Did you know that adding seltzer water to your pancakes will provide lift to your waffles? Or that you can make a good French onion soup in your slow cooker?

These are the kinds of tips and tidbits America’s Test Kitchen is known for, and now you can get the best recipes and advice they’ve developed over the past year in “The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: The Year’s Best Recipes, Equipment Reviews, and Tastings 2011” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35).

Even if you never make any of the food in this book, it’s still worth reading all the fascinating information you didn’t know you needed, like how to prepare sprouted grains or how to make a pimiento cheeseburger. Wondering about the difference between salt pork, fat back and slab bacon? Look no further, it’s right there on page 43.

The book also includes the kitchen’s always helpful, fun-to-read, and at times brutally honest product reviews. Nothing is sacred, not even celebrity chef’s vanity projects. The staff, for example, says Wolfgang Puck’s Organic Chicken with Egg Noodles Organic Soup “tastes exactly as it looks: like mud.” Ouch.