Book Review: The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. Brookline, Massachusetts: America’s Test Kitchen, 2012. 464 pages.

To me, “Quick Family Cookbook” is something of a redundancy. In our family, by definition anything we’re going to cook is going to be quick, because dinner time is early, and there’s not a ton of time during the day to cook. So when I saw this cookbook on Amazon Vine, I jumped right on it. I’d already reviewed ATK’s The Pasta Revolution, so I felt pretty confident about being able to replicate most of what they presented. Quick Family Cookbook

Quick Family Cookbook is a collection of recipes that have been tested and retested, organized by type and placed in a five-ring looseleaf binder. The pages are a relatively heavy, glossy stock that I imagine will hold up well to typical kitchen abuse. I enjoyed the binder format–you can remove a recipe to have it handy while you shop or cook, and the pages tend to stay open when you prop the binder up.

On to the meat of the matter (so to speak), the recipes. I’ve cooked a few of them so far and found that, despite almost completely disregarding the stated ingredients and directions, they turned out pretty well. The quick spinach lasagna, for example, calls for store-bought alfredo sauce, something that’s only going to happen in my kitchen in a dire emergency, so I made my own. Ditto with substituting home-broiled chicken breasts for store-bought rotisserie chicken in another recipe. My personal take is that while Quick Family Cookbook shows you the shortcuts, you are by no means obligated to take them.

That means, naturally, that you’re not going to be cooking quite so quickly. And even where following the recipes fairly well, I found that I had to add about 20 minutes to the started prep and cook time. Which isn’t bad: turning out an edible family dinner in 40 minutes is, in my book, something to be proud of.

Of course, I tend to take cookbooks more as eye-opening suggestions and guidebooks for culinary adventures that formulae for producing food that are meant to be taken literally, so feel free to take this review with a grain of salt. But I’ve found that Quick Family Cookbook has given me some new ideas in the kitchen, some of which the kids have even deigned to eat. I have a feeling I’ll be using it for a long time. Recommended.

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