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
• 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)