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Monday, November 16, 2009

FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Pleasures of Cooking for One (AA Knopf, 2009)

THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, 276 pages,
ISBN 978-0-307-27072-6, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Judith Jones, a
long time cookbook and food editor at Knopf; she is the winner of the
James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She's also written a
slew of cookbooks on her own and with her late husband, Evan Jones.
After he died in 1996, Jones had to cook for just herself, and out of
that daily experience comes this book. Cooking for one is invigorating
since we can all eat our failures and play around with our leftovers.
The hard part is rallying strength to march forth to the markets and
specialty shops, tempered by the fact that we only have ourselves to
buy for and to please. She has the basics that should always be on
hand, even if frozen, such as a marinara sauce, pesto, preserved lemons
or stock, and some menu planning principles. Her book has six chapters
on making meat and fish dishes (plus recycling), soups, egg and cheese
dishes, vegetables and salads, pasta and rice and legumes, and finally,
the sweets. The first and last chapters (meats and sweets) are the
largest, probably reflecting the greater variation of preps. The layout
and typeface, plus the few illustrations, are all excellent.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: anybody who cooks for one or two.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: calf's liver with shallot
and wine pan sauce; skirt steak; gratin or beef, mushrooms, and
breadcrumbs; pumpkin or winter squash soup; winter bean soup;
frittatas; cheese soufflé; wild rice pilaf; pear crisp; peanut butter
The downside to this book: some wine ideas or suggestions could have
been useful, plus some music or spoken word CDs or reading matter could
be noted.
The upside to this book: this is also a good book for beginner cooks,
students, and preps can be almost doubled to serve two or more diners.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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