cook's ilustrated cookbook


Eggplant Parmesan

We had one day of summer then back to raw and rainy, the perfect kind of weather to make a big pot of sauce and some eggplant parmesan to go with. This recipe is inspired by Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.

1 large eggplant sliced into 3/4” rounds
salt and pepper

½ cup Flour
1 cup (or so) Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs lightly beaten

Light olive oil

Favorite marinara sauce
1 cup (or so) shedder mozzarella cheese

½ cup (or so) Grated Parmesan Cheese

A few leaves of basil, chopped

Place eggplant slice on a few layers of paper towels in a small sheet pan, sprinkle both sides with salt, place another layer of paper towels on top, top with another sheet pan and weight down with a few cans or something and let sit for 30 minutes to drain out moisture.

Preheat oven to 425° with sheet pan in it

Put flour and a few grinds of pepper in a paper bag, add eggplant and shake until coated with flour.

Place bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and beaten in another. Dip the floured eggplant rounds in egg, tap off excess egg and dip in bread crumbs. CAREFULLY Remove heated sheet pan from oven and put 2 T oil on pan, tip to coat bottom of pan. Arrange breaded eggplant on sheets in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping eggplants and bake for another 10-20 minutes until both sides and brown and crispy.

Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, top with half the eggplant slices, then 1 cup sauce, ½ the shredded mozzarella, then the remaining of eggplant slices, a little more sauce, the remaining mozzarella and the parmesan. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Serve over pasta with marinara sauce and a sprinkle of fresh chopped basil.


Stir Fried Broccoli with Oyster Sauce


Its side day again and today’s recipe is my slight tweaking of Cook’s Illustrated Stir Fried Broccoli with Oyster Sauce. The original recipe was a bit too sweet to me so I took out the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the oyster sauce. The most difficult part of this recipe is the patience it takes to sit back and let the broccoli brown.


3 tbs chicken stock
1 tbs dry sherry
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1 medium garlic clove , minced
big pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 bunch broccoli, florets cut into bight size pieces, stalks cut into 1/4” coins

A sprinkling sugar


In a small bowl whisk together broth, sherry, oyster sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch.

Combine garlic, pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in second small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just hot. Add broccoli and sprinkle lightly with sugar (the sugar aides in browning) cook, stirring occasionaly, until broccoli is well-browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sir in oil-garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add chicken broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until florets are cooked through, stalks are tender-crisp, and sauce is thickened, 30 to 45 seconds. Serve.


I served this with jasmine rice and Miso salmon and it was really good. The broccoli is crispy not mushy and has that great Chinese takeout flavor I’d been hankering for.




Since I am making chili I have to make cornbread and since the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook is out for chili inspiration I might as well be inspired by their cornbread recipe.


1 tbs light olive oil

1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground

1 tbs honey

½ teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup flour

1/3 cup hot water

¾ cup buttermilk

1 large egg, beaten lightly


Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Set 8-inch cast-iron skillet with oil in heating oven.


Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into medium bowl. Mix remaining cornmeal, flour, honey, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.


Pour boiling water all at once into the 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps until smooth, then whisk in egg. When oven is preheated and skillet very hot, stir dry ingredients into mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Pour batter into the batter into heated oiled skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and instantly turn cornbread onto wire rack; cool for a few minutes and serve.


This was so good not too sweet with a lot of corn flavor. And I love making cornbread in a hot oiled skillet, when you pour in the batter it rolls up on the side like a Dutch baby.


Nut-Crusted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme


It is chicken night and tonight I am making Nut-Crusted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, one of my fave’s.



2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


½ cup roughly finely chopped slivered almonds

2 tbs butter

1 medium shallot, minced

½ cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)

2 tsp finely grated zest

1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 large eggs

1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup flour


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Using fork, poke the chicken breast 5 to 6 times. Place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and evenly sprinkle each breast with salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, while preparing coating.


Heat butter in skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown and has nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallot and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and almonds; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish and stir in lemon zest, thyme, and cayenne.


Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper together in second shallow dish. Place flour in third shallow dish.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture, pressing gently so that crumbs adhere. Transfer breaded chicken to clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.


Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes.


This turned out so good. The poking, salting and resting the chicken really made it moist and flavorful on the inside and the combination of the nuts and Panko and cooking it on a rack gave it a delicious and crunchy outside. I am definitely making this again.


Lets end the week with a classic vinaigrette from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, a must make for the summers bounty of salad greens.

1 tbs white wine vinegar

1 ½ tsp very finely minced shallot

½ tsp regular or light mayonnaise

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp table salt

Ground black pepper

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in jar with a tight fitting lid, close and shake until combined.