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Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One Paperback – March 29, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Favorite Cookbooks of 2011, SeriousEats.com: "A truly thoughtful, useful, and incredible delicious book tailored for the solo cook. With ingenious game plans and tips, 'Serve Yourself' will ensure that single eaters do not fall into the evil clutches of frozen dinners and Hot Pockets." -- Caroline Russock

Favorite gift books 2011, San Francisco Chronicle: "Through sophisticated and approachable recipes, Yonan reminds us that cooking and dining solo can be a true pleasure. Fun anecdotes, storage tips ... and useful techniques -- like broiling pizza -- make this a valuable addition to anyone's collection, single or otherwise." -- Amanda Gold

"His writing is heartfelt and charming, and his recipes are always inviting. ... Joe's  philosophy is that even if you're eating alone, this doesn't mean you have to eat soulless, sad meals from a microwave." -- Lisa Fain, Homesick Texan

"Lone eaters, you are no longer eating alone. Joe Yonan is with you." --Kathleen Purvis, The Charlotte Observer

"What Yonan does with no small measure of wit and friendly wisdom is make a case that cooking for yourself is something that matters." -- Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle

“So heads up, single cooks! Get inspired to cook delicious meals just for yourself with these tips and recipes from the author.”

“Joe Yonan’s written a book of recipes so electric and stimulating anyone who co-habitates with a loved one will seriously consider a trial separation just to eat this food the way it was intended to be eaten.”
—Adam Roberts, creator of The Amateur Gourmet

“Joe Yonan’s book Serve Yourself is proof that good things can come in small packages or, in this case, in single servings. Full of delicious and sophisticated recipes, solo diners who love food and cooking will no longer be shortchanged at the table thanks to Joe’s book.”
—Jose Andrés, Chef, restaurateur and author of Made in Spain

“Joe Yonan’s Serve Yourself is brilliant for those who cook and dine alone, but his hip, sensible approach works equally well for couples looking to eat simply and well.”
—Pam Anderson, USA Weekend food columnist, blogger, and author of Perfect One-Dish Dinners

“I usually cook for family or friends, but there is something liberating about cooking just for myself. No pressure! I am free to try the strangest combinations and I can eat in my pajamas and using my fingers. There are not enough books that teach you how to cook for one! In Serve Yourself, the food is so good that you won’t notice that you are eating it by yourself and you do not have to wash the dishes . . . at least not right away.”
—Jacques Pépin, author and host of “Fast Food My Way”

“In the course of our busy lives, time spent with one’s self is precious. It is necessary to understand ourselves better--necessary to meditate, to reflect, to be creative, and to answer our emails. Eating solo is one of those special moments in our lives that we need to celebrate, to embrace, and certainly Joe Yonan’s cookbook Serve Yourself has captured that very moment with delicious recipes and tips on how to make it happen.”
—Lidia Bastianich, restaurateur and author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy

“Eating by yourself is one of life’s great pleasures. Joe Yonan also proves that great food for one can be fast, simple, and delicious. So pour yourself a glass of wine, fire up the oven for a crisp, hot cheese and fig pizza, or stuff a few tacos with slow-roasted Mexican pork. And the best part?--you don’t have to share!” 
—David Lebovitz, author of Ready for Dessert and The Sweet Life in Paris

About the Author

JOE YONAN is the food and travel editor at The Washington Post, where he writes the award-winning “Cooking for One” column. Joe’s work also earned the Post the 2009 and 2010 James Beard Foundation’s award for best food section. He is the former travel editor at the Boston Globe.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158008513X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580085137
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Albany, Georgia, but before I was a year old, my family moved to San Angelo, Texas, where my father was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base. When my parents divorced, my bargain-hunting mother had me take advantage of the fact that I still had the base privileges that she had lost; she handed me cash and a list every week and took me to the commissary to shop for the whole family. If I came under budget and got everything on the list, I could splurge on something for myself. (I was 8 and loved every minute of it. When a bag boy followed me out to the car that first time, before he saw my waiting mother, he quipped, "Don't tell me you drive, too.")

My Indiana-born mom also nurtured my cooking bug -- indulging me when I demanded to use her stand mixer to whip the cream and mash the potatoes, and letting my good-old-boy-Texan stepfather teach me to make my first real dish: chicken-fried steak.

Fast-forward a few decades, and I roast my own coffee beans, make my own corn tortillas and pizza dough, cook dinner for friends every chance I get, and watch over a willful red Doberman named ... Red. (Mister Red, to those who know him well. He deserves the title.)

I'm also Food and Travel editor for The Washington Post, where I write regular features, including the monthly "Cooking for One" column that inspired my first book, "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" (Ten Speed Press, March 2011). I've won awards for writing and editing from the James Beard Foundation, Association of Food Journalists, and the Society of American Travel Writers, and my work has been featured three times in the "Best Food Writing" anthology.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a single man living alone, and I saw this book recommend by Men' Health. So I picked it up, not doing enough research, admittedly. I assumed this book would be filled with more...conventional types of food? Don't know how to word it, but for example this book has an entire section devoted to tacos, and yet there is not one recipe for a beef taco! If you like a catfish taco though, he has it for you. Some of the dishes can be altered, but than that kinda isn't the point of a cook book...

The bottom line is I thought this book was for someone who is new to the kitchen. But really its for someone who is familiar with the kitchen, but bored making the same old thing.

On the plus side Joe Yonan has a small paragraph before each recipe explaining how he came up with them, along with beautiful pictures, and what they mean to him. There are also a few essays through the book where he goes more in depth about his life. Its a nice touch, and those parts are enjoyable to read. He also offers great advice on storing unused ingredients.

Overall only buy this book if you're bored with the same old thing, and consider yourself an adventurous non picky eater. While I'm not picky I just wanted something that would focus more on chicken, and beef with ingredients I could just run out for. I hope this was helpful for someone.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 3:54 Mins
From the smallest kitchen in the world, starring the fattest fingers you've ever seen - making Joe Yonan's Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork from his book, "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One." It's not too hard to make, cooks low and slow for a long time, and it's really, really super-delicious! What you don't eat, you can freeze, and it re-heats very nicely for sandwiches, tacos, or with rice.
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Update July 8, 2013: I have been cooking regularly from this book for almost two years and it is my go-to whether I am at a total loss for what to eat or have a plan for the next few days. I tend to keep staples (sardines, arborio rice, pasta, farro, curry paste, etc.) on hand designed around this book so there are few ingredients for me to buy -- usually just the fresh herbs and veggies when needed. What I cook the most:

Miso Pork on a Sweet Potato
Curried Shrimp on a Sweet Potato
Fideos with Bread Crumbs and Sardines (in the fridge now for lunch!)
Personal Paella with Squid and Scallions
Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork
Homemade Corn Tortillas
Cochinita Pibil Tacos (uses above pork & tortillas)
Chickpea and Spinach Tacos
Mushroom/Chile Caramelized Onion Tacos
Austin-Style Breakfast Tacos (good for any meal IMO).

I almost always double quantities and end up with two or three meals for my efforts, which is a great time saver for the next night's dinner, or money saver for lunch at work (instead of going out).

I love Joe's broiler pizza method as well (I use the Emile Henry rectangular baking stone). However, having tried both the No-Knead Pizza Dough from the book and my go-to pizza dough (from Joy of Cooking), I do have to say I prefer the latter. I like to knead, and I usually don't plan far enough ahead to make the No-Knead Pizza Dough the night before, or thaw it out once frozen. So, I can make the Joy of Cooking one same day, but later (shorter rise) and it works with either quick rise or regular yeast. It freezes well too, and works on the baking stone in the broiler with any of Joe's pizza recipes.
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His writing is excellent and the advice on downsizing your cooking is well taken. I must say that I have not marked any recipes to try as yet except the tortillas and pizza dough. He's heavy on black beans and corn neither one turns me on. Actually,there's quite a slant towards Southwest tastea The additional text and advice are a good read. And I'm sure as I read more I'll find gems to try and be able to adapt some others to my taste. I've so enjoyed his columns in the Washington Post that I was eager to own the book. It's not daunting in size and the price is reasonable.
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Too many "cooking for one" books miss the point. I went in the kitchen, cooked and was not disappointed with the results. Instructions for leftovers are specific. My hard earned money was not wasted on this delightful, delicious cookbook. Kudos to the author for recognizing a specific need and addressing a problem for singles living alone. How about a sequel?? I'll buy it!!
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Format: Paperback
While I've only had this cookbook for a short time, I have already cooked multiple recipes from it and feel comfortable adding my review. Everything so far that I have made (no-knead pizza dough, kimchi, ham, and fried egg pizza, korean short rib tacos, chocolate no-bake cookies, yucatan-style slow-roasted pork, home-cooked beans, ex-texas salad), has been delicious and, more importantly, interesting.

Too often cookbooks just slightly "tweak" basic recipes and you are left feeling like you just bought a cookbook identical to one that you already own. With Serve Yourself, however, I really felt like there were some interesting new ideas. My husband was overly skeptical of kimchi on pizza (and he loves kimchi), but he agreed that it was absolutely delicious and a great new way to use a refrigerator staple. The addition of sesame oil at the end, too, was a perfect finishing touch -- it added just a bit more of that rounded mouthfeel you need when there isn't a sauce. (I should admit, though, that I substituted pancetta for ham).

I also really enjoy Joe Yonan's intros to his recipes and chapters. Being a food-writer at the Washington Post must help, as he is really able to put his feelings and inspirations for a dish forth in a way that completely captivates you, and makes you really excited to try the recipes. And, at the end, I just wanted to hug him after reading his essay on cooking (or not-cooking) for two! :o)
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