I’ve admitted being an addict, so I do buy lots of cookbooks. It’s lovely to have the books where you can pull them out anytime and fondle them, but don’t forget about your public library.
I have an OverDrive app installed on all my electronic stuff so that I can check eBooks out of the library! It’s a great way to explore lots of book without needing extra shelf space, or spending money!
I’m a sucker for cookbooks–especially by an author that I know has great recipes and knows about cooking for one! I have Joe Yonan’s book Serve Yourself and love it–now I find that he’s got another that I want–Eat Your Vegetables. Now comes the debate–do I do hard-copy or digital?
I do love books–and I’m sure that I’ll never be without some of the “hard copy” in my possession. But–there are advantages to the digital, especially as e-readers improve. But there are several attractions of digital versions–given my aversion of house cleaning it’s certainly much easier to dust the e-reader than a shelf of books. And, I love being able to have a selection of books no matter where I am. There’s the price, too–since the e-edition is usually less expensive (though I can’t use the word “cheaper” here). Then there are some of the downsides….
Right now I’ve got reading material in several different e-readers: Kindle (just the third generation, not the Kindle Fire), Google,and Kobo account. That is frustrating. I have the Kindle app installed on laptop, notebook, droid….you should see me trying to figure out where to look for Nigel Slater’s Ripe! Is it in Google, or Kobo–I am sure it’s not the Kindle–since there are color photographs, but….
[Hiatus here…skulking on the internet for availability in various e-readers, and discovering eBook management and converter software]
I’m back–just finished reading the introductory material to Eat Your Vegetables, and quickly perusing some of the recipes. It’s another winner for cooking for one–in digital format!
Love digital, but I still do buy hard-copy when a book that I want to read is not available electronically! For example, Nigel Slater’s cookbooks, when they aren’t available on Oyster, either–tough to be an addict!
This is a great way to do strip. If you’re cooking for one, you can use a strip steak cut about 2-2-1/2-inches thick. It gives some “leftovers” for a roast beef sandwich. It’s one way to cook roast beef for a single-serving meal with not too many leftovers.
The NY strip loin, sometimes called loin roast or top loin, is a cut taken from the top of the cow’s short loin. The short loin is located near the spine, past the ribs but before the tenderloin and round. This is a crowded area of the cow in terms of butchery, as the porterhouse and tenderloin also come from this section. In fact, this strip loin is basically an uncut series of NY strip steaks. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know how to break down a cow in order to cook up this delicious specimen.
We’re going to roast this loin in a method similar to my most popular post, this Perfect Eye of Round. We’ll blast the roast at 500F to create a nice crust, then reduce heat to 250F until it’s medium-rare.
As it’s getting warmer, we do tend to change the way we cook and eat. Generally I turn away from things with the label “casserole”, but from Frugal Feeding blog here is a keeper for summer, even though it’s called a casserole. I’m also sure that you’ve noticed that I do like to use chicken thighs, so this is right my my alley.
If you’re cooking for one, the “leftovers” are awesome–just cold/room temperature, added to a green salad. (I want to try this in my Schlemmertopf–I suspect that I won’t need to brown the chicken first.)
Yesterday, it was sunny, a bit breezy, but warm enough to have the doors and windows open (in spite of the pollen). Today, that warmth and sun is somewhere else, so I needed some sort of cool weather, one-pot meal. (One-pot particularly since I’m right in the midst of a big indexing project, too.) My rapid trip through the local Harris Teeter left me with a lovely big bunch of dandelion greens, and a pair of Sicilian sausages to play with. Add onions, red bell peppers, and a little garlic and it will be supper.
Although the dandelions are blooming (and that’s good–my bees will be here soon) I didn’t go out and forage for the greens. I took the wimpy way out and bought them. But they still taste good.
The dandelion greens from the supermarket are going to be older, tougher leaves than I’d pick were I out foraging. The really young leaves can be used as salad greens, uncooked. These need cooking. Whether cooked or raw, dandelion greens are bitter–in a good way that makes them pair particularly well with the “sweetness” of Sicilian or Italian sausages.
The Sicilian sausage is similar to Italian, but has orange added so it is “brighter” and not quite as “sweet” as Italian, nor as spicy as hot Italian, but the contrast between the sweet spices of the sausage and the bitterness of the greens is lively–certainly not bland. Since these sausages are not hot, I added some hot red pepper flakes when I was seasoning the greens.
The sausages were browned (as described by Nigel Slater in his Real Food:
Very, very slowly and gently in a bit of olive oil. (If you’re cooking for one, at least get some of his books from the library–they’re fun, easy reading, and have some good advice about food, and cooking in general, and one particularly.)
I added two medium onions thinly sliced, a red bell pepper cut into strips, and three large cloves of garlic (chopped), to sweat with the sausages for a bit, and finally, the chopped dandelion greens (with the very bottoms where there was only stem and no leaf removed with a hefty pinch of kosher salt. No extra liquid is required as the onions and peppers will give off some liquid, and the moisture left on the greens after washing is enough for cooking in the covered brasier. The domed lid will accommodate that pile of greens until they wilt down to not much volume like most greens.
Other than a pinch of kosher salt, garlic, and the red pepper flakes, I didn’t add other herbs or spices as I thought the seasoning of the sausages was enough contrast to the bitterness of the greens.
I would really have liked to add some cannellini beans, or other white beans, but since I’m trying low-carbohydrate eating to lose some weight, I just couldn’t do it–though it was tempting, and I love beans. (A small display of will power, here.)
As you can see, there’s no recipe for this–you just use peppers, onions, and greens so that it looks right, keeping in mind that greens do really cook down to less than you expect when you look at them raw. I would have used a smaller amount of vegetables had I been adding the cannellini (or garbanzo) beans to this–or added another sausage.
That second sausage and the rest of the veggies have been popped into a heavy-duty freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, to await another chilly, rainy day when I need something warming to eat–my version of the TV dinner.
Wine? But of course! Nothing really fancy. Just part of a bottle–my last one unfortunately–one of my favorite “everyday” wines: Chateau d’Oupia Les Heretiques. It’s a blend of old-vine Carignan (90%) and Syrah (10%) that has some bright clean, cherry, plum, and spice that goes nicely with a lot of my casual cooking–even just a burger, or just sipping without food. It’s also in the price range to make it “everyday”. It’s time to go to the Wine Cellar at Sutton Station and get some more of this.
My favorite kind of chiles are chipotles because of their smokiness. Chipotles in adobo sauce, a sauce made from tomatoes and ancho chiles, are a great condiment. I love them for instance with chicken, mushrooms and cream. Chipotles in adobo sauce are available in cans, but since I like to make everything from scratch, I wanted to try making my own chipotles in adobo. I used a recipe by Pati’s Mexican table. It wasn’t hard at all, and the result was amazing. Chipotles in adobo from a can are great, but these homemade chipotles in adobo sauce have a more complex and well-rounded flavor. I will definitely make them again. I made a few adjustments, most importantly not using fresh tomatoes because they are out of season (and even if they were in season, tomatoes here are not that great). Here’s my version.
I could scarcely believe my eyes when I wandered past the seafood display in the newly opened Fresh Market. There was Chilean sea bass (this name is really a marketing ploy)! Or really, Patagonian toothfish. It’s not pretty when as the whole fish, but it’s luscious in the pan. It’s also NOT cheap. And there are some that are considered “sustainable”, so I wasn’t being totally irresponsible–just fiscally irresponsible for my budget. But it had been, literally, years since I’d eaten this luscious fish. No will power effort here–I brought some home.
When I spend this kind of money for special fish (how about 7 ounce piece for $13.00–yes fiscally irresponsible, and the hock-your-soul category) I’m going to make very sure that I don’t screw up the cooking or seasoning. The texture is firm and meaty with large flake (in that respect somewhat like monkfish, tuna, or swordfish, but still has character of its own) and moderately oily so it doesn’t dry out during cooking. The flavor is often characterized as mild, buttery, somewhat like cod, halibut, or stripped bass; not fishy in an undesirable way. It’s the combination of flavor and texture that makes the toothfish so special–and nothing else can really be substituted if you want that particular flavor-texture combination.
If you’re looking at something called just “sea bass” it’s probably not toothfish–that’s usually sold as “Chilean”. There are, however, a lot of fish sold as “sea bass”–white-fleshed, and lovely as well, but not as special, or expensive, as the toothfish, but still well worth trying.
The toothfish is oily enough to allow for lots of flexibility in method of cooking–even broiling or grilling. To keep it simple and let this special fish really shine, I took the really easy route: seasoned with salt and baked in a covered dish in a 425°F oven for about 25 minutes since it was a thick (almost 2 inches) piece of filet. While that cooking was going one, I made a pan sauce of brown butter, shallots, and white wine, salt and pepper.
The wine? Well, another glass of my Alandra Portuguese white since this was a really simple preparation–and that’s a good all purpose white wine for causal use on a weeknight when I want a rather short glass.
I’m on my soapbox! Just need to vent! Maybe I’m even being a bit paranoid, but….
At times I feel there is an attitude problem about cooking for one–even more than cooking for just two! Sometimes while perusing recipes I find myself getting irritated by comments on the fact that one didn’t want to put (too) much effort into cooking for two! If not for two, then surely we wouldn’t put much effort into cooking for one? Duh!?!
Why is it that people think that cooking for one or even two people shouldn’t take much effort? OK–it takes more effort to cook for thirteen than for one or two, just in terms of quantity and size of pots. Admittedly some dishes do not lend themselves to making for one or two–so invite the neighbors; roast goose is not something that works well for one or two. But…
No matter how many you’re cooking for there are times when you need quick, easy recipes–any cook who works outside the home knows that. But that doesn’t mean that there are not times when you want something special without having to invite the neighbors, or eating the same thing for umpteen meals.
I’m all for improvisation and cooking as an ongoing process of tasting and seasoning, but sometimes I do want a tested recipe so I’m always on the lookout for cookbooks for one or two. It can be difficult to take a recipe that serves six or eight and cut it down for one or two servings; you have to make allowances especially for the seasoning and you cannot necessarily do that “on the fly”.
I’ve commented on some of my favorite books by Judith Jones, Joe Yonan and Nigel Slater where you do find recipes (and not necessarily “quick” ones) for one or two–these are single people who really like their food and are not bound by how much effort it takes to prepare the dish.
When I saw that the editors from America’s Test Kitchen had put out “for two” cookbook, I was excited because I like the way they explain the recipes, and how well they work. I have tried some of the recipes and am glad to have them. One bonus of their cooking-for-two approach is a section that cross-references recipes, e.g. all that use cauliflower or bell peppers, so that you can deal with what isn’t used in a single recipe. Another benefit is that the seasonings are also adjusted. (Personally for my taste, I find many of the recipes a bit under-seasoned–but that’s taste, and no reflection of the worth of the recipes–after all, they have to please many people–and I know that I may need to increase seasonings.)
Many of the recipes involve chops, and/or pre-portioned meats which do play huge role in single-serving-cooking. There are recipes, e.g. for beef stew, where ingredients are modified or cooking methods changed (e.g. beef stew). Recipes designed for two are much easier to adapt to cooking for one (without necessarily having extra portions) than recipes for six or so. If you’re hesitant about improvisation or about how to adjust recipes, then the Cook’s Illustrated books on cooking for two would be a good investment–as you use the recipes, you learn why they work, and get a feel for how to change or reduce ingredients.
These, as well as books by Jones, Yonan and Slater (see bibliography), give an excellent jumping-off point for single-serving cooking.
As a prelude to our next post in which we will temporarily leave Italy and review a French Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine, in this post we will provide a brief overview of the southern French wine region that goes by the same name, including its history, terroir, permitted grape varieties and winemaking practices.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is an area encompassing 3,200 HA of vineyards that is located in the southern part of the Rhône Valley, in France, between the towns of Orange (to the north) and Avignon (to the south).
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Appellation Map – Courtesy of Fédération des syndicats des producteurs de Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Thirteen different grape varieties are authorized in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (the so-called “GSM“) being the dominating varieties, as well as the traditional core grapes in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend (see below for more information about these grape varieties). Other permitted varieties include Cinsaut
Sometimes a lot of good things come all at one time. In this case it was the shad roe and another favorite that I haven’t seen in a while: swordfish. Yes, kind of feast or famine (at least figuratively). My shard roe is happily soaking in the salted water (1 tbsp per quart) overnight to purge blood. (I’d not tried this before since I like the “fishy” taste of herring, mackerel and blue fish, but after reading the post from The Garum Factory, I decided to try this way for this spring!
I’m sure that some of you are cringing, thinking that it’s an endangered fish. It was at one time, but we managed to lay off for a while and the population is coming back. If in doubt about what you’re wanting to eat, here is the link to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Official Site. The Fisherman’s Market at my local Harris Teeter does support sustainable fishing, and usually gives the source for the fish.
One of my favorite ways of cooking fish steaks is pan-roasting–sear one side on stove-top, and then pop into the oven for finishing the cooking evenly and gently. When I’ve a really special fish (Patagonian toothfish, tuna, swordfish) I tend to go for minimal seasonings to just enhance the fish. That usually means butter or maybe extra-virgin olive oil, possibly lemon juice and/or zest, maybe parsley, or sometimes even a touch of garlic or ginger–but lightly. After all, this is a very special, moderately expensive piece of fish here, so I want to focus on it. A simple pan sauce is all this needs.
I did brine the swordfish steak (as suggested in Cook’s Illustrated, and then proceeded with the pan-roasting. There’s really not a recipe for this–I used lemon juice, lemon zest and butter and a little white wine to deglaze the pan.
1-inch thick swordfish
vegetable oil/olive oil
Preheat oven to 425°F
Warm appropriately sized skillet on stove-top over medium-high heat and add oil
Sear steak on one side–about 3 minutes
Turn and place in oven for about 10 minutes
Remove steak to warm plate to rest
Deglaze the pan with butter, lemon juice (or white wine) and reduce slightly, adding pepper and herbs of your choice
Taste for seasoning, and pour it over the steak.
A son goût!
For those of you wondering about swordfish, here is the link to FishWatch.