Thanks to Martha Stewart, I discovered Lucinda Scala Quinn. My blog began years ago as a one year experiment in which I unofficially apprenticed myself to Martha Stewart. I read her books, magazines, and watched her shows. Every single day I did a recipe or project from the land of Martha. It was insane, but I learned a lot (you can read about it here). Along the way, I became familiar with Martha’s peeps. She has a cast of experts that made frequent appearances on her shows and in her magazines. Lucinda Scala Quinn is an editor for MSLo (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia) and regularly appeared on the Martha Stewart Show. She also has regular features in Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I’ve always appreciated her recipes and her approach to food. Lucinda is all about making really good food, but doing it without tons of fussing.
I bought her previous book, Mad Hungry, in which she offers the recipes used to feed her
crew of boys (3 sons and a husband). Although I have just one son, I really loved the book and a couple of the recipes from it have become part of my standard repertoire. Obviously I could not resist buying Mad Hungry Cravings, in which Lucinda offers recipes for making the foods you crave from take out at home. I sat down with the book and some post-its and marked plenty of pages.
I think the book is fantastic and it’s funny to see that she makes a lot of the same things at home that I make to avoid take out – fried rice, fried chicken, potato skins. What you must keep in mind when reading this though is that she lives in NYC. Every type of cuisine in the world is available for take out within blocks of her apartment. What she considers takeout, most of us would consider interesting and exotic food. So while there are lots of recipes that allow you to make your favorites at home, there are also recipes for things you’ve probably never had before also.
I tried out two recipes recently: Chicken and Chive Burgers and Italian Fries. The chicken and chive burgers were pretty basic chicken burgers (I don’t know ANYONE who gets chicken burgers as takeout, but whatever). They were good – I think the lemon juice is the secret – it did give it a very nice flavor. They were really gloppy though, so I stuck them in the freezer to give them some shape before I grilled them. I also dumped some chopped fresh parsley in them for a little more color.
The Italian Fries did not wow me. Lucinda talks about how this is a family favorite at her house and everyone goes nuts when they smell them. I’m confused by them. They’re like fries, but they aren’t really. And are you supposed to eat them plain or dip in ketchup? They have Italian herbs and cheese on them so it was hard to figure it out. I ended up dipping and the husband didn’t. They were crunchy, but not in a French fry way, more in an oven baked cheesy potato way. They were good, but they just weren’t fries to me.
That being said, there are lots of other recipes I will try from this book, like spinach zucchini lasagna, flautas, and chicken tikka masala.
6-7 Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick French fry style strips, soaked in cold slated water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
2 cups grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons butter cut into 6 cubes
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400.
Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Spread 1 tbsp olive oil on each of 2 baking sheets. Spread the potatoes on it.
Sprinkle the herbs and cheese over the potatoes. Drizzle remaining oil on top. Scatter the cubes of butter around the potatoes.
Bake 45-50 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until the potatoes are brown.
- 1½ lbs ground chicken
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 4 slices Fontina cheese (optional)
- 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
- Preheat a grill to medium high. Combine chicken, salt, pepper, mustard, bread crumbs, lemon juice and chives in a large bowl and form into ½ inch thick patties.
- Grill the patties, flipping once, until the juices run clear or it reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer. Top with cheese during the last minute of cooking.
- Lightly grill the cut sides of the buns and serve with sliced tomato, sliced red onion, mayo, Dijon mustard or pickles.
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