School teacher and caterer Christine Burton has assembled, with teens in mind, over 200 recipes, encouraging young cooks to personalize dishes by experimenting with flavors and seasonings. Using an “anything goes if it tastes good” approach, Burton urges novice cooks to break boundaries in these “fail proof” recipes.
Burton casts a wide net selecting recipes. There’s no health or diet focus. Dishes are more classic than trendy and represent, according to the back cover, “foods that became popular in the twentieth century.” Burton offers comforting stick-to-your-ribs fare as well as interpretations of international dishes, many inspired by her Polish/German heritage.
Among the dishes: Reuben Quicheletts and Cheesy Potato Tarts (appetizers); onion-laced molasses bread and ginger cookies with cardamom (baked goods); spare ribs dressed in rhubarb BBQ sauce, beef brisket in an orange balsamic gravy, roast duck with cherry cardamom sauce (entrées)—and much more.
The cookbook is divided into two sections: Baking (breads, sweets) and Cooking (appetizers, condiments, fruits, salads, soups, vegetables, entrées), each with a table of contents and index (although the Cooking table of contents is inconveniently located and the index is simply an alphabetized list of recipe titles and page numbers). There’s a brief glossary of terms, photos of finished dishes and colorful cartoon illustrations.
While the recipes are practical, adaptable and flavorful, Burton misses the opportunity to inspire her target audience. Other than a few introductory words about her enthusiasm for kids in the kitchen and random cartoons featuring teens as chefs, she provides little context for teaching youths how to navigate the kitchen. Recipe notes lack advice specific for young cooks and offer few step-by-step instructions or tips for how to cook for teen-centered occasions such as sleepovers or school-related functions. In addition, it’s not clear if teens were involved in the creation of recipes or the cookbook itself.
Although the teen slant is highly misleading, Burton’s recipes support an option-filled approach, one that cooks of any age might appreciate.
Also available as an ebook.