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The New Best Recipe Hardcover – November 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
A literal encyclopedia of recipes (culled from the magazine), this revision to Cook's Illustrated's popular The Best Recipe is almost double in size and includes more than 1,000 recipes. Cook's Illustrated is known for careful (some would say compulsive) testing of recipes with a focus on foolproof technique; detailed line drawings that take readers step-by-step through recipes; and opinionated guides that assert that their way is the best way. This methodology appeals particularly to a specific kind of cook, one with a primarily scientific rather than artistic or intuitive approach to cooking. Though there are a few photographs, readers who buy cookbooks for full-color photographs and personal anecdotes aren't likely to be drawn to this work. Twenty-two chapters cover appetizers to desserts. Even the simplest tasks, such as blanching vegetables or peeling an egg, are explained and illustrated in detail. More involved techniques include brining poultry and roasting a turkey. Pad Thai gets a full-page description with photographs to help home cooks learn how to properly soak the noodles. Well organized and extremely clear, the book has only one drawback: its heft may make it tough to hoist onto kitchen counters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
". . . .will please those who groove to the cooking geek sensibility of CI editor Christopher Kimball." -- People Magazine, Novembe 12, 2004
"Its charm is its over-the-top thoroughness." -- Newsweek Magazine, Decmeber 6, 2004
"This new edition (The New Best Recipe) means business." -- The New York Times Book Review, November 5, 2004
"the book's recipes...you don't need to be a gourmet to pull them off." -- San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 13, 2004
Top customer reviews
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One example I can cite is their instructions for preparing scrambled eggs. Their ideal scrambled eggs are fluffy and light, not rubbery or gummy. The secret is to cook them quickly in unsalted butter over high heat in a nonstick skillet, stirring constantly and turning as the curds start to pile up. Take them off the heat a little before you think they are ready as the steam inside the piles of egg will continue to cook them a bit. I found that it took a bit of practice to find the perfect heat and when to turn them, but most of the time I do pretty well. They add a quarter cup of milk to four eggs along with a little salt and pepper, and beat them with a fork just until large bubbles form (overbeating makes for tougher eggs when cooked). Skillet size is important because you want the egg mixture to spread out about 1/4 inch deep over the skillet.
If you like to cook, this book should be in your collection.
I feel the history given for the recipes and all the cooking tips are very helpful and educational. I have become a decent cook and I owe a lot of my success to the Cooks Illustrated folks. If you want to "Wow" someone with your cooking, buy this book and try out the recipes.
Now, any cook knows that even the most tested and perfected recipe might not be the best recipe *for them*, so of course I have tweaked a few of my favorite recipes in this book. I always make any recipe to the exact instructions first, then go from there with my adjustments. Other cooks will understand when I say that, sometimes when reading a recipe, you know it has potential but you see problems in the recipe. You want to try it, but you know you'll have to adjust it to make it work. With this cookbook, I know I am starting with a known good recipe. As well, because they explain so thoroughly, you have more information for when you want to try something different.
Two of my favorite recipes are the lamb tagine and the simple pot roast, both of which have given my Lodge cast-iron Dutch oven a number of good workouts. In the case of the pot roast, reading the "trial and error" portion was very useful, because the authors mention using a layer of aluminum foil between the lid and the pot when cooking (to prevent the roast from drying out), but they forgot to include that vital piece of information in the recipe itself. I know cooks who love this book but don't bother reading the "trial and error" portion, so they will have missed this kind of essential information.
I also had to add a few things to the index (I'm a professional indexer, so I notice this kind of thing)--things I read, then couldn't find anywhere in the index, so I had to page through the book to find again, or things that weren't indexed by the recipe title. But indexing is an art and a skill and I don't fault the book for not having a perfect index.
Even though this is an older book, recipes are forever. If you are on the fence about buying this book, get it. You won't regret it.
Actually, my personal copy is an older edition given to me by a friend, but if I ever lost it I'd be hauling my butt to the bookstore to get a new copy ASAP. It has practically everything - cutting meat, boning chicken, simple stocks, classic soups, cleaned-up recipes, variations on popular dishes, and precise directions that make it impossible to mess up.
My FAVOURITE aspect of this volume, however, is that the editors have tested every recipe until they found the PERFECT recipe. They explain why other versions didn't work, what they did to fix it, and why the new recipe works so well. They even go into the chemistry behind the scenes to explain why a certain ingredient must be used! Explanations like that help learning cooks like myself understand what's going on in the oven when I'm not looking. The language is simple, explanations are carefully written, and illustrations help you understand what something should look and feel like during the process.
Most recent customer reviews
In typical Cook's Illustrated fashion the description of WHY the...Read more