Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
Dinner 1: Keema Aloo and Basmati Rice
Keema Aloo (Garam Masala-Spiced Ground Beef with Potatoes) is a rich and savory spiced ground meat dish that's been a staple of South Asian cuisine for centuries. Our version features ground beef cooked with garam masala—a warming spice mix—comprised of whole cinnamon and black and green cardamom pods as well as ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and Kashmiri chile powder. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Then we toast whole spices in oil before toasting the rice itself. A final steaming step ensures a dry, fluffy texture.
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Dinner 2: Creamy White Bean Soup and Biscuits
For Creamy White Bean Soup with Chorizo Oil and Garlicky Bread Crumbs, we start by briefly simmering canned great Northern beans and their seasoned canning liquid with softened aromatic vegetables and herbs. This heating step causes the beans' starch to hydrate, which makes the soup especially creamy. Chorizo oil and garlicky bread crumbs are quick-to-make but impressive garnishes that complement the neutral soup base with vibrant color, flavor, and texture. Easiest-Ever Biscuits combine the ease of cream biscuits (which eliminate the step of cutting cold fat into dry ingredients) with the ease of drop biscuits (which skip the rolling and cutting). The key is to heat the cream to between 95 and 100 degrees, which melts the solid particles of butterfat dispersed throughout. This makes a dough that is moister and scoopable but that rises up instead of spreading out in the oven, producing biscuits that are appropriately rich and tender but not greasy.
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Dinner 3: Cod and Potato Cakes and Sautéed Green Beans
Game Plan: This pairing calls for two nonstick skillets. If you have only one nonstick skillet, sauté the green beans in a traditional or carbon-steel skillet. Prepare the fish cakes through step 3. While they chill, prep the beans. Fry the fish cakes, then hold them in a 200-degree oven while you sauté the beans.
For our Cod and Potato Cakes, we use a relatively small amount of mashed potato to keep the cod flavor at the forefront. We cook the fish and potato without extra liquid (the former in a skillet and the latter in the microwave) to ensure that the cakes aren't mushy. A single egg helps bind the cakes, and a short stint in the freezer firms them up so they are easy to maneuver in a skillet. Simple aromatics—garlic, scallions, and thyme—complement the mild fish. For Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic and Herbs that are tender, lightly browned, and fresh-tasting, we sauté the beans first, then add water to the pan and cover it so the beans finish cooking in steam.
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