Dig in, Discover, and Cook
Cóctel de camarón is more flavorful—and more fun—than American shrimp cocktail.
This popular Mexican shrimp cocktail dish consists of cooked shrimp tossed with chopped vegetables in a bright tomato sauce and is perfect as an appetizer or light snack on a warm day. For shrimp that were tender, not rubbery, we cooked them using residual heat. Bringing the cooking water to a full boil before adding the shrimp ensured that there was enough heat in the saucepan to cook them through. Cutting the shrimp into bite-size pieces made them easier to eat. For a sauce that wasn't too sweet, we used a combination of savory V8 and ketchup plus lime juice and hot sauce. V8's slightly viscous consistency, along with the ketchup, gave the sauce body to nicely coat the shrimp. Cucumber and red onion added crunch, avocado added creaminess, and cilantro added freshness to our Cóctel de Camarón.
Pairing honeydew with salty, savory elements is nothing new—it's all about how you do it.
Melon salads are ideal hot-weather fare, but they're prone to some common pitfalls: namely, watered-down dressings and garnishes that slide to the bottom of the salad bowl. Because honeydew melons vary in sweetness, we started by tasting our melon to determine how much sugar to incorporate into our dressing. To counter the abundant water contributed by the melon, we made an intense dressing with assertive ingredients such as lime juice, fish sauce, shallot, and Thai chiles, but we skipped the oil, which would only be repelled by the water on the surface of the melon. Instead we added richness with dry-roasted peanuts, which—when chopped fine—adhered to the surface of the melon pieces and held on to the dressing. To avoid watering down the dressing, we left the melon in large chunks, which freed less juice and accentuated the contrast between the well-seasoned exterior and the sweet, juicy interior.
Sangria has grown to become the party drink around the world. This is a spin on the classic.
To create a robust, winey sangria with pure flavor, we experimented with untold varieties of fruit and eventually concluded that simpler is better. For a twist on the classic, rosé was a natural pairing with mixed berries; for our liqueur, we wanted something floral and delicate, and chose elderflower.
Want a worthwhile pasta salad? Overcook the noodles. Raid the pantry. Puree the dressing.
For a better, more worthwhile pasta salad, we used corkscrew-shaped fusilli, which had plenty of surface area for capturing dressing. We cooked the pasta until it was a little too soft so that as it cooled and firmed up, it would have just the right tender texture. Rather than toss raw vegetables into the mix, we took inspiration from Italian antipasto platters and used intensely flavored jarred ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini that offered a mix of textures that didn't overshadow the pasta. For heartiness, we included salami, and to balance the salt and tang, we added chunks of creamy mozzarella, fresh basil, and peppery arugula. To ensure that the pasta itself was just as flavorful as the rest of the dish, we made a thick, punchy dressing by processing some of the salad ingredients themselves—capers and pepperoncini plus some of the tangy pepperoncini brine—with olive oil infused with garlic, red pepper flakes, and anchovies.
Watch the Newest Episode of America's Test Kitchen (Season 23, Ep. 18): Spring Chicken Dinner
In this episode of America's Test Kitchen, test cook Lan Lam makes host Julia Collin Davison Roast Chicken with Couscous, Roasted Red Peppers, and Basil. Tasting expert Jack Bishop talks all about grains, and science expert Dan Souza reveals the magical potential of chocolate. Test cook Erin McMurrer bakes host Bridget Lancaster a showstopping Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.
Thinly sliced onion, cream cheese, and more. This is how you eat a hot dog like they do in Seattle.
To craft hot dogs just like they do at Seattle street carts, we started by sautéing onions until they just began to caramelize. We then seared all-beef hot dogs (butterflied for even more surface area for flavorful browning) and added them to buns with a swipe of softened cream cheese. We topped the hot dogs with the sautéed onions and then set out lots of condiments for guests to customize their own dogs, in true street-cart fashion.
With a cookie crust, creamy pudding, and browned meringue, this pie is truly bananas.
This pie—our take on the signature dessert at Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina (read about our visit here)—is a reimagining of the classic layered dessert of vanilla pudding, Nilla Wafers, and sliced bananas. For a sturdy crust, we used a combination of ground Nilla Wafers, melted butter, flour, salt, and sugar and pressed it firmly up the sides and into the corners of the pie plate. We relied on both flour and gelatin to set the pudding layer: Flour thickened the pudding while keeping it supple, and gelatin firmed it just enough to get clean slices. A pinch each of ground cinnamon and allspice rounded out the pudding's sweet, creamy vanilla flavor, which was the perfect backdrop for sliced fresh bananas. We topped it all off with a cooked meringue, swapping in some brown sugar for added caramel undertones. Browning the meringue topping added a slight toasty bitterness that perfectly offset the sweet pudding underneath.
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Savory garlic butter (and umami anchovies) makes this grilled steak dinner even better.
The water in the oil mixture coating the broccoli will turn to steam on the grill and help evenly cook the broccoli.
Our Grilled Chipotle Shrimp feature tender, juicy shrimp with a big pop of flavor.
Grilling shrimp comes with one big inherent challenge: getting nice char on the shrimp while keeping them tender and moist. To prevent overcooking, we stayed away from small shrimp—using bigger specimens meant that we could keep them on the grill for a few seconds longer. We also configured the shrimp on the skewers so that they were spooning each other; this essentially made one large mass of shrimp that gave us a little more insurance against drying out. Lancing each shrimp with two skewers kept them from spinning around during flipping. To marinate the shrimp, we used mayonnaise (which contains a lot of oil) instead of oil. The mayonnaise enhanced the browning and prevented sticking, all while staying where we wanted it—on the shrimp. For a big pop of flavor, we mixed canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and spices in with the mayonnaise. These shrimp are great served as a main course, maybe even piled into warm tortillas. Alternatively, remove them from the skewers and load up a platter to serve as an appetizer for a summer gathering.
A lime juice– and chili powder–infused marinade makes flavorful chicken for fajitas.
Fresh lime added zesty flavor to both the spicy chicken marinade and cooling sour cream topping.
Mild-mannered avocado usually goes unnoticed. For this salad, we wanted it in the limelight.
Buttery avocados demand an acidic dressing to cut their richness. We were able to emulsify a highly acidic vinaigrette with a bit of mayonnaise to ensure cling. To add textural contrast, we steered clear of leafy greens and relied on crunchier vegetables and juicy fruits. Arranging the dressed avocado chunks below the other ingredients maximized visual appeal by preventing the avocado from turning the salad murky.
If you like chimichurri, you're going to love it with roasted garlic.
To make this refreshing and tangy sauce, we mixed chopped fresh parsley, olive oil, and minced raw shallot with our Roasted Garlic and seasoned it with pungent red wine vinegar, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes for a little heat.
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A potent marinade can boost the flavor of your steak—if you know when to use it.
For a grilled flank steak with a char-kissed exterior and a perfectly cooked interior, we had to revisit the idea of the marinade. A wet marinade is the enemy of good browning. On top of that, the test kitchen has proven that marinades barely penetrate the surface of meat. But since salt and sugar (when applied far enough in advance) do dissolve and penetrate deep into the meat, we skipped the marinade and simply seasoned our steak with salt, sugar, and pepper. To cook this wedge-shaped cut to the same internal temperature from end to end, we set up our grill with a cooler side and a hotter side. After briefly grilling the entire steak on the hotter side, we positioned the steak so that the thinner portion was over the cooler side of grill to save it from overcooking. And finally, we converted our unused marinade—a vinaigrette of olive oil, basil, lemon, honey, garlic, and pepper—into a sauce that we drizzled over the perfectly grilled steak.
In this Catalan-inspired salad, grated tomato and anchovies elevate creamy burrata.
This simple salad combines rich, creamy burrata cheese with fruity tomato, fragrant olive oil, briny anchovies, crisp-tender lettuce, and mildly floral marjoram. Inspired by the Catalan custom of spooning or smearing fresh tomato pulp onto bread to make pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), we spooned a mixture of grated tomato and olive oil into cut burrata halves.
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