Sheet Pan Magic: One Pan, One Meal, No Fuss
Sheet Pan Magic is the latest cookbook from award-winning food writer, blogger, and journalist Sue Quinn. Her latest cookbook is full of recipes that perfectly tackle the difficulties of busy, daily life and offer easy, economical, and fast solutions for day-to-day dinners, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and desserts.
In her introduction, Quinn points out that “sheet pan cooking does more than just smooth the culinary path when your cooking mojo is low and demand for a tasty meal is high; it also delivers food that is especially delicious.” Judging by the drool-inducing photographs featured in her cookbook, it seems true indeed that sheet tray cooking produces excellent results.
The recipes in the book are all easy to follow and are sure to inspire in spite of their simplicity — perfect for those days when you want something delectable but don’t have the energy to spare!
Sue lives by the sea in Dorset with her husband, two children, and dog.
Recipes feature in Sheet Pan Magic include:
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
Sue Quinn: Food should, ideally, bring pleasure both in the cooking and the eating. This will mean different things to different people and different things at different times. For me it means food prepared without fuss and formality, but which is also packed with flavor and a bit of creativity. Complicated food requiring lots of fancy processes and techniques, the stuff that’s designed to impress, doesn’t really interest me when I’m cooking, and it’s not really what I’m after when I dine out either.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
Like most people who work full time, I’m time-poor. If I’m writing or recipe testing or shuttling children to and from after school activities, it can get to 6, 7 or even 8 o’clock at night and I haven’t even thought about what to feed everyone. In these situations, I’ve always turned to bung-it-in-the-oven-style meals that are big on flavor but let the oven do all the hard work. Instead of standing at the stove stirring multiple pots and juggling different processes, I always pop a tray in the oven and then get on with whatever else I needed to do — help the children with their homework or finish an article or just sit and have a glass of wine. This is my style of food — simply prepared but not compromising deliciousness. So, I thought it would be a good idea to develop a whole repertoire of dishes based on this concept.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
It's very difficult to pick one, but I love the dish on the cover of the book: maple and lime roasted squash with lentils, ricotta, and basil oil. It’s comforting and filling but also crammed with fresh, bright flavors. And you can make some changes if you like — some people are a bit uncertain about using ricotta (or can’t get their hands on it easily) so they use goats’ cheese or even feta instead, and these also work well. I would urge anyone who wants to try this recipe to give the ricotta a go — it works beautifully with the chili in the lentils.
What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
Chocolate. A few squares of dark chocolate are the perfect way to end a meal, and it’s also a fantastic ingredient to have in the cupboard — a quick chocolate sauce is only moments away, and chocolate chunks are a fantastic way to elevate plain cookies or cakes into really special things. I also use chocolate like a spice, grating it over meat dishes, or melting a square or two into a sauce to add depth and richness.
Baked potatoes are also essential in my life! Ideally, if I can be bothered, I’ll do loaded potato skins, like the ones in the book: You scoop out the flesh of a baked potato, mix it with cheese, sour cream, and whatever yummy things you have to hand, then refill the skins and return them to the oven for a while. For some crazy reason we’ve come to think that serving baked potatoes for a meal is somehow cheating, or not going to sufficient effort, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the perfect no-fuss meal that everyone loves.
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
I love dining out, especially at restaurants where the chef is creative and brings something a bit different to his dishes — as a food writer, it’s inspiring to discover new flavor combinations and cooking techniques. But to be honest, a delicious home-cooked meal shared with family around our big kitchen table can’t be beaten.
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
I’m a massive fan of the Negroni, so this is my go-to boozy drink. Oysters are probably my favorite food — I was born in Australia, where delicious oysters are widely available, so I probably have them in my DNA. There’s something about that briny, minerally, almost metallic mouthful — enjoyed with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon — that I can’t get enough of.
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
I hope I pass on to readers what I learned while writing this book: that sheet pans are a much more versatile vessel to cook in than we might think. I hope they discover a new way to cook with a sheet pan that makes their kitchen lives easier. I would also love it if they tried a recipe that appeared unfamiliar or unusual, and it turned out they loved it so much they cooked it again and again.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s good to bear in mind that all ovens are different and that cooking times are a guide. Keep an eye on what you’re cooking — you might need to adjust the times up and down accordingly.