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Cooking with "Cook's Illustrated"


CaliPoutine
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HOST'S NOTE: This topic was split from the more general discussion of Cook's Illustrated HERE to focus on cooking and analyzing specific recipes from the magazine. Please continue to use the original topic in the "Food Periodicals" forum to discuss more general aspects of the magazine, subscriptions, customer service, etc. Thanks!

I've baked a lot from CI and the only recipe I didnt like was the coconut cake(march 2001). I make so many of their baked goods ( and savory recipes) over and over because they are really excellent. Here are some of my favorites.

Chicken fajita's ( fabulous, but I always add a bit of tequila to the marinade)

Spinach lasagna(bechamel based, will be making this again next week for a dinner party)

Tall and fluffy buttermilk biscuits( there is a pic of these in the biscuit thread)

Pineapple upside down cake( a friend told me this was the BEST pineapple upside down cake ever, better than his mom's)

German chocolate cake( pic on my blog)

Chicken, green bean mushroom stir fry along with the baked brown rice

Pan sauteed chicken breasts w/ sage vermouth sauce

spinach salad( pic on blog)

chocolate pots de creme( we made and served this at a former job)

multigrain pancakes

multigrain bread( fabulous, makes 2 loaves)

scones( blueberry and maple oatmeal pecan)

Strawberry cream cake( YOU MUST MAKE THIS!!)

Big super nutty peanut butter cookies( just made these a few days ago, pic on my foodblog)

Lemon layer cake

Grilled pizza( omg, so good)

calzones( fabulous)

Baby back ribs

eta: NY style crumb cake

I love their bulletin board too( Hi Darcie!!). I learn a lot from the folks over there. The new issue is out and I want to try the Hummus, and the Berry fool along with the oatmeal snack cake( I think I'll make this today)

Ok, whose next? What have you tried and loved? Hated?

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)
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Good idea, CaliPoutine: here is my complete list of regular dinner possibilities from the pages of CI:

  • Beef burgundy, 2001, January, pp. 13
  • Beef Chile, 2003, March, pp. 11
  • Beef tacos, 2002, May, pp. 9
  • Braised beef brisket, 2005, January, pp. 15
  • Braised short ribs, 2000, January, pp. 9
  • Carbonnada a la Flamande, 2004, November, pp. 7
  • Hamburgers - garlic chipotle, 2000, July, pp. 8
  • Nachos, 2002, July, pp. 15
  • Steak au Poivre, 2001, September, pp. 9
  • Steak frites, 2007, January, pp. 9
  • Thai chile beef, 2005, July, pp. 19
  • Arroz con Pollo, 2006, September, pp. 21
  • Chicken Biryani, 2004, March, pp. 9
  • Enchiladas, 2003, May, pp. 11
  • Moroccan Chicken, 2006, May, pp. 7
  • Orange chicken, 2005, May, pp. 21
  • Fish and chips, 2006, May, pp. 9
  • Fish fillets - Coconut curry, 2005, March, pp. 10
  • Fish fillets - Grapefruit, 2005, March, pp. 10
  • Fish fillets - Lemon shallot, 2005, March, pp. 10
  • Fish fillets - Orange Tarragon, 2005, March, pp. 10
  • Tuna with avocado orange salsa, 2003, January, pp. 13
  • Pizza Margherita, 2006, July, pp. 11
  • Potstickers, 2006, March, pp. 15
  • Quiche Lorraine, 1997, September, pp. 12
  • Vegetable torta, 2005, September, pp. 9
  • Waffles, 1993, November, pp. 28
  • Lasagne Bolognese, 2004, September, pp. 15
  • Pasta all' Amatriciana (t/o/b), 2000, November, pp. 20
  • Pasta Bolognese, 2003, May, pp. 6
  • Penne alla Vodka, 2006, November, pp. 10
  • Spaghetti alla Carbonara, 2001, September, pp. 7
  • Spaghetti Puttanesca, 2002, March, pp. 15
  • Spinach Lasagne, 2004, March, pp. 19
  • Glazed pork chops, 2006, March, pp. 19
  • Pork chops w/ vinegar & peppers, 2005, January, pp. 7
  • Pork tenderloin medalions w/ bacon, 2006, September, pp. 14
  • Pulled Pork, 1997, July, pp. 20

I have found all of these recipes to be very good, and in some cases downright fantastic. My personal favorite is the Thai Chile Beef. Man, I love that stuff!

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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

Chris, what does the T/O/B stand for?

I forgot that I've also made the enchilada's and the skillet chicken pot pie w/ cream biscuits. Both fabulous.

I'm urging CI downers to just try a few of these, you wont be dissapointed.

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Please tell me how you had that detailed list at the tip of your fingers? :hmmm:  :huh:  :laugh:

I have it memorized, of course! :raz::wink: (Actually, I have a spreadsheet of all my "regular" recipes that I keep relatively up-to-date on my computer.)

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

Chris, what does the T/O/B stand for?

"Tomato, onion, and bacon" -- I don't always remember what is in Amatriciana, so I cheat. :smile:

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Oh, I forgot to list favorites. I have more, but off the top of my head:

Butternut Squash Soup (the version where you saute the squash "innards")

Smothered Pork Chops

Tomato Salad with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan

Mexican Rice

Chicken Marsala

Roasted Potatoes and all their variations (all that fussiness with foil, and then flipping really does make for creamy interiors and super crisp exteriors)

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

Wild Mushroom Tart

Pan Seared Shrimp (their technique using the tiniest pinch of sugar to encourage browning, then cooking in a hot skillet on one side, flipping, and the resting off heat, makes for caramelized and juicy shrimp that is almost crisp when you bite into it, without the slightest hint of overcooking. But seriously, I pull out the stop watch and flip like crazy.)

Lemon Bars

Gumbo

Blueberry Muffins (the Cinnamon Sugar Dipped variation is my favorite)

Scrambled Eggs (yes, I could scramble an egg before CI. But if I measure out the recommended milk, s&p ratios, and cook for exactly as long as they recommend, it comes out just right.)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (the only thing I don't understand about this recipe is ripping them in half and then squishing them back together again. My siblings and I call them "butt cookies" because that's what they look like if you follow those directions)

Fallen (aka Molten) Chocolate Cake

Apple Pie

I have tried things that I thought were just good, but not exceptional, but I'm fine with that. The only total failure that I can remember (I'm sure there are more, but I have to think for a bit) was the Pecan Bars. These were way too salty and barely had any goo. I sort of think it was a typo because 1 full teaspoon of salt in the crust just seems excessive. By contrast, their raspberry bars have 1/4 t salt in the crust and the lemon bars have 1/2 t.

Edited by Jujubee (log)
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I haven't made tons of CI recipes, but most of the ones I've made have turned out great, with a few that have been so-so. I've pretty much stuck to their baked stuff, with only one savory recipe. Here's a basic list:

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake (This is an incredible chocolate cake, deep deep chocolatey, amazing texture, absolutely flawless).

Sour Cream Fudge Layer Cake With Chocolate Butter Icing (great cake, so-so icing)

Super Fudgy Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies (fantastic)

Dark Chocolate Mousse (the best)!

Thick And Chewy Double (Or Triple) Chocolate Cookies (excellent)

Thin, Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies (very so-so - too sweet and not crispy)

The Best Chocolate Butter Cookies (definitely not "the best" - not chocolatey enough - not bad, but not great)

Pasta With Garlic Oil And Toasted Breadcrumbs (a simple and delicious dish)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I would either have to bake the plain crappy bread-like substance myself or check myself into a sanitorium after I realized what I'd just spent money on were I to actually buy wonder bread to make their sauce.

Either way a more traditional is much more attainable.

Who in their subscriber base has wonder bread (or another similar noxious substance) on hand? 

I like CI.  I didn't see that recipe, but I often skip right over some of the articles that I have no interest in.  You can't fault them for trying to appeal to the demographics of their subscribers but Wonder Bread?  Was it a special April 1st issue?

I don't recall them ever calling for bread in ANY of their bolognese recipes, much less Wonder Bread. I just double-checked, and no bread is listed in their weeknight bolognese (which uses dried porcini mushrooms to boost the flavor, hardly a noxious substance).

In the recipes that do call for bread, they specify quality white sandwich bread, preferably homemade, but if not like Pepperidge Farm. I cannot find where they have ever called for Wonder Bread or similar squishy stuff.

I can understand the hate for those who have experienced bad customer service. But the vitriol toward Chris' homespun soliloquies (which I find good for a laugh) and toward their quest for "perfection" I don't understand.

My cooking improved immeasurably thanks to CI. I now feel much more confident and while I do branch out to other authors for more sophisticated recipes, I still turn to CI for reference and grounding.

I remember the porcini! I thought it was a fantastic idea. My post was in reply to some else mentioning Wonder Bread in it. I too don't ever remember seeing wonder bread mentioned in their pages, perhaps only as a "not recommended" variety.

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I really love their Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Chicken with Potatoes except that I smoke up the house when I make it. (I've been looking for a link to the recipe and cannot find it. If anyone needs it, PM me and I'll send it to you.......Chris, you probably have that one in your archives!)

The potatoes, crisping up in the chicken fat, are just about the best thing you've ever tasted. It'd be even better in duck fat. I wonder if this recipe would work well with duck?

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The Classic Lemon Tart from the Jan/Feb 2000 CI is one of my signature desserts. I love lemon in anything, and don't like things too sweet. The side box on page 23 [science in a Shell] helped me understand what was happening as I varied the proportions of ingredients in the tart. I add a lot of extra lemon juice and zest (and don't strain out the zest) You can go too far!

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Along the lines of the lemon bars, I guess there is one "baking" recipe that I just love: the Raspberry Streusel Bars from the September 2005 issue. They have a combination of raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries that is just perfect. They are brilliant, and always a hit at parties. They are also very simple to make.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I really love their Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Chicken with Potatoes except that I smoke up the house when I make it. (I've been looking for a link to the recipe and cannot find it. If anyone needs it, PM me and I'll send it to you.......Chris, you probably have that one in your archives!)

The potatoes, crisping up in the chicken fat, are just about the best thing you've ever tasted. It'd be even better in duck fat. I wonder if this recipe would work well with duck?

Oooh yes, I agree. I made this for a dinner party once, and I had guests following me back to the kitchen to fight over any bits of potato I had left in the baking pan.

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my subscription is a birthday gift from one of my bils. usually i read it and pass it on to my sil since she is a newbie cook and the technique really is good for her. we actually used the how to cook a spiral cut ham at easter and her technique at actually making a red sauce is advancing with a little practice.

currently my favorite recipes are from the jan/feb 08 issue:

French Chicken in a pot

Best French Onion soup - made this for my mil and she loved it.

Spanish style Garlic Shrimp

tried the no- knead bread 2.0. really crunchy crust but a bit TOO crunchy for johnnybird and also the high head discolored the inside of my new dutch oven. if you like a crisp crust definitely try this one.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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The Carbonnade a la Flammande mentioned by Chris Hennes upthread is one of our favorite recipes of all time. The steakhouse burger recipe (that was Cook's Country, but still), the grilled skirt steak fajitas, sweet and tangy oven barbecued chicken, brown sugar glazed roasted carrots, and their shepherd's pie are all frequent flyers at our house, as well.

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We do have some recipes from CI that we make from time to time. My husband makes:

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Chicken Alla Diavola

Coca Cola Ham

All Purpose Gravy (Gravy From Almost Nothing)

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I make:

Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

Lemon Bars

Spanish Style Shrimp (use Cascabel peppers if you can fine them. LOVE this one!)

Roesti Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes With Chipolte Chile & Smoked Cheddar Cheese

The only way we ever cook a roast anymore is by following their technique for Top Loin Roast. It comes out perfectly cooked - which for our tastes is medium rare. That is, it is medium rare all the way through, not grayish on the outside and gradually morphing into medium rare. Absolutely beautiful.

All of the above we have made numerous times, the recipes never fail us and they are all delicious.

BTW, I meant to add that I thought I had lost 4 copies of CAH (panic ensued!!!)- so I wrote to them to ask if I could buy back issues. They responded by e-mail the same afternoon. Sure beats the unsatisfactory way CI handles customer queries, let alone complaints. CI could take lessons. I have written to CAH before and have always received prompt replies.

Edited by ElsieD (log)
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The only way we ever cook a roast anymore is by following their technique for Top Loin Roast.  It comes out perfectly cooked - which for our tastes is medium rare.  That is, it is medium rare all the way through, not grayish on the outside and gradually morphing into medium rare.  Absolutely beautiful.

ElsieD~

could you summarize that recipe for me? I cannot find it online.

Thanks in advance, Kathy

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I forgot to mention that I make the scalloped potatoes for The Seniors and they just love them. They're so easy too, cook onions and garlic( I leave out for seniors) in butter, add sliced russets to 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup heavy cream( I make 4x a recipe) and the simmer for 10 min. Dump it all into a roasting pan and bake. Perfect every time.

This recipe is from ATK family cookbook!! ( Big props to Snowangel who pointed this out to me last year)

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A couple personal favorite CI recipes I like that I haven't seen mentioned...

Arroz a la Mexicana (Mexican Rice, a pilaf cooked with pureed tomatoes, onions & chiles)

Mushroom Risotto (I've never actually made any other recipe, so I can't compare this to anything, but it's pretty darn tasty)

Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi (Four cheese pasta, a grown-up macaroni & cheese. This actually is from The New Best Recipe.)

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NOTE: I figured this would be a better place than in the generic dinner thread, so if someone was looking for a CI recipe they didn't have to search 700 pages!

Tonight for dinner I made the Orange Flavored Chicken from the March 2005 issue of Cook's Illustrated (if you have online access, the recipe is here). I like this recipe because I think it has a great balance between sour and sweet, typical of the best of Chinese-American food. In particular, the use of fresh orange juice and a ton of orange zest really cranks up the orange flavor. I like to add a lot more cayenne than the recipe calls for, and a little less corn starch (as a thickening agent). In 2005 this recipe was my first exposure the idea of dredging chicken in something other than flour before frying (in this case, corn starch). Anyone else make this one?

gallery_56799_5710_15331.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Chris,

Thats been on my list to try forever, but I hate dark meat( my spouse loves it though) so I wonder if I can just use breast instead????

I made CI's fajita's for gas grill tonight and they were great. I didnt take a pic because they werent that photogenic. I do have one on my foodblog( I've made them many times before). I'll go dig up a link.

Go here and scroll down to December 11th, 2005

eta: I forgot once again about the Chicken Tikka Masala!! Excellent.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Thats been on my list to try forever, but I hate dark meat( my spouse loves it though) so I wonder if I can just breast instead????

Yeah, actually what you see there is breast, not thigh, since my wife also doesn't care for dark meat. It works fine, but I usually fry at a slightly higher temperature for less time, and make sure to marinate for a full hour to keep everything nice and juicy. It still tastes great.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Chris,

That chicken looks fabulous. I am awfully glad you are sharing your successful CI recipes. I don't subscribe but often pick up a newstand copy but I rarely try the recipes - your colour photos might convince me to change my mind! Maybe I just need those photos! :unsure:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I've made their orange chicken and really enjoy it. I also love their Stir Fried Pork with Green Beans, Red Peppers with Gingery Oyster Sauce, to name another Asian influenced dish.

I love CI's methodical approach to cooking and baking, but also feel comfortable tinkering around with recipes after I've successfully made them as written. I still subscribe, but don't bother obsessively reading the magazine as I once did because I far prefer easy access to my online subscription. Their message boards have been very helpful as well.

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