As it’s just hubby and me, I am seemingly always trying to scale-back recipes or be on a hunt for a recipe that doesn’t make quite as much. I always hear the idea to make the full recipe, and save the leftovers, but that’s really not for me. I enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking, so leftovers are rather a thorn in my side, because they keep me from doing what I love. Over the years, I’ve collected and let-go of many “for two” books, but here are a handful of what I consider “keepers.”
Cuisine at Home has a new 101 recipe magazine/book hot of the press called Cuisine for Two. I love Cuisine at Home — great, simple recipes that can be made at a moment’s notice. This book is different, however, from all their others. Of course, this time the recipes are for two people, but they took a nod from the the typical New Year’s Resolutions and made these recipes much healthier than their traditional recipes. The tag-line on the cover is “Simple, Healthy and Delicious.” There is a great variety of dishes, with recipes for poultry, beef, lamb & pork, vegetarians and a handful of desserts. There is a photo to accompany each recipe along with a recommended side dish. Each recipe also includes a “total time” note. For only $9.95, it’s quite a steal (hint: try the pineapple rice on page 33).
Aren’t slow cookers great? I mean the idea of throwing in your beautiful roast, farmer’s market carrots and potatoes into a ceramic bowl, going to work, and coming home to… mush? Hasn’t that happened to everyone with a bad recipe for a slow cooker? That’s why I love Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two, by Beth Hensperger. She has written a handful of slow cooker books for different occasions (including entertaining, and such) and all with great results are reviews. However, for the just-the-two-of-us-families, a large slow cooker meal seems out of reach… or it used to. The book covers some of the typical recipes, including meats and stews, but she also expounds into some global favorites, as well as casseroles and vegetarian dishes. If you’re a cook on the run, this is a great book for you (hint: try the Jerked Chicken Drumsticks on page 113).
If you’ve got some extra time, or if you just prefer more of the traditional home-cooked meal like your mom (or grandmother) used to make, I’d snag a copy of Betty Crocker’s Cooking for Two. This is a review of the 1994 version, which I have and love, but a newer version, called Just the Two of Us, has since come out (May 2007). I personally like the older version better (different recipes which are more my style). As Cuisine for Two, the recipes are laid out with main dish and side dish pairings, but this book also includes dessert selections. I love that the book covers many occasions, not just dinner; it includes options for breakfast, brunches, special occasion dinners and picnics. Of course, there are also a handful of vegetarian-friendly meals as well. My favorite recipes from the book come from the breakfast and side dishes, including yummy favorites like Maple-Glazed Carrots and Apples or Creamy Peas and Corn (page 20) and Baked Egg Casserole (page 78) with Orange-Pecan Muffins (page 66).
If its desserts you’re after, I suggest Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans. I received this book as a gift when it was first hot of the presses and I turn to it constantly. The variety of recipes is shocking. The author did a great deal of research and testing to get such excellent recipes, including pies, tarts, cakes, muffins, crisps and crumbles, ice cream toppings, brownies and bar cookies, drop cookies… just about every dessert you find yourself craving. Best part? No leftovers taunting your waistline. I say skip the diet and eat small-batch desserts (hint: try the lemon meringue pies on page 130).
Last, but most definitely not least, if you are a bread-lover, I highly suggest Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as you mix up nearly 5 lbs of bread dough at once (or, as the authors suggest, you can easily double or halve the recipe) and leave in the fridge for up to 14 days. Any time you have five minutes, you simply pre-heat your oven, cut off a for-two-sized piece of dough and pop in the oven. And voila, you have fresh, easy bread for each meal. There are choices for simple sandwich breads, baguette-styles, along with global favorites, such as Naan. If you prefer dessert bread, instead of as a meal accompaniment, I suggest the Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls (page 187) or the Chocolate Bread (page 211). Of course, if you are a breadivore, then bread for breakfast is only natural, you will love the Oatmeal-Pumpkin Bread (page 100). [See book review for more]
Well one advantage of doing the whole recipe, especially with braises is that they usually taste better the second time around. And a lot of them don’t reduce well.
Also because you don’t have to cook the entree, you can spend significantly more time on the sides. Fresh bread or noodles as example.
Thanks for this post!! There are so many cooking for 2 cookbooks out there, and it always helps to know what works for others. I just bought Small-Batch baking but haven’t made anything from it yet, and I just won a copy of Artisan Bread, so I’m very excited!!
Deborah: Congratulations on your win! That is fantastic! You will love both books! Be sure to report back with your favorites on the Small-Batch Baking…such a great book!
NTSC: very good points!!
I’m surprised that you have no use for leftovers. We produce lots, because of two things: weekday lunch, and in-a-hurry meals before we have to do something in the evening. Heck, frequently we don’t have enough leftovers to make it through a whole week of lunches.
I don’t like leftovers because it deprives me of my time alone in the kitchen and my ability to learn something new. I loathe the idea of wasting food; I am terribly concerned to give my gratitude-filled prayers for the many workers and animals that sacrificed so much to bring my meals and meats. I like to eat everything that I make, thus, I cook more often, in smaller quantities that I know will be consumed.
I just ordered the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” book. I saw it here on your blog and had it saved in my Amazon.com shopping cart. Then on Sunday, my husband and I ran into a colleague of his at Bed, Bath and Beyond. He told us he had become obsessed with making bread after getting the same book and was looking for a pizza peel. I took this as a sign and went home to order the book. I can’t wait to try it out.
Sylvia—I guarantee you will love the book!! Today I made the Olive Oil bread (I would say this is my very favorite)–in five minutes, then ran errands. When I returned, I pre-heated the oven for 20 minutes with my baking stone, spread some homemade marinara on the dough, sprinkled cheese and baked. Honestly, the best pizza I’ve had! The doughs from the book are fantastic!