Customer Reviews: Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
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on September 22, 2012
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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on April 20, 2011
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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on August 8, 2011
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.

All that being said, if you do plan ahead well and prefer not to knead, the No-Knead Pizza Dough should produce good results for you. I tend to let this dough hang out on the stone for a minute or two under the broiler BEFORE adding the toppings (in the order Joe specifies). Could just be my oven, but this gave me a crisper, more done crust than otherwise. YMMV, etc.

Finally, having made almost every other recipe in the book, there wasn't anything I wouldn't make again -- just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Original Review Follows:

I am married but due to different schedules and tastes, I often cook for just myself. My previous strategy had been to use standard recipes and halve them and/or cook things that were designed to be made ahead/improve with age (lasagna, etc.) This got boring fast (or involved ever-more complex and time-consuming variations on the same themes) and I could never fully resolve the potential for wasting ingredients, or leftovers.

But no more. This is not just a book of scaled-down recipes. It is a complete system to cook for yourself (or for two), including tips for making your fresh ingredients last longer, portioning and freezing dishes (the Home-Cooked Beans for example), and dishes that can be used in other recipes or in your own culinary adventures (such as the 12 Hour Tomatoes).

I made my first dinner from it last night (Miso Pork on a Sweet Potato), and it was super easy and delicious. The faster method of microwaving the potato before baking worked like a charm, with no deficit in flavor or texture. I doubled the recipe so I could bake another potato later this week and just reheat the topping. I am making the Home-Cooked Beans for the Peasant Bowl later this week.

I love this book; I would happily make and eat anything from it, as written (says the girl who has never met a recipe she couldn't modify)and recommend it to others. The writing is inviting, friendly and inspiring.
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on April 9, 2011
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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on July 1, 2011
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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on July 7, 2011
I enjoyed this cookbook on several levels. 1. has great pics...I am a visual person and need to see what the food should look like at the end. 2. the stories....I believe that every recipe is a story about a person and a time; they are bits of our living history. 3. Clarity...each recipe is clear and easy to read therefore easy to do. 4. the recipes are slightly gormet, but very doable; I dislike recipes that use canned soup or processed items to create a meal, the recipes in this book are very real.

I loved his essay's in the book. I am a new farmer with a huge learning curve, one of our adventure will be to slaughter our own chickens. So his essay about his adventure was timely.

My husband and I are standing on the brink of empety nesting. We have three teenagers (one will turn 20 this week) and they are out with their friends more than at home. On the weekends I am cooking more and more for just hubby and I. So this cook book is perfect...but if everyone is at home then I just triple the recipe-no big deal.
I highly recommend this book as a go too resource. Glad I bought it.
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on April 21, 2011
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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on March 31, 2011
I downloaded this book today and can't stop bookmarking pages. While Joe Yonan offers up sound advice for cooking for one, the advice is equally helpful when cooking for two. Nice, contemporary recipes, fresh tastes and delightful writing. I've planned a week of menus from this book and can't wait to start cooking.
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on November 25, 2011
I made the meatloaf recipe as soon as the book arrived (it was delicious), and then went through it page by page earmarking the recipes I wanted to try. My book is now totally deformed by turned down corners, but if my first trial is any indication, I shall enjoy trying out all of them.
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on June 8, 2011
Nice little cookbook with great tips for the single (or even duo) cook. Many of the flavors come from different cultures/geographies ... which gives you ideas for avoiding the dreaded Monday (meatless), Tuesday (burgers), Wednesday (salad), Thursday (pasta), Friday (fish), Saturday (eat out) and Sunday (at my Aunt's house for pasta) -- monotony!!!
Joe also is very sensitive to making recipes healthier (e.g., replacing heavy cream with unflavored greek yogurt to reduce fat). Not a simple task, especially if you're single and making a 2000 Calorie Turkey Tetrazzini comfort meal ...

One quibble.
The Kindle edition costs more than the book..??!!? and *without* color pictures??>>>!
You gotta be kidding me.
Fix It!
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