Serve Yourself - Cookbook Review
Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
By Joe Yonan
(Ten Speed Press, 2011)
Being single doesn't mean every meal is eaten out of a pizza box or Chinese takeout container.
Washington Post food & travel editor and James Beard Award winner Joe Yonan has been fighting that
cliché of the bachelor diet with his column "Cooking for One," and he's continuing that culinary crusade
with a cookbook: Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One.
Yonan starts off with recipes for sauces and condiments (herbed lemon confit, cabbage and pear
kimchi) that can be used to enhance everyday dishes, then continues with chapters on eggs, beans
and vegetables, proteins, tacos, pizzas, sandwiches, and rice and pastas. Many of the single-serving
dishes reflect his Texas roots, but some of the more interesting recipes take inspiration from across the
globe, including Asia (miso macaroni and cheese with mushrooms) and Polynesia (curried shrimp on a
sweet potato). Yonan equates living well with eating well — and that must include dessert. However, he
mostly keeps things light and fuss-free with yogurt parfaits and fruit tarts whipped up with frozen puff
Yonan knows convenience is key to getting the solo cook into the kitchen, so his meals are fairly fast
and simple, but still flavorful thanks to bold spices and fresh ingredients. His tips on freezing and
properly storing leftover ingredients are particularly useful, especially considering that many of his
recipes build upon each other. Once you've prepared a sweet potato soup base, he offers versatile
serving suggestions such as brightening it up with fresh orange juice or giving it a kick with spicy chorizo,
chickpeas and kale.
After working through this cookbook, home chefs are likely to ask themselves: "Now, how do I multiply
this for a dinner party?" After all, some things are just too good to keep to yourself.
Reviewed by Becky Sauer