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Has anyone ordered Cook's Illustrated? Is it any good?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Has anyone ordered Cook's Illustrated? Is it any good?

post #2 of 9
I was a subscriber for a few years.I learned quite a bit from them. I don't share their spice preferences in many cases and find they can be bland when it comes to
more complexly spiced food.

There's a point in a cook's growth where Cook's Illustrated is a good magazine. Probably as you transition from a beginner to an intermediate cook is when its best. After a year or two, you'll grow beyond them.

I think you'll have grown beyond them by now. Try some of their books from the library. The magazine is much like the books.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 9
For less than $30 a year you can subscribe to CI on line. Not only do you get the current issues, you get them all the way back to the beginning.

I agree with Phil that it isn't necessarily for the experienced cook but like any book it is a resource. I find it useful to refer to for ideas.
post #4 of 9
I subscribed to it from the link here and got my first issue the other day. There were some items that I found useful and some things I already knew but over all I thought it was a wonderful magazine...far far better than those full of more ads than article.

The articles were well written and timely and the question and answer section was very informative and in depth responses to subscribers questions.

I can see what Phatch might mean however about growing beyond it but it is definately a quality publication.
post #5 of 9
I've subscribed on and off for years. On the positive side, the recipes generally work well, and I find the attached articles of how they got to the recipe pretty interesting. I also really like Christopher Kimball's (Editor) stories. They're always about a simpler life and that's something I think we all need. On the down side, each recipe tends to be overly complicated and they all require a lot of ingredients; some in such small quantities it makes you wonder why they bother. Anyway, I agree that if you'd like to get a taste of the magazine, go to the library and get one of the cookbooks. You'll figure out quickly whether this particular style of writing is for you.
post #6 of 9
I subscribed for a while and had issues with several things:

They try to take long cooking recipes and make a shortcut version which often strays away from the original dish.

As mentioned their spice levels are bland even by midwest standards.

If you subscribe to the magazine they want an extra $30 to access the online content.
post #7 of 9
That's a great question!

I'm a yacht chef which by nature might be both the easiest and most difficult chef's job ever. It's easy because most people don't want to eat restaurant style food all the time. It doesn't matter how rich someone is; they most ultra wealthy people want a baked potato with a grilled New York Strip, a turkey sandwich or even a pb&j with Ruffles Potato chips on the side. (I'd serve it on a paper towel, but that might be going to far.)

It's also one of the most difficult jobs cooking ever. You try braking down a chicken in six foot seas! I'm at sea hoping from paradise Island to paradise Island everyday. Great. Except when I need to buy something, then I have to wait a week. Not like in a restaurant when you send the busboy to the market to get lemons or something.

It's so important to have recipes that work under the most trying circumstances. Cooking on a yacht is a three dimensional experience. Problems arise that no land based chef would ever worry about. Often the yacht moves at the guests whim, so I rarely know where or under what conditions I'll be cooking dinner.

Having recipes that always work that are simple and appeal to American sensibilities is key to my survival as a yacht chef. I also cook for the same people. Unlike a restaurant that over time perfects a menu with only thirty or so recipes and a handful of rotating specials, I'm expect to keep coming up with new and interesting ideas that are American. All my recipes are fine dining French, which is great if I want to have the best fine dining restaurant in town, they just don't work on a boat.

The Joy of Cooking is a brilliant cookbook. Every recipe works. Have you ever followed a recipe that didn't work? What a drag? People pay me a ton of money and the recipes I make have to work each and every time flawlessly. The problem with the Joy of Cooking is that the quality after following the recipes exactly to the word is mediocre. They are ok, they always work, but they are ok and not very inspired.

Every single recipe in Cook's Illustrated cookbooks works every time, without failing, under pressure. I can count on them. I know I can try new things that I don't need to work on to perfect. Everything comes out great if not perfect every time. If I need to make a quiche, bam it's there. If I need to make creamed spinach to put under my egg over easy with the truffle oil and shaved black truffles, bam it's there. If I need a either a creme brulee, creme caramel, flan, custard, souffle or a chocolate ganash, I'm there.

I would recommend them to everybody who is interested in American food and American interpretations of French, Italian, Spanish and Pad Thai.

Here is a cookbook I made for friends and family as a Christmas present. I swear 70% of the recipes I just copied out of Cook's Illistrated.
The Yacht Chef Network
The Yacht Chef Network
post #8 of 9
what a lovely gift you gave your friends and family and now us. Thank you. If you ever need a stowaway to help eat count me in! I would even help with the dishes.
post #9 of 9
Just JP said

If you ever need a stowaway to help eat count me in! I would even help with the dishes.

Hey, Horton - me too!

I greatly admire Chris Kimball's very graceful essays about life in small-town Vermont. I find the recipes very helpful and consistent, and it's not hard to spice them up a bit... especially with more garlic. :talk:

Wanna sneak me aboard? I can not only help with the dishes, but, as a former destroyer officer, I can also drive your boat for you. :bounce:

If it's four hundred feet long or less... otherwise I might be in over my head. :confused: (And no more than 60,000 horsepower.) I even remember how to do a Med moor. :)

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
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