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Cover & Bake (Best Recipe) Hardcover – September 30, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


". . . .makes one-dish dinners a reality for average cooks, with honest ingredients and detailed make-ahead instructions." -- The New York Times, December 8, 2004

From the Inside Flap

No potluck dinner or church supper would be complete without Baked Ziti or Tuna Noodle Casserole. But are these dishes ever as good as they sound? More often than not, the noodles are dry and crunchy, the sauce lackluster, and the overall dish, well, passable at best. And while everyone loves the idea of a one-dish meal that is made ahead and pulled hot and browned from the oven, the reality is often disappointing.

With Cover & Bake, the editors of Cook’s Illustrated set out to revive the venerable casserole. This kind of cooking is uniquely American, and many recipes have deep roots in regional traditions. From Turkey Tetrazzini and Chicken Divan to Crab Imperial and Hoppin’ John, casseroles represent the ingenuity and practicality of the American cook. But over the last 50 years, many of these classics have taken a turn for the worse as busy home cooks, pressed for time, turned to sorry shortcuts like processed foods to make things easier. For Cover & Bake, the editors tested new versions of old standbys and in the -process have re-imagined the art of the one-dish meal to meet the demands of today’s cook.

Here you will find classic assemble-and-bake casseroles like Macaroni and Cheese and Creamy Chicken and Rice as well as innovative dishes like Mediterranean Chicken Bake and Polenta Casserole with Italian Sausage. The key to making these recipes work, apart from using the freshest of ingredients, is to use high heat and shallow baking dishes that allow you to put already cooked ingredients into a hot oven for a short period of time so that their flavors can meld without overcooking. We’ve experimented with techniques that allow you to cook everything in just one pot whenever possible, avoiding the need for hours of preparation and cleanup just to get a casserole in the oven. And nearly every recipe can be made ahead, allowing home cooks to serve these wholesome dishes on a busy weeknight.

Looking beyond what most people consider to be a casserole, the editors offer an original take on the subject with inventive skillet "casseroles" (Skillet Lasagna and Beef Stroganoff), slow-cooker meals that are really worth serving (Curried Chicken with Potatoes and Peas), pot pies with multiple topping options (many of which can be made ahead), oven braises and stews that cook in a slow oven for hours so that you won’t have to stand over a hot stove, and breakfast and brunch dishes that can be assembled the night before, allowing you to relax along with your guests. For every type of one-dish meal, we have given you practical tips and techniques along with step-by-step illustrations that make the process easier. For instance, in the slow-cooker chapter, there is a detailed guide to using slow cookers effectively based on our extensive testing, along with specific tips, such as how to arrange vegetables around the edge of the slow cooker so that they will cook all the way through.

In addition, this book contains all the relevant tastings and testings conducted in America’s Test Kitchen. Learn which baking dish is our hands-down favorite. Are all storage containers created the same? Want to know which slow cooker has the best combination of features? We’ve done thorough research into each of these topics (and more) and recommend specific kitchen items (yes, we name brands) that deliver superior results. In Cover & Bake, you will learn which brand of chicken broth tastes best, how to buy canned tomatoes that taste almost as good as fresh, and how to choose among myriad brands of rice, pasta, and noodles when you’re in the supermarket. Starting with the right ingredients and the best possible equipment makes all the difference, so we have made sure to give you the information you need to be successful in the kitchen.

Cover & Bake is packed with more than 200 recipes for one-dish meals for everyday cooking. These practical recipes will allow you to get dinner on the table with a minimum of fuss while still serving up a fresh-tasting meal.

Founded in 1980, Cook’s Illustrated magazine is renowned for its near-obsessive dedication to finding the best methods of American home cooking. The editors of Cook’s are also the authors of a best-selling series of cookbooks (The Best Recipe Series) and a series of companion books to the America’s Test Kitchen public television show (which reaches 2.4 million viewers per episode). Filmed in America’s Test Kitchen (a 2,500-square-foot test kitchen in Brookline, Massachusetts), the show features the editors, test cooks, equipment testers, science experts, and food tasters from the magazine’s staff.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Cook's Illustrated; 1st edition (September 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936184809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184807
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard W. Miller on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I own all 12 volumes of the "Best Recipe" cookbook series as well as all other volumes issued by Cook's Illustrated. I purchased all of them as they were issued. When the fourth volume in the Best Recipe series, "American Classics", was issued, their began to emerge complaints concerning Cook's repeating recipes from volume to volume.The tacit accussation was that Cook's was dishonestly repackaging already published material for additional profits. The review by Hoc Stercus, below. seems to be levelling this same accuasation at the current volume, "Cover and Bake". I would like to put this notion to rest once and for all. Each of the issued volumes (as does "Cover and Bake") has presented a plethora of new recipes and useful culinary information. They have also included pertinent recipes (and other information) tested and presented in previous volumes in the series, as they should. For example the best recipes for stove-top and baked macaroni and cheese were presented way back in the first volume of the series. Since the subject of "Cover and Bake" is just these sorts of recipes, would it be fair of Cook's Illustrated to omit these classic casserole recipes and refer the reader to a previous volume ? This would be the height of dishonesty and profit grubbing. Or do you think perhaps that Cook's, for the sake of novelty, should offer a recipe for mac & cheese other rthan the best the've developed to date? When I want the best recipe for fried chicken, I would be disappointed if it did not appear in the volume "American Classics" simply because it was published at an earlier date in the first book in the series. I expect such classic recipes to appear in all of the volumes to which they are appropriate. There is inevitably some overlap in volume coverage (e. g,.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I love to cook. I love to eat good food. But, I have a job, a preschooler, an old house, elderly relatives that need my help...the list goes on. Life is too busy for all of us and we are all guilty of making poor food choices because of our lack of time.

I'm not going to repeat the praise offered by other reviewers; I concur with all of it. The reason why people should buy this book (or give as a gift) is because each and every recipe has detailed instructions for making these dishes ahead of time and refrigerating or freezing them. Most of the dishes can be frozen for at least one month, many for two or even three months. And, best of all, they taste great no matter when they eat them.

This cookbook has made my busy life simpler. I love to share good food with my friends and family, and Cover & Bake makes that easy to do. I have relied on recipes from Cook's Illustrated for years and now, when I'm at a time in my life where time is scarce, I can continue to produce great food in a short period of time.

Just a sampling of how I've been able to utilize this book:

1. Spend one day every month preparing 4-5 casseroles that go straight into the freezer.

2. Make one "fresh" casserole each week that is eaten right away.

3. Prepare the food for a party 2-3 days in advance so my final hours before the party are focused on cleaning up after my preschooler!

4. Share one casserole each week with elderly relatives; I can even make up individual sized portions easily.

5. Made a few casseroles for a friend's freezer while she was recuperating in the hospital.

6. Shared a few casseroles with a friend who was at home with her new baby.

This is a great cookbook to have, and great cookbook to give away. I am excited by it.
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Format: Hardcover
The Cooks Illustrated web-site said that over 60% of the recipes in this book are new. I only have one other CI book, but I get the magazine (for a long time), and most of them are new to me.

I am very happy with this cookbook. I have cooked from it several times a week since I received it 2 months ago. So far, I would like to make most of the recipes again. A few I didn't care for, but probably because they were not my tastes, not because they were bad recipes.

The techniques used in this cookbook are great and can be used in your own recipes. For example, they suggest to only partially cook raw chicken in your sauce, etc., as opposed to adding diced cooked chicken, like so many casserole recipes require. The chicken tastes so much better this way.

In addition to casserole recipes, there are great recipes for making meals all in one skillet, recipes for using in your slow cooker, and some great breakfast dishes. There is also a good chapter on side dishes.

Another feature I appreciate is the "planning ahead" that accompanies most recipes. It tells you exactly what can be done ahead, and how to adjust the cooking time if you do. This is something they rarely discuss in their magazine, and I am happy they tackled this, because it will be very helpful for entertaining.

There are recipes using meat, poultry and seafood. There are also quite a few good vegetarian recipes, like tamale pie, vegetable pot pie, sopa seca, plus side dishes and some of the breakfast casseroles. They say in the book that they made some of these recipes from scratch, and I believe it. There is some real creativity in here, while at the same time you are getting recipes for some old standards you would expect, like mac n' cheese and pot pies.

If you like casserole type dishes, and/or if you like Cook's Illustrated recipes, I highly recommend this book. It is a new favorite of mine.
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