The Pleasures of Cooking for One
By Judith Jones
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307270726, 288pp.)
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
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From the legendary editor of some of the world’s greatest cooks—including Julia Child and James Beard—a passionate and practical book about the joys of cooking for one.
Here, in convincing fashion, Judith Jones demonstrates that cooking for yourself presents unparalleled possibilities for both pleasure and experimentation: you can utilize whatever ingredients appeal, using farmers’ markets and specialty shops to enrich your palate and improve your health; you can feel free to fail, since a meal for one doesn’t have to be perfect; and you can use leftovers to innovate—in the course of a week, the remains of beef bourguignon might be reimagined as a ragù, pork tenderloin may become a stir-fry, a cup or two of wild rice produces both a refreshing pilaf and a rich pancake, and red snapper can be reinvented as a summery salad. It’s a fulfilling and immensely economical process, one perfectly suited for our times—although, as Jones points out, cooking for one also means we can occasionally indulge ourselves in a favorite treat.
Throughout, Jones is both our instructor and our mentor, suggesting basic recipes—such as tomato sauce, preserved lemons, pesto, and homemade stock—that all cooks should have on hand; teaching us how to improvise using an ingenious strategy of building meals through the week; and supplying us with a lifetime’s worth of tips and shortcuts. From Child’s advice for buying fresh meat to Beard’s challenge to beginning crêpe-makers and Lidia Bastianich’s tips for cooking perfectly sauced pasta, Jones’s book presents a wealth of acquired knowledge from our finest cooks.
The Pleasures of Cooking for One is a vibrant, wise celebration of food and enjoying our own company from one of our most treasured cooking experts.
Judith Jones is senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf. She is the co-author with Evan Jones (her late husband) of three books: The Book of Bread; Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!; and The Book of New New England Cookery. She also collaborated with Angus Cameron on The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook. She has contributed to Vogue, Saveur, Departures, and Gourmet magazines. In 2006, she was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in New York City and Vermont.
If you're the kind of person who's always believed that a book can teach you to do anything, this year's crop of cookbooks will prove you right. Cooks lacking confidence will find comfort in detailed instructions and comprehensive how-tos. More at NPR.org
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*Nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award in General Cooking*
“Cooking when you’re on your own can be a challenge . . . Thank goodness for Judith Jones! The redoubtable editor conclusively demonstrates that the joie de manger belongs to everyone, not just breeders, honeymooners and clans.”
-National Public Radio 10 Best Cookbooks of 2009
“Judith Jones . . . is a skilled food and recipe writer, perhaps the most accomplished working today. This collection of simple but special recipes is written with confidence, clarity and humanity, with no extra words. Recipes like minced chicken on toast and ratatouille read like enduring holdovers from decades past, offering a welcome simplicity of flavor.”
-Denver Post Best Cookbooks of 2009
“[Judith Jones’s] wise pep talk of a cookbook is also a manifesto: she encourages readers to experience food with all of the senses . . . Those who’ve taken to takeout rather than gorging on recipes designed to feed four to six will find this restorative book an encouraging friend in the kitchen.”
-Christine Muhlke, The New York Times Book Review
“Lively, practical, and passionate.”
-Sarah DiGregorio, The Village Voice
“Marvelous . . . The book contains excellent advice on outfitting a kitchen for one, planning for leftovers, stocking a pantry, and so on. It also contains some great recipes ranging from the elegant . . . to more elemental fare . . . The author’s long experience editing cookbooks means the recipes are crystal clear and you can readily imagine the results . . . The Pleasures of Cooking for One is a delightful cookbook, packed with sage advice and great recipes.”
-Kevin D. Weeks, about.com
“In The Tenth Muse, Jones wrote about cooking for oneself, warning that a subtle conspiracy among the food industry, anti-feminist sources, and a pleasure-hating diet industry had convinced women living along that ‘it wasn’t worth it’ to cook for themselves . . . In The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Jones takes on this cultural message and refutes it utterly. She enthusiastically illustrates exactly how to cook delicious, nourishing, and soul-satisfying meals for oneself . . . Best of all, The Pleasures of Cooking for One is suitable for any single person of any gender, whether heading to college at 18 or widowed at 83.”
-Kate Thornberry, The Austin Chronicle
“A warm-hearted approach to the joys of slicing, dicing, mixing, and cooking for one . . . Consider Pleasures a visit from your best friend who is also a superb, savvy cook, encouraging you to be creative and treat yourself well.”
-The Sacramento Bee
“Worthwhile for those looking for variation in the weekly routine. And chances are, you’ll feel great when you’ve finished.”
-Amanda Gold, San Francisco Chronicle
“Elegant . . . [Some of the recipes] are so brilliantly simple . . . that we can’t wait for our next dinner for one.”
“[Judith Jones’s] genteel manifesto for living well alone is a charming combination of common sense and luxury . . . Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn to cook, really cook, for one person.”
“[A] civilized, unfussy guide to cooking—and cooking well—for solitary diners . . . [Jones] doesn’t skip desserts, entertaining, or self-indulgence, and best of all, her whole book benefits from the diverse and cumulative gleanings of work with many of the great cooks and cookbook writers (including Julia Child, of course) of the latter half of the 20th century.”
“Delightful . . . Jones provides round after round of savory treats for solo diners.”
-Vick Mickunas, Dayton Daily News