Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $5.87 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One Paperback – March 29, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
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
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
Those of us who are single know the challenges of keeping ourselves fed. You have few choices: 1) eat out / take out; 2) make a traditional 4+-serving recipe and figure out how you’re going to store and consume the leftovers over the next days without getting sick of it; or 3) create simple single-serving dishes usually consisting of a chicken breast or a pork chop or a small steak plus a side dish or two (salad, perhaps, or some vegetable dish). If you’ve been cooking awhile, you’ve probably figured out how to take a larger recipe and reduce the ingredients and prep/cooking times to make just a couple of servings. But still — it can be a royal pain.
That’s why I so appreciate books like “Serve Yourself” — someone has gone to the trouble of adjusting ingredients/measurements ahead of time so that you’re cooking ONLY a couple of servings of something. And when you get a creative author like Washington Post food columnist, Joe Yonan, you get some really creative dishes that aren’t just trimmed-down versions of other larger-yield recipes.
Cooking is a skill that seems to scare a lot of people. But Yonan’s style of writing makes it a lot more approachable and accessible. As he says, “Cooking for yourself doesn’t need to feel like a chore …” He has filled the book with fairly simple, but flavorful, recipes that are simple enough that a beginning cook should be able to handle them. Yes, you need a few basic kitchen survival skills (how to turn on the oven, how to work a mixer, the difference between “stir” and “whip,” etc.). For more experienced cooks, you’ll find the recipes imaginative enough to keep your interest.
I purchased the Kindle edition, and use the Kindle apps on my laptop and iPad. The formatting is fine for this book — no obvious hiccups. There are few pictures, so if you need a lot of visuals, you’re out of luck with this one. Colored ink is used to offset introductory text and some recipe highlights. So no problems at all with the Kindle layout and flow. The recipes are interspersed with anecdotes and essays that add a personal touch without distracting from the book’s primary purpose.
The entire first chapter consists of recipes for various sauces, condiments, and pickles that are used throughout the book. Things like Mulled Wine Syrup, Parsley Garlic Dressing, Cilantro Vinaigrette — these are not tricky or difficult at all, but you will need them as you’re working through the rest of the book.
My usual practice when I review a cookbook is to prepare 3 recipes to check for clarity of instructions and availability of ingredients. I live in a smallish university town in northwest Washington state, and while we do have a few ethnic markets and a few supermarket chains (one national, one regional, and one local), it’s not quite the same as living in a larger city like Seattle. Still, I had no real problem finding ingredients.
So here’s my three from Serve Yourself:
1. Spicy Glazed Mini Meatloaf
I love a good meatloaf, so I’m always curious to see any new twists. This one uses a homemade “Blackened Salsa” — basically your usual salsa ingredients (jalapeños, tomatoes, shallots, garlic), roasted in a hot oven until blackened, then processed in a food processor with some red wine vinegar & a little salt until chunky.
This recipe actually produces a larger amount: 4 servings, three of which you're instructed to freeze before cooking. It uses 1 lb of lean ground beef and the usual meatloaf add-ins: bread crumbs and egg, plus some fresh parsley and Dijon mustard. The ONLY changes I made to this recipe were in the serving sizes — recipe is for 4 servings — I made 3 mini meatloaves -- and the baking pan — recipe says to use four 4- to 5-oz ramekins; I used a jumbo muffin tin. Also I baked all three servings at the same time, then froze two of them for reheating later.
The addition of the Blackened Salsa makes this recipe different — it has a smoky spiciness that I really liked. I served it with a fresh corn and black bean salad, with a little more of the Blackened Salsa mixed in. Super yummy!
2. Wine-Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Prunes, and Almonds
I’m with the author on this point: skinless boneless chicken breasts are pretty boring - he calls them the “tofu of meats.” I use a lot more chicken thighs in my cooking primarily because the flavor is so … well … “chicken-y.” This particular recipe uses chicken thighs (two small bone-in skinless), garlic, large green olives (pitted), pitted prunes, and red wine, with a little garlic, olive oil, and butter. Very straightforward EASY recipe. You brown the chicken, then pour in the wine, olives and prunes, cover tightly, and let it simmer until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees (takes about 12-15 minutes). Take out the chicken, reduce the sauce (with the olives & prunes), and then pour over the chicken. Top with almonds.
Easy, tasty, quick fix. I usually have pitted sliced green olives on hand anyway, and the only thing I needed to purchase was a small package of prunes. I had the chicken in the freezer, so it was simply a matter of remembering to get the chicken out to thaw. This is a keeper.
3. Austin-Style Breakfast Tacos
Having made the Blackened Salsa (for the meatloaf recipe), I had some left over so this breakfast taco recipe was a natural. It uses a small potato (last CSA delivery had some really nice red bliss potatoes this week), eggs, chorizo (I keep this in the freezer most of the time), flour tortillas, cheese, and the Blackened Salsa. You nuke the potato in the microwave, chop, and then brown with the sausage. Cook the eggs, heat the tortillas, and pile on, adding the cheese and salsa. Another easy one, and infinitely customizable. Again, the blackened salsa makes this special.
So there it is. Three relatively easy recipes that don’t produce massive leftovers. Tasty, too.
I will say that there are a number of recipes in this book that just don’t appeal to me — some are just to “fussy” (not difficult, but just … well, flavors that are not that interesting to me). Still, there are enough that are tempting so that I can give this a solid 4 stars — I like it.
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.