Posts Tagged ‘Cook’s Illustrated’

Usually, I’m fairly confident in the kitchen.  This past Thanksgiving, though, I was a little nervous cooking in front of our houseguest (an experienced cook).  Whether thickening the gravy or prepping the Brussel sprouts, I kept worrying: “Does she think I’m doing it wrong?  Do I look like an idiot?  I bet she’s dying to step in and do it her/the correct way.”

I’ve mostly gotten over my paranoia (and Thanksgiving was awesome, thanks to our collaborative efforts).  Even so, there’s still a ton I’d like to learn about proper cooking techniques. 

The first of those is handling knives.  Slice, dice, jullienne, mince, chop, chiffonnade, etc.  What does each look like, and what’s the most efficient way to get there without looking ridiculous?  (more…)


Read Full Post »

I don’t know about you, but I rarely make recipes from magazines.  I’ll sometimes read them for ideas, but that’s usually as far as it gets.  The last one I made was months ago (sweet potato ravioli from Cooking Light), and even then, I “doctored” the hell out of it.  Magazine recipes always seem 1) overly simplified, with too many shortcuts and prepared ingredients to be good, or 2) too complicated, with a bunch of exotic/ridiculous/unnecessary ingredients/appliances and steps.   I prefer cooking blogs because they actually reflect how real people cook.  The one exception would be Cook’s Illustrated magazine, because they test the hell out of their (very good) recipes and do all the substitution/altering you might be tempted to do.

Gripes aside, this recipe is adapted from one printed in the 2004 issue of Real SimpleIt looks pretty standard; maybe I’ll try it sometime soon, while pears are still in season.  It would probably be amazing with some dulce de leche or Sanders butterscotch caramel sauce drizzled over top.

-1/3 c. sugar
-1/4 c. cornstarch
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2 1/2 c. whole milk
-4 eggs
-1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
-2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
-2 pears
-2 tbsp. unsalted butter
-2 tbsp. sugar
-ground cinnamon

1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar with cornstarch and salt. Whisk in milk and eggs until well blended. Over medium-high heat, heat the mixture to simmering, whisking constantly; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk in vanilla and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Pour into serving cups and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate to chill, about 1 hr.

3. Core and slice pears. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Sauté the pears in the butter for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar turns golden, 3 minutes.

4. Top each dish of pudding with the warm pears; sprinkle with some ground cinnamon.

Photo credit: Real Simple/David Prince

Read Full Post »