America’s Test Kitchen Special on WXXI-TV

America’s Test Kitchen Special on WXXI-TV

Sat, 12/11/2010 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

The America's Test Kitchen team recreates a 12-course feast straight from the pages of Fannie Farmer's Victorian-era cookbook.

Credit: Kate Kelley 2009

Twelve unbelievable courses with a generous side of chocolate complements of America's Test Kitchen.

First, Cook's Country explores the rich, beautiful world of chocalate. Everybody Loves Chocolate! Bridget Lancaster shows host Christopher Kimball how to make classic chocolate cream cupcakes at home. Next, tasting expert Jack Bishop challenges Chris to a tasting of hot cocoa, and finally, Julia Collin Davison updates an american favorite, Texas sheet cake.

Then, how did today’s convenience foods evolve from America’s made-from-scratch culinary heritage? To understand this contradiction, America’s Test Kitchen’s Christopher Kimball spent two years meticulously researching recipes and conducting sometimes bizarre taste-tests to shed light on the ingredients and the techniques of late 19th-century America. Kimball’s muse: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, written in 1896 by Fannie Farmer. Based on the book of the same name, Fannie’s Last Supper follows Kimball and his hard-working crew as they re-create one of Fannie Farmer’s extravagant menus: a 12-course holiday dinner that spans a wide range of Victorian cookery.

This America’s Test Kitchen Special will air Saturday, December 11 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011).

The recipes required mastering many now-forgotten techniques, including regulating the heat on a cast-iron coal stove and simmering calves’ brains without turning them to mush — all without the benefit of modern appliances. The courses include: rissoles (filled and fried puff pastry), mock turtle soup with fried brain balls, lobster à l’Américaine, roast goose with chestnut stuffing and jus, wood-grilled salmon, roast saddle of venison, Canton punch, three molded Victorian jellies and a spectacular French-inspired Mandarin cake — all prepared in a Victorian kitchen complete with an authentic 1880s-era coal cookstove. A distinguished guest list of food and media mavens, including Harry Smith (CBS News), Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition), José Andrés (PBS' Made in Spain),Mark Bittman (New York Times)and Amy Dickinson (NPR's Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!) gather at Chris Kimball's restored 1859 townhouse to dine — and judge the results. This special details not only the cooking and serving of the dinner itself, but travels back in time to investigate the life of Fannie Farmer and the world of Victorian cooking, including the foods, the cookware, and the kitchens in an effort to connect the present to the past.