“Come join the team as they share the fruits, vegetables, meats, and desserts of their labors!”
America’s Test Kitchen is in line to become one of the longest-running food shows. As the most popular cooking related offering on PBS, it’s clear the show’s formula is a recipe for success. It’s about more than just pretty camera-ready food, it’s about how they came to the recipes they’re showing. The science is what really sets it apart from other shows of the ilk. Brought to us by the folks behind magazine “Cook’s Country,” it’s a quick half-hour. Host Christopher Kimball gives a brief intro to the food topic at hand before joining one of the crew’s chefs (Bridget Lancaster, Julia Collin Davison, or Becky Hays) for one of two dishes of the day.
Between dishing on dishes, Kimball retreats to the Tasting Lab with Jack Bishop or alternatively to the Equipment Corner with Adam Ried. Occasionally there’s a Letters to the Editor segment Kimball will host as well.
* “Meat and Potatoes with Panache” — Modern beef burgundy and braised red potatoes are the two dishes we’re cooking. The Equipment Corner features potato ricers while the science portion deals with potato starch.
* “A Fancy Finale” — Chocolate-espresso dacquiose is the focus of the day, there’s also a Letters to the Editor segment and the science of egg whites.
* “Three Ways with Eggs” — Soft-cooked eggs, fluffy omelet, and perfect fried eggs are the dishes prepared. The Gadget Guru features favorite egg gadgets; a Letters to the Editor segment is followed by the science of cooking in steam.
* “A Modern Take on Pizza and Grilled Cheese” — Thin-crust whole-wheat pizza and grown-up grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar and shallots are what’s cooking. Gadget Guru features favorite pizza gadgets; the Tasting Lab of the episode has goat cheese. The Man on the Street scene deals with a grilled cheese taste test. There are a few subjects during the science scenes, namely whole wheat flour and melted cheese.
* “French-Style Dutch Oven Dinners” — French-style chicken and stuffing in a pot and French-style pork stew are the two dishes of the episode. Plus there’s a Letters to the Editor segment.
* “From an Italian Bakery” — Florentine lace cookies and almond biscotti are the prepared dishes. The Tasting Lab is supermarket medium-roast coffee. The Man on the Street goes to Lakota Bakery. The two science subjects are smooth chocolate and cookie texture.
* “Salmon and Latkes” — Herb-crusted salmon and crispy potato latkes are on deck. The Equipment Corner is stovetop smokers. The two science subjects are brining salt-water fish and microwaving potatoes.
* “Classic Italian Fare” — Best chicken parmesan and Pasta alla Norcina are on deck for today. The Gadget Guru features favorite kitchen gadgets and the science is the pH of sausage.
* “Revisiting Julia Child’s Roast Turkey” — Julia Child’s Thanksgiving turkey along with roasted root vegetables are the dishes we’re cooking. The Gadget Guru of the episode deals with a turkey rack.
* “Decadent Desserts” — The best chocolate tarts as well as the best butterscotch pudding are the dishes of the day. The Gadget Guru features favorite kitchen gadgets while the science scene deals with caramelization.
* “Special-Occasion Roasts” — Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin roast as well as a roast butterflied leg of lamb are what’s prepared. The Equipment Corner segment deals with pepper grinders.
* “Let’s Start with Soup” — Wild rice and mushroom soup as well as creamy cauliflower soup are on deck for today. During the Tasting Lab we deal with wild rice while the Man on the Street portion has a cauliflower soup taste test. We have two subjects for the science portion and they are wild rice and smelly vegetables.
* “It’s Pasta Night!” — Foolproof spaghetti carbonara as well as summer pasta puttanesca are the dishes of the day. The Tasting Lab brings forth Jarred Green olives. There’s a Letters to the Editor segment and the science portion deals with proteins and eggs.
* “Oatmeal Muffins and Granola” — Oatmeal muffins and an almond granola with dried fruit are prepared. During the Equipment Corner portion automatic drip coffee makers are taken to task. And there’s a Letters to the Editor segment.
* “Hearty Spanish and Italian Soups, Revamped” — Italian wedding soup, a hearty Spanish-style lentil and chorizo soup are what’s cooking. During the Tasting Lab chicken broth is on the menu while we deal with the science of lentils.
* “Great American Sandwiches” — Philly cheese steaks and a New England lobster roll are the prepared meals. A knife sharpener is focused on during the Gadget Guru portion while the Equipment Corner chooses to look into scrub brushes. Then the Beyond segment, the only time it appears the entire season, goes to Red’s Eats.
* “At the Seafood Counter” — Garlicky roasted shrimp and oven steamed mussels get the ATK treatment today. The Equipment Corner deals with innovative cookware. The science section once again revisits brining salt-water fish while the Quick Tips segment, the only time it appears for the season, deals with mussels.
* “Elegant Brunch Favorites” — No-knead brioche and lemon ricotta pancakes are the prepared meals. The Tasting Lab challenge pits supermarket bacons against each other. The Gadget Guru deals with brioche pans. The Man on the Street deals with the Hi-Rise Bread Company while the science deals with brioche dough.
* “Spiced-Up Cuban Cuisine” — Cuban style picadillo and Cuban shredded beef are on the menu. The Equipment Corner deals with tortilla presses while the Man on the Street goes to Zafra.
* “Best Barbecued Chicken and Cornbread” — Sweet and tangy barbecue chicken with fresh corn cornbread are on the menu. The Tasting Lab features high-end barbecue sauces. We deal with the science of water pans.
* “Easy Summer Supper” — Grilled lemon chicken and rosemary beets with lemon and almonds are the prepared dishes. The Equipment Corner deals with innovative cookware.
* “Quick and Easy Rib Dinner” — Grilled glazed baby back ribs as well as grilled corn with flavored butter are what are on the menu. The Equipment Corner deals with charcoal grills.
* “Summertime Desserts” — Summer berry trifle and a fresh peach pie are the episode’s focus.
* “Grilled and Glazed” — Grilled glazed pork tenderloin roast and grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts are the dishes. The Equipment Corner deals with inexpensive chef’s knives.
* “Grilling Goes International” — Grilled lamb kofte and Tunisian-style grilled vegetables are the menu items. Hummus is on the Tasting Lab menu while the favorite skewers are profiled on the Gadget Guru.
* “Sweet American Classics” — A lemon chiffon pie and a marbled blueberry Bundt cake are prepared. The Gadget Guru features coffee gadgets.
The 1.78:1 transfer focuses on a natural palette without any color timing to highlight specific hues. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo track works well due to a lack of soundtrack, allowing for the dialogue to truly occupy the space on its own.
There are no special features within the set itself. The lone special feature is a collection of the episodes’ recipes, accessible by placing the discs into your DVD-ROM drive and in PDF format.
It’s easy to recommend America’s Test Kitchen: Season 14. The science of food paired with the ease of preparation is a winning combination. I personally find host Christopher Kimball affable as opposed to annoying. His genuine relationships with the rest of the America’s Test Kitchen group means the show never feels forced.