I’m guessing each and every one of you, dear readers, has a man (or boy) in your life who really wants to learn how to cook, but isn’t sure where to start. I’m talking about those brothers, friends and cousins who ask you to show them a thing or two in the kitchen, and then promptly leave your side when the 4 o’clock football game comes on. These are guys whose hearts are in the right place, but they just need to learn to cook on their on time—but with a handy guide of some sort.
I’ve found just the solution in Susan Russo and Brett Cohan’s miniature cookbook, Recipes Every Man Should Know (Quirk Books, 2010, $9.95). Russo, aka Food Blogga, teamed up with Cohan, author of Stuff Every Many Should Know, to produce a pocket-sized guide for the culinarily challenged guy. The guide goes over kitchen tools and culinary terms so wannabe chefs can get all their ducks in a row before tackling any of the book’s recipes.
Recipes Every Man Should Know breaks down its recipes into five categories: Hearty Breakfast Classics; Sandwiches, Burgers & Snacks; Meat & Potato Dinners; Beer, Bacon & Bar Food; and Chocolate, Cheesecakes, & More. The breakfast section includes simple how-tos like how to brew to a great cup of joe or how to cure a hangover (water, seltzer, eggs, cheddar, hot sauce), and what I’m calling the lunch section covers how to make the eight essential sandwiches (The Elvis, Philly Cheesesteak, Chicken Cheesesteak, Pepper & Egg Sandwich, Tuna Sandwich, Italian Hero, Sloppy Joe, Shrimp Po’boy), perfect burgers, fish tacos, and a variety of camping grub.
In the Meat & Potato Dinners section, Russo and Cohen offer instructions on marinating meats, carving large birds, and making easy entrees and side dishes like garlicky spinach, sweet potato fries, and roasted asparagus. Most of the recipes are incredibly easy, although there are a few that take more than 10 minutes to prepare. This is definitely a cookbook for a man with little to no experience in the kitchen who really wants to learn some basic preparations. However, even the most novice chef will be able to whip up Russo’s recipes for jambalaya or bacon-wrapped meatloaf.
The book features a recipe for Beer Bread, although I had trouble when I was testing it. When I first read the recipe, I thought there had to be something missing and then I recently found out that the recipe had been printed incorrectly—there was WAYYYYY too much salt and not enough baking powder. According to Russo, the recipes will be updated in the next edition, so if you decide to buy this nifty little book for your man, be sure to get an updated edition.
Last but not least, the dessert section in Recipes Every Man Should Know includes recipes to impress loved ones like Sexy Strawberry Zabaglione, no-bake cheesecakes and mint-chocolate milkshakes, as well as classic cocktail recipes so your wannabe chef can also practice being a mixologist. Who’d have thought one little book could be so handy?
I got my brother for secret santa this year, and there’s no doubt that Recipes Every Man Should Know is going in his stocking. Not only will he thank me, but his girlfriend Chelsea will, too. Let’s get those boys off the couch and into the kitchen!
*Disclaimer: Quirk Books sent me a review copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know.