Some Thoughts on Gourmet’s Recipes

I love cookbooks. I have a carefully crafted library of them, and I have to constantly resist the urge to buy one more. Even foregoing beef, lamb and pork as I do, and eschewing the regular preparation of desserts and complicated breads at home, I doubt I’ll ever be able to cook my way through every recipe in every cookbook that I own at this moment. The truth is that I don’t need another cookbook, but I’ll keep buying them because I like to leaf through them as if they were coffee table art books and imagine the glorious food that I’ll make. Of course, my love for cookbooks probably extends from my love for all books, which I am also constantly acquiring beyond my ability to consume.

I cannot say that I have a similar love for cooking magazines. Beyond Cook’s Illustrated, no cooking magazine has satisfied me. The recipes are not generally compelling. The articles are not generally enlightening. No recipe in a cooking magazine has ever measured up to the majority of the recipes I have made out of my cookbooks.

I thought Gourmet might be different. Gourmet is a beautiful magazine. If you can assign something the title of “food porn,” Gourmet would be that thing. I enjoyed editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl’s book and had high hopes for the magazine’s editorial content and recipes produced under her direction.

I have been getting Gourmet for five months now. I have made several recipes, mostly out of the “Gourmet Everyday” section, which are supposedly gourmet-level recipes for the busy home cook, which is what I am. I have yet to find a recipe that makes me say, “Wow! Clip me! Share me! Make me again!” Every recipe I have tried has been disappointing. Last night was the final straw. I was cooking dinner for my brother and me and decided to try the Red Lentil Curry, which seemed both righteously healthy and delicious (I’m a sucker for recipes containing coconut milk). But it turned out bland and mushy and not at all appealing on the plate. My brother and I agreed that the basic flaw was the recipe, which skimps quite a bit on both obvious ploys to enhance flavor (why not sauté the zucchini with the onion instead of just throwing it into the liquid?) and interesting ingredients.

That was the final straw. I’ve given Gourmet a fair shake, but I’m giving up. In the three years I have been getting Cook’s Illustrated, I have had several religious experiences as a result of recipes made out of the magazine. The Macaroni & Cheese alone is worth the price of admission. Gourmet hasn’t come even close to that level. I’ll continue to look at Gourmet for the pictures and travel articles until my subscription runs out, but I doubt I’ll renew.

I’m now searching for a new cooking magazine. I figure a monthly magazine that only costs $15 or so a year is the best hope I have for slaking my cookbook addiction. I will probably try Eating Well next. But if anyone has recommendations for cooking magazines that they regularly cook out of and that provide plenty of recipes that are good, fast and healthy, please post them in the comments.

P.S. I welcome all recommendations but will be likely to turn up my nose at any with Rachael Ray on the cover.



8 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Gourmet’s Recipes

  1. Katie B. 24 April 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Give Eating Well a try – I picked it up randomly at Whole Foods and I really love it. I’ve only gotten two months of it, but I’ve made at least 4 recipes from each, all fantastic. (And I love all the drool-worthy photos)

  2. dylan555 24 April 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Try two magazines out! I can’t wait to eat your cooking again!

  3. Shawnda 24 April 2007 at 9:47 pm

    I used to really like MSL, but I’m more inclined to go for something that’s devoted mostly food rather than just half (or less). I still get it, I also get RR’s magazine, and Cooking Light (which I really like). I just got my first issue of Bon Appetit – it’s a free subscription and if the first issue was an accurate representation, I won’t be ponying up any cash to renew.

    I just got a trial issue today (unsolicited) of something called Cuisine at Home. I’ve only *briefly* seen an issue or two of Cook’s Illustrated and this reminded me of it, content wise (making the best bread crumb coatings for chicken, slicing different cutlets, how to cook a restaurant-style steak, etc) – only this mag is in color.

    I’ve reached my food mag limit so something has to expire before I try anything else out. I think I’ll probably end up springing for CI.

  4. RecipeRiotQueen 8 May 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on Cook’s Illustrated. I was glad to see they have some recipes online so I can try before deciding to subscribe.

    P.S. Not to dig on Rachael Ray too much, but this tickled my funny bone recently:

  5. Shannon 9 May 2007 at 8:17 am

    Thanks for the laugh!

  6. Shannon 9 May 2007 at 8:19 am

    Katie: I made a recipe out of Eating Well last weekend and it was a big hit. I also love the format of their magazine: light on the ads, lots of space, easy to read. Nice focus on eating healthy and seasonally. My only pet peeve is when recipes cross page boundaries so you can’t clip them.

  7. Tiffany 1 June 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Vegetarian Times has not failed me yet. My in-laws have gotten it for years and I finely broke down and asked for a subscription for Christmas. We are not vegetartian but I’m always looking for ways to use my CSA subscribtion up and Veg Times really fits the bill. Good receipes, photos and not too preachy.

  8. Liliana 30 June 2007 at 10:01 pm

    I am also addicted to cookbooks and I must have at least 100! I just can’t stop the impulse to buy ‘just one more’!

    I also buy cooking magazines! Some magazines I buy are Gourmet and Bon Apetit (depends what stories and recipes are featured that month). Cooking Light and Eating Well are also great magazines, but my favourites are Cucina Italiana, Italian Cooking and Living and Tastes of Italia! I have to admit, I love all things Italian (my parents were born in Italy and since the first time I visited Italy I was hooked).
    I have tried many recipes from these magazines and they were all delicious.
    I recently added two cookbooks to my collection – Lidia’s Italy and Jamie’s Italy – love them both!

    keep on cooking….Liliana

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