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America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics

by Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta
America's Test Kitchen - Modern Bistro, Home Cooking - Cookbook
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America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics is a treasure trove of wonderful recipes that will have you cooking like a French chef in no time. The recipes are detailed enough to encourage less experienced home cooks, as well as inspire more experienced ones. The cookbook has a wonderful "Welcome to America’s Test Kitchen" section, followed by "Getting Started" which is a handy reference for ingredients commonly used in Bistro cooking. Chapters cover everything from Sauces to Appetizers, Mains, Vegetables, and Desserts, and everything in between. Bon Appetit!


What we really enjoyed about reading (and using) America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics, is that it has interesting chapters that include Butter, Sauces, and Seasonings; Snacks and Small Plates; Salads and Soups; Poultry; Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Seafood; Vegetable Mains and Cheese Dishes; Vegetable Sides; Brunch and Bread; and Desserts. Also included is a section on Nutritional Information for Our Recipes; Conversions and Equivalents; and an Index, all which make it a very handy reference as well as a cookbook filled with wonderful recipes.

As an example, Chapter Two: Snacks & Small Plates is perfect for inspiring your next dinner or holiday party with its many tasty recipes including how to make Gougères, those lovely cheese pastries that pair well with a glass of champagne, Pissaladière, and Socca with Sautéed Onions and Rosemary. We have spent a lot of time in the South of France, and we were delighted to see the recipe for socca, a thin chickpea flour pancake that is a staple there. While we might not have the opportunity to jet off to the South of France on a whim to enjoy Socca, now that we have the recipe, we can take our palates there anytime we desire.

Mussels are a favorite on French Bistro menus, and Chapter Six: Seafood has two delectable recipes for Oven-Steamed Mussels, one made with Hard Cider and Bacon, and one made with Leeks and Pernod (a French anise liqueur). Also included are recipes for Monkfish Tagine, Sole Meunière, Pan-Seared Trout with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon, and Bouillabaisse, to name but a few of the tempting recipes in that section.

A few of the delicious offerings in Chapter Seven: Vegetable Mains & Cheese Dishes, include recipes for Foolproof Cheese Fondue, Individual Cheese Soufflés with Frisée and Strawberry Salad, Savory Fennel-Apple Tarte Tatin, and Upside-Down Tomato Tart.

Chapter Ten: Desserts has a lovely selection of tasting offerings to wow your guests with recipes for Chocolate Pots de Crème, Crème Brûlée with Orange Blossom, Grand Marnier Soufflé, and many more. Soufflés are the height of French delicacies, they are light, airy, delicate, and delicious, yet for many home cooks, making them can be intimidating. The Modern Bistro cookbook not only provides step-by-step, in-depth instructions, there are also wonderful color photographs to guide you through the various steps to create your own perfect soufflé.

America’s Test Kitchen, Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics graciously provides two of the oh-so delicious recipes in the cookbook, the recipe for the appetizer Socca with Sautéed Onions and Rosemary, and a chocolate-lovers dream dessert, Chocolate Pots de Crème, to inspire the French chef in all of us.

Socca with Sauteed Onions - Modern Bistro, Home Cooking - America's Test Kitchen


Soccawith Sautéed Onions and Rosemary

Serves: 4to 6 (makes four 10inchpancakes)

Total Time: 1.25 hours

"Why this recipe works: These thin, crisp, nutty-tasting ­chickpea pancakes are beloved in Nice and throughout the French Riviera, where they are a popular snack alongside a glass of chilled rosé. Socca is commonly made by pouring a thin layer of batter into a pan and putting it in a ripping-hot wood-fired oven till it gets browned and crisp. To enjoy the flatbread at home, we cook it like a crêpe in a nonstick skillet on the stove. Swirling thebatter in the pan makes for even, golden socca. The snack is excellent with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt, but we add a topping of sautéed onions and rosemary. Chickpea flour is also sold as garbanzo flour; we don’t recommend using besan or gram flour here. It’s best to use a scale to weigh the flour for this recipe."

Socca Ingredients:

Chickpea Flour (6-ounces)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
Table Salt
Ground Cumin

Sautéed Onions Ingredients:


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thinly Sliced Onions
Table Salt
Chopped Fresh Rosemary

Method for theSocca: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Whisk water, flour, 4teaspoons oil, salt, and cumin in bowl until no lumps remain. Let batter rest while preparing onions, at least 10minutes. (Batter will thicken as it sits.)

Method for the Sautéed Onions: Heat oil in 10inch nonstick ­skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onions and salt and cook until onions start to brown around edges but still have some texture, 7to 10minutes. Add rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1minute. Transfer onion mixture to bowl; set aside. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.

Heat 2-teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Lift skillet off heat and pour 1/2cup batter into far side of skillet; swirl gently in clockwise direction until ­batter evenly covers bottom of skillet.

Return skillet to heat and cooksocca, without moving it, until well browned and crisp around bottom edge, 3to 4minutes (you can peek at underside ofsoccaby loosening it from side of skillet with heatproof spatula).

Flipsoccawith heatproof spatula and cook until second side is just cooked, about 1minute. Transfersocca, browned side up, toprepared wire rack in oven. Repeat 3 more times, using 2teaspoons oil and 1/2cup batter per batch.

Transfersoccato cutting board and cut each into 8 wedges. Top with sautéed onions, drizzle with extra oil, sprinkle with flake sea salt, and serve.

Chocolate Pots de Creme - Modern Bistro, Home Cooking - America's Test Kitchen


Chocolate Pots de Crème

Serves: 8

Total Time: 25 minutes, plus 4hourschilling

"Why this recipe works: "Pot de crème" literally means "pot of cream" but it is also the name of an indulgent bistro classic. This baked custard can be finicky and laborious to make, needing a hot water bath in the oven to keep the air moist so the custard doesn’t crack. Unfortunately, the bath threatens to splash the ­custards whenever the pan is moved. Also, individual custards don’t bake at the same rate. For a user-friendly recipe that delivers silky texture, we cook the custard on the stovetop instead, before ­pouring it into ramekins to set. For richness and body, weuse a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half with egg yolks, then combine it with bittersweet chocolate. We like using ­bittersweet chocolate with 60 percent cacao, but you can use 70percent bittersweet chocolate; just be sure to reduce the ­quantity of chocolate to 8 ounces. A tablespoon of strong brewed coffee may be substituted for the instant espresso and water. Usean instant-read thermometer to judge when the custard has reached the proper temperature. You can also judge the progress of the custard by its thickness. Dip a wooden spoon into it and run your finger across the back. The custard is ready when it coats the spoon and a line drawn maintains neat edges. Serve with Whipped Cream (page 301), cocoa, and chocolate shavings, if desired."

Chocolate Pots de Crème Ingredients:

Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped fine
Egg Yolks
Sugar (2.25 ounces)
Table Salt
Heavy Cream
Half & Half
Vanilla Extract
Instant Espresso Powder mixed with 1-Tablespoon Water
Whipped Cream
Cocoa, for dusting (optional)
Chocolate shavings, for sprinkling (optional

Method: Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until ­combined, then whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half. Transfer mixture to medium saucepan. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and registers 175 to 180-degrees Fahrenheit (79.4 – 82 Celsius), 8 to 12 minutes. (Do not let custard overcook or simmer.)

Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Letmixture stand about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla and dissolved espresso. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove any air bubbles.

Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to3 days. Before serving, let pots de crème stand at room ­temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Dollop each pot de crème with about 2 tablespoons of whipped cream and garnish with cocoa and/or chocolate ­shavings, if using. Serve.

For more information on America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics, please call them at 1-800-733-3000, or visit their website (www.AmericasTestKitchen.com).

America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics can be purchased online at America’s Test Kitchen, Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as in bookstores.

Happy cooking!

America's Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen
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America’s Test Kitchen: Modern Bistro, Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics
ISBN: 978-1-948703-46-8
US: $35, Canada: $40
Distributed by Penguin Random House
Telephone: 1-800-733-3000

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