On Monday evening we welcomed Cook’s Illustrated editor Jack Bishop to celebrate the launch of the magazine's 20th anniversary book, Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook; 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Magazine. Jack was a charming and knowledgeable host as he shared behind-the-scenes stories of the magazine’s beginnings, highlights of early issues, landmark recipes, along with tips and technique learned along the way. He also entertained us with some hilarious readings from his subscriber feedback file, illustrating what an eclectic and improvisational group home cooks can be.
With Chef Lawren Moneta pitching in from the sidelines, Jack demonstrated the Cooks Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust Dough. The secret to this classic favourite? Add ¼ cup of chilled vodka along with the ice water. Their test kitchens discovered that while gluten (the protein that makes crusts tough) forms readily in water, it doesn’t form in ethanol, and vodka is 60 percent water and 40 percent ethanol. Adding that ¼ cup of vodka produced a moist, easy-to-roll dough that stayed tender. And since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven, it’s still an all-ages appropriate dough. Gluten-free cooks rejoice. The proof was in the ‘pie’ as guests tucked into the prepared Sweet Potato Tartlets.
Another one of Cooks Illustrated most celebrated recipes is the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie. A proud cookie fanatic, Jack gave us his trusted secret for the magazine’s claim to creating the “best ever” recipe for chocolate chip cookies – ones with the ideal balance of chewiness and crunch. Here it is… brown your butter first in a skillet till it’s a dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma – for 1 to 3 minutes. Also, while whisking in the eggs, let the dough rest between whisks. We couldn’t resist making a batch in our own Barbara Jo’s test kitchen the next day and the results – delicious. For the complete recipe drop by the shop and pick up a copy of Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, it really deserves a prime spot on every bookshelf or kitchen counter.