Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Cookbook Fetish

I'm beginning to think I have a cookbook fetish! Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but I do love to buy new cookbooks. The other night, I picked up one of my favorites at Whole Foods (I was picking up Whole Foods' awesome Three-Cheese Focaccia bread ... I don't buy much at Whole Foods, but their bread is so good!).

It's really more of a magazine than a cookbook. If you haven't discovered "America's Test Kitchen," then you are missing out! I first learned of "America's Test Kitchen" when we moved to Texas last year. We have chosen to be a family without cable, which means there aren't a lot of shows worth watching on a Saturday morning. One Saturday, while on the search for our morning entertainment, we stumbled upon PBS and the "America's Test Kitchen" TV show. I fell in love immediately.

I come from a long line of amazing cooks. If you have ever been privileged enough to have a meal at my Mema's house, then you know what I mean. My mom is also a fabulous cook. I can definitely follow a recipe, but I don't have the knowledge and instinct that my mom and Mema have ... but I wish I did.

Well, that's why I love "America's Test Kitchen." It's a product of "Cook's Illustrated." Not only do the "America's Test Kitchen" books have amazing recipes, but with each one, they tell you the techniques used, why certain techniques and ingredients work better than others and step-by-step instructions. They identify what brands are best and why they stand up to others. The concept is that they have "tested" each recipe to perfection. 

I have made lots of their recipes, and I can tell you that I haven't found any yet that I don't like from mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, pan fried pork chops and Italian-style meatloaves. Some take a lot of time, so I reserve them for Saturdays. And, they also usually have some different type of ingredients that I don't typically keep at home, so you have to prepare, but the prep work is worth it.

I now have three different "America's Test Kitchen" books - 30-Minute Suppers (Summer 2010), Best of 2010 and now the Best of 2011. Here is a sampling of what's in the 2011 book, taken from the "America's Test Kitchen" website:

"The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011 features a wide range of recipes from starters to desserts, from meat and pasta to vegetarian dishes and desserts, including Hot Crab Dip (from our cookbook Best Potluck Recipes), Grilled Vegetable and Bread Salad ( from the Healthy Family Cookbook), Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili (from Cook’s Country magazine), Steak Tips with Mushroom Gravy (from Cook’s Illustrated magazine), Black Bean Burgers ( from our cookbook Light and Healthy 2010), and Individual Fallen Chocolate Cakes for Two (from our Cooking for Two cookbook)."

The Wall Street Journal reviewed it and said:

"While the skilled team at America's Test Kitchen doesn't shy away from the occasional elaborate recipe—their six-layer Strawberry Stack Cake requires 15 ingredients and a lot of patience—most of the 175 recipes in this compilation concentrate on mastering the basics and turning out delicious home cooking with a minimum of wasted time ... If, like frontiersman Kit Carson on his deathbed, you've ever wished that you had 'time for just one more bowl of chili,' this one is for you."

That's exactly how I feel with their recipes! I get excited every time I plan a dinner from one of these books, because I know it is going to be so good. Mmmm ....  I can't wait to try out some of these new recipes!

Do you have any cookbooks that you just love? If so, let me know!

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