Parent or not, we all know a teenager who could use a kick to get their ass into the kitchen. Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio could be that book. Or not, depending on how much those kids have already spent in the kitchen during their Tween Tribune reading years. We would argue that Tween And Younger Cuisine would be a more age-appropriate title for this book as it isn't exactly Best Teen Chef winner material.
That isn't to say this is not a good cookbook. It is simply one that covers the basics. Teen Cuisine is organized classically, beginning with a chapter on breakfast dishes like granola and pancakes, followed by snacks, soups and salads, sandwiches dinner entrees and the like. There is also a chapter dedicated solely to pizza (New York vs. California vs. Chicago-style doughs), we presume because of the pizza-loving-teenager stereotype.
Part of what makes this appeal to a younger audience than your average iPhone-bedecked 15-year-old is the book's voice. Each recipe starts with the phrase "On your mark" (turning on the oven), followed by "Get set"(ingredient prep) and ending with -- you guessed it -- "Cook!". We get it. It's just that we can picture our high school niece tossing out words like "Ohmygod. That is so dorky." by page ten.
Still, the recipes here are solid, and the photography is by James Peterson, himself no cookbook author slouch (he has a photography studio as well). Think everyday staples like spaghetti and meatballs, classic tomato soup, an everyday "Italian" vinaigrette.
And so while we think this is a good book for young start-up cooks, whether it is truly a book for that teenager you know depends on how many oatmeal cookies they made in their show-and-tell years (recipe below). Then again, perhaps the title is just perfect, as all of those teen idols seem to have fans years younger than they are -- at least judging by Justin Bieber's baby blue fan club website. Hand this cookbook over to a 9-year-old, and she'll feel like a grown-up making those mashed potatoes in no time flat.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From: Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio.
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies
Note: Per Locricchio: "I recommend that you bake these cookies one baking sheet at a time to make sure they cook evenly."
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1¼ cups raw (turbinado) sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus ½ teaspoon for greasing
¼ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins
On your mark
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with an oven rack in the middle slot of the oven.
2. Using a piece of wax paper, lightly grease two 10 ½ by 15 ½-inch cookie sheets with ½ teaspoon butter. Set aside.
Get set . . .
1. Combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, oats, raw sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well mixed.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, milk, molasses, egg, and vanilla.
3. Beat with an electric hand-mixer at medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Add to the dry ingredients. Toss all of the ingredients together to moisten.
4. Mix in the nuts and raisins.
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1. Scoop up about a tablespoon of dough and drop onto the greased cookie sheet. Repeat until you have 12 cookies about 2 inches apart.
2. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 18 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and start to color. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
3. In the meantime, prepare and bake the next tray. Continue until all the cookies are baked.
4. Once the cookies have cooled for 10 minutes, use a spatula to lift them off the cookie sheet and place them on a rack to cool completely.