Everyone has their own favorite food show. For some people, it’s Rachael Ray. Others prefer Anthony Bourdain. I’m an Alton Brown kinda girl myself, but two of the best loved cookbooks in my kitchen are both from the makers of America’s Test Kitchen.
In addition to America’s Test Kitchen (which I would watch religiously in college when PBS was the only station I could pick up on my rabbit ears!), they also produce the fabulous cooking magazine Cook’s Illustrated, a wonderful publication that is every bit as stripped down, basic, and awesomely functional as the show. Their guiding principle is to test everything in order to find the best recipe. That means they’ll cook dozens of apple pie recipes and talk about the pros and cons of each before paring it down to one ultimate recipe.
These are recipes you might actually make most of the time, and not froufrou gourmet nonsense. I love Ina Garten, but her lifestyle is way too champagne wishes and caviar dreams for me most of the time, but Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen have never let me down when I’m just looking for a way to make the most of my cheap canned tomatoes.
This makes the free app a lifesaver for frugal cooks like me. Although it only gives you access to 50 of their recipes, these are 50 of their most popular and best loved recipes, which means these are almost certain to become staples in your repertoire. You can also purchase an online subscription to their website and get access to their full library for only $36 a year, which is a great deal in my opinion. One thing to note, however, is that the magazine subscription is different than the online subscription, so you will not be able to access the recipe library if you are only subscribed to the magazines.
In addition to the recipes, you also get “full with subscription” access to their ingredient tests (These folks are nothing if not thorough!), which is twelve different kinds of fantastic if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck. Because, really, where else are you going to find another group of people willing to sit down and run blind taste tests to determine the best brand of frozen, concentrated orange juice? The only thing I found lacking in the app was their usual and quite excellent equipment reviews. Hopefully later versions will include this as well.
It does, however, also include a built-in shopping list and an easy access bookmark section for your favorite recipes, which makes this little app a veritable cooking powerhouse. If you’re a busy home cook or are interested in learning to cook, Cook’s Illustrated is a fantastic and free resource that is so worth checking out.
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