Quick cooking from Cook's Illustrated?Quick cooking from Cook's Illustrated?

Below are some quotes from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated, my absolute favorite cooking periodical. I used to flip through this when my mom subscribed, thinking how complicated and gross everything looked. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong on this point, but it seems that Cook’s has gone the way of every other food magazine out there: quick, easy meals. There’s fast, easy, fresh at Bon Appétit, Quick Kitchen at Gourmet, and of course, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. Everything has to be fast and painless these days, even in Cook’s:

After spending just 10 minutes at the stove, I had a flavorful broccoli dish with bright green florets and toasty-brown stems…

“Better Pan-Roasted Broccoli” by Sandra Wu

My goal was to find a way to take advantage of the convenience of thin boneless pork chops yet still have a pronounced sear and a moist, juicy interior. Most important, I wanted the chops on the table in about 30 minutes.

“Great Glazed Pork Chops” by Nina West

Unfortunately, complexity of flavor means lots of time in the kitchen, which is in short supply on a Tuesday night. My goal was to produce a multidimensional sauce in less than an hour, starting the clock the moment I entered the kitchen and stopping it when dinner was on the table.

“Steamlining Marinara” by David Pazmiño

I don’t really care about mainstream magazines having a quick cooking section, but something about Cook’s buying in to this trend just seems perverted to me. Are there people reading this who are obsessed with getting dinner on the table in thirty minutes? Cook’s is an expensive, advertisement-free, and beautifully designed magazine with a farmer for an editor. I cherish every issue and try to make all of the recipes. But if, in the first paragraph, I find out that I only need a few minutes to make the dish, I probably won’t continue reading the article, and I will certainly forget about the recipe altogether.

Cooking quickly is great. I do it several times a week, and I’d rather see my friends do that than order in all the time. It just seems so out of place in a magazine as obsessed with being in the kitchen as Cook’s Illustrated. They exist to simplify things, but not, in my opinion, to encourage laziness.

Do any of you read the magazine and agree or disagree with me? I’m a relatively new subscriber, but I will look at the archives at work and see if there has been a distinct shift, which I suspect there has.


cook’s illustrated is my favorite cooking reference next to harry mcgee’s book.
i think people who are busy and would like to get other things done in one evening while still preparing a healthy and delicious meal are obsessed with getting dinner on the table in 30 min…

each issue of CI is filled with beautiful drawings and irreplacable information…

Well have you notice they are leaning towards faster, easier meals? And do you think that’s appropriate?

well the audience’s lifestyles have changed and CI has always been a publication for the cook of the household. so i think it’s appropriate.

Well that makes sense. It just gave me a shock to see it over and over again in one issue. I’m not interested I guess.

I noticed in one of Cook’s recent book ads that they have a newish cookbook of quick and easy meals and I agree with Steak, that they are probably responding to the demands of the marketplace.

Even I, who don’t work, am no longer quite so interested in spending hours laboring over a meal except for special occasions—it gets lonely in the kitchen if nothing else! So for those who work I’m sure these quick recipes are a real boon.

Leland, you can always cook your way through Julia Child, or for something different, how about The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum? That’s complicated enough!

It’s not that I’m searching for complicated recipes. I don’t know. I’m just getting tired of the fast cooking trend. I’m thinking of baking my way through Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, which I got free from work. Someone’s already done Julia, anyway.

Let me know what you think of the Martha; I got it for Christmas but haven’t tried anything out of it yet.

Speaking of fast food; thank you for my birthday present—Fast Food My Way! It looks great! And the new peeler!


i Leland, I love Cook’s! Also I love his editorial every month. I don’t always try everything, but have made some fabulous recipes from that mag.

Add a comment