An American publication released bi-monthly, Cook’s Illustrated has a circulation that breaches the million threshold and an expert writing team that justifies its wide readership. Each issue typically covers around a dozen recipes, which are selected alongside the consideration of thousands ‘friends of cooks illustrated’ contributors that provide feedback to assist in making these choices. Alongside the typical recipe section, the magazine also considers supplement ingredients and other tips for those short on the goods or who are looking to experiment with normal cut-and-dry recipe guides. This highly successful publication brings all the expertise of celebrity cook books into a six-yearly release for variation and seasonal editions.
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There’s something to be said for pieces that embrace simplicity yet are fully cognisant of their readers wishes that on an issue by issue basis they address their content to match the readers direct expectations rather than editorial wishes. Not many magazines so much as attempt to do this as fully as Cook’s Illustrated does. It’s responsiveness to its readers and the expertise of its writers and contributors have solidified this world beaters success in the cooking magazine market.
Cook’s Illustrated has a focus for the inexpensive, very few recipes are overtly flashy and unnecessarily costly to procure and prepare. A regular feature is a taste test detailing the effect of various different seasonings and their effects on the prepared meals, helping readers craft their dinners to perfection based on their own preferences. In addition each issue features an ‘equipment list’, detailing various items used for cooking the recipes within, and the differences between costlier versions helping readers make informed choices of their purchases. Cook’s Illustrated is excellent in that it is not simply a recipe magazine, or pointlessly touting page after page of filler. From choices of knives and spatula’s, to saucepans and pans, to ingredients and toppings, Cook’s Illustrated is a complete guide in itself. Not merely a supplement to other recipe books and cooking magazines, but something that can replace them.