- Ring-bound: 736 pages
- Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; 2nd,Har/Lslf R edition (September 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 193361501X
- ISBN-13: 978-1933615011
- Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 9.3 x 2.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 496 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition Ring-bound – September 1, 2006
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Over time, twin enterprises Cook's Illustrated magazine and America's Test Kitchen have published many books dedicated to providing exhaustively tested recipes--"best" versions of traditional dishes plus definitive takes on kitchen equipment and ingredients. Some series readers have complained of endlessly recycled or rejiggered recipes; others take each book at face value, finding the formulas and cooking insights good and helpful. America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which calls itself a cookbook, cooking school, and kitchen reference in one, offers over 1,200 approachable recipes for a very wide range of dishes--from "weekday" fare like Creamy Rice Casserole, Cheesy Nachos with Spicy Beef, and Skillet Lasagna, to dressier recipes, including Pan-Seared Lamb Chops with Red Wine Rosemary Sauce, Roasted Trout Stuffed with Bacon and Spinach, and Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse. There are "specialty" chapters devoted to sandwiches, drinks, and slow cooker and pressure cooker dishes; a grilling section is a tutorial in itself.
Unorthodox, "better-way" approaches abound. For example, a fried chicken formula instructs the cook to wet the bird's dry coating slightly before it's applied for an extra-crunchy crust. Predictably, side bars feature equipment and ingredient evaluations, on bottled salsa, for example; "good food/bad food" photographs show readers what to aim for when producing fare like holiday cookies; and there are tips, charts, and "Cooking 101" sidebars galore. Step-by-step photos offer more direction still.
Though the majority of recipes are sound and yield tempting results, readers poring through the book will note gaffes and curiosities. The recipe for poached eggs, for example, offers the option of extra cooking for "firm yolks" (hard-boiled poached eggs, anyone?) and hamburgers receive an indentation before cooking to avoid "puffy" domed burgers, a novel problem that could, in any case, be solved by proper shaping. The addition of sugar to some savory dishes--for example, a pan sauce for steak--is misguided. Readers should also know that the book, which comes in loose-leaf form, requires some assembly, and that the pages themselves are quite thin, making them vulnerable to spills and tearing in daily kitchen use.
These things said, the book delivers solid, family-friendly dishes with enough fully orchestrated "how- to" to make even novice cooks feel secure when tackling the basics or more ambitious fare.
What's New in the Revised Editon?
First out in 2005, Americas Test Kitchen Family Cookbook was praised for its recipe ease, inclusiveness, and wealth of helpful information, but was also criticized for its physical production. A loose-leaf book with its pages included separately, readers found it inconvenient to assemble and its paper impractically thin. The revised edition is printed on heavier stock, and arrives with its pages already on its rings (there are two more now, for sturdiness) with only chapter dividers to insert, a simple task.
In addition, new inside front and back covers provide information on emergency substitutions, roasting guidelines, equivalent measures, and more--and a "Light Recipes" chapter has been included. Without defining precisely what "light" means--fewer fats and carbs, or a combo?--the section offers attractive all-course recipes, such as turkey chili, veggie burgers, meat and cheese lasagna, and chocolate bundt cake. Some readers will welcome the "slimming" of familiar dishes while others will find some of the manipulations--using cornstarch to thicken the sauce in fettuccine alfredo or ricotta to add body to a reduced-fat pesto, for example--unappealing. The book, however, remains a valuable kitchen tool--and one with greater convenience and durability than before. --Arthur Boehm
Exclusive Recipe Excerpts from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (Revised Edition)
Light Chicken Parmesan
Classic Apple Pie
The Best 30-Minute Recipe
From the Back Cover
The America's Test Kitchen Guarantee: Recipes that work . . . the first time and every time.
We know how frustrating it can be when things go wrong in the kitchen. Thats why every single recipe in this book has been tested not once, not twice, but often as many as 20, 30, or even 40 times. And then, just to make absolutely sure, we often test our recipes using cheap cookware, mediocre stovetops, and the wrong ingredients. All of this work results, we hope, in a simple promise: our recipes work, the first time and every time. As we like to say, "We make all the mistakes, so you dont have to." So here are 1,200 recipes you can count on. And thats a guarantee from Americas Test Kitchen to your kitchen.
Top customer reviews
-Selection: Basic fried egg sandwiches and spaghetti and meatballs have become staples in my cooking from the recipes and instructions in this book. I'm also inspired to try pork lettuce wraps and steak au poivre. If there is a kitchen staple such as ranch dressing or banana bread, it's probably in here. However, there is also a selection of more interesting, complicated dishes to spice up the kitchen of even more advanced cooks.
-Advice: This is the "thing" that makes the Test Kitchen what it is. They have a staff of professionals willing to make batches upon batches of chocolate cake and taste-test dozens of olive oils to get the best brands and perfect recipes for the book. Because of their time and effort, every recipe is a standout, almost sure to work the first time. They also have tons of tips on techniques, methods and why they cook things a certain way to better increase your cooking ability in general, not only in the recipe printed.
-Arrangement: I wish every cookbook I own was designed like Test Kitchen. Firstly, the ring-bound design (flawless on my book) makes it super easy to have the recipe you need on the counter or on the go without taking up much space. Also, the recipes are written very clearly. There is prep time and total time indicated so you know right off the bat how long it will take. The ingredients are spaced nicely and in bold, and the steps are also spaced and numbered nicely and instructions clear and precise. The amount of blank space is nice to not clutter the page and keep your vision on the recipe you need.
-Customization: The amount of recipes clearly outlined could maybe be doubled with the amount of variations and quick additions to recipes they give you. Simple cooked carrots includes 4 different variations with simple ingredients. In nearly every section, they have a box or page dedicated to offering suggestions on other ways to cook things (such as simple suggestions for veggies) or favorite combinations (two pages of sandwich offerings). They don't need to write and you don't need to learn a whole new recipe to spice and change things up. Also, they try to give you low-fat or healthy alternatives where viable (and they definitely tell when doing so will compromise the dish.) There is even a section in this revised version dedicated to light versions of some of the printed recipes. They also have lots of information about substitutes, what works and what you shouldn't bother with.
-Doesn't necessarily follow the show: I only found the show after I got the book, so I don't know about this. I only mention this in case it's true, someone loves the show and finds that to be a disappointment, as another reviewer did.
-Slow cooker section not great: You're probably not buying this cookbook for the slow cooker section, but it is in there and could be important for someone who depends on the machine. The purpose of a slow cooker is generally to make things more convenient and easier, and most of the recipes for the slow cooker in Test Kitchen include about an hour of prep and cooking before things go in the pot. This probably stems from their dedication to cooking things for maximum flavor and texture, but if you're wanting to toss some ingredients in a pot and leave it, you will probably be less than thrilled with these particular recipes.
-Title: "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook" is really long and I haven't found a good nickname yet for when I always say "America's Test Kitchen says..."
Every single recipe in this book is foolproof. You simply cannot go wrong with these recipes, and in every case the recipe will probably be an improvement over what you've been used to. They really are that good.
The book is laid out in a solid and durable binder system, with index-tabbed dividers between each section, making it easy to find recipes in a snap. Recipes that require a particular technique have notes with instructions on how to do it (e.g., folding). There are also plenty of recommendations for kitchen equipment and hardware, useful tricks, and even discussions of which brands of commonly found ingredients taste best.
Because this book has nearly every classic American dish, it's the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys cooking and likes this style of food. Since each recipe often has notes explaining methods or tricks, as well as equipment advice, it's also a great gift (or investment) for the novice cook. Think newlywed couple, college student living outside the dorm for the first time, or even people who invite you over all the time but suck at cooking.