From the legendary editor of some of the world’s greatest cooks—including Julia Child and James Beard—a passionate and practical book about the joys of cooking for one.
Here, in convincing fashion, Judith Jones demonstrates that cooking for yourself presents unparalleled possibilities for both pleasure and experimentation: you can utilize whatever ingredients appeal, using farmers’ markets and specialty shops to enrich your palate and improve your health; you can feel free to fail, since a meal for one doesn’t have to be perfect; and you can use leftovers to innovate—in the course of a week, the remains of beef bourguignon might be reimagined as a ragù, pork tenderloin may become a stir-fry, a cup or two of wild rice produces both a refreshing pilaf and a rich pancake, and red snapper can be reinvented as a summery salad. It’s a fulfilling and immensely economical process, one perfectly suited for our times—although, as Jones points out, cooking for one also means we can occasionally indulge ourselves in a favorite treat.
Throughout, Jones is both our instructor and our mentor, suggesting basic recipes—such as tomato sauce, preserved lemons, pesto, and homemade stock—that all cooks should have on hand; teaching us how to improvise using an ingenious strategy of building meals through the week; and supplying us with a lifetime’s worth of tips and shortcuts. From Child’s advice for buying fresh meat to Beard’s challenge to beginning crêpe-makers and Lidia Bastianich’s tips for cooking perfectly sauced pasta, Jones’s book presents a wealth of acquired knowledge from our finest cooks.
The Pleasures of Cooking for One is a vibrant, wise celebration of food and enjoying our own company from one of our most treasured cooking experts.
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From The Pleasures of Cooking for One: Boeuf Bourguignon
Make this rich stew on a leisurely weekend. You’ll probably get a good three meals out of it, if you follow some of the suggestions below. When buying stew meat at a supermarket, you don’t always know what you are getting, so ask the butcher. If it’s a lean meat, it will need less time cooking (in fact, it will be ruined if you cook it too long), but the fattier cuts can benefit from at least another half hour. --Judith Jones
For Vegetable Garnish
Brown the bacon in a heavy pot, fairly deep but not too large. When it has released its fat and is lightly browned, remove it to a dish, leaving the fat in the pan. Pat the pieces of beef dry with a paper towel. Pour the oil into the pot, and when it is hot, brown half the pieces of beef on all sides. Remove to the plate with the bacon, and brown the remaining pieces. Now sauté the onion and the carrot until they are lightly browned. Return the meats to the pot, sprinkle on the flour and some salt, and pour the wine and beef stock in. Tuck the herb packet into the pot, and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a lively simmer for about 1 hour or more, depending on the cut of the meat. Bite into a piece to determine if it is almost done (it will get another 20 minutes or so of cooking with the vegetables).
When the time is right, add all the vegetables, cover, and cook at a lively simmer again for 20–25 minutes--pierce the veggies to see if they are tender. Serve yourself four or five chunks of meat, with all the vegetables, and a good French bread to mop up the sauce.
Use three or four pieces and some of the remaining sauce to make a quick Beef and Kidney Pie (page 34 of The Pleasures of Cooking for One) later in the week. The recipe follows Veal Kidneys in Mustard Sauce because you want to use the leftover kidneys to put this dish together.
Use what remains to make a meaty pasta sauce for one, breaking up the meat and adding three or four squeezed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Simmer the sauce as the pasta cooks.
(Judith Jones photo © Christopher Hirsheimer)
Judith Jones was senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf. She was the co-author with Evan Jones (her late husband) of three books: The Book of Bread; Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!; and The Book of New New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. She contributed to Vogue, Saveur, Departures, and Gourmet magazines. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She lived in New York City and Vermont.
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