- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: America's Test Kitchen; Gift edition (November 28, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1945256060
- ISBN-13: 978-1945256066
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.3 x 10.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,095 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook, Gift Edition: 650 Recipes for Everything You'll Ever Want to Make Hardcover – November 28, 2017
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Cook well, and eat well, on your terms
If you even occasionally cook for two people, then you know how challenging it can be to find smaller scale recipes, let alone an entire collection of them. For years the test kitchen didn’t take this subset of cooking seriously—after all, it seemed like an easy adaptation of most any recipe. But, after receiving literally hundreds of requests, we went into the kitchen and discovered that cooking for two is a lot more complicated than dividing by two. It’s truly a whole new way of cooking.
“The go-to gift book for newlyweds, small families or empty nesters. From breakfast to dinner, sides to desserts, the comprehensive cookbook has more than 650 recipes scaled down for two.” - Orlando Sentinel
It took America’s most trusted test kitchen to develop a for-two cookbook that is equal parts guaranteed-to-work recipes, innovative cooking strategies, and time-honed kitchen expertise. We believe The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook Gift Edition will be an invaluable all-purpose resource:
- Empty Nesters
- Recent Grads
- Small families
Lasagna that Won’t Wear Out Its Welcome
We redesign our recipe to serve two by trading a baking pan for a loaf pan. A few ingredients added to the sauce gives us a velvety texture reminiscent of a Bolognese sauce, meatloaf mix (a combination of ground beef, veal, and pork) adds more flavor and richness than ground beef alone, and no-boil lasagna noodles were a timesaver and fit neatly into the pan.
Single Skillet Feast for Two
There’s nothing more satisfying than fork-tender beef slow-roasted with creamy potatoes and sweet carrots. But when you’re cooking for two, you want all that, and less (less meat than called for in a classic pot roast recipe, and less prep and cleanup, too). We found top blade steak to be a very tender and richly flavored cut of meat that’s well suited to pot roasting; it has plenty of collagen to break down and add flavor during cooking.
Just the Right Number of Freshly Baked Cookies
Our favorite recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies yields 24 cookies—far too many even for a pair of die-hard cookie fans. We wanted a recipe for 12 cookies, and we wanted it to be quick and convenient. Our secret? Melted butter gives the cookies a chewy texture and enables us to easily stir our ingredients by hand (no lugging out the electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar).
Greek-Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches
We wanted restaurant-style Greek gyros—slices of shaved, marinated lamb, tomato slices, crisp lettuce, and cooling cucumber-yogurt sauce stuffed inside a soft pita—that we could make at home. Rather than the traditional shaved slices of meat from a vertical rotisserie, we pan-fried ground lamb patties flavored with mint, onion, and minced garlic.
About the Author
America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for its top-rated television shows with more than 4 million weekly public television viewers, bestselling cookbooks, magazines, websites, and cooking school. The highly reputable and recognizable brands of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country are the work of over 60 passionate chefs based in Boston, Massachusetts, who put ingredients, cookware, equipment, and recipes through objective, rigorous testing to identify the very best. Discover, learn, and expand your cooking repertoire with Julia Collin Davison, Bridget Lancaster, Jack Bishop, Dan Souza, Lisa McManus, Tucker Shaw, Bryan Roof, and our fabulous team of test cooks!
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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.
I've now lost 65 lbs since I wrote this review! I'm still using this cookbook regularly. It's a great reference for cutting down their other recipes. I am such a fan of their cookbooks, I've managed to pick up a few more. I highly recommend Make Ahead Cook, One Pan Wonders, and Cook It In Cast Iron, all of these are pretty easy to scale down. If I'm not sure the best way to halve something or the recipe seems too labor intensive I just refer to a similar recipe in this one. When scaling down the Dutch Oven recipes, I use a half sized dutch oven (3 qt).
I recently purchased a Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven and switched from non-stick skillets to using Lodge cast iron skillets with loop handles (instead of long handles) so they fit in the smaller oven easily. If you do a lot of smaller scale cooking, I highly recommend this appliance. While it only fits up to a quarter sheet pan, I was already using a quarter sheet pan for most of the recipes in this book.
Probably my most made recipe in this book is the "Ravioli with Meat Sauce" recipe. I use Barilla dried cheese tortellini with no other adjustments, and just cover the pan for the recommended cooking time in the recipe.
My main complaint is that I run into a recipe here and there that is literally a normal recipe cut in half. Also the serving sizes are a bit all over the map. Some recipes really do serve 2 while others can feed 4. I usually assume I'll get 3-4 servings out of the recipes and just plan on an extra side for the ones I know make less (like the Teriyaki Steak Tips).
Another thing I wish they'd have included is scaling down on grilling. I have an 18" Weber Jumbo Joe because for 2 people it makes no sense to use a full size 24" grill. The recipes in the Grilling chapter work great on my smaller grill but the charcoal amounts didn't. Cook's Country only recently published an article discussing this, they suggest scaling the number of briquettes down by 25%. They also recommend putting water in a large (7x5ish) loaf pan instead of the 13x9 pan, and reducing the water by 25% (but keep the amount of wood chips the same). I still use a full sized chimney starter but for 2 people it just makes sense to have a smaller setup and use less briquettes. Hopefully a future version of this cookbook will have a better grilling section!!
Finally after using the book so much, it's fallen apart. I wish they made a spiral bound version with waterproof pages!
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!!!
Update Feb 2018:
Still using the book, still cooking for two. That boyfriend in my initial review has since become my husband. I guess he must have liked all my cooking enough to put a ring on it ;) The reference charts in this book especially continue to be helpful.
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.