When you’ve got a hankering for a particular dish—and let’s face it, for most of us this is a daily occurrence—something isn’t quite right until you’ve scratched that itch. How best to solve the daily craving dilemma? Flip open to any number of Lucinda Scala Quinn’s mouth-watering recipes in her latest cookbook, “Mad Hungry Cravings,” and fall madly in love with her homemade versions of your favorite fares. You see, doing some very early Christmas perusing this fall, the title of this book called out to me from across the store. (Conveniently, I hadn’t yet eaten dinner—a dangerous state to be in when cookbook shopping.) I hungrily tore through page after page of every craving one could imagine: mac and cheese, meatloaf, sesame chicken, hearty salads, breakfast treats and more! All these crave-worthy dishes seemed more nourishing than my usual dinnertime routine, and none of them would require blowing money from my grocery budget on takeout. Now this was a cookbook after my own heart: ditch the middleman that stands between you and what you’re craving and make it yourself! When you want what you want and you want it now, this mad beautiful book is the one for you.
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip
Is there anything more satisfying than a giant pan of caramelized onions? Their slow transformation from crisp white to golden brown seems to happen as if by magic (and a lot of patience). At the end of all the stirring, when they’ve reached their soft and sweet state of perfection, you’re left to wonder: Is there a recipe on Earth that could possibly do them justice? Lucinda Scala Quinn has your answer. And it’s a resounding yes in the form of her Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip. It’s brilliantly easy to make —we’re talking six ingredients and some stirring—and the result is mind-blowing. The craziest part of it all is that you could probably make this right now without a trip to the grocery store. The rich and creamy dip paired with the perfectly charred flatbread (also from the cookbook) is a treat, to be sure, but the ability to take a few cupboard staples and transform them into the sublime is the real gift she shares with us. I’ll never look at 3 lbs of onions the same way again. —Kayla Knudson, managing editor
Philly Cheesesteak with Cheese Sauce and Giardiniera
I was so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fabulous-sounding recipes in this book that I found myself basing my choices on two unrelated factors: 1. Philly Cheesesteak was one of roughly 30 nicknames we had for our 4-pound rescue Maltese, Phyllis; and 2. The fact that I’d never had a Philly cheesesteak before! So, nostalgia and curiosity won out, and I’ve never been so happy to have followed my gut (as random as it may be sometimes). While it was ambitious—and time-intensive—to make three recipes to create this iconic East Coast sandwich, it was well worth the effort. Lucinda’s tip to freeze the steak for 30 minutes before slicing was so smart, it helped me get super-fine slices that cooked quickly and seared beautifully on the griddle, alongside the fried onions. Since the cheese sauce makes two cups, and the cheesesteak yield is two sandwiches (I actually made three without issue because there was a ton of meat), I simply jarred up the extra and sent it home with a friend to pour over pasta for an easy dinner for her 14-month-old twin boys. Win win! The quick-pickled giardiniera was good too, though I prefer mine with a little more heat and zing, so I’d crank it up with jalapeños and some dill next time. To serve the cheesesteaks, I broiled hoagies with sliced provolone for just a couple of minutes, then topped them with the beef, cheddar sauce and pickled veggies. It was a total hit—and I’m now thinking about doing a smaller-scale version on tiny dinner rolls for a football party this winter! —Erin Madsen, executive editor
Butterfield Stageline Chili
Consider it sacrilege for me to go against my cheese obsession and pick a meat-filled recipe, but chili might be my most-often craved dish. (Plus, no chili is complete without a little shredded cheddar, so it all works out for the best.) Some consider chili strictly a game-day treat or cold-weather choice, but for me it’s a winner all year round. Here’s what’s going on: everything. The texture of the meat (amazing), a little spice, and of course, a vast array of toppings. For this version I decided to top mine with biscuits, the perfect stick-to-your-ribs wintertime choice, but I’m also a fan of tortilla chips or oyster crackers. Lucinda’s chili called for brisket in addition to pork. To start, I cozied up to the brisket and divided it into ½ inch pieces, which was the hardest part of the whole thing but still completely doable. (Bonus: you can also have your butcher handle this part for you.) After that, the pork and brisket spent some time simmering together on the stovetop amongst loads of other good things: onions, garlic, chilies, tomatoes, you name it. This recipe really uses the full flavor of each ingredient to develop a savory, well-textured chili that’s sure to satisfy. With plenty of meat and just the right amount of kick, I was delighted by this uber-hearty chili that would be perfect to ladle up for a crowd. – Claire Davidson, associate editor.
Join our Betty editors as they explore a new cookbook, each cooking a recipe (or two!) from it and reporting back the first Tuesday of every month. Next up: “Absolutely Avocados” by Gaby Dalkin on Feb. 4. In the meantime, what new cookbook(s) are you dying to try?