Today I am delighted to introduce a fresh new voice to our talented line up of Sunday Supper Movement contributors. D.N. Mann is the avid kitchen helper and son of food writer Camilla Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Today he reviews a tween novel, Dex, about another boy who loves to cook and shares his own creative recipe for Rockfish Burgers with Pistachio and Macadamia Crust. – Ed.
When my mom handed me a bubble envelope from the mailbox with my name on it, I was excited. A couple of weeks before, she had asked if I would be willing to do a book review about a new book. I wasn’t sure, at first, but when she told me it was about a boy who loved to cook, I agreed. My mom is always reading and reviewing books for publishers, so I knew that she would help me if I got stuck.
Well, the book finally arrived. Dex by Sheri Lynn Fishbach. I started reading right away because it arrived when my Fall Break was starting. The main character of the book is Dex Rossi, a boy about my age. Actually, he might be a little bit older, but we’re both in middle school. And he loves to cook just like I do.
My first impression was that it was weird that he was dreaming about food. “This time he was edging toward a raging volcano filed with tomato sauce trying to save her as the sun began to cook the grass around him into a frenzied web of pasta al dente” (p.5). I don’t dream about spaghetti tangling me up! But that was a funny idea.
Then I kept reading and thought how cool it was that he was starting his own job and that he has his own business. He sells lunch to his neighbors before he goes to school. I thought it was really cool was that he wakes up and starts baking without supervision. He created a new cookie for his customers called Caramel Sea Salt Crunch. That sounded good!
Dex started cooking with his grandpa, Poppy. One day Poppy was making lamb meatballs in a minty béchamel sauce. At first Dex says “yuck,” but Poppy laughs at him and teaches him, “”Intuition plus inspiration…that’s what takes a morsel and makes it a meal.’ Poppy was right. He had a way of making the impossible delicious” (p.44).
On top of his lunch business, Dex gets his own TV show on the Eatz Network. I guess that’s like the Food Network. His show is called DINE WITH DEX. He started off his first show with a joke, “‘Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in. I’m Dex, and my motto is If you can eat it, you can cook it! And if it can eat you run!” (p.137)
I liked all the food parts. I didn’t really care for the parts that teenagers are supposed to like, I think. Dex likes a girl named Sarah. And he watches her have boyfriend after boyfriend. His friends try to protect him. “‘I knew I shouldn’t have told you now,’ Liza gnawed at her bottom lip. ‘But I didn’t want you to get an eyeful of them together while you were frying something and then go and burn yourself.’” (p.162).
Dex tries to get Sarah to be his friend on Facebook, but she doesn’t respond to his request. It’s silly to be upset about that when he’s her friend in real life.
One thing that would make the book better would be to include some of Dex’s recipes. I know that he’s just a character in a book and not a real person, so his recipes probably aren’t real either, but it would have been nice to have a recipe at the end of each chapter that was mentioned in story.
Still I was inspired to make lunch for my family when Dex mentioned pistachio-crusted tilapia burgers. Well, my mom doesn’t really like tilapia, so we went to the fish market and agreed on a locally-caught rockfish. As I said, Dex doesn’t include any recipes, so I made up my own. I used rockfish instead of tilapia. I crusted the burger with chopped pistachios and macadamia nuts. And I served it with a fresh cabbage slaw.
Thanks to the Sunday Supper Movement for the chance to read and review this book. If you like to cook, I think you’ll like this book. Dex mentions a lot of creative combinations of food. And Sunday Supper Movement and the publishers are giving away a copy of the book. Good luck!
- 1-1/2 pounds rockfish
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (I used mint, basil, and oregano)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup flour (I used gluten-free for my dad)
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¼ cup pistachios
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts
- Buns for serving (I used brioche buns for me and my brother and gluten-free buns for my mom and dad)
- Pepper jack cheese, for serving
- Pitted green olives, for serving
- Cornichon or other pickles, for serving
- Coleslaw (your favorite recipe), for serving
- Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the shallots in 1 tablespoon butter until they begin to turn translucent. Set aside.
- Chop the nuts. Mix them together and place in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
- Remove any bones from the fillets.
- Using a chef's knife, chop the fish until it resembles pea-sized chunks.
- Place the fish in a mixing bowl with the capers, herbs, and cayenne pepper.
- Add in the shallots and blend until well combined. You can use a fork; I just use my hands.
- Once everything is combined nicely, form into 1" thick patties. This recipe makes 6 small burgers.
- Coat the patty in flour.
- Dip the patty into the egg.
- Press the patty into the nuts so that it gets covered all over.
- Place the nut-crusted patties to the side until you’re ready to cook.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet or a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Add rockfish patties. Cook until just firm to touch and brown and crusty, approximately 3 minutes on each side.
- To serve, melt a few slices of pepper jack onto your buns.
- Place the cooked burger on the bun.
- Offer slaw, olives, and cornichon with the burgers. Serve immediately.
Editor’s note: The author of this review received a complimentary copy of Dex. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the book are affiliate links. This book would make a great gift for a young chef in your life.
Many thanks to the publisher Persnickety Press who is sponsoring one copy of this fun “tween” book – recommended for ages 8-13 – for a giveaway, open to US residents only. Please leave a comment on the post – How old were you when you started cooking? to enter. The rafflecopter has several options for earning more chances to win! The more you do, the better your chances. No purchase necessary. The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.
Enter the Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Weekday Supper recipes are great for when life gets busy! It’s easy to find them. Search the #WeekdaySupper hashtag across social media or click here for more on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Weekday Supper Pinterest board for plenty more ideas and inspiration.