As a friend pointed out to me recently, on a topic having nothing to do with food, it is rare to get a hit right out of the park on the first shot. Recipes are much the same way. Even the best-written, best-tested ones might not work the same way in every kitchen or in every cook's hands.
America's Test Kitchen's recipes are thoroughly tested and vetted. I really enjoy watching the methodology behind their process as they demonstrate it on their PBS show. Their magazine also makes a good read, but I confess that I haven't really used many of their recipes. This same friend had, however, strongly recommended their Fall 2007 issue very highly so I decided to buy it.
Among the recipes included in the magazine was one that has been my nemesis in the past: Goat's Cheese Salad. While I think I followed the instructions to the letter, I'm not sure that my results came out as well as those of the testers. Still, I think that it was a good first try.
When the goat's cheese rounds came out of the oven and were gently laid upon a nest of fresh Greenmarket lettuces, they didn't look so bad. The melba toast crust and baking them in an oven made a huge difference from my previous attempts at a similar recipe in which I coated them in breadcrumbs and pan fried them. These held their shape and, upon the first bite, they were delicately creamy and not at all chalky. This recipe is going to go in my "keeper" file.