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Monday, April 17, 2006

LQ Heartily Endorses

I tried a new cake recipe yesterday.

It was so amazing. The cake is yummy. And pretty. See???

EC even said it was her new favorite cake. Which, if you've had my chocolate cake or cupcakes, you know sets a new standard.

The one thing it is not is low in either fat or calories. It takes a little bit (ok, a lot) of time. A stand mixer would also help. (hint, hint) But so totally worth the time investment.

If you're a baker, rush right out and buy the May/June copy of Cook's Illustrated. You'll find the recipe on pages 24-25. Better yet - subscribe.

Cook's Illustrated is quickly becoming my favorite magazine. I subscribe to 3 different cooking magazines - Cooking Light, Eating Well, and Cook's Illustrated. The thing I love about CI is the experimental approach they take to cooking. For example, for this Strawberry Cream Cake, they tried several different ways to get the cake just right, the filling just right, and the cream topping just right. They tell you what they tried, what didn't work, and why things either work or don't work. They rate cooking equipment - like stand mixers (hint, hint). They compare different brands of common ingredients and food and tell you what to look for in your ingredients. They explain different cuts of meat and why a cut that is tender and delicious in one recipe comes out tough and dried out in another. They even walk you through basic cooking and preparation techniques to make life in the kitchen easier.

I initially got my dad a gift subscription after seeing the magazine in a bookstore. For a significant part of our relationship, cooking was the only thing we could agree on. Several of his cookbooks now have a home in my collection - as well as most of the Cook's Illustrated magazines. I also had Mr. Q get me a subscription - and only partly because of the groovy Microplane grater that came as a free gift.

Other CI recipes I recommend:
Chicken Enchiladas - May & June 2003
Glazed Carrots - Mar & Apr 2003
Perfect Pot Roast - strangely, I only have this in a sample issue. But I have 2 copies of it and am willing to share.

LOVE CI. And if you REALLY like CI and only have a year or two worth of issues, you can suck up the $20 for online access to their recipe archives (and equipment reviews, etc.).

I used a CI recipe for Easter dinner and it turned out *fantastic*. Actually, now that I think about it, *last* Easter's menu, and 2004's Thanksgiving turkey, were also from CI. It's just the BEST.
Kristine - I'd be interested to hear which recipes you've had good luck with. Because I'm always looking for yummy recipes.
Well, the Easter dinner recipe was a roasted boneless leg of lamb with a bread crumb topping. Sort of roulade-y, you slather it with chopped herbs and roll it up, tie it, and roast it. Yum. It was from New Year's Eve in 2000, maybe?

Other favorites are a pan-seared, roasted pork tenderloin (which I've modified slightly after dozens of repetitions), pan-roasted asparagus, their Thanksgiving turkey (brined and all), smashed potatoes, and their "weeknight bolognese," which only takes two or so hours, instead of seven or eight, or all day.
Oh, the issues: I don't know on the bolognese or the lamb, since I found those online, but the others:

Pan-Seared Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloins, Smashed Potatoes, and Roasted Brined Turkey, Nov. & Dec. 2004 (that was a good issue)
Pan Roasted Asparagus, March & April 2005

I also have several pages dog-eared, waiting for time to try out some of the baking recipes. I really want to try to the strawberry cake recipe!
I remember seeing the weeknight bolognese, so I'm pretty sure that one is a recent issue.

The Pork Tenderloin sounds wonderful - I'll have to look for that issue. It should be in my dad's collection. (I stopped the subscription the following year b/c it just seemed cruel to send cooking magazines to someone who used to love to eat...and then had a disease where he couldn't. :( Although up til the week before he died he'd ask me what I was cooking for dinner every night when I talked to him.)

I'll be interested to see how they brine their turkey - I've been doing that for the past 3-4 years (I found a recipe online). I brine chicken too (so yummy), and did pork tenderloin once - but added way too much salt. To the point that it almost tasted like ham.

You can't go wrong with that cake - it's so fabulous.
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