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Serve Yourself - Cookbook Review

Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One

By Joe Yonan

(Ten Speed Press, 2011)

Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan, a guide to cooking meals for one person

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 pastry.

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

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