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America's Test Kitchen
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Dear Home Cook,
Yes, we do have an hour-long public radio show each week! We send you the recipes, techniques, wine suggestions, tasting notes, and equipment information from each week’s show (plus a link to listen to the show). Please stay in touch!
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Wine Fraud Nation
#501 January 2, 2016  Wine Fraud Nation: Cheap Wine, Expensive Labels, and Big Money
Wine photo from Corbis
I speak with Maureen Downey, founder of WineFraud.com, who reveals the secrets of this billion-dollar industry, from fake labels and corks to unique methods of detection. Don't think you haven’t been fooled! Even a $10 bottle can be a fake.
VinniBag: This wine travel bag really protects wine bottles, even when dropped to the pavement!
BUY NOW: VinniBag
This inflatable carrier surrounds a wine bottle with a cushion of air. It’s made of thick plastic and closes by rolling over itself like a boating dry bag. It broke only one bottle, on the last of five drops onto hard pavement, and it contained all of the wine after the break. It fits taller and wider bottles, is reusable and washable, and folds up for easy transport.
The Madness of Dan Pashman
#502 January 9, 2016  The Madness of Dan Pashman: The Sporkful Genius Rants about Hot Dogs, Cap’n Crunch, and Mashed Potatoes
Dan Pashman
I speak with Dan Pashman, host of the podcast “The Sporkful” and author of Eat More Better, to analyze whether a hot dog is a sandwich, the best way to eat gravy and mashed potatoes, and why the friction coefficient between cucumber and tomatoes means they should never touch in a sandwich.
Pasta e Ceci: Pasta with chickpeas
Pasta e Ceci
We cook chickpeas and ditalini in the same pot to blend the dish, using the starch released by the pasta to create a silky, stick-to-your-ribs texture. Before adding the pasta, we simmer the chickpeas to give them a creamy softness. We build flavor (without adding a distracting texture) by using a finely minced soffritto of onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and pancetta, an addition that gives the dish a meaty backbone. And we achieve depth of flavor by adding anchovies, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.
The Ethics of Meat: Can carnivores find moral high ground?
#503 January 16, 2016  The Ethical Meat Eater: Can Carnivores Adopt a Moral High Ground?
Patrick Martins
Patrick Martins is the founder of Heritage Foods USA and coauthor of The Carnivore's Manifesto: Eating Well, Eating Responsibly, and Eating Meat. We discuss what it means to be a responsible carnivore in an age of industrial farming and meat production.
Staybowlizer really works!
Buy Now: Staybowlizer
This two-sided silicone gadget kept a variety of mixing bowls firmly attached to every work surface in the kitchen, making it far superior to traditional bowl-steadying methods (placing the bowl inside a small pot or coiling a damp dish towel around its base). It even forms a tight seal in double boilers, which prevents steam burns, and its compact size makes it easy to store.
Save up to 50% on The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
Save up to 50% on The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
It turns out that cooking for two is a lot more difficult than dividing an ingredient list in half. In fact, we had to go into the test kitchen for a whole year and really start from scratch. Beef stew for two is based on steak tips, not chuck roast. Pot roast is made with quick-cooking blade steaks. Lasagna can be made in a loaf pan. A soufflé works nicely in a skillet, which also makes it easier. We found a new way to scale back our chocolate chip cookie recipe without losing an ounce of flavor. And mini Bundt pans are perfect for rich chocolate Bundt cakes. But our Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook is not just about scaling back the classic American repertoire. We also include 150 fast recipes (like Teriyaki-Glazed Steak, Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa, Pasta with Tomato and Almond Pesto) and 100 light recipes (Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup, Thai Chicken and Basil, Berry Gratins, etc.). Best of all, if you order now, you can save $10 off the cover price of $29.95 (only $19.95), and if you buy two or more copies, you can save 50% on the additional copies. Enjoy!
Rachael Ray Expandable Lasagna Lugger
BUY NOW: Rachael Ray Expandable Lasagna Lugger
This colorful casserole carrier vastly outperformed its rivals and kept food ripping hot for more than 3 hours. Its sturdy frame expands upward to fit two 13 by 9-inch baking dishes, while a handy zippered pocket holds serving utensils. One gripe: Oil stains were tough to clean off the polyester exterior.
The Piggy Steamer
BUY NOW: Piggy Steamer
The word “pig” is pronounced almost the same as “lid” in Japanese, and this floppy tool makes the perfect cover for a bowl or plate in the microwave. It’s unbreakable and stays cool, with protruding ears that function as convenient handles. (The nostrils also vent steam—and are used in Japan for lifting the lid with chopsticks.) In Japan, the lid is typically placed directly on food. For microwave reheating, we rested it directly on rice on a plate and on the edge of bowls containing soup and tomato sauce. The rice became steamy without drying out; the soup and tomato sauce emerged piping hot, but the lid kept the microwave splatter-free. We love this funny, floppy lid, which easily washes clean and is also effective for prying open jar lids.
Wine: The Pet-Nats are coming
Wine Bottles
Today a class of wines produced via a more traditional approach has become suddenly trendy. The process involves starting with fully vinified (that is, completely fermented), still (meaning no bubbles) wine and bottling it with a carefully measured dose of sugar and yeast. This provokes a second fermentation inside the bottle, which consumes the sugar (we’re back to dry wine again) and suffuses the contents with carbon dioxide, producing those lovely bubbles. The general term for these wines is "Pet-Nat," short for petillant naturel , or “naturally (lightly) sparkling” wine. These wines are made in tiny amounts by small producers and can be hard to find.
Sweet Potato Soup: Rich, not watery
Sweet Potato Soup
Most sweet potato soup recipes call for so many other ingredients that the sweet potato flavor is muted. The key to intensifying the sweet potato flavor was using only a minimal amount of flavor-diluting water. To do so, we let the sweet potatoes sit in hot water off heat for 20 minutes to make use of an enzyme that reduces their starch content. Less starch meant we could create a soup with less water, keeping the sweet potato flavor at the forefront. We also pureed some of the potato skins into the soup for extra earthiness.
Adam Gopnik on restaurant extinctions
#501 January 2, 2016  Wine Fraud Nation: Cheap Wine, Expensive Labels, and Big Money
Adam Gopnik
Adam proposes that certain types of thoroughly American-style restaurants ought to stick around forever, including the fancy French eatery—the kind you can only find here in America. Although they do not always offer the best food, they say a lot about our unique culinary history.
Best Ground Beef Chili
Best Ground Beef Chili
To keep the meat moist and tender, we treat it with salt and baking soda. Both ingredients help the meat hold on to moisture, so it doesn’t shed liquid during cooking. This means that 2 pounds of beef can be browned in just one batch. We also simmer the meat for 90 minutes to fully tenderize it. Finally, our homemade chili powder uses a combination of toasted dried ancho chiles, chipotle chiles in adobo, and paprika, along with a blend of herbs and spices to round it out.
Final thought: A cool drink of water
I recently read a book about Charles Ponzi, who invented the Ponzi Scheme in 1920. He claimed he could double an investor’s money in just three months.
By purchasing international reply coupons for postage stamps and by taking advantage of different rates in different countries—arbitrage—he could generate windfall profits.
What he actually did was pay back early investors with money from later investors.
Wine fraud is not a Ponzi scheme, but it does depend on the same human need to believe—to believe in getting rich or to believe in the quality of an object if one pays a lot of money for it.
I have no doubt that the investor who purchases a $100,000 bottle of wine enjoys every sip even though it might be a middle-of-the-road Côtes du Rhône. It’s human nature.
As Tug McGraw of the Mets once said, “You gotta believe!”
Cordially,
Christopher Kimball
Host, America's Test Kitchen Radio
Call us today at America's Test Kitchen Radio
Call us with your cooking questions anytime. The number is 855-34-COOKS
(855-342-6657) or email us at Questions@ATKRadio.com.
In these Episodes
RECIPES   TASTINGS & TESTINGS
Pasta e Ceci   Pasta e Ceci  
Sweet Potato Soup   Sweet Potato Soup  
Best Ground Beef Chili   Best Ground Beef Chili  
  Testing: Wine Travel Bags   Testing: Wine Travel Bags
  Testing: Bowl Stabilizer   Testing: Bowl Stabilizer
  Testing: Insulated Food Carriers   Testing: Insulated Food Carriers
  Testing: Silicone Microwave Lid   Testing: Silicone Microwave Lid
 
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Save up to 50% on The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook
 
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America's Test Kitchen is the home of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines, America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchen public television shows, dozens of best-selling cookbooks, member websites, and our online cooking school, America's Test Kitchen Cooking School. We have a single mission: to help you succeed every time you cook.
 
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