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The Cook's Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0316493710
ISBN-10: 0316493716
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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.
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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 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
I have had The Dessert Bible for a number of weeks now, and have meant to write a review for at least as long, but each time I sit down with the book to gather my thoughts, I get lost once again in the crisp writing, the tips, and the odd bits of knowledge and inside information that Christopher Kimball provides along with his excellent recipes. This book is terrific simply to sit down and read for pleasure and edification (how can I resist such things as Case # 48 on beating egg whites, entitled "Better Whipping Through Chemistry"?), but it is also great for hands-on cooking. I am not a very accomplished cook, and not a particularly brilliant baker, but the recipes I have tried from this book have come out really well, without the pain and angst than I might have thought necessary. In part this is due to the fact that the recipes (delicious) have been thoroughly tested and improved upon, in part it is due to the general guidance provided by the author, and the theory he offers to support his practices and methods; I find knowing how and why things work or don't contributes to my sense of confidence in cooking, and especially in making desserts, which is for me esspecially daunting. I particularly love the charts detailing his experiment results, and the "What Can Go Wrong?" sections, and I find the drawings and illustrations of techniques to be a welcome relief from posed pictures of beautiful food that taunt one with their perfection!
This is an excellent dessert cookbook, aptly named a "bible," and it would make an inspired Christmas present for a thoughtful, creative person, regardless of his or her talent in the kitchen. Highly recommend it.
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