Cooks Illustrated Menu: Date Night

Date Night menu from Cooks Illustrated and Ballard Designs

Date Night menu from Cooks Illustrated and Ballard Designs

More than 1 million home cooks rely on Cook’s Illustrated magazine to provide trusted recipes that work, honest equipment reviews and ingredient taste tests, and time-saving kitchen tips.  Published by the hosts of America’s Test Kitchen television series, Cook’s Illustrated is known for an almost fanatical approach to creating the best recipes for the home cook’s favorite foods.  To do this, they test every recipe 20, 30, sometimes up to 100 times in their own 2,500 square foot test kitchen where they make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  They also test and recommend which kitchen equipment is the best to use, which supermarket ingredients really make a difference and which techniques work best for the home cook.  And because Cook’s Illustrated is advertising free, you can trust their objective ratings to identify what products are worth your money and which to avoid. Subscribe to Cooks Illustrated here, or sign up for the Perfectly Plated Sweepstakes for the chance to win $5,000 in merchandise from Ballard Designs.

Pan seared steak with mashed potatoes

Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce

For a pan-seared steak recipe with a full-bodied, complex sauce, we cooked the steaks in a high-quality, heavy pan, reducing the heat to prevent burning and turning the steaks only once. By adding a few extra ingredients to the traditional trio of red wine, stock, and butter, we produced a luxurious, refined sauce in just minutes.

Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Recipe for garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes from Cooks Illustrated

Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

We started with potatoes, butter, and whole milk and opted for Yukon Golds for their buttery flavor and supersmooth texture. To get truly complex garlic flavor, we added it in three ways. We incorporated garlic paste sautéed in butter for clean, mellow flavor; a very small amount of raw garlic paste for assertiveness; and a small amount of rehydrated garlic powder also sautéed in butter for complex, lightly roasted flavor. In order to maximize the garlic powder’s flavor, we first bloomed it in water to reactivate the enzyme that produces the compound allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s characteristic flavor.

Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Strawberry-rhubard fool for two recipe from Cooks Illustrated

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool for Two

For a strawberry-rhubarb fool recipe that would tame the sourness of rhubarb and overcome its tendency to cook into a drab, gray mess, we soaked the rhubarb in water to reduce the acid, simmered it in orange juice and sugar to retain texture and color, and layered the cooked fruit with lightly whipped, sweetened cream.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool for Two

 All menus and recipes are courtesy of Cooks Illustrated. Find more recipes from Cooks Illustrated here, enter the Perfectly Plated Sweepstakes from Ballard Designs and Cooks Illustrated, or subscribe to Cooks Illustrated here.

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