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The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Great Cook Hardcover – October 15, 2013
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About the Author
America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for its top-rated television shows with more than 4 million weekly public television viewers, bestselling cookbooks, magazines, websites, and cooking school. The highly reputable and recognizable brands of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country are the work of over 60 passionate chefs based in Boston, Massachusetts, who put ingredients, cookware, equipment, and recipes through objective, rigorous testing to identify the very best. Discover, learn, and expand your cooking repertoire with Julia Collin Davison, Bridget Lancaster, Jack Bishop, Dan Souza, Lisa McManus, Tucker Shaw, Bryan Roof, and our fabulous team of test cooks!
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This is one heavy, well-made book. They didn't skimp on binding it either. This 822 page beauty should stand up to years of heavy use in the kitchen. Toss it on the counter and use it as a reference as you cook--it will stay open on its own.
The chapters are as follows: cooking basics; how to cook: eggs; vegetables; pasta; rice, grains, and beans; meat; poultry; seafood; grill; stocks and soups; salads; quick breads; yeast breads and pizza; cookies; cakes; fruit desserts; pies and tarts; custards, puddings, and frozen desserts; appendix; and index.
I'm going to answer a question that many of you have. Those of you familiar with America's Test Kitchen are wondering about the recycling of recipes from book to book. The answer is yes, they did recycle recipes. I own the America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 as well as ATK Family Cookbook. The first item I compared in the index is "eggs". I came up with repetitions from one book or the other for eggs benedict, some deviled egg recipes, several frittata recipes, huevos rancheros, omelets, quiches, a salad, and scrambled. Next I cross referenced "sauces" between the three books as came up with as generous an amount of overlap and then got modest overlap once more when I searched "potatoes, mashed" in the index. So why am I giving this book 5 stars?
I'm giving this book 5 stars because I feel that it offers something not many other books do. I'm a self taught cook, cooking everything from Rachael Ray to Thomas Keller in a week. No one at my house could teach me to cook growing up, and I will never be able to afford culinary school. There are huge gaps in my cooking knowledge and this book will fill them! When I hold this book and get picture by picture tutorials on recipes, I know that I'm going to learn how to do them accurately from beginning to end. There are 35 pictures to show you how to make sticky buns with pecans. It's hard to get that kind of in depth tutorial just anywhere.
The book is set up so that a core technique is photographed thoroughly so that you can master it step by step such as pan roasted chicken breasts and then they present you with a recipe library so that you can practice the master technique in other ways such as in chicken saltimbocca or chicken marsala. Despite 2,500 beautiful photographs to teach you, you aren't going to get step by step photography or even a finished picture of every dish.
I appreciate the "what can go wrong" charts on all the master technique recipes. They give you a wide range of problems ( fillets overcooked, fillets take longer to cook than indicated, etc) and then give you suggestions on how to cope with the problem in your home kitchen. Most of us have had similar problems regarding a dish that didn't quite want to follow the recipe's directions.
Each master recipe has stats to tell you how long to prep, how long to cook, the portion yield, whether you can make it ahead, and the difficulty level. Each master recipe also gives you a comprehensive list of all the kitchen tools and gadgets you will need to make each recipe a reality.
There are nice encyclopedic primers for a variety of ingredients that educate the reader all about cuts of beef and cuts of pork as well as the basics of prepping vegetables and what basic kitchen tools do. I could go on and on, but each time I turn the page, there is a new surprise. Tables for conversions and equivalencies, high altitude baking, and meat doneness temperatures reside in the appendix.
I love their sticky buns with pecans--talk about a breakfast treat. The chicken piccata is also a dependable recipe that is savory and well-balanced. Their French apple cake can't be beat. ATK consistently produces dependable recipes.
My summary after a lengthy review? Buy it. Sure, you aren't getting hundreds of new recipes. You are getting dependable, trust worthy culinary know how. This is the one cookbook I am choosing to stuff in my bag when I go on vacation with plans to cook.
1. How To. Why. What can go wrong. Choosing tools. Taking care of your tools. Using your tools properly. Cooking techniques. Bad outcomes. What you should do instead. Tips. Tricks. Step-by-step pictures. Tables. Easy-to-grasp charts. Overviews. Recipe tutorials. Recipe libraries. 46 page cooking basics chapter. 600+ recipes. 2,500+ color photos. High quality paper / top-notch production.
The book is full of information that is presented in clear, concise, consistent manner that is easy to look up, absorb and apply. This book is in-cre-di-ble.
How much would you pay for ONE cooking class? $50? $100? I once paid $300 for a two hour class. The book has 800+ (!!) pages, and each page could easily be a cooking class, in itself. In short, an incredible value.
1. ATK tests equipment / products all the time and makes recommendations based on its test / blinds tests. This book has a lot of clear, comprehensive advise on what to look for in tools, however there are no brand-specific recommendations that are present, for example, in Cook's Kitchen book (e.g. "We recommend All-Clad 12" stainless steel skillet, however Cuisinart MultiClad Pro will perform almost as well as All-Clad for 1/3rd of a price". "Our tasters preferred De Cecco dry pasta")
One can, however quickly figure out which tools they use by looking at 2,500+ pictures.
2. Unsurprisingly, the book is (somewhat) big and heavy.
You may have been cooking for a month. A year. A decade. A few decades. You may have 10 cookbooks by now. Or 40. Or 100. Doesn't matter - you have to buy this one. You will learn something new - a tip, a technique, a recipe, a how, a why, a do or a don't. Guaranteed.
Run, do not walk to buy this book!!