“Feeding my four guys has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I’ve had more fun in the kitchen and at the dinner table with them than almost anywhere else. Eating is something we have to do, so why give it short shrift? If you have to do it, make it beautiful and spread the beauty.”
So begins Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn. This mother of three guys knows a lot about food. She’s been cooking professionally since she was a teenager and now serves as Executive Food Director for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and co-hosts PBS’ Everyday Food.
I have written before about how picky I am about books; I don’t endorse them lightly. But I am absolutely “mad” about Mad Hungry. Lucinda gets it: the joy that comes from feeding our families good food, the importance of making home-cooked meals, the importance of teaching our boys to cook. “Create a legacy,” she writes. “Serve old-fashioned—meaning simple—meals, the kind moms everywhere have always made. When I was a kid, meals were predictable, comforting, familiar, tasty and most of all consistent…Anyone who grew up with someone cooking regular meals remembers those dishes as if they were eaten yesterday.”
She encourages us to build our own recipe collection out of what appeals to our family’s tastes, and then serve those meals frequently to build a “sensory food bank.” These smells and tastes are what our guys will remember when they’re out on their own. They’ll beckon them home.
In addition to delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes, Mad Hungry is chock-full of cooking help, such as choosing knives and pans; shopping with kids; tips for cleaning up (and teaching boys to help); and “ten tenets" for "how and why to feed your guys” (I loved this section).
While I aim to feed my family healthfully, I am also always looking for new ideas to save money without compromising quality. Ms. Quinn offered a cost-saving menu-planning idea. She intersperses three evenings of meat with a pasta night, a soup night, and a bean night. Yet, she encourages us to keep food spending in perspective:
“What you consume on a daily basis is your first line of defense against ill health…My philosophy when it comes to what food I buy, consume, and serve others is I’d rather invest my dollars on best-quality food choices than on new clothes or a new car.”On that note, people always joke about how expensive it is to feed teenage boys (or growing boys of any age, for that matter). In Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, you’ll find snack ideas to fill them up healthfully and frugally, such as:
- Sweet potato wedges (recipe in the book)
- Popcorn with parmesan cheese
- Fruit smoothies
- Vegetables: “When your kids are young, keep many varieties of colorful crunchy and crispy vegetables available for snacks instead of sugary, salty choices. Sliced cucumber, red bell peppers, and celery can fill up a boy and boost his energy until dinner without ruining his appetite. This should be the first response to the common cry, ‘I’m starving.’ Just cut a load of raw vegetables into different shapes and pile them into a bowl.”
- Increase beans, grains and starches to make meals go further
To enter, simply leave a comment with a way to contact you if you’re the winner. The winner will be randomly drawn and posted next Wednesday, March 10.
But of course, no cookbook review would be complete without a few recipes. So again, courtesy of Artisan Press, here are three mouth-watering, healthy, and filling recipes straight from Mad Hungry for you to try:
serves 6 (if you are very lucky)
copyright Artisan Press
"My oldest brother, Jim, is proof positive that if you cook well for a boy, he’ll want to cook for himself. Presently this six-foot-five father of three strapping teenage boys effortlessly turns out delicious meals day in and day out for his own family. His sons are athletes who eat a ton—but their meals are always fresh and prepared with love. When our extended families gather to prepare a meal, their father is always at the forefront, planning and executing. My parents taught all three of my brothers to cook and eat well, but Jim has perfected my mom’s specialty—a twist on oven fries originated by our Italian relatives. Everyone goes crazy for them, and there are never enough!"
- 6 or 7 Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1⁄3-inch-thick French fry–style strips, soaked in cold salted water
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or
- some combo of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, and basil
- 2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into 6 cubes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the potatoes. Liberally spread the cheese and parsley on top. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cheese. Scatter the cubed butter around the pans.
Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pans after 30 minutes, for 45 to 50 minutes total. Use a spatula to lift off the potatoes with all the crusty cheese adhered to them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. ★
savory chicken pocket pies
makes 10 pocket pies
copyright Artisan Press
"One of the kids came home from school one day asking for Hot Pockets, saying he’d eaten them at a friend’s house. A supermarket freezer item, Hot Pockets come two in a box, and one boy could easily gobble up two boxes in one sitting. They are processed, laden with preservatives, and expensive, and I loathe them. Still, their utility is undeniable. So I decided to re-create a similarly attractive homemade version—something the kids could quickly heat up by themselves and snack on. The idea was to replicate the convenience, but use the best ingredients according to the boys’ specifications. I came up with a spinach version and a chicken one. For younger children, bake the pockets first, then cool and freeze (Step 5) so they can simply be heated up in the microwave. For older boys, freeze the pockets unbaked (Step 4); the boys can bake the pockets themselves, straight out of the freezer into the oven."
- 1 3-pound chicken (to get 1 heaping cup of shredded meat; you can freeze remainder for other recipes)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/3 cup chopped celery (1 large stalk)
- 1/3 cup chopped carrot (1 carrot)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (from the reduced poaching liquid)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 recipe (2 disks) Cream Cheese Pastry (recipe in book)
- 1 large egg, for egg wash
To make the filling, melt the butter in a medium-sized hot skillet and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the salt and flour and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 heaping cup shredded chicken and the Parmesan cheese. Cool in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter or line a baking sheet.
To form the pocket pies, work with half of a disk of dough at a time, rolling it out on a floured surface. See page 65 for rolling instructions. Using an overturned bowl (about 5 inches across), cut out circles about 3 at a time from each piece of dough. After cutting out all your circles, gather all dough scraps, rer0ll, and cut out a final time. Place ¼ cup filling on one side of a dough circle. Wet the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the edges of the dough together. Crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat the process until all the filling is used. The pocket pies can be frozen at this point.
Place the pocket pies on the prepared baking sheet and chill for a few minutes. Prick each pie on top twice with a fork. When ready to bake, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over each pocket pie. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The pies can be cooled and frozen to reheat in the microwave. ★
mexican egg scramble
copyright Artisan Press
"For anyone on the go, this is a hearty, portable breakfast—eggs wrapped in tortilla and twisted up in foil on the fly have satisfied my boys for twenty years. At home, just place the pan with the eggs and toasted corn tortillas in the center of the table. Everyone can make their own taco at the table or just use the tortillas as a fork-shovel. Alternatively, salted tortilla chips also make a crunchy contrast to the soft eggs, crumbled over the top. I love these eggs very spicy, but the chilies can be adjusted to taste. If you’re cooking for one, use two eggs and adjust the other ingredients accordingly."
- 18 corn tortillas or 1 bag salted tortilla chips
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 scallions (both white and green parts), chopped, or ½ cup chopped onion
- 4 to 6 serrano or jalapeño chilies, minced
- 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 1 dozen large eggs
If using corn tortillas, toast individually over a gas flame on low or in a pan for about 40 seconds per side. Stack on top of each other and wrap in foil or a clean kitchen towel. This will steam the toasted tortillas for pliability.Heat a 14-inch skillet and then add the oil and swirl it around in the pan. Stir in the scallions and chilies. Add the tomatoes, salt, and cilantro, if using. Stir over high heat for about 2 minutes. Crack the eggs one at a time into the skillet and stir. Cook just until the eggs are set, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately: scoop a portion of eggs onto each plate and offer 3 tortillas each, or crumble tortilla chips over the egg mixture. ★
“So no matter how busy you are, sauté that onion, rip up fresh basil, or slow-roast a pork shoulder. That’s all it takes to fill their sense memory and make your family feel good for a lifetime.”--Lucinda Scala Quinn