Kick back and cook
When I decided to invite 40 people over for an informal housewarming barbecue on Fourth of July three weeks after we’d moved, there were two things I’d forgotten to consider: We were still unpacking, so I didn’t know where most of my kitchen utensils were, and having just bought a place, we were flat broke. Not knowing what I was going to do about both, I decided not to think about either and wing it at the last minute.
Which is why my first experience with “Cuisine at home” might be a tad biased. The June issue of the cooking magazine came to me the week before my party courtesy of the publishers, and featured a pulled pork recipe that could be smoked on the grill with minimal fuss – other than allocating enough time. Made with a pork shoulder, it’s hard to find a cheaper piece of meat. Bingo.
Paired with a slew of cold salads and some lemony chicken for the non-pork eaters, whabam, we had an affordable party on our hands. And it was good. Fall-off-the-bone tender and a match for the hearty appetites that arrived, even the accompanying rootbeer barbecue sauce recipe received rave reviews. It all came together the morning of, too. Since I had careful photos and instructions to follow, I wasn’t worried. As it turned out, I didn’t need to be.
“Cuisine at home” is a technique-driven magazine, not just a list of recipes and lifestyle options. Heavy on color photos, it gives the why behind particular steps.
“It’s like a personal cooking class that’s good for both beginner and experienced cooks,” said Sara Ostransky, assistant editor. “It was patterned after cooks who were real enthusiasts.”
The writing style is chatty, sometimes downright exclamatory. Initially, I had reservations at a publication that would refer to “XTREME barbecue” and coax readers to “Go ahead, dig in!” But that familiar, kitchen table-style of writing is the beauty of “Cuisine at home.” No pretensions equals easy-to-follow directions and readily available ingredients. Though the directions are simple, the content isn’t. Even experienced cooks will find relevant information.
The tone of the magazine is set by Editor John Meyer, whom Ostransky considers to be “the king of meat.”
“My husband and three sons, (ages) 16, 14, and 11, believe he can do no wrong in the meat arena,” she said. “He’s the reason we now have to buy
expensive adult restaurant meals for even our youngest son, who recently put away a rack of ribs after asking if they would be “like John makes
The magazine has several regular departments. In addition to the readers tips and question and answer section most food mags have, there’s:
cuisine class, which explains a recipe in great detail
cuisine technique, which breaks down the hows and whys of a cooking method
faster with fewer, offering quick recipes with minimal ingredients
cuisine review, a look at different brands of a particular appliance or ingredient
all about, where one food is dissected and analyzed
chef at home, which brings guest chefs into the magazine
And there’s not a single ad in the whole thing. The magazine is supported entirely by subscriptions.
“I do believe that to have the freedom we have,” explained Ostransky, “editorially, in all areas, we have it be company-led, rather than advertiser-led. We can’t have the pressure to do things an advertiser’s way.”
So when they recommend products, they mean it.
The magazine is published every other month, and comes with three holes in the side so it can be stored in a binder. The editors make a point to carry a few themes throughout each issue. The pulled pork issue looked at barbecue sauces in the cuisine review, and potato salads were the focus of the faster with fewer section, bringing it all together.
The staff at Cuisine at home is a close-knit bunch. Though one editor will follow a story from its inception to the final shoot, everybody gathers in the test kitchen to taste and review recipes and techniques.
“Articles and recipes evolve as we discover what works and doesn’t work,” she said. “The research and testing shapes and leads the direction of the article. Sometimes the article actually changes direction completely
during this phase.”
Even if a recipe is a big hit the first time out, they make it again and again and again, in order to ensure success in anybody’s kitchen. In the test kitchen, they offer each other opinions and ideas.
“And the entire staff loves food, so more often than not we eat the food instead of just tasting,” she added.
They aim to keep the magazine’s content interesting and innovative, but they’re not trend setters. So while readers might not have used a particular ingredient before, they’ve probably seen it on a menu.
In order to celebrate the bounty of the summer harvest, their current issue features a glorious peach pie recipe developed by Senior Editor Sue Hoss, a former pastry chef. The recipe is available at http://www.cuisineathome.com/recipes/peachpie.html, and Ostransky promises it’s the best peach pie known to the human race. Which is why I stopped and bought a flat of peaches this week. I think I’ll make two.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.