book that tells not only how to prepare specific foods but why. For many, Kimball, who comes across as a purist's Martha Stewart, will be the ultimate source for such kitchen basics as the best method for roasting beef (a speedy 400 degrees for tenderloin; a more leisurely bout at 250 for tough bottom round). Kimball's experiments demonstrate that even experienced cooks don't know all the answers, although everyone will know more after reading this impressive compilation. 200 halftone illustrations not seen by PW. 40,000 first printing; BOMC/Good Cook selection; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kimball was the founding editor of the original, much-loved Cook's magazine, which he revived several years ago as Cook's Illustrated. Here he offers his culinary knowledge in 50 chapters, from What To Buy for the Kitchen to Baked Fruit Desserts, with dozens of photographs and step-by-step line drawings. The approach follows that of the magazine, where, for example, chicken may be roasted 15 different ways to determine "the best" way to cook it, or 40 batches of chocolate chip cookies are baked to find "the best" recipe. Some readers will find the detailed accounts of all the retesting and experimenting fascinating, while others will probably prefer just the recipes that resulted and less of the background. Sometimes the emphasis seems a bit odd?for example, there's a chapter on pasta sauces and another on how to make ravioli, but none on making basic pasta dough and using it for different shapes. Kimball is a man of strong opinions ("very few home cooks have a salt box, but everyone needs one"), and his very personal book will not be for everyone. Recommended for larger collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Chris Kimball founded Cook's Magazine in 1980. Now known as Cook's Illustrated, it has a paid circulation of 900,000. He also hosts America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country, the top-rated cooking shows on public television. A regular contributor to the Today show, CBS's The Early Show, and NPR's Morning Edition, he lives in Boston and Vermont. Fannie's Last Supper, the film of the dinner that Kimball served in his 1859 townhouse, airs in fall 2010.

Customer Reviews

The Lamb Roast master recipe is to die for!
Leslie
The content of the book I received was the same as the one purchased, but it was like getting a mass-market copy of a hardcover book.
Allison L. Shaw
I use the same techniques, the same equipment, and very nearly the same quality of ingredients.
B. Marold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

217 of 232 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid cook and, while I no longer subscribe to "Cooks Illustrated" magazine, I respect Chris Kimball and his expert kitchen team and have had good luck, more or less, with their recipes which, if followed EXACTLY, are virtually foolproof. I also never fail to learn something from their informative kitchen commentary, including kitchenware recommendations. All in all, his recipes and advice are beneficial to both novice and experienced cooks.
That having been I have to point out that taste is, of course, subjective. For instance, I've found, from trying a number of Kimball's recipes, that he is a salt-a-holic. I prefer to cook with little or no salt, as I find the taste harsh and unpleasant, and if I followed Kimbell's recipes exactly I'd be drowning in the stuff. I prefer pepper and tend to double or triple the often meager amounts Kimbell calls for in his recipes (usually he calls for four or fives times more salt than pepper, and I tend to reverse those ratios).
The recommendations too, are, of course, all one man's opinion. He speaks harshly of Le Creuset, which is my favorite cookware, despite the expense (don't listen to Kimball: the enamel service is as good or better than non-stick), and frequently raves about plain cast iron which, while I'm sure can be great, takes a great deal of patience to properly season (I've NEVER had any luck doing so), can't be washed in a dishwasher (big downfall, in my opinion) and can easily destroy an induction cooktop (something Kimball fails to even mention). He also highly recommends an electric rice cooker which is, perhaps, the least useful tool in my kitchen and is quite scornful of breadmakers, an appliance I use several times a week quite happily.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is the first cookbook I've read which has turned me on to the science of food-making in a clear, understandable, and fool-proof way. It is liberating to realize that broccoli tastes best when steamed 7 minutes (this is really true), that I can make truly amazing salad greens (I can't stop eating them) if I dress them with WHITE balsamic in a 4-to-1 ratio with fine olive oil--I add a teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary and cracked pepper; and that a perfect roast chicken can be achieved by simply brushing the skin with butter and turning two times. By following along with his scientific method of figuring out what tastes best, I've also found that I've picked up an understanding of cooking that has allowed me to experiment more in the kitchen, and get creative--which is half the fun of it, after all.
Kimball's recipes focus on bringing out the best qualities of the food being prepared, rather than relying on sauces, cheeses, etc. to make it taste good. My snobbiest cooking friends have tasted food I've made from this book and commented on its deliciousness. I highly recommend it, especially to people who want to learn the hows and whys of cooking to become better, more creative cooks.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
James Beard brought fine cooking to the American kitchen. Christopher Kimball has continued in this tradition.
This book provides not simply near perfect recipes but a guide to both the experienced cook and the novice on how to prepare them. The sections on the selection of kitchen equipment are wonderful. He presents his recommendations on what you need not only in the generic, but the specific.
Some of what he advocates, you may disagree with. I know that I can put a finer edge on a knife with a good steel than I can with the recommended electric knife sharpener. However, the knife sharpener is necessary when the edge no longer responds to the steel.
In no case will you go wrong with his recommedations (except for the waffle recipe). It does need more oil.
For anyone starting to learn to cook or wanting to learn to cook better, this is a priceless resource. I cannot recommend it more strongly. If I had only one cookbook in my kitchen, this would be it. The second would, of course, be James Beard American Cooking.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have the version of "The Cook's Bible" that came as one book together with "The Dessert Bible." If you are at all familiar with Cook's Illustrated Magazine, the format and style will be familiar to you. As for recipes, you will find it all in here -- product tests, exhaustively researched recipes for the food your mom and grandma used to make, etc. Some of the product testing is a little dated, but frankly, I don't base my purchases on Christopher Kimball's opinions anyway. I rely on an amalgam of information from many different sources to determine the best kitchen equipment, ingredients etc.
It's a great kitchen resource, but be warned -- if you own this, there's no need for you to buy "The Best Recipe," "The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook," or basically anything else Cook's Illustrated puts out, because the recipes are the same. This book is basically an expanded version of the non-dessert recipes in "The Best Recipe," which I also own. Cook's Illustrated is famous for recycling their recipes over and over and just putting new titles and covers on the cookbooks. If you buy this, don't buy another CI book until you're absolutely positive (through side-by-side comparison) that you need both.
The only other criticism I have of this book -- and all the Cook's Illustrated books, really -- is there's not a lot of diversity of cuisines involved. The magazine and cookbooks stick to tried-and-true staples of American (actually Northeastern American) food, and occasionally step a just a little over into ethnic cuisine. But if you're looking for explosive new tastes, interesting fusions of different cuisines, daring flavor combinations, new twists on old standards etc., these are not the cookbooks you're looking for.
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