Summary: Cook's Illustrated is my favorite cooking magazine. The recipes are illustrated to show how to prepare the dish and how it should look when finished. There is a good mix of simple and gourmet recipes.
Have you ever wondered what is the best way to fix french toast, fried eggs, bread pudding, or pancakes. Cook's Illustrated performs the trial and error technique to evaluate several different possible ways to prepare various common (and not-so-common)recipes. The researchers at the magazine will try numerous variations of the same dish and give us the results. I have found that every one of the recipes taken from this trial and error feature has been great.
I also like the feature that provides simple helps and tips from readers.
Each month, the magazine features lots to new recipes, so that over a year or two, the subscriber can build up a valuable library of cooking help. It is especially helpful for novice cooks, but also interesting for even the professional chef.
A similar magazine is "Cuisine." I have subscribed to both, but prefer Cooks
gives you the "Best" method for anything. the techniques and recipes are very reliable, and there is at least one superlative recipe in every issue that is sure to become part of your basic repetoire. that may not sound like much, but it wont be just "one more recipe", it will feel like, the ultimate....way to make that specific food.
you really dont need other cookbooks or magazines if you sub to this
cook's magazine reviews and evaluates appliances and gadgets too, and the reviews are VERY reliable. unlike consumer's, they will tell you how this really performs in the KITCHEN.
this magazine will save you money and time
go for it
I have been a subscriber to this magazine now for three years. It has always been very educational and informative. In truth, I read it cover to cover. I begin with Christopher Kimball's wonderful editorials. His descriptive writings always allow me to place myself in his setting. Whether it's on his Vermont farm, in the nearby town, or in an apple orchard he takes me there in the most descriptive manner. The articles on the best recipe is always very educational and makes you want to try each and every one of them. Next I like the articles that tell about the best pan or best cooker or whatever the item is for that issue. I especially like the fact there isn't any advertising as in so many of the cooking magazines. I am so impressed with this magazine that I have provided both of my grown children with subscriptions.
Recommended For: Hobbyists/Enthusiasts
Cook's Illustrated is a lifesaver for anyone that likes to cook and enjoys good, quality food! It is a wealth of information for those people that especially like to "experiment" with food. I'm one of those people and I'm always looking for ways to "tweak" my favorite foods and recipes - CI ALWAYS helps!!!
For instance, I love brownies and CI told me everything I ever wanted to know about brownies and more! CI is very educational too. I didn't know that there were 2 different types of brownies: cake and fudge. The author explained what happened on ALL of his experiements and I've found his discoveries to be true (good and bad!).
Another example is pie crust - What makes a good one and why? Again the author explained all the nuances of a really excellent pie crust and the causes of failure.
I also love the tips! Like how to really get that garlic smell out of your hands!!!
I just wish there were more articles on vegetarianism and healthy living.
Cook's Illustrated is a beautiful magazine. Each issue focuses on a series of recipes, testing variations on the recipe to generate an absolute best master recipe (i.e. the best roast chicken or the best chocolate chip cookie). Watch out though - their tastes may not exactly coincide with yours. My favorite mac-and-cheese recipe is one with a bechamel-based cheese sauce and wins hands-down with my family over the one that Cook's declared best. Variations on the master recipe are also provided. In addition, wonderful tips and tricks for cooking are included, each illustrated by gorgeous line drawings. My biggest complaint about this magazine is that it is too short! The only disappointment I've had with this magazine was the one time they did a software review and recommended a program that was defunct. When they stick to food and cookware they are the best! A similar magazine that you might enjoy is Fine Cooking.
Recommended For: Hobbyists/Enthusiasts
This magazine series is an excellent source of information beyond the wonderful recipes and cooking tips. For each simple recipe, there is a story behind how the formula was derived. Each recipe is painstakingly prepared in a test kitchen to get the best results -- with suggestions for alternative approaches.
The standard format is that each magazine has approximately ten good recipes plus some cooking gear/tips. Each recipe is given with a brief history, the trials in the kitchen and then the recipe/instructions/hints.
As an example, the editor goes into great detail about the perfect New York Cheesecake. He provides information about the impact of adding additional eggs or egg yolks, tips on making a graham cracker crust easier to fill the pan, and why cracks happen (and how to avoid them.) All of this was done as a learning process (I tried this and the result was... so I tried this and ...)
The recipes are all wonderful. I have yet to be unsuccessful with anything I have tried. You will find this magazine well worth the cost if you enjoy the process as much as the preparation.
However, if you are just looking for the best recipes, I would suggest skipping the subscription and buying the cookbooks from the "Best Recipe" series that the magazine editors have also published.
Shortly after the last kid left home six years ago, I took early retirement and began doing almost all the cooking for the two adults remaining in the house, plus occasional guests. I'm a pretty good cook out of sheer self-defense, because I really enjoy good food. But I'm not a gourmet; I don't do peacock tongues and I consider fads like "vertical food" pointless affectations. But I do a mean jambalaya, and my spaghetti carbonara is always in demand at family parties, and whenever the kids come home to visit they insist on my biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. For all these reasons, for the kind of cook -- and eater -- I am, COOK'S ILLUSTRATED is simply the best kitchen magazine around. They deconstruct classic recipes, figuring out what *makes* the "best" version of something the best, and going through piles of ingredients until they get everything exactly right. They expect you to pay attention to what you're doing, but the ingredients and the implements are never unobtainable, and the methods are never bizarre. The letters to the editor often consist of questions to which the staff will chase down a canonical answer. There's no advertising (except for their own books, several of which I own) and the beautifully executed pen-and-ink drawings are far preferable to photographs in demonstrating methods and pointing out details. I'm also pleased that I can nearly always recognize the mystery tool featured in the "What Is It?" column. And if that's not enough, Christopher Kimball's editorial page essays, usually about people and food events in his small home town in Vermont, are modest gems.
This magazine is an extremely useful tool for anyone wanting to learn how to cook, learn new techniques, or understand the nuances involved in many different types of dishes.
The writers and testers do an excellent job of demystifying many recipes that were thought to be too complex for the home kitchen. They make an effort to empathize with the average cook by explaining every technique and exploring every short cut. They don't assume a technique is correct "because that is how it has been done". They question every aspect of the recipe from technique to individual ingredients while documenting their own foibles along the way.
I've noticed errors in some of their recipes/techniques, but they usually are prudent about addressing the errors found by readers in the next issue with unabashed modesty. Cooking is a science and they understand this. In acknowledging this, they show the reader that even they can learn something and are excited to improve their skills while informing their readers in order to save them the same headaches.
I have been a subscriber for over 5 years and recently gave a subscription to my grandfather who is an accomplished homestyle cook for many years. He, like many cooks, refrain from many cookbooks due to their hoi polloi attitude, just the facts descriptions, or odd just-to-be-published variations. But he was genuinely excited to read this magazine because it adds so many layers of understanding to the craft. It's one thing to know six different ways to roast a chicken, but if you understand the advantages of each technique and ingredient, then it allows for a greater creative spirit and style in your cooking.
So if you're just looking for a magazine to help you get started or expand the depths of your culinary wisdom, this magazine is a must.
Some people don't care why the food came out great or why it came out horrible. I do, and that's why I love this magazine. I enjoy reading what the author/cook went through to arrive at the printed recipe. I also enjoy the colorful covers and the back page with beautiful drawings of a "topic" food, such as a variety of tomotoes, hams, etc. Great magazine. However, I'm not crazy about their website.
I've been a subscriber to COOK'S since its first issue in 1994. Other reviews have pointed out that the magazine is slim --especially so considering that it's a bimonthly -- and black-and-white (except for the covers). But in terms of value for the price, it beats the competition handily. Every square inch of the magazine is packed with USEFUL information. Each recipe is tested dozens of times with countless variations to find the *best* and most foolproof version. This painstaking testing process is well-detailed in the article preceding each recipe, which is helpful if you want to produce a result other than that which the refined recipe gives. Almost every issue contains at least one or two recipes that I end up adding to my permanent collection of favorites. I have followed their product evaluations and cookbook reviews accurate and reliable (as much so as, say, CONSUMER REPORTS). I'll take this quiet, no-nonsense publication over the glossy, advertising-heavy magazines that substitute quantity of recipes over quality and thoroughness.