UPDATE: Showdown with Cook's Illustrated

May 14, 2010

UPDATE: This is your last weekend to try out the dueling sugar cookie & roast pork recipes to be eligible to vote in our recipe showdown with Cook's Illustrated. Voting ends this Monday, May 17th. Check out the conversation that's been going on over at Slate thus far and throw in your 2 cents!

We'd love for you all to participate and support Aliwaksmrslarkin and the entire food52 community: go to Slate, engage in the conversation there, make the competing recipes and vote by May 17th. We hope you're having fun with this contest -- we are!

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For more information on our duel with Cook's Illustrated and the differences in our recipe testing philosophies, see this post we published earlier in the process and check out all the fun recent press coverage of the contest:



See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Aliwaks
  • Food52
  • monkeymom
  • thirschfeld
  • pierino
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Aliwaks May 19, 2010
OMG when are we going to know the results....? My big 4-0 is Saturday and wouldn't that be a fine way to end my 30's...
Food52 May 7, 2010
We would love for you all to go engage in the conversation over at Slate. And a big thanks to those who have already done so -- you've elevated the discourse.
Amanda H. May 9, 2010
This thread reminds me of what pleases me most about how food52 has evolved -- that it's a generous and supportive community. Thanks, everyone, for adding to the food conversation and for creating a place where it's pleasant to hang out.
Aliwaks May 7, 2010
OMG I did it, I left the safe confines of food 52 and posted on slate..
mrslarkin May 7, 2010
You did it!! You go girl. Nicely put, over there, too.
nannydeb May 7, 2010
Well said...
Aliwaks May 7, 2010
Aliwaks May 7, 2010
Would totally rally on slate, but wonder if since my recipe is one of the ones up there it will come off as defensive ... What do you all think??
aargersi May 7, 2010
Not at all - you are allowed to speak! It's only defensive if you tell them to to be quiet because they are big dumb doo-doo heads or something :-) Or call the celery roots. Ha ha!!!
monkeymom May 6, 2010
I do love reading these and agree with much here. I get that we are rallying. But aren't we preaching to the choir here? At some point we need to get onto Slate and start educating the masses! Much of what is said here may not be appreciated by folks who don't venture beyond the cookbook. Perhaps some positive feedback at Slate about the food52 recipes from those who have tried them would entice others to try them as well...I'm sure once they have food52 would have their vote.
mrslarkin May 6, 2010
Yes! Should I mention you can find my "weird sugar" for free at Starbucks? Just take a few extra handfuls of the sugar-in-the-raw packets next time you get a hankering for a latte. ;) I thnk I'm going over...anyone want to meet me there?
mrslarkin May 6, 2010
to Slate, not Starbuck's, that is.
I completely agree. There's no reason to not express ourselves in that forum too. I meant to go onto Slate today and write something, but time got away from me. So maybe later tonight or tomorrow I'll chip in my 2 cents there too.
thirschfeld May 6, 2010
OK pierino the Alton Brown comment was hilarious. But time for my two cents worth. Many years ago I read an article about two wine makers. One followed all the rules and each year produced great wines. Year in and year out you could count on these wines. Very drinkable and very good. On the other side of the vineyard was a rogue winemaker. He would drink to much some days and fall asleep under the fermentation tanks and he would try all sorts of voodoo to coax the best flavors out of his grapes. Many years if he did not think his grapes were good enough he would sell them to the rule following winemaker. But when this wine maker did produce a wine it was one that all other wines were compared to. It was so great and over the top that it got all the attention and well deserved attention. I think cooking is much the same. You can follow the rules and do everything you are supposed to but that doesn't mean its got soul. Food without soul is just food. FYI, there is lots of soul at food52.
dymnyno May 6, 2010
thirschfeld, I think that the point of the story about the winemakers or chefs is that you can follow the rules...and there are basic rules of winemakeing just like there are basic rules of cooking...you have to use the very best, freshest ingredients ... no substitutions!! Just like the winemaker who sold his grapes because they weren't good enough, we have to be willing to sacrafice a lot to make the best food that we can. Great food, like great wine is never, never mediocre. It takes a winemaker, grapegrower, farmer, chef to follow that ideal. That is the medium that we work with.
thirschfeld May 6, 2010
I think you said it better than I did dymno cause you hit the nail on the head. But just like Picasso if he didn't know how to paint to begin with his later paintings would not have so astounding. I think we are on the same page.
dymnyno May 6, 2010
So , to distill these thoughts even further, you could argue that we are "bespoke" and CI is "off the rack".
Aliwaks May 6, 2010
This is all so amazing to me. Mr Kimball threw down the gauntlet and so we rose to his challenge, how are people so upset about it?? Should Amanda and Merrill have cowered and said oh my we're merely award winning trained chefs who write for the nytimes we could never ever find recipes as perfect as those tested by the all powerful Cooks Illustrated. I mean really. Sigh, there are those of us who bend with the wind, see beauty in imperfection, who perhaps enjoy the creative process of cooking as much as we enjoy our ability to feed ourselves, our friends, our families something that transcends mere edibility ( I may have made that word up) whether we are home cooks or professional cooks, trained or novices. We all love the process and bring our passion and skill to the table, why are people being so negative about this?? I just don't get it.
pierino May 6, 2010
Okay, Pierino is back in town and grumbling. He's about to rip his sleeves off. Mr. Starched Apron Kimball is the Rick Steves of the food world, with a smugness that hasn't been earned, except that he's got the same flock of acolytes. Steves, by the way, has written that the Spanish Steps in Rome are "overrated"!!!!. But that's the kind of crap that Kimball will serve to you too. Although he does change his bowtie from time to time. The whole "leave this to the experts" notion is idiotic and unscientific if you want to know the truth. I don't care how many times the lab rats test it. I have some culinary training I also have a background in food history. All of my recipes have a back story. I've never once said that I've "created" this dish. It's all been done before by somebody else. What I try to do is to remain true to the idea. I might tweak things as needed and adapt to oven temperatures or quality of cooking vessel etc. To think that there is a "perfect" way to do anything is the work of tiny minds. Do you need an instruction manual on the right way to read a book? Oh yeah also, have you ever noticed that Alton Brown resembles a celery root?
lechef May 6, 2010
While there's definitely a place for technical prowess and exacting science when it comes to cooking (a la Wylie Dufresne and Heston Blumenthal), I think that in the grand scheme of things the recipes that always shine through are the ones that are made by home cooks, for their families and friends. Recipes that stand the test of time are the ones that are cooked at home, where good company, great food, and ingenuity come naturally. No matter what the outcome, I think we can all be pleased with the amazing recipes that Food52 puts out there every week. And we're not even professionals! Kick some butt, guys!
NakedBeet May 6, 2010
Everytime a vote is made here, a Food52 angel gets its stove wings. The last recipe I followed without swerving was to test a recipe for this site and anything baking related. I think I would die a little if I couldn't. Even 100% tested in someone else's kitchen doesn't guarantee that you'll have success in your own. I'm going to try to make at least 2 before I vote at Slate.
Food52 wave! Woot, woot!
JGrundman May 6, 2010
Win or loose, Kimball is right. I am sure both "teams" will come up with great recipes and each will have its believers. Kimball's point wasn't that nobody has good recipes but him. The point is web recipes as a group are questionable. I am new to Food52 so I don't know what to think about this particular site yet but in general recipes posted to the web by "the masses" are crap. Sure, some are great but there are folks out there posting stuff they just made up at diner time.
nannydeb May 6, 2010
Good luck mrslarkin and aliwaks! You have all of our support!
Aliwaks May 6, 2010
Oh my goodness y'all it's crazy on those blogs..I've been reading all the links and comments, you'd think we were suggesting cooking over a burning flag!! Mrs L I think the Washington post is leaning towards your awesome cookies!!! Thanks to everyone...so awesomely supportive !
TasteFood May 5, 2010
There are 3 ingredients that I generally find absent from the CI philosophy: Soul, intuition and flexibility. Combine that with a foundation based, for example, on training/education/expertise/passion/ or even your mother, and you get the best results that evolve and adapt to the mood, weather, location and culture. Rock on people, you win.
lastnightsdinner May 6, 2010
Your first line says it all. I mean, I know every cook has to start somewhere, but I think being flexible is SO important, especially if you're following a recipe!

Best of luck to Aliwaks and mrslarkin - we're rooting for you and your wonderful recipes!
dymnyno May 5, 2010
Do we have to join a website to join in on the Slate chatter and the voting? What is our protocale?
dymnyno May 5, 2010
Merrill S. May 5, 2010
Nope! You can just go to Slate (no sign-up), and if you want to vote, you need to fill out a survey.
mrslarkin May 5, 2010
yes, those slate comments are a riot! I'm not really sure how many people are going to actually cook both recipes (or all 4 for that matter.) From the looks of it, they've made a baked ham! I am confident our recipes will kick some (pork) butt!
monkeymom May 5, 2010
I find it annoying that Slate spelled your name wrong!
mrslarkin May 5, 2010
OMG! I just tweeted them to correct it! Thanks for your eagle eyes, monkeymom!
thirschfeld May 5, 2010
The pork looks burnt not caramelized and the cookie is a gingerbread minus the molasses. They don't have a chance.
Aliwaks May 5, 2010
Just checked it out, its a wee bit hostile over there, not the lighthearted nurturing kind of vibe we have on food52, but Amanda's on top of things, BTW that "fib"person who's complaining about marinating overnight or up to 3 days didn't notice the CI says to "let rest in fridge" for 12 to 24 hours...I guess letting rest is not as high maintenence as marinating. I'm kind of a little scared.
aargersi May 5, 2010
Don't be scared! We (you!) will be fine, kick a$$ and take names!!!
aargersi May 5, 2010
Oh they are a little crabby over there ... but Amanda set them straight!!!!
Undoubted some people will go into this contest with their minds made up - either about the recipes, the competition format or the contestants. It will make for interesting reading over the next few weeks. But looking at the competing recipes, I feel like you and mrslarkin have some very strong food knowledge and recipe power for the match up - strong enough to win and to be proud of no matter what happens. And look at the support network and cheerleaders you guys have here!! Let CI try to match that! And really Great Job by Amanda in a concise, precise, and yet encouraging response to the writer with concerns on testing your wonderful porchetta.
monkeymom May 5, 2010
Aliwaks - I agree with ChezSuzanne. Hold your head up high! Your recipe rocks!
Merrill S. May 5, 2010
We have absolute confidence in both you and mrslarkin!
mrslarkin May 5, 2010
Thanks so much, Merrill!!