About sa.fifer

Lover of good, wholesome food and wine. Cooks for one and the cat. Likes to paint-- a frustrated botanical illustrator and amateur (photographer) and fledgling birdwatcher, beekeeper, and Kindle addict. Works as a freelance indexer.

Storage containers

One of the perennial problems with liking to improvise, and wanting to have a well-stocked pantry is that one person uses things more slowly than you would cooking for a family of four.  I think that it’s important to store supplies carefully in closed containers rather than bags or boxes which can let some interesting beasties into your staple supplies.  For years, I carefully cleaned and saved glass jars and their lids.  Great solution?  Well–until the lid loses its seal.

Then what do you do?  My solution was to buy some Mason  canning jars (Ball or Kerr) with wide mouths, in the pint and quart sizes.  They are inexpensive, and lids are  no longer a problem.  The same lids fit all the jars, so I’m not standing around with a jar full of something and trying to find a lid to fit.  The rings last, and last–a bit like the Energizer bunny–and you can replace the seals as needed!  I think that my kitchen shelves even look rather nice…but then I kind of like a homey look.

If your pantry space is cramped,  the wide-mouth jars stack well!  Another advantage of the wide-mouth jars is that a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup will fit through the mouth of the jar easily–so you can dip and measure from the easily. Got to store that 10-pounds of rice that was such a great price?  Well the same lids will fit the half-gallon jars.

With some minimal additional equipment you can even put food by in these same jars–just be sure that you have new lids  if you’re going to use them for long-term preserving of foods.

An awesome lentil soup!

Being both a cookbook/food addict and a Kindle addict, it’s probably no big surprise that I’d have to have a cookbook on my Kindle.  My first one was the Cook’s Illustrated, special Kindle edition (only for Kindle, I believe) which is a great book to have available.  But you can’t expect a cookbook addict to stop at one can you?  Certainly not!

The second one that I downloaded was Kitchen Express. Having the instant gratification of looking, trying a sample, and viola, there it is,  just naturally leads to an I-must-cook-something-out-of-it-now frenzy in the kitchen.  Now I have to say that I love the way that book is organized (aside from the thrill of being able to search using the Kindle).

The weather probably contributed to my choice of a first recipe to try–rainy, but certainly not cold–but the kind of weather to make you want something like comfort food.  I’ve always liked lentils–the cook quickly, freeze well, and all sorts of things.  Given the rain, I searched for lentils and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients except one: a lemon!  I looked at the description of the recipe, and decided that I had to have a lemon.  Not wanting to go to the grocery store in the rain, I called my closest neighbor to see if she had a lemon I could borrow.  Luck was with me–she had several.

Now having all the ingredients, I made lentil soup (and returned the lemon in a large bowl of soup). Both of us have subsequently done a lot of improvisation around this basic recipe, so I’d like to share it with you, and hope it will inspire you to do some variations.  Here is the recipe reproduced from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express. *

Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro

Red lentils cook very quickly, but allow more time if you substitute and other type.

Cook a copped onion in olive oil in a saucepan until soft; add one cup of red lentils and four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil; continue simmering until the lentils are soft.  Puree a handful of cilantro with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt; set aside. If you like, puree half the lentils until almost smooth; return them to the pan. Add about two tablespoons of lemon juice or more to taste.  Stir in the cilantro puree, adjust the seasonings, and serve with crusty bread or a mound of rice in the center.”

I’ve done lots of variations on this one: used lime instead of lemon, added some rice, pureed it or not; there are so many ways to improvise with a recipe like this.  I’ve had the same basic soup with garbonzo beans.  There’s something about the combination of the citrus and the cilantro that just makes this kind of sparkle.  I like to add a bit of the citrus zest to brighten this even more that just the juice.  The pureed cilantro keeps very well in the fridge if the surface is covered with oil (and it’s a great addition to chili con carne to add some fresh contrast).

Well, it’s a few months later, and now we have cold weather, real serious soup weather!  I just finished making another half recipe of this with the chicken broth from cooking some chicken thighs.  Now that it’s colder I wanted to “hearty” the soup up a bit, so I used some French (green) DePuy lentils (which I prefer to red, even though they take a bit longer to cook) and added the chicken meat from one of the thighs that I cooked in the microwave to get both meat and broth.

The only complication that I’ve found with this recipe for one is that bunches of cilantro from the grocery store are huge.  As much as I like cilantro I can never use it all.  In the summer I plant successive pots of cilantro so that there is always some to pick.  In the winter, it’s a different story: want to make this but don’t have cilantro.  I’ve found a great stand-in for the fresh cilantro in the frozen foods department at the grocery store: Dorot Chopped Cilantro (www.dorotfoods.com).  It’s frozen, fresh cilantro in cubes equivalent to 1 teaspoon each.  Nothing is quite like the fresh, but I’ve been rather pleased with this as a stand-in, so it has become a freezer staple for my kitchen.

I’ve just finished a supper of a first course of steam-sautéed vegetables–a medley of carrots, broccoli, and red bell pepper, followed by a hearty bowl of the lentil soup with the chicken meat added.   Since I made a half recipe, I’ll have enough for another bowl in a day or two.  I’ll add another splash of lemon and a bit of cilantro to perk it up, and perhaps have it with (as the recipe suggested) a mound of rice–another satisfying, healthy, and easy meal.

This recipe lends itself so easily to improvisation.  Try it–you’ll find something to please your palate.

A son goût!

* I’ve been searching on how to cite a Kindle reference properly since I don’t have the hard copy.  According to Amazon discussions, the font size does NOT affect the location: so here that is: 1187-98.  Since I’ve given you the exact recipe title, I’m sure you’ll have no difficulty locating it in the book.


Cooking vegetables quickly

No matter how much you like to cook, sometimes you just want to prepare veggies quickly, but still want them to taste good.  One of my favorite ways to quick-cook vegetables is a technique that I learned from How to Cook without a Book by Pam Anderson, who really stresses improvisation and good food.

One of her techniques that I’ve found useful for vegetables is the “steam/sautéed” method.  It’s a very simple technique, using both “wet” and “dry” cooking in a single pan, without boiling or blanching and draining.  You can facilitate speed by how you cut the vegetables–smaller pieces cook more quickly than larger chunks.  This book is an excellent resource to help you learn to improvise and adjust quantities for single servings, doing away with leftovers. Recipes are simple, and presented in a manner that makes them very easy to adjust serving sizes, giving the necessary ingredients and there are variations given so that you get the feel of improvising.

To cook vegetables this way, you need vegetable, some fat, and flavorings.  The recipes in the book are presented starting with one pound of vegetables, but are easily down-sized to a single serving.  The basic ratio of these recipes is (p. 204):

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound prepared vegetable
  • optional aromatics (1/2 small onion, sliced thin, or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced)
  • optional spices (dried or fresh herbs and or flavorings)
  1. Bring the water, fat, salt, and vegetable, along with the optional aromatics, spices, dried herbs and/or other flavorings to a boil in a Dutch oven or a large deep skillet. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until the vegetable is brightly colored and must tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the vegetable size.
  2. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates, 1-2 minutes longer, adding optional fresh herbs and/or other flavoring at this point. Sauté to intensify flavors, 1-2 minutes longer.  Adjust seasonings, including pepper to taste and serve.

The cooking instructions are simple. I’ll give you an example of a recipe from this book, and of the technique (above):

Steam/Sautéed Carrots with Cumin (p.209)

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or cilantro leaves

Follow the Steam/Sautéed Vegetables recipe (p. 204), adding the cumin with the carrots and the parsley once the carrots start to sauté.

One pound of carrots is approximately 5-6 medium or 4 large, so it’s easy to adjust the proportions here for two medium carrots.  For me, 1 large carrot is about the right amount for a serving of vegetable.  The amounts of fat, spices, and water are easily adjusted (see Measurement Conversions), and they do not have to be exact–you can add a bit more water if the vegetable is not quite tender enough, and a bit extra will evaporate once the pan is uncovered.  You’ll adjust the seasonings to taste, as well.

You will need to consider whether your vegetable is “soft” (vegetables which normally give off water as they cook) may not need the steaming before the sauté step), but  vegetables that do not give off moisture as they cook, like the carrots, green beans, cabbage or broccoli, do need this step.  The amount of water will vary with the density of the vegetable–you will learn to judge that, always remembering that you can add more water a tablespoon or so at a time as needed.

Dried herbs and spices (except black pepper) should be added with the vegetable in order to have the flavors develop.  Because fresh herbs can lose volatile oils with heat exposure, these need to be added at the end so that the freshness is retained.  With this technique is easy to prepare vegetables for small-time cooking, keeping the big-time taste.

Cannellini & Italian sausage supper

One Italian sausage provides seasoning and a bit of meat for two meals.  The starting point gives enough for two servings.  When I’m using the Italian sausage for two separate meals like this, I usually buy sweet instead of hot, since I can readily add the heat I’d like with crushed red pepper flakes at the time I’m preparing the meal.

  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet Italian sausage, meat removed from the casing and crumbled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, drained white beans (cannellini or great northern) or 15-ounce can rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon water

In a 12 inch skillet with a tight-fitting cover, add the olive oil; when the skillet is heated add the sliced onion, and cook until it is beginning to brown. Add the sausage and brown.  Add minced garlic and cook about 2 minutes.  Add the rinsed beans, and cook covered about 5 minutes.

Remove half the bean/onion/sausage mixture to be used for a second meal.  Cool and refrigerate.

Meal 1:

  • Half the bean/onion/sausage mixture
  • about 15 grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup antipasto salad mix (pitted olives, peppers, carrots) from the salad bar, chopped finely.
  • several sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh sweet marjoram or Turkish/Greek oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs.
  • a single-serving size handful of haricots verts
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste (the antipasto salad is salty so taste before you add additional salt.

Add the herbs, the chopped antipasto salad, crushed red pepper flakes and mix well.  Over medium low heat, add the tomatoes, lay the haricots verts on top of the cannellini beans, add the water, cover tightly and continue to cook until  the haricots verts are tender.  Serve with shavings of Pecorino Romano over the canellinni beans, and the haricots verts on the side, drizzled with a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil.

Meal 2:

  • the reserved cannellini bean/onion/sausage mixture
  • about 15 grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 generous handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Place the cannellini bean/onion/sausage in sauté pan, add the water, halved tomatoes, and cover.  Heat gently for about 5 minutes (until starts to steam).  Add the spinach, cover, and allow spinach to wilt.  Toss to combine with the bean mixture.

I had this with some steam-sautéed carrots as an additional vegetable.  Add a glass of good friendly red wine and its a very satisfying meal that’s easy and economical.

Healthier eating: More fruits, grains, and vegetables, please.

A couple of recent events and activities have made me give some serious thought to what I eat:  books I’ve been reading about the impact of food on environment, and the current obesity epidemic, and the fact that my doctor has said that I DO  need to lose weight, a lot of weight–at least I think that 25 or 30 pounds is a lot.  Obviously I have to find a way to do it as pleasurably as possible since I readily admit to being a hedonist.

All this has led me to look at what I have been eating–not that it’s exactly unhealthy or junk food, by any means; but it would seem that the weight loss is likely to be abetted by adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  So, I’m going to try to do better what I’m sort of do already.

One of the things that I’m going to try to do is eat more salads.  Now I’ve already complained about the waste when I clean out the refrigerator and find all the slimy veggies that did not make it into the salads. This is going to be interesting–I truly dislike having to throw out food, especially after reading some statistics on the amount of energy that goes into producing the food that gets thrown away.  The challenge is going to be keeping the salads interesting enough that I will actually eat them every day.  If I can achieve that, I’ll likely not be throwing away so many veggies.

Another decision that I’ve reached (after reading the label on the salad dressing bottle) is that I have to re-think salad dressings.  I don’t like the list of ingredients on “low-fat” or “no-fat”, or really, any mass-produced dressing.

My first solution to that was with my salad this evening; I started with mesclun, added some fresh herb leaves (from my deck) which made the taste very complex.  Then I added veggies that I had brought home–ones that I think (hope) will find multiple uses: celery, cucumbers, cherry/grape tomatoes, onions as salad material and as snacks.  I had some black table grapes in the fridge, so I threw some of those into my single-serving salad bowl.  Now to dress my salad.

It’s easy to make a vinaigrette dressing, but being in a hurry and lazy this evening, I opted for the simplest thing that I could think of:  extra-virgin olive oil and an acid.  I did not want anything as tart as wine vinegar, so I added a squeeze of lemon juice.  With the sweetness of the grapes, spiciness of the radishes, and the fresh herbs it was great–and so simple, and so healthy.  In retrospect, I suspect that some nuts would have added some texture and different flavor to the salad too, but I did not think about that at the time.  (After all that extra-virgin olive oil provides some of those monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that are supposed to be so good for us, and according to some studies–more on that later–and even help in losing belly fat!  Pleasant thought that something that tasted that good could actually be good for me!  I’m sure that I’ll be trying out other citrus juices in combination with the oil for my dressing!  I’m sure that I’ll also get around to actually emulsifying the oil and the acid to make a good vinaigrette too, eventually.

Next project: getting more whole grains into my diet. Accompanying me home from the grocery store this evening in anticipation of  that first goal was a multi-grain cereal.   I’m going to make a serious effort to eat breakfast as I’m told that is helpful in losing weight too.  My problem with that is that I do not actually like food early in the morning.  I love hot cereals like steel-cut oats, multi-grain cereals; just not at the time I need to eat them before I go to work–and it’s not the cooking time that makes me not like them.  I can figure out lots of ways to have long-cooking cereal without spending time cooking it in the morning.  It’s more basic–I don’t like early-morning food.  I can’t take it to work with me to eat at my desk later, because “work” is delivering a lecture, so I’ll have to find some other way to do this–without getting up too much earlier!

The last, but not least, goal of this project is reducing my (already pretty low) meat consumption.  I’ve posted references to some of the books that I’ve been reading lately on the bibliography page.  The information on energy consumption related to meat (term used loosely to include poultry) production is–not sure what adjectives to use to describe some of that data–thought-provoking to say the least.  I’m reducing consumption, not giving up meat totally, nor am I giving up milk, eggs, cheese, or other animal products.  As much as I like meat this is going to be an interesting time for me.

I always liked grains and pulses (beans, lentils, peas and such) so that’s part should not be too difficult (famous last words?).  I expect I’ll be using  some new  grains and  pulses now, so it will be a learning experience.  I’ll be finding out how to cook and use these in small quantities, or single-serving amounts.  I was pleased to see that my supermarket had teff, spelt, and quinoa available as will as the more usual bulghur, kasha and brown rice of different varieties.

If I can get add some regular exercise, as well as eating food early in the morning, I might actually get to like this regimen, and succeed in doing what I need to do, and keep the weight off as well.

Now…let me go peruse a cookbook or two in search of recipe ideas that I can adapt for a single-serving.

That fourth chicken thigh…

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding what to do with a package of four chicken thighs when you are cooking for one (and the cat) and don’t do leftovers, chicken soup was in the making with some leftovers (rice, garbanzo beans) as a start.

The broth from cooking those four chicken thighs was so intense that I was able to add a bit of water to it, so I have two servings of chicken soup.  (Soup being a leftover that I tolerate better than other leftovers.)  To keep the time invested to a minimum, I did use a convenience product:  frozen soup mix vegetables .   I do use those for winter use since it lets me have a lot of variety without purchasing all the individual vegetables;  I can throw a handful or so into something for quick soup.  As you can see there was okra, peas, corn , celery, potatoes, green beans, and onion.Not having any canned tomatoes open, I used some of the grape cherry tomatoes, halved and tossed into the mix.

I boned the chicken thigh and added it to the broth and veggies, popped the whole thing into the microwave for six minutes to cook the veggies.  The broth from cooking the thighs had been seasoned only with a bit  of salt to allow for maximum flexibility in what I could do with the meat, so it was a tad bland. I supplemented the previous seasoning with a dash of herbes de Provence, and some crushed red pepper flakes to add a bit of zing.  Made and great bowl of soup

chicken soupGiven lots of veggies, the rice, and beans, and the very flavorful broth, the fourth chicken thigh provided reasonable portion f meat for the two servings of soup.  When we consider that most of us eat much more meat than we  need nutritionally, I was very pleased with the flavor of this quick meal.   All I added was a green salad with cucumbers, radishes, grape tomatoes, black grapes, fresh herb leaves, with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.   With the addition of a glass of red wine (from a box) it was a very satisfying meal.  I have no idea of a calorie count–but I do think it was a healthy meal, particularly for evening when I know I’m going to be very sedentary.

Admittedly, there is a snack for later in the evening: some black grapes, grape tomatoes, and a few nuts, maybe pistachio, or Brazil nuts, or hazel nuts, or a mixture (only a tablespoon or two, though).

Lots of flexibility in terms of what you can do when you’re making a small quantity.   I suspect that the remaining serving, which will be used in a day or two, will get some additional “perking” before it becomes a meal, but I know I’m starting with a good base of tasty broth and a bit of meat.  In looking over what’s likely to be available , I suspect that I’ll add a bit of cabbage, and maybe some chile pepper to that last batch–but who knows.

Even though I bought the more expensive, free-range, organic chicken I think it was economical:  essentially five meals from that one package of chicken.  The extra flavor from the chicken paid off.

A son goût!

A sweet treat

Holiday time is coming up so I want to introduce you to something special that you can do, even for one:  brioche filled with chocolate ganache.  While it’s baking, you home will smell like a bit of heaven.  I’m going to share with you a recipe that I will abridge and paraphrase from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois to demonstrate the range of recipes available in their books, and how adaptable they are to cooking for one. The full recipe (well worth having) is found on page 189 of the book. It’s a recipe that is easily doubled or halved.

Brioche (unfilled)

Ingredients: Makes four 1-pound loaves.

  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (kosher) salt
  • 8 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • additional butter for greasing the pan
  • 7-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)

Assembling the dough:

  1. Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl (or lidded, but not air-tight) food-grade container. (You will store the dough in the refrigerator in this.)
  2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon. You may need to use wet hands to fully incorporate the last bit of flour.  The dough is loose but will become firm when chilled.  You should not try to work with it until it has chilled for 24 hours.  There may be lumps in the dough, but they will (mine did though I was uneasy about this on the first batch).
  3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses or at least flattens on top.  This takes about 2 hours.
  4. Refrigerate in the container; it can be used over the next 5 days; for longer, you should portion and freeze the dough.

Baking the brioche:

  1. Grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan.
  2. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough.  Dust this piece with more flour and quickly shape (see link to videos demonstrating this in my post “Smell the fresh bread”.)
  3. Elongate into an oval and place in the prepared pan and allow it to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes, covered lightly with a cloth or plastic wrap if it is dry in your home.
  4. About 5 to 10 minutes before baking time preheat the oven to 350 ° F.  If you are using a stone in the oven then you will need to preheat the oven for about 20 minutes.
  5. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
  6. Place the bread near the center of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  It should be a lovely medium golden brown.  It does not form a hard crust because of the fat in the dough.
  7. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.  (I can tell you this part is really hard!)

Brioche

Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache (page 195)

This calls for good quality chocolate.  I have always used Valrhona chocolate for this.  It’s worth the splurge to have very good chocolate–after all, you are not likely to be eating this every day.

Note:  This dough can become very soft in hot weather or in a very warm room.  To keep the dough cool while rolling it out, fill two or three zipper lock bags with water and lay them flat in the freezer until frozen solid; use these under an upside-down lipped baking sheet to roll out the dough.  This will keep it cool and easier to work with, but you still need to work quickly.

Ingredients:

  • A 1-pound portion of the brioche dough above.
  • 1/4 pound bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona or equivalent)finely chopped.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona or equivalent here too).
  • 1 tablespoon of rum or Chambord (optional).
  • 5 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top.

Making the ganache:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth; be careful not to burn it.
  2. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter thoroughly.
  3. Stir in the cocoa powder into the rum or liqueur if using.  Otherwise, stir in the corn syrup and mix until smooth.
  4. Add to the chocolate.

Assembling the brioche:

  1. Lightly butter a nonstick 9 x 4 x 3-inch pan.  Take a 1-pound piece of dough as described above, and shape it into a ball, as above.
  2. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle; dust with flour as needed.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache evenly over the dough, keeping a 1-inch border all around the edge.
  4. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, sealing the bare edges.  Tuck loose ends underneath and place in the prepared pan.
  5. Allow it to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Baking the brioche:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F at least 5-10 minutes.
  2. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg white wash to the top of the loaf.  Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the sugar on top has caramelized.  (The loaf will likely split in places during baking and some of the ganache will show through, but it just looks so good with the chocolate peeking out!)
  4. Remove it from the pan and let the brioche cool slightly.
  5. Drizzle the rest of the ganache (1/4 cup) over the top crust.  Cool completely and slice.  (This really does need to cool completely before slicing–don’t be tempted to cut it while warm.

There you have it–a serious treat.  It’s very easy to make smaller filled brioches in small “mini” pans, but I’ve found you need to roll out the brioche dough more thinly for the “mini” loaves–otherwise the filling and the brioche are out of balance.  Of course this will take a smaller amount of ganache per loaf.  I have to confess to making more of the smaller loaves, and NOT drizzling the ganache on top, but just letting the sugar and the ganache peeking out from inside  be the finish on the top.

Now you want to know, what else can you do with this dough?  There are recipes in the book for filled breads, pastry, rolls, and other treats that you can make so easily.   You can vary the filling–I’ve done it with good ginger preserves, and orange marmalade too.  Lots of room to please your palate.

The basic brioche is wonderful toasted, makes a great grilled ham and  cheese sandwich (croque monsieur, if you wish, to be in keeping with the brioche).

Think what a great gift a loaf of plain brioche or the filled brioche would make.  Though I don’t make it often (diet!) I like to have friends in for a mid-morning slice of the filled brioche and hot chocolate to give us a wonderful chocolate fix!

Remember that you can halve the recipe easily so it’s very adaptable for almost single-serving cooking, but there really is some big-time taste here.  If you appreciate  breads, this book gives recipes for a huge variety that are all easy to portion  as appropriate for one person.