Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekend Cooking...A Review of "The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook" [68]

The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine
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.


  1. What a great Christmas gift. This seems like the ultimate comprehensive cooking primer.

  2. You had 'til "no photographs".

  3. yes, I can see many will think that.

    But...there is no way they could have added 200 photographs. so they would have had to pick a few, to what real benefit, except to make a big book even bigger.

    Believe me, I am a fan of cookbook photographs and I missed them not at all this time.

  4. I love photos in cookbooks, but won't rule one out because of lack of them. I had no idea Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen are related.

  5. 2000! I really do love food photographs but drawings will do.

  6. Preaching to the choir here! I adore Cooks Illustrated and have been a fan for their entire existence. I own this one too.

  7. I really love the magazine, so I imagine I would love this also! I always learn something new in the mag.

  8. This one is already on my list! I love the magazine and the show, so I'm sure I will also love the book, I prefer some pictures, but I wouldn't let that stop me.

  9. I'm in the choir too. I love all things Cook's Illustrated and ATK. This one's on my Christmas list.

  10. This sounds like a great cookbook, but I wish it had pictures. I am not that great in the kitchen yet, so they help. But I know someone who would love this for Christmas. Thanks for the idea.

  11. This sounds like a really good cookbook. But, I have to cnfess, I am sad to hear no pictures. Have a wonderful day!

  12. But for there being no photos, I would love to have this book. I think it is going on my Christmas list.

    Thank you.

  13. I love Cooks Illustrated! I get the magazine and the online subscription.
    Thanks for stopping over at the Faithful Friend, Caite! I have had that pic on the header in the computer for so long I don't remember where I got it now. It is not mine. I believe it is in Nova Scotia though. A most Beautiful place to be!

  14. I cannot believe it. You lost me at "there are no pictures." What? Who puts out a cookbook without pics??? I am bummed, but because I trust and like your blog, I will (with a heavy sigh) go check out this book. I am a cookbook addict.

  15. I don't really need pictures in a cookbook. I have a lot of great cookbooks without pictures actually :)

    My weekend cooking post is here:

  16. I'm a fan of photos as well but Cook's Illustrated is one of the best resources out there for people who love to cook...enough so that I want this cookbook if for nothing else than having a classic cookbook on my shelf that can also be used as an index for some of the tried and true recipes from the cajillion magazines that I can't keep over the years. I enjoyed the "trailer" as well :)

  17. right after you give me that blueberry pie recipe.

  18. wow, looks like a great cookbook that anyone could use!

  19. Oh, I agree that this is a fabulous cookbook. Really, for those who want to learn to cook or already love to, you can't go wrong with anything Cooks Illustrated, ATK, or CC!!


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