With three teenage boys in my house, including my oldest who is going off to college in the fall, I have been encouraging my boys to learn to cook some of their favorite foods. Cooking really isn’t that difficult, and anyone who masters a few simple techniques can learn to make a variety of dishes. Although my kids would rather heat something up in the toaster oven or microwave, I’m happy they’ll have a few cooking skills under their belt before they fly the coup. Besides, I tell them that their future wives will love it if they can cook. It’s really impressive (at least I think so!).
Matthew Locricchio’s Teen Cuisine cookbook is just over 200 pages, and contains over 50 recipes, ranging from simple, quick and easy recipes like Red Salsa to more complicated, multi-step recipes like Chicken Pot Pie using homemade pastry. Accompanying many of Chef Locricchio’s recipes are large eye-popping photographs by award winning photographer James Peterson.
All of Chef Locricchio’s recipes call for whole ingredients – you won’t find any recipes using cream of mushroom soup. Chef Locricchio encourages teens to get into the kitchen and cook, using the best ingredients they can afford, including local and organic ingredients. He discourages readers from using “mystery ingredients, partially hydrogenated oils, and the unpronounceable chemicals that are part of packaged or prepared foods.” In addition to all the recipes in this cookbook, Chef Locricchio includes a section on general cooking safety, knife safety, kitchen ingredient essentials (including anchovies, arugula, radicchio, buckwheat and spelt flour, not your typical teenage fare), a metric conversion chart, and illustrations of kitchen equipment and utensils.
Chef Locricchio’s cookbook tries to reach a broad audience, from the novice teenager cook to the more experienced. He doesn’t dumb down cooking, but instead attempts to engage teenagers of all skill levels, and tantalize the taste buds of more sophisticated palates.
The recipes in Teen Cuisine are organized by course and several highlighted categories:
• Brilliant Breakfasts
• Snacks and Co-Stars
• Celebrity Soups
• Star-Studded Salads and Dressings
• Sandwich and Burger Show Stoppers
• Pizza Coast To Coast
• Side Shows
• Shooting Star Entrees
• Red-Carpet Desserts
I’ve found the best way to review a cookbook is to select a handful of recipes, cook them, and then conduct a taste testing (my favorite part!). For this cookbook review, I asked my boys to choose a few recipes that appealed to them, and was not one bit surprised to see that The Playland Ice Cream Sandwich was among them – what teenager wouldn’t want a chocolate drenched ice cream cookie sandwich for dessert! To round out the recipe testing, I chose a variety of other dishes, based on difficulty level, including Red Bread, Crisp Oven Fries, and Stuyvesant Corn and Potato Chowder. The Red Bread, featured on the front cover of Teen Cuisine, received rave reviews from my teenage boys.
The Quick-Cooked Stuyvesant Corn and Potato Chowder also got a thumbs up, and the Crisp Oven Fries were devoured. As for the Playland Ice Cream Sandwiches, what isn’t there to love about this childhood treat!
Based on the successful taste tasting of these four recipes and the diverse collection of recipes in this cookbook, I would recommend Teen Cuisine for advanced beginner teen cooks and up; although there are number of very simple recipes, teens will need some basic cooking experience and knife skills to fully appreciate all the unique recipes in this cookbook.
I am planning on trying more recipes this coming week, and hopefully getting my teenagers to try making a few recipes to add to their repertoire…who knows where life might lead them if they master Chef Locricchio’s Grits and Cheddar Cheese Souffle.
Chef Locricchio has graciously shared the recipe for his Stuyvesant Corn and Potato Chowder:
STUYVESANT CORN AND POTATO CHOWDER
By Matthew Locricchio,
Author of Teen Cuisine
(reprinted with permission)
Fresh picked corn cut off the cob gets royal treatment in this classic chowder. The sweet corn that grows in and around Stuyvesant, a small agricultural community nestled along the Hudson River in upstate New York, is some of the best on the planet. A good friend who worked at one of the local farm markets asked me to come up with a recipe for chowder using local corn and potatoes. Just in case you can’t get fresh picked corn, this recipe works perfectly with frozen.
SERVES 6 TO 8
8 ears fresh corn, or 4 cups frozen kernels
1 small yellow onion
5 small Yukon gold potatoes
4 slices thick-cut bacon, or 2 tablespoons
5 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,
plus more if needed
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers
3 to 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
On your mark . . .
• Husk the corn and remove the silk strands.
• Slice the kernels off the cob, reserving as much of the corn liquid as possible. To do this, stand the ear of corn on the stem end in a wide flat bowl or pan. Using a sharp knife, slice down in even rows to remove the kernels. Set the corn aside.
• Peel and chop the onion into small chunks, and set aside.
• Wash and peel the potatoes, chop into small chunks, and place in a medium-sized bowl. Cover with cold water and set aside.
Get set . . .
• If you are using the bacon, place the strips in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until just crispy.
• Remove the bacon from the pan, lay on paper towels to drain, and let cool.
• Cut the strips into small pieces and set aside.
• If you are not using the bacon, melt the butter over medium heat.
• Add the onions to the bacon fat or melted butter and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat until soft and translucent. Using a metal slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a heatproof bowl and set aside.
• Drain the potatoes in a colander.
• Combine the onions and the potatoes in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Add enough cold water to just cover the potatoes.
• Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat; do not cover the pan.
• Reduce to low and simmer the potatoes and onions for 15 minutes or until just tender, but not falling apart, when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
• Drain the potato and onion mixture and set aside.
• In a 6- to -8 quart saucepan, combine the milk, corn, butter, potatoes and onions, chopped bacon, salt, and pepper.
• Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
• Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through and simmering, stirring occasionally.
• While the soup cooks, slip on a pair of latex kitchen gloves. Remove the stems and cut the jalapeños in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold water. Scrape out the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon and discard. Chop into small dice and place in a small serving dish.
• Rinse the gloves and remove.
• Wash the parsley, shake off the excess water, and dry the sprigs by rolling them in paper towels. Coarsely chop and put in a small bowl.
• Serve the chowder hot, and pass the jalapeños and parsley at the table to sprinkle on top.
The above is an excerpt from the book Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2011 Matthew Locricchio, author of Teen Cuisine
Matthew Locricchio, author of Teen Cuisine, was born into a restaurant and catering family and has worked in the food industry most of his life. Included in his resume as a professional cook are stints at the well-known Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the West Coast Stock Exchange’s private club in San Francisco, and the legendary Barbary Coast restaurant.
Matthew has taught culinary classes and given cooking demonstrations at culinary schools throughout the country as well as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
James Peterson, photographer for Teen Cuisine, is a renowned cookbook author and photographer, and a James Beard and International Association of Culinary Professionals award winner.