Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cook's Illustrated

After 10 years, I have finally decided not to continue my subscription to Cook's Illustrated. It's kind of sad because I've always been a big fan and have given gift subscriptions to several friends and family members. I've never had a subscription with one particular magazine for such a long time, and I've kept all my issues (60+). One of the reasons I'm not renewing is that I just don't cook from it very often anymore, so I've decided to go through and index all the recipes (or most, not every single variation and occasionally there's one I just can't stomach) in the hopes that I will reference these more when I'm looking for a particular type of recipe. This project, too, has been traumatic...realizing how my life has changed over the past 10 years, seeing some of my favorite recipes again, coming across the Sept. '01 issue (more for the date than the content--though I still use the Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe!), realizing how many recipes I haven't made or even given a second glance...

Some of the things I will not miss:
  • Charlie Kimball's folksy, Vermont-laden introductions. I live 5 miles from Vermont now and just find it over the top. Enough already!
  • Chicken recipes. Holy crap! While doing the index I realized just how many chicken recipes they have published (approximately 10% of the almost 700 recipes). In fact, it's standard for every issue to have a beef and pork recipe, and at least one chicken dish.
  • Brussels sprouts recipes...because they haven't done any in the past 10 years!
  • all their self-promotion ads--usually one or two wrap-around covers, and two sets of inserts
Some of the things I will miss:
  • the funky and often funny "quick tips" readers send in (even if some seemed ridiculous), and also a lot of the technique and taste test features (best ever product recommendation: The Unicorn Magnum Peppermill which can be ordered from Unicorn Mills. Quite ugly, but otherwise magnificent!)
  • the pretty ingredient drawings on the back cover
So, I still hope to consult these issues often--perhaps more than I have recently. And I also use their "Best Recipes" book on a regular basis. But I think I've accumulated enough now. To commemorate this occasion, I'm printing my ALL-TIME FAVORITE RECIPE that first came out in the March/April 2001 issue and that I still make at least once a month. (FYI, this is my second favorite.) Most people who know me well know how attached to this recipe I am. Some may argue that I'm a little too attached to it, and especially the amount of garlic I use! Without further ado, Pasta with Garlic & Oil:

1 pound linguine (the original recipe calls for spaghetti)
kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (or more!) minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and salt liberally. Cook to al dente, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the rest. While water is heating, add the olive oil, all BUT 1-2 teaspoons of the garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a large skillet. Cook over low heat. Once it starts to sizzle a bit, stir constantly until garlic foams and is sticky & straw-colored, 10-12 minutes. [It's very important to cook the garlic slowly, you don't want to rush and burn it.] Remove from heat and add remaining raw garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, parsley and half the pasta cooking water; adjust seasoning as needed (may need more salt or lemon juice). Pour this over the pasta and combine. If it's too dry add more of the pasta cooking water. Dump in a warmed pasta bowl or bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

(Apparently this picture is pre-Parmesan!)


  1. Looks wonderful. Just exactly what I've been trying, unsuccessfully to accomplish. And what is the deal with Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. I had a subscription for 2 yrs to CI and have had Cook's Country since day one but am letting it lapse. They never publish an index so it's impossible to find what you're looking for. I even sent in a suggestion a year or so ago. I guess they just want you to buy the book too and the web subscription. ???

  2. Ohmigosh! I LOVE garlic and this recipe is definitely something I am going to try this week...

  3. Laurel, you can still do a recipe or ingredient search on their website, you just can't then access the recipe without a subscription. But it will tell you the issue it appeared in so you can go rummage around for that issue if you've kept them. Not ideal, but I've done it many times...

  4. Ha, I feel the same way about the folksy introduction. But alas, I acnnot give up on them yet. I haven't tried this recipe but it sounds awesome, I've never cooked garlic that slowly before.
    Found you on tastespotting - love the photo!

  5. found you on tastespotting. thank you for posting the recipe. def will try.

  6. Thanks Brooke. The only time I've gone to their website it was to submit some lost recipes and every which way I turned I got a subscription application. It's been a year, maybe I should try again.

  7. I made this tonight & loved it! Thank you for sharing.