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The Pleasures of Cooking for One Hardcover – September 29, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From The Pleasures of Cooking for One: Boeuf Bourguignon

Make this rich stew on a leisurely weekend. You’ll probably get a good three meals out of it, if you follow some of the suggestions below. When buying stew meat at a supermarket, you don’t always know what you are getting, so ask the butcher. If it’s a lean meat, it will need less time cooking (in fact, it will be ruined if you cook it too long), but the fattier cuts can benefit from at least another half hour. --Judith Jones


  • 2 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces, preferably a chunk cut into little dice
  • About 1 1/4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 carrot, thick end, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Herb packet of 1/2 bay leaf; a fat garlic clove, smashed; a small handful of parsley stems; 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme; 4 or 5 peppercorns 

For Vegetable Garnish

  • 3 or 4 baby onions, or four 1-inch pieces of leek
  • 3 or 4 baby carrots, or the thin ends of larger ones, peeled
  • 2 or 3 small new potatoes
  • Directions

    Brown the bacon in a heavy pot, fairly deep but not too large. When it has released its fat and is lightly browned, remove it to a dish, leaving the fat in the pan. Pat the pieces of beef dry with a paper towel. Pour the oil into the pot, and when it is hot, brown half the pieces of beef on all sides. Remove to the plate with the bacon, and brown the remaining pieces. Now sauté the onion and the carrot until they are lightly browned. Return the meats to the pot, sprinkle on the flour and some salt, and pour the wine and beef stock in. Tuck the herb packet into the pot, and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a lively simmer for about 1 hour or more, depending on the cut of the meat. Bite into a piece to determine if it is almost done (it will get another 20 minutes or so of cooking with the vegetables).

    When the time is right, add all the vegetables, cover, and cook at a lively simmer again for 20–25 minutes--pierce the veggies to see if they are tender. Serve yourself four or five chunks of meat, with all the vegetables, and a good French bread to mop up the sauce.

    Second Round

    Use three or four pieces and some of the remaining sauce to make a quick Beef and Kidney Pie (page 34 of The Pleasures of Cooking for One) later in the week. The recipe follows Veal Kidneys in Mustard Sauce because you want to use the leftover kidneys to put this dish together.

    Third Round

    Use what remains to make a meaty pasta sauce for one, breaking up the meat and adding three or four squeezed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Simmer the sauce as the pasta cooks.

    (Judith Jones photo © Christopher Hirsheimer)

From Publishers Weekly

Longtime Knopf editor and executive Jones follows up her recent food memoir with this civilized, unfussy guide to cooking—and cooking well—for solitary diners, for those... who want to roll up [their] sleeves and enjoy, from day to day, one of the great satisfactions of life. Forming and revising cooking strategy is a cornerstone of her digressive, folksy approach, so she provides lists of equipment deemed essential, suggestions for dealing with packaging that coerces individuals into buying—and then wasting—more than necessary, and tips for storing spoilage-prone foods. Her other key to enjoying cooking—while reducing the costs of eating—is flexibility. She shares her personal credo about culinary language and exactness, and with many protein-based dishes includes ideas for variations and second and third rounds, as she refers to leftovers. She doesn't skip desserts, entertaining or self-indulgence, and best of all, her whole book benefits from the diverse and cumulative gleanings of work with many of the great cooks and cookbook writers (including Julia Child, of course) of the latter half of the 20th century. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Fourth Printing edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307270726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307270726
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Example Ingredients

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have several other "cooking for 1" cookbooks and have found many good recipes there. But this is the cookbook I've been waiting for. Ms. Jones has shown me how to take ingredients that cannot be purchased in small quantities and re-use these imaginatively to create entirely different meals.

For example, a pork tenderloin becomes a small roast, scallopine, a gratinate, hash, and stir fry. Her examples have encouraged me to improvise myself. I can envisage a BBQ pork sandwich, a pasty with leftover pork tenderloin, skirt steak and potatoes.

She encourages playing with the recipes to create a meal exactly to your own tastes. Several of her recipes also include vegetable substitution recommendations allowing for seasonal meals. Or, if you're like me and can't stand a particular vegetable then you can swap it for something more palatable.

This cookbook creates a solid foundation for enabling a cook's creativity. Highly recommended.
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By D. G. C. on October 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is absolutely perfect for anyone who finds themselves cooking for one or two people. Not only are the recipes absolutely wonderful, the recipes for using left-overs are also great. Jones shows you how to shop, stock your pantry and freezer, and make wonderful meals for yourself that don't take forever yet taste like they did. I have over 50 cookbooks, and this is the one I find myself turning to again and again for my daily meals. This is real food - no processed shortcuts, no sacrifices. If you like to cook but think its too much trouble for just one person, get this book and you will have fun in the kitchen again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Judith Jones is truly "having a moment," which is a wonderful thing. This new book is sort of an offshoot of her earlier memoir, which had a short but terrific recipe section. It is a sublime book--thoughtfully designed, detailed but not pedantic, practical, accessible, utterly personal, and completely charming. I'm not sure there is another book out there like this one, which takes us shopping and then into the kitchen to make the most of both common items and ingredients or dishes it might never have occurred to us to try. I can't wait to try most all of them. Of course, a little simple math will ratchet up a recipe for 1-2 to a recipe for 3-4 and so on--so this is absolutely a book for all cooks. The author does, however, sympathize with the plight of the single shopper and eater--supermarkets usually work to package more than we can possibly eat at one sitting. Short of a perpetual dinner party, what is the solution? Stretch the goodies over two or three completely different meals (trust me, this is NOT the same thing as just having leftovers). The title says it all--cooking for one should be every bit as pleasurable as cooking for others--maybe better, as the gaffes become your little secrets (and they are no less tasty). I would add that although the book is beautifully printed on high-quality stock and will make a truly fine gift (I do not work for the publisher--honest), it's no coffee table book. The size is perfect--it'll fit on the counter easily, although you might want one of those stand-up plastic stands to keep it open (and protect it, if that's important to you). All in all, one of the most thoughtful and user-friendly cookbooks I've ever encountered. I read it cover-to-cover, like a novel. Next I'm going shopping.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. It is practical and concrete, and addresses my main problem in the kitchen: how to cook for one without either boring myself to tears eating the same leftovers for a week, or wasting food by letting it rot in the 'fridge while I get take-out because I crave variety.

The book reads like a relaxed conversation with an experienced home cook who is generously sharing her expertise. It's not just about cooking, it's about meal planning - how to use the leftovers from one meal to make something completely different and delicious the next night. Intermixed in there are some great traditional recipes that teach classic cooking techniques. Some of these I knew, but some I didn't.

I love that it's not just a bunch of fussy recipes where everything has to be measured exactly. She doesn't have you jamming fresh herbs in a tablespoon. She suggests a splash of this, a pinch of that. She encourages creativity and ingredient substitutions. She's not just giving you recipes to follow, she's teaching you how to think like she does - how to solve the problem of meal planning and cooking for one.

There's another subtle message in this book that's very important: the self-respect implicit in this fundamental form of self-care. This jumped out at me because I help people with emotional eating, and so much of emotional eating comes from lack of self-care, from feeling you don't deserve your own time and energy. She talks about this in the introduction, where she lists the reasons that people don't make nice meals for themselves: "Yes, I like to cook, they say, but I like to cook for OTHERS, to give my friends pleasure. Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me?
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