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And on the eleventh day of the 12 Days of Cookbooks, I give you Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

I first “encountered” Lucinda Scala Quinn on the show Everyday Food. I would catch an episode every now and then and was always impressed by her straightforward, pleasing dishes.

When I found out that she’d written a cookbook and that I would have the opportunity to review it, I was intrigued. When the book arrived at my doorstep, I was totally taken in.

My “routine” when I get a new cookbook is to sit down on the couch with a pack of post-its. I begin flipping through the book beginning with the dessert section (if there is one) and going back to the beginning. When I see a recipe I like, I bookmark it for future reference.

After five minutes, I realized that I had bookmarked every single page that I’d flipped through up to that point.

People, listen. This is easily one of the best cookbooks of the year.

To begin with, the production quality of the book is major! The paper, the photographs, the feel of it is just top scale all the way. Even if you never cook from it, it would make a fabulous coffee table book.

The book is a tribute to the meals that Quinn has prepared over the year for her sons and her husband. This is her family’s soul food. Starting with breakfast all the way through dessert, the recipes ooze comfort, flavour and warmth. As I read through each recipe I could feel myself being drawn deeper into a big, warm family hug.

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And as soon as I hit page 76, I knew exactly what I was going to try: Tuna Melts.

Oh my gosh, people, I have not had tuna melts in years. I literally stopped, put the book down and thought back only to realize that it’s been at least ten years since I last had one of my favourite open-faced sandwiches.

Without delay, I went straight into the kitchen, prepared a tuna salad that I spooned onto some bread, topped with some cheddar and broiled.

Love.

That’s pretty much how I feel about the whole book.

Love. Love. Love.

Please buy yourself a copy as a Christmas gift. You deserve it!

To Lucinda, wherever you are, thank you for a cookbook that will grace my shelves for many, many years to come!

Ciao!

Tuna Melts a la Cream Puff
Inspired by Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry.

Note: This is my favourite tuna salad. To make a Tuna Melt, just spoon it onto the bread of your choice, top it with the cheese of your choice, and place it under the broiler for a few minutes.

1 can of good quality tuna, packed in olive oil
1/2 a shallot, finely chopped
1 dill pickle, finely chopped
1/4 cup pickled hot peppers, finely chopped
1/4 finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices of the bread of your choice, lightly toasted
4 slices of the cheese of your choice (I like aged cheddar)

Drain the tuna and place in a large bowl, breaking it up with a fork.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix very well. (I like a “loose” tuna salad with very little mayonnaise. You can adjust the consistency as you see fit.)

Preheat the broiler.

On a sheet pan, lined with aluminum foil, place the bread slices and top with generous portions of the tuna salad. Top with cheese.

Place under the broiler for a minute or two, until the cheese is melted and golden.

Eat immediately.

Enjoy!