“The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook: From Appetizers to Desserts by America’s Test Kitchen”
Time is the enemy of most cooks, and like many people I often use weekends to prepare larger meals for the rest of the week. On a Sunday afternoon that’s relatively unscheduled, I’ll prepare and then squirrel away portions of soups, stews, and pasta sauce for days when I don’t have the time or inclination to stand in front of the stove.
Finding inspiration can be challenging, though, and while huge batches of spaghetti sauce and chili are great, sometimes it’s nice to have something fresher and livelier. That’s one of the reasons I’m so enjoying the new cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, “The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook.”
There are a lot of reasons to love America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. Recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, and the steps are methodical and concise. What I particularly love is how the authors identify what can make dishes both shine and fail, and how they’ve used technique and theory in the development of their recipes. This book is a great choice for those who are also short on time for cooking.
I found myself being pleased over and over by small but thoughtful details throughout the book. Its introduction includes not only information about the best equipment for cooking, but also friendly and essential directions about properly storing, refrigerating, and freezing foods for later use. The recipes themselves also offer guidelines for how to best reheat dishes for serving. Each chapter provides an index, with recipes where the active time is 30 minutes or less being labeled as “Easy,” and recipes that can be frozen labeled as “Freeze It” (and both are color coded!). The photography in the book is gorgeous, and virtually every recipe has its own photograph, yet allowing the recipe to take center stage on the page.
As one would hope, the recipes are really why you’re here. While you can find recipe standbys like baked ziti with Italian sausage and a slew of different types of chilis, there are also options for toothsome whole grain salads, roasted meats, and icebox pies. Recipes also often offer variations, letting you play with the makeup of the recipes and further stretching the already prodigious number of dishes which appear in the book.
Both the book itself and the individual recipes are well-conceived and nicely presented, and cooking theory and science are nicely baked into the writing. America’s Test Kitchen has produced a number of cookbooks, but this particular volume is a godsend for those who don’t feel like cooking every night of the week and value variety in their diet.