Saturday, June 11, 2016

Comfort Food Makeovers: all your favorites made lighter




by the editors at America's Test Kitchen

Comfort food, noun: food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family, or friends.
That is according to Merriam-Webster.

In Comfort Food Makeovers every category is covered.  There are 18 recipes for casseroles alone with full color pictures for most of the recipes.  There are even color, step-by-step guides for some of the spotlighted procedures.  Every thought has been given to the taste and texture of the foods while reducing calories and fat.

I don't usually go for the low-fat or lightened-up versions of recipes.  I'm more of the cook with butter, whole eggs, and sugar kind of girl.  However, I am a huge fan of America's Test Kitchen and their recipes.  So I trusted them and decided to give it a try.

The first recipe I tried was the Tiramisu. All the ingredients are easily found in the local grocery store (well, except for the rum). I did have a little trouble locating the dried ladyfingers (savoiardi). It turns out they were in the aisle with the pastas and spaghetti sauces.  Silly me, I was looking in the cookie aisle and bakery aisle.  Though it isn't mentioned in the recipe, I found that this freezes well.  (Tip - cut into servings sized pieces first.) The traditional recipe has 530 calories, the lightened version has 350.  The recipe says it makes 6 servings in an 8-inch square pan. I cut mine a bit smaller, that lightened the calorie count even more.  This was so easy I have already made this recipe again.

The Chicken Chilaquiles are good.  I did add a bit more of the chipotle chile in adobo sauce to give it more heat.  A tip for the leftover chipotle in adobo sauce: remove the seeds, mince or puree the chile with the sauce, pour into an ice cube tray, put in the freezer.  When completely frozen, remove from tray, store in zipper bag.  That will make about 1 Tablespoon amounts that can easily be added to recipes.
The Baked Manicotti is pure genius.  Instead of getting frustrated trying to stuff the pasta tubes they have you rolling up the filling in no-boil lasagna noodles.

For the recipes I have tried I found the serving sizes to be very generous, unlike most lightened up versions.  All the flavor and texture was still there.  Recipes all use readily available ingredients and there are helpful prep tips throughout.  I would like to have seen a breakdown of prep time, cooking time, and standing time.  Some recipes call for lengthy refrigeration time or a standing time, so plan accordingly.

The editors at America's Test Kitchen are very prolific.  They have put out more than 70 cookbooks and DVD sets.  They have a regular 30 minute show on PBS. They are also the same team behind Cooks Illustrated magazine and the Cooks Country TV show and magazine. The Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazines are both available free to download through the library's Zinio page. The nice thing about ATK books is that they often include product reviews.  They rate kitchen items and food products.

The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001 - 2014 - note that ATK keeps updating this book by adding the latest seasons recipes to each reprint.

The Best Mexican Recipes: kitchen-tested recipes put the real flavors of Mexico within reach
Fabulous Margarita recipe in this book.  The book has a guide to chili peppers with heat index. Includes substitutions in case you can't find the pepper you want. After you see how easy it is to make your own homemade baked tortilla chips you may never buy them again. The recipe for Huevos Rancheros was a bit involved. I would suggest just using your favorite jarred salsa.

The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 recipes from 20 years of America's most trusted food magazine

DVD America's Test Kitchen season 12  most of these sets have a DVD-ROM that you can put into your computer and print the recipe.

review by kathryn


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