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Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One Paperback – March 29, 2011
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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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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
Serve Yourself's recipes cover the spectrum from super-easy, I'm-too-tired-to-wield-a-knife meals to the kind that make you fall in love with a seasoning you've never heard of. Bonus: Condiments that allow you to deal with a big pile of veggies at a time. I'm addicted to the 12-Hour Tomatoes and Blackened Salsa, and the Salsa Verde is the best I've ever had.
The follow-up, Eat Your Vegetables, is just as good. Both are filled with great advice, personal stories behind the recipes, and plenty of reasons to hit the farmer's market.
There are a few recipes in this book that make larger portions, but the second portion is then used to make a different meal later in the week.
Joe Yonan's writing style is very personable and the pictures in the book are great. The instructions are clear, the ingredient lists are not intimidating and the recipes are realistic for weeknight meals.
There is a very nice assortment of flavors, cooking techniques, and variety of meals.
If you are bachin' it; if you are single and don't have many or any cookbooks; if you are just starting out in your first apartment and want to cook for yourself--this a great cookbook choice!
I'd list favorite recipes that we've tried, but there is a very nice "Look Inside" feature for this book. You should check it out.
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