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The Best Recipe Hardcover – September 10, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 250 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Consider this a companion to 'The Joy of Cooking,' with recipes that run from the basic to creatively unusual. Sidebars on storage and equipment, step-by-step illustrations on more difficult techniques and taste-test results done in the Cook's Illustrated kitchen--it's all here. The information is exact and even scientific, but reader-friendly. For those who want good recipes that work and also want to expand their knowledge of how and why things work, this is a fascinating book. (The Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans tested in The Times kitchen may actually be the best chocolate-chip cookies ever.)" -- The Seattle Times, December 8, 1999

"The folks at Cook's Illustrated magazine have compiled a fine collection of recipes that have been tested not once, not twice, but many more times, to find the absolutely best version....This is a great choice for cooks who want to know the 'whys' of cooking: why you should roast beef at a low temperature, why you should use high heat for eggs, and so forth." -- The New York Daily News, December 8, 1999

"This gastronomic classic belongs on every serious cook's shelf." -- The Christian Science Monitor, December 8, 1999

"This is the perfectionist's 'Joy of Cooking.'" -- The Amherst Bulletin, November 26, 1999

"[T]he more than 700 recipes compiled within The Best Recipe represent a range of culinary strains from a Southern Baked Country Ham to Italian Shrimp Scampi to a Middle Eastern Tabbouleh and French inspired Chilled Lemon Souffle. You'll find basic staples as well as more esoteric ones, dishes that regardless of their pedigree represent how we eat today or better yet the foods we crave these days. The Best Recipe is without question one of the best cookery books published this year and is the book I'll be giving to my foodie friends this holiday season." -- The Houston Chronicle, November 2, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Cook's Illustrated; 1st edition (September 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936184388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936184388
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (250 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Josh Peckler on August 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've been buying cookbooks for decades. I'll buy cookbooks for just one recipe I'm dying to learn. The funny thing is, I'm really not that good of a cook, but I love working in the kitchen.
This cookbook just blows me away. Just like the Cooks International PBS television series, it explains the why of cooking. Lasagne without ricotta? Beef marinade without acid? How could that be? The explanations are there, and they make total sense.
I sit in my bedroom reading this book at night. I read about the things I already know how to make, looking for the subtle ideas to make them perfect. It's really not a cookbook even though it's got hundreds of recipes. It's more a book about cooking, and it's got me more inspired than all of the scores of books I've bought before.
I'll give these guys the best compliment I can think of: I wish I had written it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book makes substantial claims in its title. But the authors have a reason for their claims. This is not a book of recipes from one person's (subjective) viewpoint. Almost all the recipes were "arrived at" by a common process. 1. Collect various, diverse and classic recipes for a given dish. 2. Prepare the various recipes. 3. Test the results (usually results are tested by a substantial panel) 4. If applicable, consult food scientists regarding certain chemical or physical reactions or properties. 5. Produce a recipe which combines everything learned from the process. The result is a recipe which tastes best to most people.
What also results are several benefits to the cook: 1) The recipes are often steamlined (if a traditional or classic technique does not produce flavor it is jettisoned). 2) The recipes usually revolve around a core technique that can be applied to other dishes in a cook's repertoire. 3) If the cook takes time to read all the work done by the editors he will be able to avoid many "mistakes" in his own experimenting.
As to the reviewer's comment about so many meat+salt+pepper recipes, I believe he missed 2 things: 1) nearly all the recipes of that nature have significant seasoning/ingredient variations after the basic recipe, 2) the point of these recipes was the TECHNIQUE. When I was a neophyte "gourmet" I liked long recipes with complex techniques. Now that I'm older (and wiser) I can ALSO appreciate plain chicken or beef which truly have been well-cooked. But this book also gives you variety as well--there are Italian, Mexican, French, Asian, etc. flavors here along with the American standards.
Having tried very many of these recipes I agree that they are usually "best".
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Format: Hardcover
After you've been cooking for a while, you start to ask yourself questions like, "Do I really need to add oil to my pasta water?" or, "What exactly is cream of tartar?" If you are interested in ingredients and combinations of cooking, this is the book for you. A year ago a friend turned me onto the magazine Cook's Illustrated which is fantastic. This book collects 700+ of their classics from the last several years in one place. More than the recipes themselves, I like the narrative of how they start with all the classic recipes and then do exhaustic scientific experiments (often consulting food scientists) until they have everything just right. Since I often do minor experiments myself and find that I've messed up an entire meal, it's nice to let the test kitchen take on this role. Even more gratifying, sometimes it turns out that the fancy complicated recipe does not produce better tasting results than a more streamlined one. I've cooked lots of these recipes and ever single one has come out perfectly.
On top of the recipes, you will find answers to questions you just don't have time to figure out: which supermarket olive oil tastes best? Which tuna fish is the tastiest? What's the difference between rib eye, London Broil and Flank steak? I've never been so interested in a cookbook. I read the whole thing through over a long week of reading and can't wait to experiment by trying more of their recipes. If you like this book, subscribe to the magazine!
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Format: Hardcover
I'm an avid reader of Cooks Illustrated and several other cooking magazines. The Best Recipe now sits on my kitchen counter as the main cookbook and resource for most of our home cooked meals. Much of the research has been featured in past issues of the magazine, and deliver all the answers to why so many other recipes fail - and why this one, the "best" one, will succeed. I've cooked a lot of these recipes in the last couple of weeks and many throughout the years as a subscriber to Cooks Illustrated Magazine. Some people say there's no such thing as a "sure thing" but if there is, I think you'll find it in this book.
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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. 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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