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Test Kitchen Cooks...again and again
on 28 October 2011
First of all, `Cook's Illustrated Cookbook's title is a bit misleading - for those who really like illustrations for their recipes, there are none in here. What is in the book, by way of illustration are the Test Kitchen's very good diagrams that illustrate skills such as; forming a tart shell, carving an herbed roast turkey, chopping onions without tears.
This is a big cookbook with 890 pages. It contains recipes for: appetizers, salads, soups, chilies, stews and braises, curries, stir-fries and Asian noodle dishes, pasta, rice, grains and beans, vegetables, poultry, meat, fish and shellfish, grilling - a really wonderful chapter, since it gives both charcoal and gas grill instructions, eggs and breakfast, quick breads and coffee cakes, yeast breads and rolls, pizza, calzones, and flatbreads, cookies, brownies, and bars, cakes, pies and tarts, fruit desserts, pastry, puddings, custards and frozen desserts and beverages.
There is a very detailed secondary index listing every recipe and a thorough index giving ingredient, dish name and type. There is also a volume and weight conversion chart. Chilies have several varieties as do pork chops and salmon and several other dishes. Serving sizes are given and 154 kitchen tips are inserted telling you such hints as; how to store cheese, salting - the secret to juicy roasts. Some help is missed in several places, for example in a recipe for coconut icing; they do not tell you how to toast the coconut - strange for a book that usually gives so much guidance. For those who still believe the way to grill is with charcoal - it is a relief to have these instructions included. The recipe for beer can chicken has become a legend in our back yard. The coconut cake has been pronounced almost as good as our fabled grandmother- a minor miracle to say the least. Linguine with garlic cream sauce is wonderful, as is the mushroom lasagna.
In my naivety I assumed with a Cook's label there would be different recipes than the ones in the Test Kitchen cookbooks. With very few exceptions, since I have an extensive collection of Test Kitchen cookbooks, every recipe is in here. For those of you that have several Test Kitchen books I would rate this 2 or 3 stars. I was really disappointed; but if you do not, it is a wonderful book which I would then rate it a 5. So in a quandary as to what to rank it I've given it a 3, because of the extensive repeats. It would be a good book for even a confident beginner who wants to learn good cooking; but I really resent the constant reprinting of what is already out there with no disclaimer.