'CookSmart' With Pam Anderson

This undated handout photo provided by P. K. Kuhl, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and the LIFE Center, University of Washington, shows a nine-month-old Finnish girl listening to the sounds of English, Finnish and Mandarin Chinese while in a MEG machine. The best age to learn a foreign language: Between birth and 7. Missed that window? New research is showing just how children's brains can become bilingual so easily, and scientists are trying to turn those findings into technology that helps adults learn a new language a bit easier. (AP Photo/P. K. Kuhl, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and the LIFE Center, University of Washington)
AP Photo/P. K. Kuhl
Call her a perfectionist but cookbook author Pam Anderson tested more than 60 chocolate cakes before finding the recipe.

She decided for her third cookbook, titled "CookSmart," that she wanted to find the best recipes for classic American favorites such as fried chicken and hamburgers that would help save time but not skimp on the flavor. She visits The Early Show on Monday to share some of the tips she learned along the way to making family favorites even better.

Anderson considers herself as a "culinary problem-solver." In "CookSmart," she tackles favorite recipes and figures out how to make them flawless. For example, she tested more than 100 pounds of pot roast before finding the best way to keep the roast juicy and get it on the table in 90 minutes. She also tested the lasagna recipe 100 times. She analyzed more than 80 recipes and made more than 60 chocolate cakes before achieving perfection.

This book contains recipes for everyday dining to special holiday recipes. Anderson wants to make cooking fun, easy, and something everyone can do.

She shares the secrets to making great gazpacho, French fries and key lime pie.

The following are her recipes:

Great gazpacho

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 medium)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 small hothouse cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice or enough to yield 2 cups
1 small yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice or enough to yield 3/4 cup (you can use green bell pepper if you prefer)
1 small yellow or white onion, cut into small dice or enough to yield 1/2 cup
1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional, but nice)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or cilantro


  1. To peel tomatoes: to peel in-season, ripe tomatoes, lightly scrape the edge of the spoon over the entire tomato to loosen the skin. Peel the skin off the tomato and reserve. If the tomatoes do not peel easily, score an "x" on the blossom end of each one, then drop into boiling water for 15 seconds and peel.
  2. Halve tomatoes and seed. Squeeze juice from tomato skins into the measuring cup; reserve juice and discard skins.
  3. Coarsely chop tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and place in a colander set over a medium bowl. Allow them to drain, occasionally stirring and pressing on them lightly, until they release another 3/4 to 1 cup juice -- 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Mix cucumber, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, vinegar, and reserved tomato juice in a 13-by-9-inch pyrex dish or other shallow nonreactive pan. Refrigerate until well chilled about 45 minutes. The mixture can be refrigerated up to 3 hours.
  5. While gazpacho chills, transfer half of drained tomatoes to a food processor. Add oil, and pulse until reduced to a chunky puree, about four 1-second pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cut remaining tomatoes into medium dice and add to bowl; set aside at room temperature.
  6. When ready to serve, stir tomatoes and parsley or cilantro into refrigerated soup and serve immediately, garnished with optional croutons.

French fries for the home cook

2 1/2 cups peanut oil
2 pounds medium white all-purpose potatoes (about 6), peeled and cut into approximately 3/8-inch thick sticks
Coarse salt, such as kosher or sea salt


  1. Pour oil into 12-inch skillet. Add potatoes to cold oil. They should be packed in a single layer with several sitting on top and with oil almost covering them. As potatoes fry and their moisture evaporates, they will eventually fit in pan in a single layer. Turn heat to medium, and fry until potatoes just start to turn pale golden, occasionally jiggling pan 25-30 minutes.
  2. Once potatoes have developed a pale gold shell, increase heat to medium-high and fry, continuously moving them around to ensure even browning. When they are golden brown, transfer them (I used spring-action tongs) to a wire rack set over a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
Key lime pie

4 large egg yolks, plus 1 large egg white
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk, preferably carnation
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
10 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 3-4 limes)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 store bought graham cracker crust


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300-degrees.
    Whisking constantly, heat yolks and half of condensed milk in a small saucepan over low heat until mixture reaches 160-degrees. Turn off heat and stir in remaining condensed milk to keep eggs from curdling. Pour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisking constantly, heat cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat until clear and thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. With a hand mixer beat egg white on medium speed in a medium bowl until foamy. While gradually adding sugar, beat egg white until it's glossy and soft peaks form. Add half of thickened cornstarch to white and beat until just incorporated. Discard remaining thickened cornstarch. Mix zest, lime juice, and salt, then beat into egg-milk mixture until well incorporated. Fold in egg white then pour into prepared crust. Bake until set but still jiggly at the center, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate until chilled about 2 hours. Serve.

All recipes are from "Cooksmart" by Pam Anderson; Copyright 2002, Houghton Mifflin Company.