Cookbook: America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Like/Don't Like: It has never failed me.
If you have been to my apartment you may have noticed the bookcase next to the kitchen. It is four shelves worth of cookbooks. I admit that we may need an intervention. The majority of those cookbooks remain on the shelves. In fact, I would say that most of the recipes we use come from the binder full of Mom's recipes that she gave us years ago and from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Because you can't go wrong with either. In fact, you may actually have more success with the ATKFC because, as you know, you can never replicate your mom's food. Your chocolate chip cookies will come close but they will never taste just like hers. You suspect that she may use a little extra butter, and possibly witch craft.
You may have seen the show America's Test Kitchen on PBS. It's my favorite cooking show because 1.) the cooks on it are cooks and not TV personalities which means that they're considerably less annoying and 2.) they make food you would normally eat and they show you how to make it better.
Which is exactly what this cookbook does. It's filled with recipes of everyday food that you would serve your family but each recipe is tested dozens of times to get the best flavor and texture and also the easiest way to get there. Then, instead of just telling what to do, they show you how to do it with lots of pictures and explain why you're doing it. For example, I needed to make a pie crust last night. I've always had trouble with crust, it is either too moist or too dry and never pretty. So I thought that I would give theirs a try. The recipe suggested using a food processor to blend everything together because you don't want to overwork the butter. But I don't have a food processor and it's kind of a pain cutting in cold butter to get the texture you need for the dough. So the helpful tip, as if the cookbook was reading my mind, was to freeze the butter and grate it in. GENIUS!!!!! It worked like a champ. I've never had dough come together so nicely.
I've used their recipe for bread and rolls (first time I have EVER been successful making yeasty breads)(The word yeasty gives me the heebs.), for soup and pot roast and several desserts and they've always turned out terrific. I've seen it at Barnes and Noble but I think it's cheaper at Costco. I think you should get it and then invite me over for dinner. I'll bring a pie.