novicecook Review

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Great cookbook
 from San Diego,  Sep 8, 2006

I don't have experience cooking and I sure don't know much about cooking technique. I have personally made all the recipes my family has enjoyed from this book with "technical" help from my wife. When my wife has made "new" recipes from other sources, we don't know what the final product will be like. With this book, not only do they tell you what the final product should be like, it most likely will turn out that way. I've watched America's Test Kitchen and thought that I could make some of the recipes they prepared. I like how detailed the nstructions are on the show and the book is even more detailed. I've seen Cook's Illustrated magazine in the book store and this book is similar though slightly condensed (explanations of the testing they did and why the final recipe is the way it is). While they have incredible detail on how and why, they do have to assume you have some rudimentary knowledge of cooking technique. So, when I tried the brownie recipe and it told me to "fold" the flour into the batter, I was clueless - fortunately, my wife supervises. They purposely change their recipe from "classic" recipes to make it more likely the average home kitchen has the tools required along with the ingredients being available at your supermarket. The brownies are incredible - the difference between out of the box brownies and the "classic" brownies is why people make food from scratch. Light and fluffy pancakes came out just the way they describe it...not the dense version I usually generate from packaged mixes (my wife had to give me a lesson on flipping pancakes - that's how inept I am in the kitchen). BBQ spare ribs with the BBQ dry rub - just like the ribs I had at "Smokey Bones" in the Atlanta area (the book tells you how to cook grill recipes for charcoal and gas grills). Cheese Straws drew rave reviews at a party (although not as pretty because my daughter and I couldn't get the twists described in the recipe so we just laid it out flat - the guests didn't care). Fallen chocolate cake (molten lava cake) was better than the local Chili's. Every recipe I've made has come out they way they said it would. As a totally novice cook, if I can get good results, then anyone should be able to do the same. As a novice cook, I do run into problems when timing is important when making a recipe the first time - like frozen dough becoming too warm because I took too long with something else before getting to the dough. They assume the average cook can get something done in X minutes while someone like me takes double the time. Fortunately, from America's Test Kitchen, I knew to just throw the dough back into the freezer when it got too warm. On my wife's advice, I am writing all over the book with my own notes on each recipe I make with any adjustments on spices or time allotments so each recipe will be MY Best Recipes. It's a great book.

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