- Hardcover: 435 pages
- Publisher: Americas Test Kitchen; 1st edition (March 15, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933615141
- ISBN-13: 978-1933615141
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Best Make-Ahead Recipe Hardcover – March 15, 2007
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In its many publications and on TV, Cook's Illustrated/Americas Test Kitchen offers exhaustively tested "best" recipes, tips, and product evaluations. Among its cookbooks, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe offers over 300 formulas that can be prepared in advance, held, and finished later. The recipes range widely from pre-prepared oven-ready dishes like Baked Fish Provençal; "double-duty" recipes, such as Mexican-Style Pork and Chorizo Stew, that use leftovers imaginatively; slow-cooker items like Tuscan white bean soup; and desserts, such as a chocolate soufflé that can go from freezer to oven successfully. In addition, the fully illustrated book offers helpful charts like How to Reheat, which provides advice according to portion size and heating method; special-occasion menus that can be started up to a month ahead; and discerning product and equipment advice.
As with other Cook's Illustrated projects, Make-Ahead includes recipes that have appeared previously in its other works, though a majority of these have been amended with make-ahead or scaling-up data. Almost all the recipes are prefaced with their trademark testing "diaries," exhaustively detailed accounts of the recipe-making process ("With the onion shells figured out, we focused next on the filling...," gives the flavor), which some readers will find enlightening, but others will think excessive. Of course, certain recipes, or recipe classes, like that for desserts, are necessarily made wholly or partially in advance--but the book's point is to provide formulas designed to yield superior results even when the uncompleted dishes are held, as most can be, in the refrigerator or freezer. Mission accomplished. Readers will find the book a consistently reliable resource for superior make-ahead dishes for everyday and special-occasion cooking. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The thorough, ever-reliable experts at Cook's Illustrated (The Best 30 Minute Recipe, The New Best Recipe) return with definitive make-ahead recipes for a number of classic dishes. Busy cooks will find recipes for standards such as Lasagna and Twice-Baked Potatoes as well as Slow-Cooked Barbecued Brisket and Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka. It should be noted that while the final steps-thawing a dish or throwing a prepared casserole directly in the oven-are easy, preparation often requires some planning. The authors' well-known compulsion to test recipes multiple ways before declaring a "best" version leads to text-heavy introductions for each dish, but readers are frequently rewarded with helpful tips and tricks. Flat no-bake lasagna noodles make fine stand-ins for the titular pasta in Baked Manicotti, and flank steak frozen for twenty minutes firms up the fibers before it's sliced to accommodate a cheese and spinach stuffing. Combined with a plethora of recommendations for everything from dutch ovens and hand blenders to "the best dark chocolate," this title makes a helpful resource for cooks with a passion for doing their "best."
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1. It says Make Ahead in the title, not Freeze
2. This could actually teach me something here :)
If you're like me, Monday through Friday is exhausting. When I get home from work, I am too drained to even think about what to eat, let alone cook it! I love to cook though and always enjoy it like a hobby on weekends. SO, what this book made me think was that there are some recipes that I can freeze for later in the coming week, or even way ahead of that, and some I can prep and whip together quickly Monday and Tuesday. It takes the guess work out of weekday suppers and makes it easier than starting from scratch.
The other big thing about this book (if you have never made or heard of America's Test Kitchen recipes before) is you can rely on these folks. These recipes are not hit and miss and this book is not going to collect dust. Make enough of them, and you start noticing techniques repeat into a habit, like blooming spices and garlic in oil, and you feel more confident as a cook. At least that has been the case with me. I really trust them.
I do have one gripe and that is just how it is organized. It is appetizer, casserole, sauces... I wish those were sub-categories and the big categories were Freezer Recipes: appetizer, casserole, sauces...; 1-2 Days Ahead Recipes, etc. Just because I feel the need to mark with highlighters or post-its all the freezer recipes to make navigation for them easier, and I don't like marking books like this.
But again, I found there to be so much good information and SO many recipes (It's over 400 pages with often more than 2 or 3 recipes on the page and even variation ideas) that I can't help forgiving them for that. :)
One last thing a lot of folks may find useful and not be expecting it: There's a whole section on double duty recipes which are ones that help you do something with leftovers besides just eat them as is again.
I have read most of their cookbooks cover to cover like a novel, and you end up learning so much about the food you make and the foods you're afraid to make. This particular volume of make-ahead recipes has become a bible for me. I frequently entertain lots of people, whether family or friends, and yet I'm not the type that enjoys cooking while they're all there. I like to prep in advance and then pop everything into the oven so that the kitchen is mostly clean (we're typically hanging out in there, right?) and I can sit down and have a cocktail. My problem before was that I can't stand how the food quality goes down so dramatically when you cook in advance. With this cookbook you are able to create so many dishes that you never before thought would be possible to have done any time other than last-minute.
Now my kitchen is clean and I have so many more options than pot roast and new potatoes.