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Jul 19, 2006 12:46 AM

CIA magazine, Kitchen & Cook

I got a mailing yesterday begging me to subscribe to a year's worth of the the Culinary Institute of America's food magazine, Kitchen & Cook (6 issues per year for $19.97, with the standard come-on of a free issue). At first I thought it was a new publication, but there was a quote inside the five-and-half-page publisher's letter (yes, for some reason, I actually read the whole thing) from someone saying they were a subscriber. So...has anyone seen this amazing publication?

The shiny outer envelope trumpeted "Free Gift Enclosed!" I assume this gift was the separate enclosed page with the recipe for chocolate mousse "The CIA Way," a classic chocolate mousse with tempered egg yolks and sugar, French meringue, whipped cream, and melted chocolate folded together in succession, garnished with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Lah-di-dah, an amazing new technique! The letter had shaded boxes sharing important CIA secrets, such as how impressinve a last-minute dessert raspberry fool (pureed raspberries folded into sweetened whipped cream!) is; that it's best to rinse but not scrub cast iron pans; and that serving dry white or high-tannin tannin red wines with artichokes isn't a good move, as they could impart an unpleasant sweet flavor. And artisanal was misspelled in the letter, a pet peeve error of mine. I won't waste my time giving more details, but suffice it to say that the rest of the letter, and the insert promising the kind of knowledge the CIA's instructors and famous-chef graduates would impart in each issue, was similar in both banality and grandiosity.

In other words, nothing anyone who's spent some time reading and asking questions on Chowhound's Home Cooking board, reading cooking mags (from which the CIA mag no doubt bought my name), or cookbook hasn't already or couldn't easily learn. I don't have any problem per se with CIA publications. I've caught a few random TV shows of theirs and flipped through a small cookbook or two, but man, was this mailing irksome.

I'm curious if anyone has actually seen this publication, what its tone is like, if it seems helpful, if its recipes seem interesting (and different from those in other cooking magazines), etc.

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  1. I just made the Carnitas from the July/August issue: better than anything I've ever had in a Mexican restaurant, and a very interesting technique.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Carnitas is (are?) on my "to make" list. Would you mind sharing the interesting technique?

      1. re: Funwithfood

        Cut pork shoulder, including fat (that's a lot of fat) into one-inch cubes. Place in a large saute pan and cover with water. Add salt, cumin, and cilantro. Bring to a simmer and simmer until liquid has evaporated (this took a little more than an hour). Turn heat down a bit and add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Gently turn the cubes so that the fattiest side is facing down. Allow the fat to render, turning the meat gently to brown all over. You don't want the meat to break up into bits. Don't worry if some sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add some ancho chile powder and diced onion during the last ten minutes or so of cooking.

    2. At least they're not hitting you up for money to buy a brick.

      1. I subscribe to this and probably won't renew the subscription. I am a magazine junkie, so this is unusual. I also have a significant collection of books which I can use for reference.
        A 5 1/2 page letter is incredible considering that the magazine is 32 pages long, including the front and back cover. The carnitas recipe cited above is good, but in an aside titled "The Perfect Tortilla", they tell you how to warm one up on a burner.
        Customer service rather sucks. There is no web site and if you call, you get someone who doesn't quite know what to do with the call.
        There is something worth reading in almost every issue, but not at the price of the subscription.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wally

          I subscribed a year ago after someone on CH gave it a glowing recommendation. I was pretty underwhelmed. I've been cooking a long time and have taught some classes, for someone with low to medium skills I am sure they can learn a bunch from it. For me it was just too basic.

          1. re: Candy

            Thanks for confirming my impression from the mailing, Candy.

        2. I was reluctant to subscribe, but I kept the free copy they sent me around for a while...and then began to notice that every so often I'd pick it up and find something new and useful, even though it's only the size of a Sunday Parade magazine. Yes, it can be pretty basic, but I like the explanation of techniques, especially as I'm much more into techniques and ingredients than recipes. I subscribed, and probably will again.