Cook's Illustrated, ISBN 978-1933615899
October 1, 2011, 928 pages
If I could have only one cookbook for the rest of my life, I really think this might have to be The One!
Now, if you are a regular reader here, you may already know that I am a fan both of Cook's Illustrated Magazine and their TV show, America's Test Kitchen. So, when I saw the ads for this book, I had to add it to my wish list. When it was on the newsletter for Amazon Vine this month, I was tripping over myself trying to put my request in while they still had copies.
And very happily, I got one.
Yes, 2000 recipes from 20 years of the magazine. This is a pretty big book. A pretty big, lovely book, weighing in at over 4 lbs. Yes, I weighed it.
An 80 page index, 154 Test Kitchen Tips, hundreds of ATK classic black and white drawings, a table of Contents that lists every recipe in each chapter, including the page number and 23 chapters covering everything from Curries to Quick Breads. As usual in the magazine, there are a lot of what might be considered classic American recipes, with an eye to making them a little healthier than your Grandmother might have made them. But there is also a nice mix of ethnic dishes, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai...a variety that many now consider everyday fare.
And what I love about these recipes it that they will be as helpful in guiding a novice cook as it will teach something new to even the most serious foodie. There is no one who cooks that could not learn a good deal from this book.
Every recipe, all 2000 of them, begins with one of my favorite ATK things, the "Why This Recipe Works" explanation. Yes, they are certainly shortly than the most extensive explanations in the magazine but still very useful. And so interesting to a Food Geek. And I love how the book, like the magazine, takes one basic recipe and then shoots off from there, with variations that will keep even the most adventurous cook happy.
Now, there is one issue that some might consider a problem.
There are NO photographs.
No lovely pics that often bears little resemblance to my finished product. I did not find that an issue since there are many drawing that, honestly, I find more helpful. And if you like food or like to cook, I assure you there will be more than enough to hold your attention once you start looking through these pages.
Another thing that fans must remember is that these are not new recipes. Certainly most, if not all have been published before in the magazine or other ATK books. So if you own all the other cookbooks or have saved every magazine from the first issue, there is going to be duplication. But I don't, and I love being able to just go to this book rather than try to search out a favorite recipe from my saved copies of the magazine. And as Mr. Kimball, founder of Cook's Illustrated, says in the introduction, this book also contains the most recent, most favorite recipe of many ones that have been improved over the years. Only the Best!
If you are looking for a cookbook to give a novice, you can't go wrong with this one.
If you have been cooking for decades but are still open to always learning something a little new, you can't go wrong either. Want to find a new pasta dish, a new way to cook those pork chops or how to make a perfect roast chicken, this is a book you will want. If you are looking for one great go-to cookbook, I would suggest you take a look at this one.
At about $26 on Amazon ($28 if ordered directly from Cook's Illustrated, $40 list) this would be money well spent. Christmas is coming you know.
And I have to say I would be intrigued to have a look at the e-book version of this one. There is a Kindle version, but sadly, not one for my Nook Color yet.
This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.