Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the Children, Youth and Family category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalist's Guide.
Serving three squares a day can be a daunting task, especially when cooking for people who are typically ravenous, yet uninterested in wasting precious time at the table. As an alternative to filling up on nutritionally void fast foods, author Lucinda Scala Quinn offers this straightforward approach to uncomplicated, guy-friendly home cooking. These recipes are simply written to instill confidence in the novice, yet tempting enough to appeal to the more experienced cook.
Photo by Mikkel Vang
Even more important than serving as Executive Food Director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Quinn is a wife and mother of three boys. In this book she shares many valuable lessons learned along the way (not the least of which is what exactly constitutes yukky); along with time-saving prep tips and a multitude of options and recipe variations. The book is geared toward feeding boys and men only because that is what Quinn does on a daily basis; but there is not one recipe in this book that wouldn't be enjoyed by any member of the opposite sex. I think this would also be a good basic cookbook for anyone-of any age or either gender-who is inexperienced in cooking or meal-planning.
For example, a full page is devoted to making a "Perfect Fried Egg Every Time." Following uncomplicated instructions on how to avoid overcooking or undercooking, there are tips on the type of eggs to buy, and suggestions for other easy ways to prepare them. This information alone could save a hungry guy's life.
The book begins with a primer on Tools, Flavors, and Theories, including some motherly advice on the very manly job of cleaning up. The hefty chapter on breakfast-indisputably the most important meal of the day-covers the sit-down variety as well as the sort grabbed on the way out the door. The chapter on lunch ("it really matters") contains the predictable hamburgers and panini, right along with a selection of ingenious soups, "boy salads," and "pocket pies"-made easy with cream cheese pastry. Dinners run the gamut from Stir-Fried Chinese Chicken and Peanuts to Spaghetti Carbonara; and are followed by a selection of flavorful sides and irresistible veggies.
Dessert is usually not a tough sell in a house filled with males, so the author keeps it short but sweet. "Down-Home Desserts" includes perennial favorites like assorted fruit pies, Apple Crisp, Peach Shortcake, and Velvety Chocolate Pudding. Admitting that some nights it's hard enough to get dinner on the table, let alone a homemade dessert, Quinn offers a list of 20 delectable, almost-instant endings that can be quickly assembled from pantry staples-without anyone suspecting you've taken a shortcut.
There is definitely enough here to convince guys to slow down long enough to enjoy a balanced meal…regardless of whether or not they recognize it as such. Forget whatever else you've heard: Mother definitely knows best.
Dolly's Chocolate Bundt Cake
makes 1 large cake
Excerpted from MAD HUNGRY by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books). Copyright 2009.
I use this recipe (thanks to my first employer, Dolly) more often than any other for special birthdays and holiday baking. If you think you're just a competent or if you're a novice baker, this is the cake for you: it's easy to prepare, bakes in one pan, has a moist and tender texture, and requires only a glaze to finish. Its distinctive look is on the fancy side, which brings a little something extra to a birthday party or holiday table.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup finely chopped unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons rum or brandy (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan.
2. To make the cake, in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Toss in the chopped chocolate and the walnuts, if using.
4. Into the butter mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in three additions, ending with the flour. Mix just until everything is blended together; don't overmix.
5. Spoon the batter evenly into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter. Bake for about 55 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan briefly. Turn out onto a cake plate to cool completely.
6. For the glaze, place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add the glaze ingredients and stir to melt and combine. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake and let the glaze set, 15 to 20 minutes, before serving.
This chocolate glaze also doubles as a spread or topping. Pour into a jar and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Spread on warm toast or reheat and drizzle on ice cream, layer into a sundae, or use as a dip for fresh strawberries.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.