on April 11, 2014
I just got this cookbook last week. I have already used it to make two recipes (the roasted garlic shrimp pasta with feta and the whole wheat rotini with bacon and brussels sprouts). Both were excellent.
There are some things I really like about this cookbook. First off, many of these recipes are scaled down version of ATK recipes. This is convenient for a college student like me. Also, when ATK scales recipes it isn't simply reduce every ingredient by 1/2 or 1/3; ATK will make substitutes to more convenient products that make sense for two people. This is the case with many stews. Instead of requiring a readers to find a 2lb chuck roast (not easy) they will substitute steak tips.
I also enjoy that this is a complete cookbook. This means that the cookbook features a wide variety of dishes for almost any occasion (breakfast, dinner, lunch, dessert, holidays, and even some ethnic). After reading the cookbook I am grateful for some of the designations provided by the editor. Certain recipes are indicated as light or fast to prepare. I have a feeling that I will be turning to these recipes in the future when I don't know what to cook.
I received this cookbook as a birthday gift. I had never really considered recipes for two since the offerings are so limited, but since there are 650 very usable recipes I am excited to be using this cookbook for many years to come. As a single college student I find that cooking for two is a nice way to enjoy a hot meal and have the right amount of leftovers for lunch the following day. This is the perfect solution for those who are struggling to cook for anything less than a large family.
I see so many reviewers have gone into great depth to describe all the wonderful features of this outstanding Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook. I join them in singing their praises! As a Cook's Illustrated junky who has been following Cook's and Chris Kimball since they began in the early 90's, (and have probably 20 of their books), I consider this book one of my very favorites! They took some of the very best recipes and scaled them down for two. Perfect! I usually end up cooking more than we need. I guess years of cooking for a family of four has wired my brain that way, so this book is a real helper since there is now just two of us. We have certainly enough to eat and a little more by the standard portions for two in this book, and have enjoyed many excellent recipes.
The book has so many great useful features. One that I especially love and find extremely useful is the recipe tagging symbol system for "Light" and "Fast" recipes. Some recipes are both light and fast as well. "Light" symbol has a yellowish color and "Fast" has a red color. If you just thumb through the book you will see the symbols next to some of the recipe titles which qualify. Or, you can look in the back to the Table of Contents where you will see the colored symbols next to the titles as well. So,...if you are in a hurry and want to find something "Fast AND Light" for dinner that night, you can simply take a quick trip to the Table of Contents and find those recipe choices quickly by the colored tags. I like the way Cook's set the book up with the mix of light, fast, light and fast, and the more "sinful" recipes together in each section verses separating the categories into separate sections.
Note: For the really health conscious there is a Nutritional Information chart for the light recipes that are tagged throughout the book.
In the usual Cook's Illustrated fashion, there are tips and tricks scattered throughout the entire cook book. I have learned SO much from Cook's Illustrated. Basically I learned how to become a good cook :)
In the front of the book there is a section on "Kitchen Essentials Everyone Needs." This is a GREAT list, and it also recommends their favorite pics over to the right of the items. If you are not familiar with Cook's, they do brand testing such as test 12 toasters and pic the one they think is best. I have purchased many of these brands in my kitchen that they've recommended through the years. Most of their recommendations have been spot on other than a couple of durability issues I had with a couple of their suggestions I purchased. So if you are just starting out and need to set up your kitchen this is a big plus and could save you money and headache in the long run.
Another list I appreciate is the "Emergency Substitution" list. For instance, ..no dark brown sugar? Use 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 Tablespoons Molasses. Or, the "Ten Things you Didn't Know You Could Freeze" list. Did you know you can freeze wine in ice cube trays for those recipes that call for a little wine so you don't have to open a whole bottle?
Recipes I have made:
Chicken Saltimbocca: Fabulous.
Chicken Tikki Masala: Fabulous.
Chicken Piccata: Fabulous and so simple.
Parmesan and Basil-Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Carrots: Husband went nuts, he loved the carrots too.
Classic Pot roast: Another comfort food winner.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry: So Good! Fast!
Pork Schnitzel: Oh WOW! Served with cabbage, apples, and onion.
Pan Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash: Decadent.
Kung Pao Shrimp: Delicious...you won't feel guilty because it's light. Fast.
Maryland Crab Cakes: To die for...may want to double the recipe. :)
...and I could keep going with the list, there are so many recipes I have made. I can't think of one which my husband and I haven't enjoyed.
To conclude: The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook in my opinion is a jewel of a cook book and I would recommend it for any household where two people reside! It would be a fabulous gift for that young newlywed bride who wants to knock the socks off her new husband, or a great gift for those empty nesters, and singles living alone who don't mind eating a meal of leftovers. I'm going to gift it to my sister this summer who's daughter is going off to college.
The icing on the cake: This is a gorgeous, high quality, heavy, thick and shiny paged , well put together book that's flexible and stays open on the page that I open it to. Every cookbook should do that! I much prefer this style over the hard cover books because it's much more functional in the kitchen when you're using the book.
on September 22, 2015
I have been a home cook for YEARS. I have often cooked full Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for family and friends. I bake several times a week (breads, cookies, muffins, pies) and I consider myself a pretty decent cook, baker, and at the grill as well. Love this cookbook for several reasons. They recognize that cooking for two is very common these days- as there many types of families beyond the nuclear (like it or not, it is a fact). Young couples who live without children, single parents, empty nesters, divorcees, or even those who live alone. Cutting a recipe in half isn't always as easy as it sounds. Buying in bulk isn't always the best option, especially when it leads to waste. ATK has made this book with exactly all that in mind. They included everything for small portions (see pic of index attached).
I have cooked at least a dozen things from this book including main, sides, and desserts. Most have been wonderful recipes, only one did I think "I could improve that". This book would benefit both the novice and be enjoyed by a seasoned chef.
How it helps the novice, includes: How to store leftovers/extra unprepared food, food/emergency substitutions, how to put leftover ingredients into other meals, essential kitchen tools, ingredient prep. Actually, I learned a lot from these sections, as well.
Recipes are easy to follow and taste great. Since its just me (and I will often cook for a friend or my boyfriend), I will have leftovers for one or two meals, and that is perfect, instead of having the same leftovers for days, or having a freezer full of leftovers I forget about. This has become my absolute favorite cookbook... dare I say even more so than my Ina Garten cookbook!! 😁 I often look forward to cooking recipes from this book. The only cookbook I have ever enjoyed sitting down and reading was Ina's. And then I bought THIS. LOVE IT!!!
on June 14, 2015
This cookbook was fantastic. I found numerous recipes that were perfect for cooking for myself. I absolutely loved this cookbook. There was only a small handful of recipes that I wouldn't make for myself.
ETA (06/14/15) As I go deeper into this cookbook, my 5 star rating just keeps getting more solid. As someone who is really starting to watch calories, log foods/drinks and all that good stuff, there are not only plenty of light recipes, but the nutritional information to boot. I have made well over a dozen recipes from this book and the recipes are solid, tasty and easy to prep. Very cool after a hard day's work that I can eat healthy and quickly. Furthermore, this cookbook has prompted me try new foods/dishes, particularly in the seafood area. For example, I loathed salmon prior to getting this cookbook. I regularly make salmon now. Pictured is Salmon with Fresh Tomato Relish. YUM!
If I had one criticism of this book, it would be that all the recipes don't have the nutritional information attached. I don't "eat light" everyday and it is really a pain in the rear end to try to figure it out and I probably am doing it wrong anyway.
America's Test Kitchen always provides the best recipes and cooking/baking advice whether in cookbook or on their PBS television series. Their recommendations are true to form, and I have every cookbook they have written. Now, we come to one of the best. This is touted as a Cookbook For Two, and it delivers. I can see this as a wonderful Wedding Shower gift or for anyone who is cooking for one or two.
This cookbook has 650 Recipes for everything you might want to make. America's Test Kitchen has reengineered 650 of their best recipes to serve just two. Over the years they have discovered that scaling down a recipe isn't as simple as cutting the ingredients in half--cooking times, temperatures, and equipment need to be adapted as well. This cookbook takes the guesswork out of cooking for two so you can be sure that anything you want to make, will come out right every time. 150 recipes can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. For those times when you want healthier fare, there are more than 100 recipes labeled "Light" each with nutritional information listed in an easy-to-read chart in the back of the book. And there are chapters on for-two slow cooking, grilling, and baking pies, quick breads, cakes, and cookies. A 25-page manual teaches the basics of cooking for two, including shopping strategies to reduce waste, smart storage tricks help extend freshness of key ingredients, and our picks for the most useful kitchen equipment for any two-person household.
In looking at the recipes, I want to make everyone. We start with Soups and Chowders; Stews, Curries and Chilis; Side Salads and Dinner Salads; Burgers, Sandwiches, Pizza and More; Chicken; Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Fish and Shellfish; Vegetarian Mains; Pasta and Asian Noodle Dishes; Grilling; Slow Cooker Favorites; Vegetable Side Dishes; Rice, Grain, and Beans; Eggs and Breakfasts; Quick Breads; Fruit Desserts, Pies, and Tarts; and ending with Cookies, Cakes and Custards. Nutritional Information for the Light dishes are listed, Conversions and Equivalences, and the Index finishes this 440 page cookbook. With over 500 color photographs, it is very impressive.
This may be one of the best cookbooks I have seen.
Fudgy Brownies For Two
Makes 8 brownies
Everyone loves brownies, but a full pan of brownies for two is way too much for even the most ardent brownie lovers. To scale back our batch of fudgy brownies, we ditched the large baking dish in favor of a loaf pan, which made just eight brownies--perfect for two people to enjoy over a few days. Two types of chocolate--semisweet chocolate and cocoa powder--gave us plenty of fudgy flavor.
To make our batter easy to mix by hand, we melted the semisweet chocolate quickly in the microwave. A whole egg plus an extra yolk made our brownies rich, moist, and chewy. The deep sides of the loaf pan made it hard to cut the brownies neatly, so we lined the pan with a foil sling that allowed us to lift the brownies out in one piece before cutting.
1. Place 2 sheets of aluminum foil perpendicular to each other in loaf pan, pushing foil into corners. Smooth foil flush to pan.
2. Use foil handles to lift baked brownies or bars from pan.
Be careful not to overbake these brownies or they will have a very dry, cakey texture. The test kitchen's preferred loaf pan measures 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make foil sling for 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 8 1/2 inches wide and second sheet should be 4 1/2 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate, butter, and cocoa in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 1 to 3 minutes; let cool slightly. Whisk sugar, egg and yolk, vanilla, and salt together in medium bowl until combined. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in flour with rubber spatula until just combined.
3. Transfer batter to prepared pan; spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 24 to 28 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let brownies cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan using foil, loosening sides with paring knife, if needed. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Brownies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
Highly Recommended. prisrob 04-04-14
on March 22, 2014
We have been cooking from these recipes for about six months and I would say 90% have been a delicious success. There are cooking or equipment tips on every page which are also very useful. I gave this book to all my married children and they are liking it too. We particularly like reading about how they came to perfect each recipe. Yum!
I am a fan of America's Test Kitchen and own several of their cookbooks, including the 2009 edition of this one, so one of the first things I did was check for duplication and sure enough, there were some duplicated recipes. Happily, there aren't enough repeats for that to be the deciding factor, though, since there are many other advantages to this new edition. This one is much larger, and I love that there is an entire chapter devoted to learning to cook for two, including how to shop, make emergency substitutions, put leftovers to work, and choose equipment that is handier for scaled-down results.
The index has a key that shows which recipes are rated "fast" and which are "light." On my way home from a tiring shopping trip right after I got this book, I passed a sign in a farmyard: Fresh Asparagus. When I got it home, I was happy to identify a quick recipe, pan roasted asparagus with toasted garlic and parmesan. YUM!
I have also made the almond granola with dried fruit, which uses a simple compress and bake technique that relieves you of the need to stir the granola while baking. It was a little too crisp for my taste, but I think I can remedy that next time by trimming a minute or so off the baking time. The flavor was very good.
I couldn't resist trying the prime rib for two, which makes use of a rib eye steak. It was very good and we enjoyed the novelty of creating a prime rib for two. The accompanying pan sauce was delicious. Honestly, though, considering the ease of simply grilling or broiling a nice rib eye, I'm not sure I'd repeat this one. The pot roast recipe, on the other hand, was amazingly good and well worth the effort!
If you're a baker, you know that altering baking recipes can get tricky. The dessert recipes and quick bread chapters are among my favorites, with things such as carrot cake for two and a recipe that produces four cupcakes. The raspberry-nectarine pie is at the top of my list for the next one I'll try.
There are also chapters for slow cookers and for grilling, two things that always seem to assume you're feeding a crowd. Again, it's nice to have lots of suggestions for using these methods with smaller quantities.
I do wish it had a table of contents that listed each recipe instead of just the chapter names, which would make browsing much easier. The index is very thorough, but it works best if you either know what recipe you're looking for or already have ingredients you want to use. I often browse a cookbook and choose the recipe first, then buy the ingredients I'll need. I also think they should have included nutrition info for all of the recipes, not just the "light" ones. [NOTE: Another user has mentioned that the final edition of the book does list each recipe at the beginning of the chapter, which should be very helpful.]
Whether you're just learning to scale down your cooking for one or two, or if you've done it for a long time, as I have, and need new inspiration, I think you'll like The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.
on September 2, 2015
The recipes are good and they work. Surprisingly, some of the recipes are for new entrees, which is unusual for this publisher. I have a dozen or so of their cookbooks and can often find the same recipe in three or four of them.
That said, the book is physically poorly made. A volume of this size and weight really needs a hard cover, or at least a sewn binding. The cover came off mine during the second use. Lest you think I am hard on books, let me say that I have 24 feet of cook books in shelves. Collected since 1980 and all in good condition.
on April 3, 2016
I got this cookbook for 2 key reasons: 1) so my husband and I could cook together and 2) to learn better, time saving techniques. The benefits I ended up reaping were weight loss and a smaller grocery budget.
I have a couple of the other ATK cookbooks including the Slow Cooker one and Cooking School. After making a few of the recipes, I shelved the cookbooks because we just ended up with too much food. Cutting recipes in half wasn't always practical (and still produced too much food) and sometimes they could be more labor intensive than is worth it for 2 people. And forget about baking, the dessert recipes just made too much and the temptation to eat more than I should was too great.
I didn't want to give up on ATK because their cookbooks have clear instructions and consistent results. With illustrations and a central reference, my husband, who does not cook, is able to help out in the kitchen. I was so happy to discover Cooking For Two!!
Cooking For Two isn't just the regular ATK recipes cut in half or third. They've actually re-engineered their recipes to use smaller cookware and streamlined techniques to minimize appliances and overall number of dirty dishes. There are a number of dishes that start in a skillet and go into the oven, in the skillet, where the larger recipe would require transfer to a baking dish. Probably my number one favorite recipe in this book is the Skillet Pizza. We used to spend about $50 a week on high end takeout pizza. I use store-bought pizza dough and making that recipe actually takes *less* time than ordering takeout. A lot of the recipes using tomato sauce have you make your own by running a can of diced tomatoes in the food processor which is significantly cheaper than buying premium ready-made sauce, and tastes better too. Another one of my favorite recipes uses fresh ravioli or tortellini from the refrigerated section and you cook the pasta in a single skillet with a watery sauce that thickens as the pasta cooks. Again incredibly easy and even faster, and cheaper, than delivery. Every recipe I've tried has taken 15-30 minutes of hands on prep time max and has come out perfectly every time.
I'm watching my calories (I don't do "low fat" or "low calorie" because that's an express ticket to a midnight ice cream binge) and my husband is a light eater. The recipes say they serve 2, for us it's usually 3-4 servings. The regular recipes average about 500-600 calories per ATK-size serving, so even if I do eat a full serving, it's not that big of a deal. And when you're cooking a lasagna in a 9"x 4" bread loaf pan, half of that looks pretty huge. Compare that to a 13" x 9" lasagna pan where a 4" x 4" slice would look pretty measly. Desserts are no longer off the menu for me as I can eat a half serving without having to throw away half a cake (thus removing the temptation to eat too big of a serving). Quick breads are baked in mini-loaf pans, miniature layer cakes are 6" in diameter, cookies are by the dozen, and pies are 6". I love the mini bundt cakes. All of the desserts are easily 4 small servings which don't break my daily calorie bank. And if I'm tempted to overdo it, well, there isn't that much to overdo it on. Breakfast options are also scaled down, for instance to 6 total pancakes (3 servings for us).
Seriously, Cooking for Two does a lot for your portion size perspective. I've already lost almost 20 lbs and cook almost exclusively from this cookbook.
For a household for 2, we used to spend about $1000 a month on food (both groceries and restaurants/takeout). Since using this cookbook, we spend about $500 a month on food including restaurants and takeout.
If you're just one or two people, or even 3, and you want to lose weight, save money, cook really good food from scratch with minimal fuss, and/or make cooking a spending quality time together activity, then I highly recommend this cookbook. It's been a real lifesaver for me.
on April 19, 2014
I have so many cookbooks (an obsession of mine) and was torn between ordering yet another but I justified it with the fact I realized I do not own a cookbook that has recipes for TWO. Intrigued as I was, I clicked the buy-now-with-one-click feature. YES! I did it, a new cookbook was on its way. Then I realized it was not yet out and I'd have to wait about a month before I could received it. Bahhhh....Finally it arrived and I am so happy I purchased it. The Risotto Primavera for two was fabulous and it was done in no time. The Savory Spinach Strudel was a perfect dish to share with my friends along with a glass of wine. The Mediterranean-Style Fish Stew, according to my husband...."honey you knocked it out of the park with the quick simple meal." Oh and the Lentil soup - sooo good. Other than the Mushroom Miso Soup with Shrimp and Udon (I don't keep white miso paste on hand) most every meal I've made are with ingredients I have on hand so I am not having to purchase special products for each recipe. Plain and simple I love this cookbook and plan to give a couple as gifts this Christmas.