Young & Hungry

More Than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone


By Dave Lieberman

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Dave Lieberman is a young, hungry, and hot new chef who can take the simplest, freshest ingredients and turn them into an eye-popping feast for every one of your senses.

Everybody wants to know what’s for dinner — from the people eating it to the person cooking it. Dave’s got answers to that question for every night of the week — and every kind of party you might want to throw. From romantic dinners for two, to the casual sit-down for four or more, to the party buffet for the crowd you’ve been meaning to gather, Dave’s recipes are easy, original, and no-fail crowd-pleasers. He knows that no one wants to buy a dozen ingredients for one recipe, so he focuses on making the most of everything you use. With Dave’s meals, prices are reasonable, waste is nonexistent, and food is glorious.

Dave’s American cuisine has something for everyone–fresh and easy salads, soups, and starters; main courses such as Potato-Chip-Crusted Salmon and fragrant Beef Stew; side dishes such as Asian-Style Slaw and Basil-Chive Red Potato Mash; and desserts like Raspberry Cream Parfait and wicked and wonderful things with chocolate. Mix in recipes and advice for throwing an amazing brunch, an indoor tailgate party, and the best happy hour anyone can imagine, and you’ll find yourself, as Dave did, with friends who love being around you and your fresh, original, and delicious meals.



I think it's my dad's fault. He's a stay-at-home dad, so growing up, he was always cooking and setting an example for me. Especially when we were having guests over, it was never "just a meal." He pulled out all the stops, and every dish he made was another reason to stay around the table, talking, drinking, and having a good time. My dad would spend the day shopping and preparing, and when I got home from school, I would help with last-minute preparations to get the huge quantity of food to the table. I loved it all.

"Food was my first love, and I fell hard and fast."

The good times that came from cooking with my dad got me psyched about food in general, and I wanted more than anything to be a great cook. I got hooked on television food shows, and Saturday afternoons you could find me watching cooking shows while my buddies were watching Night Rider and A-Team. I tried recreating what I saw on TV and in books, and not always to my parents' delight. I remember the first time I tried making dinner for them when I was about seven. It was a Saturday, so I had seen a bunch of cooking shows that day and was somehow inspired to make salmon. My take on salmon was certainly interesting: Italian dressing slathered on salmon steaks wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves and then steamed. Don't ask me where I came up with that one!

Needless to say, I was a total disaster when I started cooking as a kid. My parents and even my grandparents will testify to that. Every time I stepped into the kitchen, my family wondered if the house would still be standing after I was done. And when my grandma came over to visit, she would nervously hover over me in the kitchen, trying to do damage control as I created the disaster my parents had already resigned themselves to dealing with. Even today my grandma tells stories about how I couldn't even make a simple salad without using every single mixing bowl in the house.

In those early days it seemed that everything was a wreck. Burned vegetables, flopped cakes, meats that came out dry on the outside and raw on the inside. I was so frustrated. Why? Because I was approaching the whole thing totally wrong. I thought the way to become a good cook was to make all the four-star, fancy, overly complicated dishes I'd come across on TV or in some pretentious gourmet cookbook. Bad idea.

Everything changed when I gave up on the fancy stuff and returned to where I had started: my dad's food. I went after the simple, fresh, tasty stuff that made me happy and had me sitting around our dinner table for hours. And that's when I really started to cook. Instead of cooking for an idealized, stylized picture in a pretty book, I was cooking for a feeling. I discovered the virtue of the ingredients in their own right and not only as part of an ensemble, and I fell in love with their simple, yet perfect beauty. The smell of the basil that my dad grew in the wooden garden box we had built together out back was enough to make me want to get right into the kitchen.

For the first time I discovered the feeling of getting lost in what I was doing, losing track of time with the hope that my time in the kitchen wouldn't end. Cooking became an act of passion and love, and it wasn't one-sided, either. The ingredients seemed poised to take their place in the form of my friends' and family's enjoyment and satisfaction.

I took a year off before going to college, and went to live in a little university town in the middle of Italy. The town was filled with students from all over the world who were looking for adventure and friends. We had no meal plan, and we were tired of the bland food from the student cafeteria. As a respite from the usual fare, I made dinner for a group of friends in my ancient but comfortable apartment. Soon my meals became a custom. In exchange for the good home-cooked food, my friends brought huge bottles of wine and delicious desserts I had never heard of.

There was a large grassy garden in back of my apartment. Other stone buildings—their windows strung with clotheslines and the day's wash—were all around. But after a few hundred feet, the hill that my apartment was on fell off and gave way to a view of the rolling green countryside and another hill town in the distance.

"The smell of the basil that my dad grew in the wooden garden box we had built together out back was enough to make me want to get right into the kitchen."

When the weather was nice, we set up dinner in the garden, and our meals turned into house parties that lasted through the night. I love to think about all those nights when my friends from all over the world spilled out into the garden with paper plates and cheap plastic cups in hand just enjoying life and having a great time. Those kinds of good times and memories are what cooking is all about.

When I got to college and got my own apartment off campus, the good food and good times kept rolling. If there is one thing I learned at college, it's that when friends are well fed and good drinks flow, there's no telling what can happen.

Now I'm pretty much your average guy starting off in a big city. I live in a cramped Manhattan apartment with a couple of friends from college days. Most of the time I work as a personal chef in the city and unwind with friends when I can. We hit up the bars, check out a club or two, and go out to restaurants. All that stuff is great and I wouldn't want to give it up, but you know what? The best times my friends and I have usually happen when I cook up some good food and have a bunch of people over to my place to dig in. I'm telling you, good home-cooked food made with a little love is like magic. There is some kind of electric energy that gets stirred by a good meal with people you like.

The good times that come from cooking keep me psyched about coming up with great-tasting dishes that everyone loves.

Like everything else, cooking has its time and place, and the time and place definitely isn't after a stressful day at work or a grueling day of classes. Trying to cook every day or at the wrong time is the quickest way to kill your drive to get into the kitchen. That's right—I'm saying that cooking isn't the everyday activity that all those other food people say it is. Anyone who is out and about all day knows exactly what I'm talking about. By the time you get home from a hectic, stressful day, sitting on the couch and watching some TV with take-out on your lap sounds like the best way to go.

But when you're not stressed and you're up for a good time, that's when you should head to the kitchen, because home-cooked food is the best excuse for a good time and the easiest way to make any good time better. That's why I wrote this book around some of the fun situations that I like to cook for and the food that really puts them over the top. And none of it has to be expensive. Amazing gourmet food is within everyone's reach—even for me and my friends who are on a tight budget. The trick is making the most of fresh, reasonably priced ingredients.

Here are some of my favorite reasons to get into the kitchen and some dishes that suit them perfectly. They're foolproof, easy to follow, and turn out great every time. You can pick up all the necessary ingredients in one quick trip to the supermarket and not spend a week's paycheck while you're at it. And remember, as long as you're putting the right fresh ingredients together, most of your work is already done for you. Your only job is to guide the ingredients to their natural end: beauty, good taste, and good times.

Kitchen Stuff

Setting Up Shop

Unless you're planning to make all the food in this book in one day (probably a bad idea), you won't need to get all this stuff at once. Take it slow. Pick up things as you need them and keep a lookout for handy tools at rock-bottom prices. It's all about making selective purchases and being resourceful with the stuff you have.

Think multipurpose. If you don't have a roasting pan, use the broiler pan that came with your oven. Don't have a top for your pot? Use some aluminum foil to keep it covered. You'll save yourself stress and money just by being a little creative like this. It's the way I've always done it, and it has worked just fine up until now.

Also, look out for bargains and giveaways wherever you can. When I moved to my first apartment, I needed to build my kitchen from the ground up. The first thing I did was grab a few basics from my parents' house that they didn't really need anymore—or, rather, that I decided they didn't need anymore. I made out like a bandit: a couple of saucepans, some bowls, a few utensils, and a full set of flatware. Don't walk away with their Sunday best—that's definitely not going to win you any points. But I'm sure they have extra stuff they'd be happy to unload on you.

Check out flea markets, church sales, thrift shops, and moving sales, and you'll probably come away with at least a treasure or two. One morning I visited a church flea market and walked away with an awesome French-press coffeemaker, an old-school wooden rolling pin, and a full set of salad bowls—all for under $5! Another time I wandered into a garage sale and asked the guy who was moving if he had any kitchen equipment he wanted to get rid of. As it turned out, he wanted to unload his entire kitchen! I left with a couple of large cutting boards, a full set of glass plates and bowls, and a food processor in perfect condition—all for only $20. Bargains like these are all over the place; you just have to hunt them down. And every time I pick up something new for the kitchen, I love to figure out new dishes I can make with it. When I got my food processor, for example, I played around with all sorts of chopped dips, made my own peanut butter, and figured out how to make simple pastry dough. Keep an eye out for new stuff to build up your kitchen, and you'll find some surprises and inspiration along the way.

When you are setting up your kitchen, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it should feel comfortable to you. Everything should be arranged in a way that makes sense. If it's really awkward to reach for pots and utensils, you probably won't look forward to cooking. Making a kitchen feel like home takes some trial and error. When I moved into my first apartment in New York City, I spent an entire day organizing the kitchen, only to completely reshuffle everything a week later because things just didn't feel right. Your kitchen needs to feel good to you, so move things around until it does. Don't crowd your countertops; you'll want as much work space as possible. Have your utensils and cutlery in easy reach. Keep your spices, salt, and oils near the stove. Keep like with like—pots with pots, mixing bowls with mixing bowls, and so on.

Here are the basics:

  Skillet A decent-quality, ovenproof, nonstick, all-purpose one, preferably 12 inches in diameter.

  Big pot To use the technical term. A 6- or 8-quart pot should do just fine. Go for one with a nice heavy bottom.

  Saucepan or two The 2-quart size is perfect.

  Stainless steel chef's knife It should be 8 to 10 inches, comfortable, and not necessarily expensive. Keep it sharp.

  Cutting board Wood or plastic? It doesn't really matter that much. I like the feel of wood, but plastic can go in the dishwasher.

  Mixing bowls A bunch, all shapes and sizes. If they are nice enough, you can use them as serving bowls, too.

  Baking dishes A couple that are 13 inches x 9 inches.

  Baking sheet The larger the better, as long as it fits in your oven.

  Basic bowls, plates, glasses, and cutlery Disposable dinnerware may seem like the cheaper way to go, but in the long run it's not. With a little legwork I guarantee you'll be able to find dirt-cheap dinnerware that will last you for years. I picked up all of mine from the discount store and the church yard sale across the street.

  Sealable container For shaking up salad dressings, marinades, or mixing drinks if you don't have a shaker. I just raid the supermarket salad bar for the plastic ones, but if you want to be a little more legit about it, then a Tupperware set can't hurt.

  Can opener

  Sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons

  Whisk You'll want at least one for whipping eggs, cream, and more.



  Garlic press

  Large wooden mixing spoons A must for your nonstick pans.

  Cake loaf pan A 9 x 5-inch loaf pan is good. The cheap aluminum kind will get you through if you don't want to invest in a metal one.

  Spatula A hard plastic one for nonstick pots and pans and a metal one for the rougher jobs.


  Wine and bottle opener

  Electric mixer You can find one for under $10 at a discount store; I got mine for $8.

  Electric blender Some have a lot of bells and whistles, but I generally think they're too smart for their own good. Just get one that has three or four speeds and looks reasonably well built.

  Four-sided grater For citrus rinds, ginger, and cheese.

  Miscellaneous stuff Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, sealable baggies, paper towels, dish detergent, sponges, trash bags, one or two dish towels, a few pot holders, and a dish rack for air-drying dishes.



Keeping a well-stocked arsenal of these basics will save you loads of time and energy in the long run because you won't have to spend hours wandering through supermarket aisles every time you want to cook something. You'll also have more ingredients to choose from when you're looking to whip something up on short notice.

Here is what my stocked pantry looks like:

Long-Life Staples

  Pasta I like to cook with the thick, starchy kinds such as rigatoni, linguine, pappardelle, and lasagna noodles. They have serious substance and carry the sauce better. Rao's homemade pasta is quality stuff that's not too expensive and is widely available.

  Rice This is something you can buy in bulk to save some money, especially when it comes to the more exotic and expensive varieties, like basmati.

  Flour Start with the all-purpose, unbleached kind and keep it in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag.

  White and brown sugar These sugars play very different roles, so it's important to keep both around. Any brand of granulated white sugar will do. As for brown sugar, I use the dark kind for its richer, more intense flavor. Before you buy a box of brown sugar, make sure that it "gives" when you squeeze it. Brown sugar easily turns hard as a rock if it's not stored in a tightly sealed package.

  Old-fashioned oats These can be used for baking and also for a quick, filling breakfast.

  Salt Salt is salt is salt, but you'll come across three major types in the supermarket: iodized, sea, and kosher. All are made of the same stuff, it's really only the size of the grain that differs, which does, however, affect the taste to some degree. Iodized salt is also called table salt; it has the finest grain and is the most common household salt. Sea salt, as its name suggests, comes from sea water. It is coarser, and therefore milder than plain old iodized salt. Some say it has a more complex flavor because it comes from the sea, but unless you buy the gourmet stuff, the verdict is still out on that one. Kosher salt pretty much has the largest grain of salt sold on the commercial market, and it is also the least sharp. Of the three, I like the grain of sea salt because it's a nice, happy medium.

  Pepper Two words: Grind fresh! Buy a nice wooden peppermill or opt for the disposable pepper grinders that are on the market now.

  Canned chopped tomatoes It's always good to have a few cans around, but be careful not to buy the variety that comes with basil already added. I hate the stuff.

  Low-sodium and low-fat vegetable and chicken broths Make sure to get the low-sodium variety because the normal kind has way too much salt and makes it impossible for you to control how salty your dish will be.

  Oils I recommend having three kinds of oil on hand: olive, vegetable, and sesame.

Olive oil: Extra Virgin. Don't buy anything but. It's the wonder oil—perfect in a million different ways. You'll probably use olive oil every time you go into the kitchen, so it makes sense to buy a good-size bottle that will last you a month or so.

Vegetable oil: Because olive oil has a relatively low burning temperature, it's not great for high-heat cooking such as searing and stir-frying. That's why it's good to have vegetable oil around: It can take the heat. There are many kinds of vegetable oil that will do the trick—canola, safflower, and corn, just to name a few—but I prefer canola and safflower because they are very neutral in taste and, like olive oil, are reported to be good for you.

Sesame oil: This one is less of an all-purpose cooking oil than a flavorful Asian kick you can use to spice up a whole gamut of dishes, from cole slaw to chicken skewers. You want the dark sesame oil. Just a bit of its strong, rich flavor will do wonders for you. Since a little of the stuff goes a long way, you only need a small bottle.

  Vinegars Get balsamic and white, and buy others on an as-needed basis.

  Dijon mustard Using a high-quality Dijon, such as Grey Poupon, really makes a difference, so spend the extra dollar. Going with coarse grain versus fine grain is really a matter of taste—whether or not you want the rustic texture of the whole mustard seeds.

  Soy sauce It's salty, strong, and wonderful stuff, so a little goes a long way.

  Worcestershire sauce This is another secret weapon when it comes to marinades and sauces. A little bottle will do you just fine.

  Hot sauce (such as Tabasco) A few dashes will give any dish a good dose of tangy heat.

  Ketchup Not only do I use it on burgers, but it's a key ingredient in homemade BBQ sauces and a couple of my savory tomato dishes. It also brings leftovers back to life. There's nothing like Heinz original.

Fresh Staples


  Eggs Eggs will last about a month in the refrigerator, so you can't go wrong by picking up a carton.

  Butter For my money Land O'Lakes' sweet unsalted butter is the best-tasting mass-market butter out there.

  Garlic If you can find it, buy the fresh peeled cloves of garlic that are in most supermarkets these days; look for them in the refrigerated produce section, probably with the fresh herbs. If you go this route, I recommend using Christopher Ranch brand. Just double-check that the cloves are not discolored or slimy.

  Onions They'll last for a couple of weeks unrefrigerated, so don't be bashful about buying a few pounds at a time. Sometimes an onion will start sprouting green stalks. No need to panic—just cut them off before you use the onion and make sure the onion is still firm.

  Lemons and limes Get ones with nice, bright color.

  Mayonnaise Hellmann's mayonnaise is one of my prized secret ingredients. It will keep for a long time in the fridge.


  Baking powder and baking soda Both are used to make things rise, but I use baking powder more often because it is essentially flavorless, whereas baking soda is kind of salty and funky tasting. A little baking soda, however, is perfect for some things such as cookies.

  Vanilla extract Vanilla is a key player in a lot of the desserts I make, and it keeps for a long time because of its high alcohol content. When you're choosing a brand, make sure you buy one that says "real" or "pure" instead of "artificially flavored."

  Cocoa powder Here's a simple rule of thumb: The better the cocoa, the better tasting the dessert. "Dutch-processed" cocoa is the top of the line and worth the extra money if the difference is important to you. If not, go for a mass-market mid-range cocoa like Ghirardelli.


Herbs and Spices

I'm no botanist, but generally speaking an herb is leafy and green, and a spice is dry and hard like seeds, roots, and barks. Herbs and spices can quickly and effortlessly turn a decent dish into one that people will talk about for days.


Buy them fresh! These days you can get fresh herbs pretty cheaply at most grocery stores (usually under $2).

Choose fresh herbs that have a strong fragrance and a healthy, vibrant color, with leaves and stems that have no discoloration. As a general rule, delicate and leafy herbs such as basil and oregano will lose flavor and color quickly, so don't overcook them. Herbs like these work best when added at the last minute to stir-fries and sautées or baked at low temperature. More robust herbs like rosemary and bay leaves can withstand higher heat and longer cooking times, so you can let them roast or simmer for hours. It is still nice to add a little more fresh stuff at the end to pick up the whole dish. There is really no easier way to make your food look and taste gourmet, so I use them as often as possible.

Here are the herbs I use most frequently and a few of my favorite things to pair them with:

  Basil Goes well with almost everything—tomatoes, pasta sauces, pestos, salad dressings, citrus, and Italian- and Thai-influenced dishes.

  Cilantro A staple herb in Mexican and South Asian cuisine. Use it in salsas, salads, and soups. It's pretty pungent, and either you love it or you hate it. I love it.

  Dill Perfect for salmon, potatoes, lamb, dairy, and citrus.

  Flat Italian parsley Use it in everything from salads and soups to Mediterranean- and Mexican-influenced cuisine and as a final garnish.

  Mint Refreshing and sweet. Lamb, chocolate, dairy, mixed drinks, and citrus all love it.

  Rosemary With hints of pine and mint it livens up potatoes, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, tomatoes, breads, garlic, dairy, and citrus.

  Sage Rich, round, and smooth. Goes beautifully with salmon, pork, poultry, and dairy.

  Tarragon Distinct hints of licorice and lemon. Nicely complements fish, chicken, salad dressings, dairy, and citrus.

  Thyme A kind of lemony herb. Goes great in salad dressings as well as with fish, chicken, and citrus.


When you think of spices, that giant intimidating rack in the supermarket aisle probably comes to mind. Most of what you see are strange blends like Garlicky Steak Rub or Lemon Pepper that try to replicate the flavor of fresh ingredients. I just stick to the basics. And contrary to popular belief, dried spices do not stay fresh forever, especially ground spices. Use them up or replace them every two to three months.

In my spice rack at home:

  Bay leaves Toss these whole dried leaves straight from the jar into sauces, stews, and soups to give them a slight kick.

  Chili powder Spicy, sweet, and smoky. I use it in everything from chili to popcorn.

  Cinnamon (ground) For sweet and savory dishes alike, but I use it mostly in baked goods.


On Sale
Jun 25, 2013
Page Count
272 pages
Hachette Books

Dave Lieberman

About the Author

Dave Lieberman is a graduate of Yale University where he first began his cooking show, Campus Cuisine, which aired on New Haven’s public access channel and was received with huge enthusiasm. He hosts Good Deal With Dave Lieberman on the Food Network as well as Eat This With Dave Lieberman on He currently lives in New York and works as a personal chef.

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