Family Night menu from Cooks Illustrated

More than 1 million home cooks rely on Cook’s Illustrated magazine to provide trusted recipes that work, honest equipment reviews and ingredient taste tests, and time-saving kitchen tips.  Published by the hosts of America’s Test Kitchen television series, Cook’s Illustrated is known for an almost fanatical approach to creating the best recipes for the home cook’s favorite foods.  To do this, they test every recipe 20, 30, sometimes up to 100 times in their own 2,500 square foot test kitchen where they make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  They also test and recommend which kitchen equipment is the best to use, which supermarket ingredients really make a difference and which techniques work best for the home cook.  And because Cook’s Illustrated is advertising free, you can trust their objective ratings to identify what products are worth your money and which to avoid. Subscribe to Cooks Illustrated here, or sign up for the Perfectly Plated Sweepstakes for the chance to win $5,000 in merchandise from Ballard Designs.

Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil

Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil

For a year-round fresh tomato sauce recipe with summertime flavor, we started with cherry tomatoes and then added more flavor by tossing them with a little sugar as well as salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and garlic slivers. We then roasted them in a single layer, which cooked off excess liquid and produced sweet and concentrated results in just 35 minutes. With our final touches of basil and cheese, we had produced a fresh tomato sauce you can make any time of year.

Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Basil recipe

Wilted Spinach Salad with Oranges, Radishes, and Vinaigrette

Wilted Spinach Salad with Oranges, Radishes, and Vinaigrette

For a wilted spinach salad recipe that would give us a not-too-greasy dressing and spinach with a slight but satisfying crunch, we cut back on the usual 4:1 ratio of oil to acid and added the lemon juice once the oil and other ingredients had been heated to maintain brightness. To avoid overly wilted spinach, we used a mere ¼ cup of dressing for 6 cups of greens.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Oranges, Radishes, and Vinaigrette recipe

Classic American Garlic Bread

Classic American Garlic Bread

For our best garlic bread recipe, we toasted a generous amount of whole garlic cloves to mellow the harshness and highlight the rich, sweet, nutty flavor. We used butter sparingly to give the bread ample richness without marring its texture with overwhelming greasiness. And we added a sparing amount of cheese for depth and complexity without interfering with the garlic flavor.

Classic American Garlic Bread recipe

Almond Biscotti recipe

Almond Biscotti

We wanted biscotti that were hard and crunchy, but not hard to eat, and bold in flavor. To keep the crumb hard, we used just a small amount of butter (4 tablespoons), and to keep the biscotti from being too hard, we ground some of the nuts to a fine meal, which helped minimize gluten development in the crumb. To ensure bold flavor in a biscuit that gets baked twice, we increased the quantities of aromatic ingredients.

Almond Biscotti recipe

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