February 26th, 2008

I’m totally loving my new food magazine, Cooks Illustrated, from the show, America’s Test Kitchen. If you like cooking, and haven’t heard of it .. get on it. Thanks to Checkoway and Tim for the 411. The magazine’s website,, contains all the recipes from the magazaines with a nice search – makes it easy to look up recipes when you want to make something with a couple of ingredients.

What separates these guys from the rest is their thorough, scientific approach to recipes. For example, they often take classic recipes, like homemade bread, and make a dozen versions, each one slightly different, in order to ascertain the effects. They will often have multiple tasters as well, giving feedback. This leads to better recipes and food, but more importantly, it helps explain the purpose of the different ingredients. Ever wondered why some bread might be more dense? fluffy but small air pockets vs big air pockets? crisp crust? chewey crust? I know you have.

Besides the magazines and the show, they also have tons of books. I’ve bought 3 – New Best Recipe (2004), Family Cookbook (2006), and 2008 Best Of. The first 2 have over a 1,000 recipes and are a greatest hits. However, the first one doesn’t have pretty pictures like the second or third one. But the second one doesn’t have as lengthy recipe introductions as the first and third. Those lengthy intro’s are what i like – they give background as to what they were looking for when “perfecting” a recipe. All 3 also talk about equipment, as well. So which one should you get? If you want a reference, Family cookbook – it also has binders so you can pull out the page the recipe is on. If you want just a handful of good recipes (good intro), get the last book. But if you don’t need pretty food pictures and like lots of information, get the first one.  I like having both of the first 2, but if you had to have just one, i’d go with the third – 2008 Best Of.

Expect alot more blogs on food and recipes as i go thru these books.