Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A definitive guide to classic American recipes, 3 Mar 2002
This review is from: America's Test Kitchen (Hardcover)
When my favourite American cookbook fell apart from overuse, I canvassed my friends in America on their recommendations for a suitable modern replacement. I wanted: photos; clear, nearly foolproof recipes; the classic dishes and nothing nouvelle or fusion or faddy. The consensus was you couldn't go wrong with "The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook."
This cookbook has its roots in the "Cook's Illustrated Magazine" and its followup public television show, but is determinedly unstarry and homely - not a celebrity or fancy restaurant in sight. Indeed, it bears some resemblance to a rather sincere science lab as each recipe starts with an objective, "What we wanted" and ends with a conclusion, "What we learned."
There are hundreds of practical hints. For example, want the perfect French fries? Try putting the sliced potatoes in ice water for 30 minutes so that the insides of the potatoes are cooked more slowly and thoroughly. Advice is also given on ingredients (russet potatoes for French fries) and kitchen equipment.
The photographs are appealing, though sometimes amusingly captioned ("Jack won't give Chris any hints as he weighs the pros and cons of four bittersweet chocolates and tries to pick out the brand that won the group tasting.")
Though the recipes are not metric (they use American cups, tablespoons and teaspoons) cooks elsewhere can substitute an ordinary teacup with confidence as I have often done, as long as you are consistent - no switching to a mug mid-recipe!
Most of the classic recipes I was looking for are included in this volume: turkey with stuffing, waffles, spaghetti and meatballs, but there are some surprisingly omissions. For example, where is the Devil's Food Cake recipe? Or Strawberry Shortcake? There are some tasty muffin and pie recipes, but the famous layered American cakes are absent.
Overall, a worthy addition to any keen cook's bookshelf and most definitely, "what I wanted"!
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A. K. Fox
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Location: England

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