December 5th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
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The Feast of Seven Fishes, or the Festa dei Sette Pesci, is the traditional dinner that many southern Italian and Italian-American families will sit down to this Christmas Eve. (It is also one of the few appropriate times to pluralize fish as fishes.)

The significance of the number seven reels in many different theories: Some families say it's for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, others say it's for the seven hills of Rome, and still others say it represents the days of creation or stands as a reminder of the seven deadly sins. Other families' traditions even allow for 10 or even 14 different aquatic dishes.

And just as the numeric explanations are allowed loose translations, so are the types of seafood served. The true meaning isn't in the number or kind you choose, but with whom you decide to share your feast.

This Christmas Eve, Alex Guarnaschelli, chef of Butter in New York City and Food Network star, encourages you to serve the humble sardine atop lightly fried cauliflower, an ode to her mother's Sicilian roots.

Fresh sardines - not the pungent, little canned guys - are delicious, inexpensive and sustainable, three wise choices for this holiday season.

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Filed under: Christmas • Christmas • Holiday • Holidays • Italian • Make • Recipes • Step-by-Step


October 24th, 2013
08:00 AM ET
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Editor's Note: America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Introduced in the 1950s, the Bundt pan has been used by inspired bakers to create cakes that look like mountains, cathedrals, flowers, and, yes, pumpkins. For this cake, you stack two Bundt cakes, making sure that the flat sides are sandwiched together and the ridges are aligned. Orange buttercream frosting and a cupcake "stem" are the finishing touches.

We wanted a Pumpkin Patch Cake recipe that looked like a convincing, life-sized pumpkin - but tasted like a cake. We used a bread knife to even out the bottoms of the Bundt cakes, ensuring a more even cake after assembly. And we colored our frosting with only a couple of drops each of yellow and red food coloring, adding more if necessary. We found that too much food coloring created an undesirable, dark orange color.
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October 18th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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Editor's Note: America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Say “meatloaf” and most Americans think 1950s comfort food and Mom, but this humble recipe has surprisingly elegant roots in a now-forgotten dish called “cannelon.” A typical cannelon recipe from the original "Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" calls for chopping and seasoning beef, shaping it into a log, and basting with melted butter as it bakes. The wide availability of meat grinders and the advent of reliable refrigeration made ground beef a household staple in the early 20th century and meatloaf recipes gained wide circulation.

As a topping, butter was usurped by tomato sauce until ketchup became popular in the 1920s. The Heinz company created a “House of Heinz” campaign to tout the gourmet appeal their products gave to everyday dishes such as meatloaf. Along with their ketchup, Heinz suggested incorporating other Heinz products, such as beefsteak sauce, chili sauce and olives into meatloaf, or serving cubes of meatloaf with pickle slices for an easy hors d’oeuvre.

For our meatloaf, we skipped the gourmet aspirations and unnecessary mix-ins for a stellar version of the 1950s favorite.
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October 9th, 2013
01:15 AM ET
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Editor's Note: America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

Sure, it saves prep time to buy pre-cut, peeled butternut squash, but we had to wonder: How does the flavor and texture of this timesaving squash stand up to a whole squash we cut up ourselves? Whole squash you peel and cube yourself can’t be beat in terms of flavor and texture.

(That said, most supermarkets sell butternut squash that has been completely or partially prepped. If you are truly strapped for time, we have found the peeled and halved squash is fine. We don’t like the butternut squash sold in chunks; while it’s a timesaver, the flavor is wan and the texture stringy.)

Read on for our guide to the easiest—and safest—way to prepare a butternut squash.
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October 1st, 2013
05:30 PM ET
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Editor's Note: February 27 is National Chili Day. America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

A great beef chili should be a mainstay of every home. In its essence, chili is a form of beef stew and employs a long, slow, moist-heat cooking process to tenderize tough meat. For the best meat, you need to choose cuts from the shoulder; blade steaks or a chuck-eye roast provide plenty of flavor and a silky texture.

This recipe uses a twist on the ready-made chili powder, which can give chili a gritty feel, as well as a rather dull flavor. Instead, we toast dried chiles and then process them with flavorful ingredients and chicken broth to make a deeply flavored, smooth textured paste.
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Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Chili • Content Partner • Dishes • Make • Recipes • Soup • Step-by-Step • Tailgating


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