What I do with makeup, products, life hacks, and health, the lovely America’s Test Kitchen people do with food. They’ve devoted their lives to using science, testing, and experimentation to find the best, most efficient, and sometimes crazy ways to make you into a cooking genius. They test all time favorite recipes, food products (such as BBQ sauce, condensed milk, etc.), and cooking tools (such as thermometers, non-stick pans, etc.) so you don’t have to spend time wading through all the information out there or wasting time on trial and error.
Some examples of their “kooky” hacks:
- Adding vodka to your pie crust dough creates the perfect flaky crust everyone dreams of. There’s a chemical reaction between vodka and the dough that causes the dough to expand, the alcohol then burns off, leaving no flavor or alcohol in your perfected crust.
- Has your brown sugar become a solid block because of humidity or age? Simply grate the block down using a cheese grater and presto! Brand new brown sugar.
- Is your Chicken Parmesan too mushy? They’ve got a trick for that.
- Is your homemade tomato sauce too acidic or lacking in flavor? Add a 1/4-teaspoon of sugar to enhance flavors and cut down on acidity.
- Do you want to roast coffee at home? They have a hack using a popcorn popper.
- Enhance meaty/umami flavors by adding a little bit of sherry.
I could go on and on, but you really should check them out yourselves. Every time I cook recipes from ATK, I get rave reviews and people demanding the recipes. My first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the family involved making everything from scratch using ATK recipes (I was told it was the best Thanksgiving dinner ever). I’ve yet to cook something from ATK that did not turn out absolutely perfect. Because of them, I got my ex-fiancé to eat broccoli and LOVE it, a vegetable that had previously made him gag.
I love ATK because they accomplish a few things in their cooking mastery. First, they’ve done all the work for you so you don’t have to. Second, they explain the science behind why their tricks work, so you’re learning along the way. And finally, they recommend the best products so you don’t have to sift blindly through all the products out there, when you don’t even know how to cook in the first place.
The first book I purchased was The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook . In it you learn everything from cooking mac n’ cheese, to grilling fish and meat, vegetable sides, desserts, and even techniques (like how to clean a fish, tie a roast, etc.). This book has over 1,200 recipes with full color pics. Perfection.
The second book I purchased was The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. At this point I was trying to cook a bit healthier and this book was perfect for the task. They take typical family favorites (Meatloaf, Pasta dishes, or Hamburgers) and create healthier versions that don’t sacrifice flavor. I tried their Chicken Parmesan dish out on my friend, who is the pickiest, finickiest eater I have ever met. Not only did she hate anything with the “healthy” title on it along with anything vegetable, but she would order weird things like her hamburgers well done, dry, no veggies added. She ate so much of this Chicken Parmesan I thought she was going to throw up.
They have tons of other books to purchase and also have a couple of informative and constantly updated websites, but you do need a membership to get the best info. You can find them here:
To sum up, if you want to cook the best dishes of your life without any trial and error, supply your kitchen with the best cooking tools, and learn science along the way, pick up a book from The America’s Test Kitchen.