Depending on my mood, I’m one of those people who enjoy watching cooking shows (no surprise, I guess). I don’t watch many and they are usually just for favorite chefs (Ina Garten usually) or subject matters (Ace of Cakes because I wish I were a pastry chef). Generally though, I’m not into cooking as a contact sport (Iron Chef) or reality shows set in kitchens.
But I’ve found a new show that I’ve added to my PVR – Cook’s Country. This PBS show is from the folks behind America’s Test Kitchen – the group that tells us the best way to make a souffle, what brand of skillet or coffee maker is the best, and why baking powder works. The Test Kitchen’s goal is to give viewers the best version of something, be it pancakes, risotto, or snickerdoodles. The cooks make many many versions (30 batches of cookies, anyone?), get tasting feedback and come up with an “ultimate” recipe or technique.
Well, Cook’s Country is the downhome or “American home cooking” version of this rigorous testing. I think the differences between the shows are slight but Cook’s Country does have a great companion magazine. Check out the November issue – chock full of Thanksgiving advice.
Contrary to the idea that such shows are elitist, they aren’t for the “arugula middle class” – whatever the heck that insult means; they help you improve both your skills and your kitchen purchases as well as making the most of your food budget. Nobody wants to waste money on ingredients only to make something that really isn’t all that tasty.
You can check out Cook’s Country online, in the magazine or on PBS. They are even looking for recipe tester volunteers, if that is your thing.
For me, I’ll be doing a little testing of my own from the magazine – I’ll let you know how the cider-braised pork chops and mashed potato casserole turn out.