Monday, February 4, 2008


So I know my last blog entry was a tear-jerker, but after a Super Bowl Sunday filled with good-time cooking and rowdy television watching, I need to confess my simple, unadulterated love for a show on MPT I just discovered: America’s Test Kitchen.

You may have already guessed that this entry isn’t going to be deep. And, to be frank, beyond ATK (that’s my new shorthand for American’s Test Kitchen), it’s going to focus on pretty much one thing: HOT AND SOUR SOUP. Believe it or not, I’ve only recently discovered this delightful Chinese soup. Tasting it was a sensory revelation. Two of my favorite tastes—hot AND sour—in ONE soup? With meat? And mushrooms? And tofu? Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding. I love this soup.

Until yesterday afternoon, it's makeup was veiled in secrecy. But now, thanks to ATK, I can actually make it at home with ingredients from an average supermarket. Watching the ATK cooks make hot and sour soup really took the mystery out of the dish. Now I know what makes it sour (vinegar) and what makes it spicy (white pepper). The hosts/cooks broke down what’s what in the recipe, explaining the more exotic ingredients (like black Chinese vinegar) that can be difficult to find and suggesting easy-to-find alternatives (a combination of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar). They even walked viewers through a no-fail method of “wisping” the egg just so. That’s helpful for a sometimes-clueless cook like myself. (Plus, because the ATK folks test recipes 50, 60 even 70 times each, you know everything they feature is gonna taste good.)

Also appreciated was their no-nonsense discussion of corn starch. Who knew the soft, powdery stuff could be so versatile in Chinese cooking? (Their reviews of non-stick pans were also very cool.)

Now that I’ve totally gotten myself in the mood for hot and sour soup, I’m contemplating take-out. I know, I know. But next time! I promise, next time I’ll cook it myself…

Jessica Leshnoff
Communications Specialist & Blog Administrator


Anonymous said...

I found out something interesting about corn starch this weekend too! I was watching BBC (I know, I know - its not MPT) and this show was on with these two British ladies who went into people's homes and cleaned them up - I think it is "how clean is your house?" Anyway, they wash yucky windows with a mix of cornstarch and warm water in a spray bottle and they looked great! Who knew? I thought this was great because not only was it probably cheaper than Windex but probably better for the environment too.

fengland said...

i like 'last of the summer wine'. they have produced through 2007. i would like to see these later shows in addition to the earlier ones.