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Cookbook review: 'Cooking for One'

A cookbook that offers delicious recipes and successful kitchen strategies for the solo cook.

By Carol RamosThe Pastry Chef's Baking / May 10, 2011

Asparagus salad with crispy prosciutto from "Cooking for One" by Mark Erickson and Lisa Erickson.

The Culinary Institute of America


In their cookbook “Cooking for One,” Mark and Lisa Erickson, a husband and wife team who both graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, postulate that there's no reason people who only cook for one should shortchange themselves on cooking delicious, complete meals.

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Because of their busy schedules, they are also practitioners of “cooking for one” so they know the issues that face busy single cooks: lack of time, lack of enthusiasm for eating the same dish four times in the same week, and the seemingly monumental effort to cook a variety of dishes for one person. They offer more than just recipes to address these issues; they also offer strategies and suggestions to combat the ennui single cooks may face.

The recipes are organized into seasons and at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a listing of all the ingredients best found in that season and the recipes are based on those ingredients. Asparagus is listed as a springtime favorite and is used in Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto* in spring’s chapter. For summer, traditionally a season of fresh fruit and berries, there are accompanying recipes for Baked Fruit Galettes and Blackberry Clafouti. The Ericksons urge cooks to become familiar with what’s in season and shop their local markets for the freshest ingredients to make healthy, satisfying meals.

They also recognize that many single cooks often skip side dishes, soups or salads so they include recipes that enable the single cook to prepare an entire meal that enables them to enjoy a full dining experience. Blackberry Barbecued Pork Tenderloin is accompanied with Sweet Potato Salad and can be followed with Baked Apple with Oatmeal Crunch.

A lot of emphasis is given to mise en place, a common cooking term that essentially means having things at the ready. For the Ericksons, this doesn’t just encompass having your ingredients prepped and chopped at the time you’re cooking. It also means planning your menu and shopping trip ahead of time so you know when you make the Basic Bean recipe for Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce and Mango Salsa, that you also plan to make enough to use for Black Bean Chili later in the same week.

"Cooking for One" is an impressive array of diverse recipes with easy to follow suggestions and preparation instructions. Some recipes even have “his” and “her” versions that allow the single cook to choose which one to follow. The tips and notes at the beginning of most recipes from Mark and Lisa clearly showcase how much the Ericksons enjoy cooking and their desire to impart that to other busy, single cooks. Whether you’re a novice cook or a master chef, this book can easily increase your cooking and dining repertoire and you may find yourself enjoying cooking for one.

– Carol Ramos blogs at The Pastry Chef's Baking and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America's pastry program.

*(See next page for Asparagus Salad with Crispy Prosciutto recipe)


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