Thursday, February 11, 2010

Downloads for Cooks

I have about a 20-minute train ride to work each day, and the same old songs on my iPhone were starting to get boring. So, I started poking around iTunes for cooking videos, and came across a treasure trove: Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen is on iTunes!

America's Test Kitchen - This PBS show usually gives you 1-2 recipes a show, along with equipment ratings and taste tests. Each show has a theme (cookies, pork, etc.), and the recipe instructions are very thorough. Ingredients and instructions are spelled out, so you could actually cook a recipe based on just watching the show.

Currently, only this season - Season 10 - is on iTunes; right now, there are about 6 episodes. I can usually watch a full episode between my morning and evening train rides.

Now, granted, this show airs for free on PBS, and the episodes cost $1.99 each on iTunes. But if you're looking for something to take with you or, like me, you don't have a DVR, it could be worth it.

You can find these in the TV Shows section, under America's Test Kitchen.

Cook's Illustrated - ATK's sister magazine, Cook's Illustrated, has done a series of short video podcasts on a wide variety of topics. The podcasts usually last 3-5 minutes, and can either cover a particular recipe (plum cake, shrimp salad), a technique (cooking thick-cut steaks), or a piece of equipment (they did a whole podcast on cast iron).

Each podcast gives you an overview of the recipe or technique, and then one or two short segments on a related technique or gadget. The podcast on French pot roast, for instance, has a section on how to tie a roast.

Best of all, the podcasts are free.

That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that the podcasts are hardly thorough, and don't give the whole recipe. For instance, the host will say "Add the sugar and salt", but not give you measurements for either of those. Instead, you're told to go to to get the recipes.

Unfortunately, that's a bit of a bait-and-switch, because when you get there and click on your desired recipe, you're basically told to sign up for the Cook's Illustrated website to get it. Now, granted, they offer a 14-day trial, and in my book, their site is well worth the price they charge for a yearly subscription. But I do kind of feel that if they're saying you can get the recipe on a page, you should be able to get the recipe - and then if you want to subscribe to the site, that's fine.

Anyhow, that said, I actually think you can still learn from these podcasts. And if, like me, you have most of the Cook's Illustrated cookbooks and magazines, you'll find the recipes there.

Both the shows and the podcasts make my commute a little nicer.

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