Thursday, November 10, 2011

The America's Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook: Your Guide to Hosting Stress-Free Dinner Parties and Holiday Feasts

Title: America's Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook
Author: Americas Test Kitchens
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Boston Common Press
Edition: hardcover
Source: personal copy / Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 11/8/2011 
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

I've always loved looking at beautiful cookbooks, especially ones that have beautiful, mouth-watering illustrations, and recipes that are not too complicated or time consuming.  This is my first experience with ATK's Cookbooks, and it's all that I look for in a cookbook and more (some recipes are a bit more involved and/or take longer to prepare.)

The book  has (51) different complete menus for every occasion, special occasions and holidays included. There are about (250) different recipes all together.  What is great is that there are seasonal recipes with  lighter dinners, cold soups etc. for summer entertaining, and more substantial meals in fall and winter months. All the recipes are for 8-12 people, and the idea is that you can prepare these dishes ahead of time so that when your guests arrive, you can spend less time in the kitchen, and more time with your guests.

There are several things I like about this book, especially if I were to give it as a gift to someone just starting out.  At the beginning of the book there is a section on cookware and tools to make your life easier in the kitchen. (with all the gadgets now available, this can be very confusing when you are a novice in the kitchen). Every menu shows what can be done in advance and when, but they leave it up to you to actual do the implementation, and there is even an emergency substitution list that is terrific if you've run out of an item.   I also liked the sections on Quick Preparation Tips and Clever Serving Tricks and Clean-Up Ease.  Last minutes appetizers and Easy Desserts were also great.

All this plus simply gorgeous, glossy illustrations, and this book will be one that you would be proud to display on a coffee table.

Some of my favorites (all of the desserts make me drool) which I plan to try are:
  • Elegant Salmon Dinner - Israeli Couscous with caramelized fennel and spinach
  • New England Cod and Potato Dinner
  • Tomato and Mozzarella Tart (made with sheets of frozen pastry puff)
  • Mushroom Pasta Supper
  • Beef Tenderloin Dinner - potato and fennel gratin
  • Individual Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes served with ice cream
  • Lemon cheesecake with hazelnut crust
  • Lemon Tarts (to die for)
  • Oatmeal fudge bars
  • Cranberry upside down cake
If you aren't familiar with ATK's Cookbooks, you must check them out!


  1. Oh I love cookbooks and the fact that this has some meal plans for events sounds great!

  2. This cookbook sounds great even though I generally don't need recipes for that many people.

  3. Is that chocolate I see on the cover?

    (Why yes, I do have a one track mind.)

  4. Those deserts are to die for and it is just in time for the season. Happy cooking and eating.

  5. This sounds like such a wonderful resource, and I need all the help I can get with holiday cooking, since I haven't done it often enough! This was a great review, and I think I need to check this one out when I can. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I am happily surprised to hear that ATK cookbooks are so accessible. I had this idea that they would be fairly intimidating, but from your review that definitely seems not to be the case.
    I love the idea of the emergency substitution list, as I have been caught ingredient short on more than one occasion :)

  7. Ya just gotta love a book that involves food!

  8. This sounds like my type of book. I do not cook for many but always enjoy a new cookbook.

    Thank you.

  9. I tackled a whole menu in this book and don't know if I would do that again. There are many great recipes though that I will be trying. We enjoyed the chicken and the pear dessert I made from this book. I love the explanations of why things work too!

  10. I am totally a fan of the Cooks Illustrated/American Test Kitchen method and I love their cookbooks. Since I just got there 2000 recipe book, I doubt I will buy this but I would love it have a good at it.

  11. This sounds fabulous Diane. The recipes sound great and I too love a cookbook with lots of mouth watering recipes and illustrations.

  12. I love cookbooks too and this one sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  13. I love food, and I actually (gasp) love cooking, but the idea of cooking for 8 to 12 is a bit daunting! This cookbook seems like it would help me a great deal. Wonderful review, Diane!

  14. I am a terrible foodie, ask my family, and discovered ATK in 2001. I have been a convert and ardent fan ever since. The recipes are well laid out, easy to follow and include a description of how they got to the end result. Everything I try of theirs is the best of all the recipes I try. Without fail my go to cookbook.

  15. Sounds like a really good one! I wonder if the library will have a copy.

  16. I love ATK cookbooks and own a couple of them... this is definitely one more to investigate. Thanks!

  17. I love ATK and Cook's Illustrated. This sounds like another winner. I should get two--one for me and one for my daughter. She is getting into the whole entraining thing now. I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to cut the recipes in half for a more manageable dinner party.

  18. This sounds great! I like watching this show on PBS..makes me want to cook!!

  19. Stress-free dinner party, I love it! That's what I need.

  20. You've convinced me I need this one! I love lots of pictures in a cookbook even if mine rarely look the way they should.


Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thanks again for visiting.