The folks at America's Test Kitchen have got some of the coolest jobs in culinary America. Honestly, how cool would it be to research the perfect recipe for such-and-such and make it a bajillion times until it is absolutely perfect?
I think that would be splendid, especially if I had a rock-star team to work with like they do and um...get paid for it.
We subscribe to both Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. I love these publications. I absorb everything between their covers. It's like Christmas when they arrive in our mailbox. As I've mentioned before, we justify our subscription with two simple rules: 1) read the entire issue and 2) make at least three recipes from each issue.
Here are lucky three we tried from the the April/May 2011 Issue of Cook's Country. It's a great one!
Creamy Egg Salad
My earliest memories of egg salad were wondering why on earth my parents loved this non-meat sandwich. It seemed so, well, eww. But as I got older I thought I'd give it a try again and ended up enjoying it...though I will say some versions I'd had were a bit mushy and overly-mayonnaised.
Our friends at CC made the case that even though this recipe is as simple as they come, and most people don't think they need a recipe...well, you do! To avoid a finished salad that was greasy, bland, watery rubbery or chalky they made two huge changes.
1) Undercook the eggs---only cook for 8 minutes instead of 10
2) Separate the yolk and whites in your preparation, meaning add the yolks to your mayo/creamy mixture and then evenly cut the whites and fold them in.
The result was terrific. You really must go out and buy this issue for the recipe! It's the best egg salad I've tried. The recipe includes some variations that I plan to try like "olive and oregano egg salad" that uses Kalmata olives. Can you imagine?
Tex-Mex Chicken & Rice
There's a major reason I blog more about baking than cooking. Cooking happens faster, I'm hungry and it's at night...with nasty pictures and laziness. This picture of our Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice is from my phone. It will suffice for my reporting purposes.
This recipe came from Cook's Country 30-Minute Supper section. It sounded yummy with cheese, tomatoes, black beans and cilantro...and my husband loves Frito chips so we went for it. I thought this was a really good dish. Though, if I made it again, I'd probably just make my chicken in the slow cooker instead of using their method. I think it would save me even more time.
I'm saving the best for last! Cook's Country wrote about funeral potatoes! What the heck! Besides the delicious recipe, I think I enjoyed the article even more. See, I'm Mormon and this dish is seen everywhere in our culture. I've never particularly loved or craved the dish, but I it's impossible to avoid it. (Side note: my Mom does make a dish called au gratin potatoes which are similar that I do adore...and now as I type this I think it may be my own families version of funeral potatoes. Whoops!)
I was having a huge debate among my friends and coworkers one day on whether or not Mormons were the only ones who made this dish. I said no but was in the minority and lost. Then lo and behold the very next week I get my Cook's Country in the mail and badda-bing, Becky's right! Cook's Country backed me up. I was loving life.
The article is really cool and talks about how various regions of the country claim the dish their own. Southerners call it "hash brown casserole", those in Massachusetts call it "neighborhood potatoes", they are "cheesy potatoes" in Washington...loving this.
All areas follow the basic formula according to CC: "Mix grated, par-cooked potatoes or frozen hash browns with cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chopped onion. Scrape the mixture into a casserole dish, top with cornflakes (in some cases) and bake."
Sarah Gabriel, the author of the article, set out to make this classic casserole with convenience, but add in a bit of "from scratch" flavor. She decided to make her own cheese sauce (and it is delicious!) instead of use "gloppy canned cream soups", which she despises.
All in all the recipe is great. I'm actually inspired on a bigger level by this article and approach. I want to reinvent some of those cream of ___ soup recipes floating around in my recipe binder. This recipe was super easy, still very convenient and tastes so much better than your normal funeral potato.
There you have it friends! That was this month's adventure with my recent issue of Cook's Country. I'm purposefully not including the recipes because I think you need to buy/subscribe to this publication. It's worth it.
There are several other recipes that I haven't make but would love to get to. I've bolded and starred them below:
Cook's Country April/May 2011 Issue Contents:
Tips & Techniques
Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls
Bourbon Whipped Cream
Reduced-Fat Pineapple Upside Down Cake
*Breakfast Casserole for Two
Slow-Cooker Barbecued Beef Tips
Classic Caesar Salad
Glazed Picnic Ham (Smoked Shoulder)
Lentil Soup with Ham
*Cream Cheese Biscuits
Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Chicken Bonne Femme
Creamy Egg Salad
Jo Jo Potatoes
Linguine with Chicken and Mushrooms
*Flank Steak with Herbed Potatoes and Green Beans
Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice
Pan-Seared Halibut with Arugula-Basil Aioli
Honey Mustard Crumb-Coated Pork Cutlets
Farmhouse Chicken Chowder
Minute Steaks with Pan Gravy
Roasted Red Pepper Shrimp and Pasta Salad
*Strawberry Shortcake Roll
Morning Glory Muffins
Foolproof Baked Rice
Smothered Pork Chops
Bacon-Avocado Caesar Salad
Cajun Blue Caesar Salad
Cowboy Caesar Salad
Italian Deli Caesar Salad
Buttered Carrots with Ginger and Cilantro
Buttered Carrots with Orange and Parsley
Buttered Carrots with Shallots and Tarragon
Deviled Egg Salad
Olive and Oregano Egg Salad
Radish and Arugula Egg Salad
Rhubarb Custard Pie
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Making Pie Dough Without a Food Processor
Bittersweet vs. Semisweet Chocolate
Substituting Regular Flour with Gluten-Free
Making a Small Quantity of Bread Crumbs
Cake Layer Transport
Unsticking Pizza Dough
Natural Lemon Polish for Copper Pots
Perfect Pie Crust in the Summer
Tidy Blind Baking
Macaroni and Cheese
One-Handed Pepper Grinders
Some of my other posts about America's Test Kitchen:
The Best Banana Bread Recipe (Cook's Illustrated)
My Husband and Beef Stroganoff
Foolproof Salmon Fillets
Cook's Illustrated Chewy Brownie Recipe
***This post is not sponsored, nor even pitched to me by the folks of America's Test Kitchen. I'm simply a happy subscriber who is 100% inspired and loves their publications.