Cook’s Illustrated Is Teaching Me How to Cook

I’ve been getting Cook’s Illustrated magazine for a couple of years now, but mostly I’ve just browsed through it, paying more attention to the product reviews and the tips than the recipes. (If you’re not familiar with the magazine, they take no advertising and maintain a rigorous, scientific approach to making recipes both good and more cookable, if that’s a word. As a result, every recipe has a two-page introduction, which is fun to read if you’re a nerd like me.)

So I decided to start trying to cook most of the recipes in my Cook’s Illustrated magazines, with the exceptions of recipes containing beef, pork and soybean products, which I don’t normally eat. Also, I reserve the right to omit a recipe based on degree of extreme complexity or obscure equipment involved; I actually don’t own a standing mixer or a springform pan, believe it or not. The idea behind this is to keep me trying new things without having to work too hard figuring out what to cook, and keep practicing technique even for recipes I already know. Also to make my subscription worth it.

I started with Oven-Baked Brown Rice with Parmesan and Lemon. I was also going to make Pan-Roasted Asparagus, but the asparagus I bought was too thin–lesson learned!–and really, it’s silly to be making asparagus in October, anyway. So I just steamed that and tossed it with a little olive oil and shaved Parmesan. I pan-seared some tuna steaks to go with it and served those with a little melted butter, lemon juice and the last of the fresh basil. The menu has a subtle Italian theme, but is also intended to be simple and homey.

Turned out yummy, but making brown rice of any kind is a bit of a production when compared to throwing basmati in a pot, no matter how dedicated we all have to be to eating whole grains now. All in all, though, this was a simple meal and a great kickoff to this blog.

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