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Cooking with "Cook's Illustrated"

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#31 Chris Hennes

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 06:13 AM

I made the Spinach Lasagna the day before yesterday and baked it off yesterday for a dinner party.

I also made the German Chocolate cake.  I made it in a 9 x 13, but I much prefer it layers.  I dont like crusty edges, but the chocolate flavor was intense!!

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I really like their German Chocolate Cake recipe: it's the best I've run across (I make it a layer cake: it's really tall and impressive-looking!). The spinach lasagna I was a little less fond of. It's good, and I would make it again, but it has a certain sweetness to it that I thought was a little odd. I am going to have to play around with that one some more.

Ok, how about the recipe for "Slow Roasted Beef" - using an eye of round, salting and slow roasting it.
Proves you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!

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I haven't tried it---have you made it? Did it turn out as well as promised?

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#32 abooja

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 06:33 AM

  • Pasta all' Amatriciana (t/o/b), 2000, November, pp. 20

I made this last night and it was great, even with just 4 oz. of pancetta. My Wegman's only sells the prepackaged cubed stuff, that I know of. I'm going to have to make my own one of these days.

I also made Yeasted Doughnuts, Baking Illustrated, pp. 127-128, my first ever success story with doughnuts. They were soft and fluffy, not leaden and crunchy like most of my previous efforts. I stuffed a few with raspberry baker's jam, then dipped in granulated sugar, topped a few with chocolate glaze, and dipped the holes (that sounds so wrong :raz: ) in cinnamon sugar. Wow, what a nice surprise. I can make doughnuts!!

#33 Chris Hennes

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 02:42 PM

Tonight's dinner was Arroz con Pollo, a.k.a. Latino-style Chicken and Rice, from the September 2006 issue of Cook's Illustrated (recipe here if you have online access).

Could we turn this all-day one-dish dinner into a fast but flavorful weeknight meal?

Of course, they believe the answer to this question is "yes," and proceed to demonstrate what they've come up with. The trouble is, the article seems to think that the recipe can be made in about an hour. Perhaps the professional cooks in the test kitchen could make this recipe on an hour, but it has taken me almost two hours both times I have made it, and as far as I am concerned, two hours is well over my "weeknight dinner" limit. Maybe I just chop slowly, but the prep work for this recipe takes more than the minute or two they seem to allot it.

That being said, the end product is delicious, and well worth the two hours it takes. This is another recipe that I make with white meat (my wife's preference) rather than the dark meat the recipe calls for. I don't know how much I am losing in the process, but hey, it tastes good! (If you make it with white meat, skip the step of simmering the chicken for twenty minutes before adding the rice) The biggest key to this recipe is making a quick "marinade" to toss the chicken with just prior to serving. I dunno about you, but I call these post-cooking marinades "sauces." Surprisingly enough, adding a sauce to the chicken adds flavor :shock: !! Who knew...

Without further ado, here 'tis:
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#34 CaliPoutine

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 06:37 PM

The biggest key to this recipe is making a quick "marinade" to toss the chicken with just prior to serving. I dunno about you, but I call these post-cooking marinades "sauces." Surprisingly enough, adding a sauce to the chicken adds flavor  !! Who knew...


CI must be very fond of this method. In their chicken fajita's( white meat, yeah!!) part of the marinade is saved and then tossed with the cooked chicken/veg. They are really the best fajitas I've ever had.

Oh and that chicken/rice looks fab. What kind of rice did you use?

#35 Chris Hennes

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 07:49 PM

Oh and that chicken/rice looks fab.  What kind of rice did you use?

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The recipe calls for medium grain, but I used basmati since all I had on had was short grain and basmati. You need to add a little more water, but I think it still turns out well.

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#36 kbjesq

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 08:21 AM

Without further ado, here 'tis:
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This is one of my favorite CI recipes. When your wife is not home, make it with the chicken thighs. I've made it both ways and the thighs bring a completely different and much better dimension to the dish. Also, I do not stir every 10 minutes during the 30 minute baking period suggested in the recipe. I find that this makes the rice in the finished product gummy. I just lift the lid about 1/2 way through to see if additional liquid is needed, and leave it at that.

As an aside, I have some Cuban friends who insist that mayonnaise is the proper accompaniment for this dish! :blink:

Although there are many CI recipes that I like, I cancelled my subscriptions to both magazines and my online subscription due to customer service issues. (And let me tell you, getting these 3 things cancelled and my refund practically took an Act of Congress.) I can't really think of any other company that I have ever encountered that had such terrible customer service.

Now I order whatever cookbooks that I want from Amazon, usually secondhand.

#37 Jujubee

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 08:26 PM

Strawberry cream cake( YOU MUST MAKE THIS!!)

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I just made the Strawberry Cream Cake for a friend's birthday today and Oh My Goodness that was delicious. Wonderful fresh berry flavor, a great balance of fruit/cake/cream, and structurally sound. One of the problems they wanted to address in making the recipe was some way of strengthing the whipped cream so it could support multiple layers, and the amount of cream cheese added did just that without adding a noticeable cream cheese flavor.

I also made the Flourless Chocolate Cake, which was delicious, rich, yet still melting and light on the tongue. Be sure to serve in VERY thin slices, as it is extremely rich. (The recipe says it serves 12-16. I cut it into 16 slices and I still thought it was a generous serving.)

Both got many, many compliments.

#38 CaliPoutine

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 05:50 AM

I made these latka's back in December. They were amazing, the best ones I've ever made. Once again CI's method comes through!!

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#39 petite tête de chou

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:50 AM

I made these latka's back in December.  They were amazing, the best ones I've ever made.  Once again CI's method comes through!!

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Nice! Did you use the optional matzo meal? I'd like to make them but don't have the meal. Does it make a big difference?
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#40 Kim Shook

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:14 PM

Today I made the CI German chocolate cake. I frosted it with Italian Meringue Buttercream, not the regular frosting. The cake was just a perfect chocolate cake - great crumb, intense chocolate flavor. Everyone loved it:

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My go-to sandwich bread is CI's American Sandwich bread. I've never had it not turn out perfectly - and I am not an expert baker:

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I don't think that I've ever had a CI recipe 'fail' me. Usually I make slight adjustments, but not enough to fundamentally change the basic recipe.

#41 CaliPoutine

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 04:40 AM

I made these latka's back in December.  They were amazing, the best ones I've ever made.  Once again CI's method comes through!!

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Nice! Did you use the optional matzo meal? I'd like to make them but don't have the meal. Does it make a big difference?

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Yes, I did use the matzo meal( cause I always have it). I'm sure you can sub out some flour instead. My mom always used matzo meal when we were groing up, but I've made some pretty good latkas at a former job using flour.

#42 isomer

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:51 AM

I made Chicken Saltimbocca and Brown Rice with Parmesan, Lemon, and Herbs for a dinner party a while ago, and they were a huge success. Both highly recommended. (sorry, no photos!)

#43 Chris Hennes

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 06:37 PM

Tonight I made Tilapia filets with the Coconut-Red Curry Sauce from the March 2005 issue of Cook's Illustrated (recipe here if you have online access). This is another of my favorite CI recipes, along with all of the other sauces for fish in this article. I actually completely ignore their advice on how to cook the fish, which is the bulk of the article, and just use their sauce recipes. In this one I double the amount of curry paste and add a little cayenne pepper. I usually make a full batch and freeze 2/3 of it (without the cilantro): it reheats perfectly, and I get three two-serving meals out of the recipe. The whole meal takes about 20 minutes to make, including prep, so it's really great for nights when you are in a hurry. Just remember to put the rice on first!
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#44 dockhl

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 07:50 PM

Chris~
that looks amazing.
Can you paraphrase your sauce, the way you make it (ingredients?)

I like Thai curry on almost anything ! :shock:

#45 Chris Hennes

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 05:20 AM

Chris~
that looks amazing.
Can you paraphrase your sauce, the way you make it (ingredients?)

I like Thai curry on almost anything !  :shock:

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Sure, it's a very simple sauce, just a few teaspoons of curry paste, a clove of garlic, and some ginger. You start that frying in a little oil, then add coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce to your preferred consistency, fry the fish, add the cilantro to the curry, and serve. I like to keep it light so you can still taste the fish.

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#46 schnitzel

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 06:14 AM

Chris~
that looks amazing.
Can you paraphrase your sauce, the way you make it (ingredients?)

I like Thai curry on almost anything !  :shock:

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You can find the sauce recipe here (scroll down.)
~Amy

#47 kbjesq

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 06:54 AM

As I think that I stated somewhere upthread, CI's customer service (or lack thereof) caused me to cancel both of my magazine subscriptions and my online subscription. Over the years, I have made and enjoyed many CI recipes but also had some that were not worth the time and effort (and it seems to me that nearly all CI recipes require a lot of time and effort, not to mention dirtying half the stuff in my kitchen).

One favorite that I make on a regular basis is the parmesan-crusted chicken breasts. (bad photo, but it tastes great):

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#48 dockhl

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 07:48 AM

Chris~
that looks amazing.
Can you paraphrase your sauce, the way you make it (ingredients?)

I like Thai curry on almost anything !  :shock:

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You can find the sauce recipe here (scroll down.)

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Thanks, Chris and schnitzel~
there are some yummy looking sauce recipes there.

#49 Kerry Beal

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:22 AM

Have had some fun reading this thread. Personally, I've found many of the recipes are quite good from CI, especially the Parmesan Chicken and their Coconut Macaroons with  added coconut cream...

What issue would I find the Coconut Macaroon recipe in. I've got an old one from 1996, but no added coconut cream.

#50 zenpup

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:12 AM

Triple Coconut Macaroons are in the CI February 2000 issue. Issue #42
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#51 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 05:29 PM

Tonight I made the Spaghetti Puttanesca from the March 2002 issue of Cook's Illustrated (recipe here at www.cooksillustrated.com if you have online access). The article title is "Spaghetti Puttanesca in 11 Minutes" and while 11 minutes might be a stretch if you count boiling the water, start-to-finish for me was about 20 minutes. Of course, this is in line with the classic recipes: they didn't change much over Bugialli's recipe in The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. A few tweaks to the techniques to squeeze the most flavor out of the ingredients, but otherwise this is your basic Puttanesca. In my opinion, that is a good thing: why mess with success? In my opinion this recipe makes far too much sauce: I make a half batch and serve about 2/3 of that for two people. This is one recipe that really doesn't suffer at all using canned tomatoes, either. Between the olives, capers and anchovies, the tomatoes are really a background element.

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#52 CaliPoutine

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 07:28 PM

I made these crispy, salted white chocolate oatmeal cookies today.

Excellent!!

Edited by CaliPoutine, 18 May 2008 - 07:35 PM.


#53 CaliPoutine

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 10:28 AM

Here is the beer can chicken I made on Mother's Day. It was so incredibly moist and tasty. The rub was super simple and I used no other sauce. I did use 2 empty soup cans( that I filled w/ beer and crushed bay leaves) since they were sturdier than beer cans.

I picked up these chickens at Meijer( in MI) for .69lb.

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Edited by CaliPoutine, 19 May 2008 - 10:29 AM.


#54 dockhl

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 11:36 AM

Randi~
those are fat little buggers ! how much did they weigh? I like ot cook large chickens and sometimes have trouble figuring out how long to cook them since so many recipes are scaled for 3 lb chicks (and I like 5 pounders).

#55 CaliPoutine

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 12:23 PM

Randi~
those are fat little buggers ! how much did they weigh? I like ot cook large chickens and sometimes have trouble figuring out how long to cook them since so many recipes are scaled for 3 lb chicks (and I like 5 pounders).

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They were about 3.5lbs each. I think they look bigger in the picture. They took about 2.5 hrs.

#56 CaliPoutine

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 03:38 PM

Here is a salad I made tonight. I had a container of arugla that I wanted to use up.

I believe this is from May 03. Arugula, asparagus(local) and white bean salad( I added feta and toasted pine nuts)

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Dinner was skillet chicken and rice, w peas and green onions. The rice was really tender and flavorful.

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Edited by CaliPoutine, 19 May 2008 - 03:39 PM.


#57 phatj

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 08:45 AM

Just received the July/August 2008 issue. One of its recipes is titled "Reviving the Original Drive-In Burger." It involves grinding meat at home, which I'm not opposed to, but eschews the traditional chuck due to "rubberiness, dryness and lack of beef flavor," opting instead for a considerably more complicated and expensive combination of sirloin tip and boneless short ribs.

What the heck? Chuck is ideal for burgers precisely because it's inexpensive, fatty and has great beefy flavor. Has anyone had a real problem with flavor or texture of burgers made from home-ground chuck?

#58 Chris Hennes

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 09:18 AM

Just received the July/August 2008 issue. One of its recipes is titled "Reviving the Original Drive-In Burger." It involves grinding meat at home, which I'm not opposed to, but eschews the traditional chuck due to "rubberiness, dryness and lack of beef flavor," opting instead for a considerably more complicated and expensive combination of sirloin tip and boneless short ribs.

What the heck? Chuck is ideal for burgers precisely because it's inexpensive, fatty and has great beefy flavor. Has anyone had a real problem with flavor or texture of burgers made from home-ground chuck?

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I occasionally play around with different cuts: I made a meatloaf this week that used short ribs as the beef component, and it worked really well. I like hamburgers made with a blend of chuck and other cuts, since I generally agree with them that chuck is not that flavorful. Just because it's going into a burger doesn't mean that you have to use the cheapest cut out there, IMO.

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#59 Jujubee

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 10:10 PM

But, alas, recipes like their Beef Tacos from May 2002 are so good that I find it impossible to consider canceling my magazine subscription! Has anyone else tried these? As jsmeeker mentioned in my foodblog, one of the things they recommend is buying soft corn tortillas and frying them yourself. Total pain in the butt, but also makes the best taco shells I've ever had at home, hands down, no question.

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I tried this recipe a few times, and I completely agree that frying your own taco shells makes a huge difference. I also agree that it is a huge pain, since you have to stand there holding each shell in a bent shape while frying, making it impossible to get anything else done. So my solution to this problem is to make tostadas instead! Same filling, toppings, etc. I just drop each tortilla into the oil and let if fry flat, flipping halfway through. It takes half the time (since you don't have to fry the two halves seperately) and because you don't have to hold the tortilla while frying, you can get other work done at the same time. The way I do it is to do all the chopping and measuring first, and then cook the beef filling at the same time I fry the tortillas.

I also find that making tostadas instead of tacos allows you more leeway to play with the ratio of fillings. I really like the freshness from the lettuce and cilantro, so this allows me to pile it on.

#60 Chris Hennes

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 09:29 AM

The other night I made the Golden Northern Cornbread from the September 1995 issue, and I was quite disappointed with how it turned out. From the article:

This cornbread is moist and light, with the rich taste of corn. Use stone-ground or water-ground cornmeal for the best taste and texture. Either yellow or white cornmeal bakes into a handsome, delicious cornbread.

In my opinion, there was very little flavor, it was a bit dry, and it was not very "Northern-like" at all to my tastes (that is, it was not soft, moist and sweet). What gives? I could swear I have made a successful CI-recipe cornbread before, it must not have been this one! I was left wondering if it was the cornmeal itself: I used a stone-ground organic that had lots of germ in it, so I was hoping for a lot of great flavor, as the article promised me! Is there another Northern-style cornbread recipe in a more recent issue that I could be thinking of? (I feel like it might have actually had corn kernels in it, anyone remember that one?)

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