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Archive | March 14th, 2010

Judith Jones Serves Up Dinner for One

Judith Jones Serves Up Dinner for One

For cookbook fanatics, Judith Jones needs no introduction. She is the editor who shaped the writing of some of our favorite cookbook authors, including Julia Child and James Beard. She also co-authored three books with husband Evan Jones, including “The Book of Bread: Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!”

But when Evan died in 1996, she found herself in a void when it came to cooking. Food had, for a while, lost its flavor for her because there was no one to share a meal with day in and day out. “I was not sure that I would ever enjoy preparing a meal for myself and eating alone,” she writes. “I was wrong, and I soon realized that the pleasure that we shared together was something to honor. I found myself at the end of the day looking forward to cooking, making recipes that work for one, and then sitting down and savoring a good meal.”

So, Jones set out to create “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95). Her audience for this book extends beyond the recently widowed like herself. More than half the population of New York lives alone, Jones writes. The rest of the country is not entirely different. There are students, young professionals starting out and even some married folk who prepare meals regularly only for themselves. Then there are those of us, myself included, who enjoy living alone. We are all potentially part of Jones’ target circle.

Recipe: Osso Buco With Gremolata

But Jones doesn’t want all of us. She is only interested in the serious home cook. “It isn’t a cookbook for what Julia Child used to call ‘the flimsies’ – that is, people who aren’t genuinely interested in cooking and want fast and easy recipes and shortcuts at the expense of taste. This book is for those of who want to roll up your sleeves and enjoy, from day to day, one of the great satisfactions of life.”

So, be prepared, single foodies, to make a Small Meatloaf With a  French Accent, Fillet of Fish in Parchment, Osso Buco With Gremolata, or Steamed Mussels.  Dessert lovers will flip for the Individual Apple Tart, Pear Crisp or Summer Pudding.

If you don’t want to tackle a new dish every day, Jones offers a series of recipes where you cook a large cut of meat one day and either reheat the remainder or use  it in different ways until it’s gone. So, imagine stewing Boeuf Bourguignon for one, then incorporating the leftovers in a Beef and Kidney Pie or a meaty pasta sauce. It’s a technique that reminded me of Robert Farrar Capon’s “The Supper of the Lamb” from the 1960s, and it still works today.

The book is sprinkled liberally with cooking tips and hints on topics such as “Ways of Using Up Milk” or “Duxelles: A Way of Preserving Your Mushrooms.”

Recipe: Mayonnaise

Here’s her advice on cleanup: “One of the complaints I hear about home cooking is that it’s so messy and time-consuming, particularly all that washing up. And just for one? Most recipes call for more bowls than you may have on your shelf. I find that if you line things up on a work surface close to your stove, you don’t need all those bowls. And in making recipes for breads, pastries and the like, wax paper comes in very handy. You can toss the dry ingredients together on a large piece of wax paper, then pick it up carefully, and funnel the dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer while it is running.”

What I’m most grateful for in this book may come as a surprise. It’s Jones’ recipe for mayonnaise, which uses a food processor. I was once told not to use this method because the motor overheats the mixture and it never sets up. Yet her version works, and you don’t have a great deal left over, so there’s no waste involved.

No matter how many people you’re feeding – and Jones’ recipes can be easily doubled or tripled–“The Pleasures of Cooking for One” proves to be pure pleasure for mind and for palate.

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Make Your Own Mayonnaise in Minutes

Make Your Own Mayonnaise in Minutes

“Treat yourself once in a while to homemade mayonnaise prepared in a food processor. This simple version is delicious and light – and it takes about 5 minutes to whip up. It will keep about a week, but mine usually vanishes before that,” Judith Jones writes in “The Pleasures of Cooking for One.”

Mayonnaise

1 large egg
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt, to taste
About ¾ cup light extra-virgin olive oil

Spin the egg, mustard, a few drops of lemon juice, and a small pinch of salt in the food processor long enough to blend well. With the machine going, pour the olive oil in, a few drops at a time to begin, then in a steady stream. When the mayonnaise has thickened and you have used up almost all of the oil, taste and adjust: You will need several drops more lemon juice and a little more salt, and perhaps, if the sauce doesn’t seem thick enough, a little more olive oil blended in. That’s it.

Variations: If you don’t have a food processor and want to make the mayonnaise by hand, use just the egg yolk instead of the whole egg. Drop the yolk in a small shallow bowl and beat constantly with a fork in one hand as you slowly add the olive oil, in droplets at first, then in a steady stream, until thickened.

[amazon-product]0307270726[/amazon-product]To make a simple version of a Pistou Sauce that’s particularly good with bouillabaisse or swirled into a vegetable soup, or added to a green sauce, smash, remove the peel from, and chop fine 2 fat garlic cloves. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt on top, and mash with the flat of your knife until you have a paste. Stir that in about ½ cup of your mayonnaise. Mix in the about a quarter of a large red bell pepper, roasted, peel removed, and cut into small dice (or use a roasted pepper from a jar), and season with a large pinch of sweet paprika and a small pinch (at least that’s all I like) of hot pepper flakes. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

From “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones

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Becker, His Wines Win Awards

Becker, His Wines Win Awards

Becker Vineyards of Stonewall and its founder, Richard Becker, have received several awards recently.

The winery’s 2008 Fleur Sauvage, a Chenin Blanc, received a gold medal and was named class champion at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition. The 2008 Viognier and Fumé Blanc were silver medal winners while the 2007 Claret, Prairie Rotie and Raven Malbec and the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve, Provençal rosé and Syrah won bronzes.

Becker was given the Louis F. Qualia Award at the annual Texas Wine & Grape Grower Association conference. The award was named in honor of the founder of Val Verde Winery in Del Rio and recognizes a pioneering spirit in a Texas winemaker or a grape grower.

“It has always been a team effort at our winery from top to bottom,” Becker said. “I feel I accept this award for all of us at Becker Vineyards.”

It’s been a good year for Becker Vineyards. The winery also earned the Best of Show Red for its 2007 Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Wilmeth Vineyard in the KLRN Wine Competition.

Becker Vineyards is at 464 Becker Farms Road, Stonewall. For more information on Becker Vineyards, visit www.beckervineyards.com or call (830) 644-2681.

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You Can Make Osso Buco for One

You Can Make Osso Buco for One

“I’m sure every cook who loves Italian food has a special recipe for osso buco,” Judith Jones writes in “The Pleasures of Cooking for One.” “But I’m not so sure that anyone has a recipe to serve one, because it’s not the sort of thing you make for just one person. But it’s simple to reduce. The crucial factor is the pot; you need that heavy 4-cup pot with its own lid, so that your shank piece just fits into it and the liquid level stays almost to the top of the meat while it is simmering. That way, you don’t require too much cooking liquid, and the flavor develops intensity. I sometimes make this on a Saturday afternoon, when an Italian opera is playing on the radio, and just hearing the singing and smelling the osso buco as it perks away on the stove heightens my anticipation of a lovely meal to come.”

Osso Buco With Gremolata

2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt
1 (2-inch) veal shank, cut across the bone
1 small-to-medium onion, chopped
½ carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 small leek or ½ large leek, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper
Small sprig of fresh rosemary or a pinch of dried rosemary
5 or 6 fresh parsley stems

Gremolata:
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
About 2 strips lemon peel (without pith), minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in your small pot. Rub salt over the veal shank, and put it into the sizzling oil. Brown lightly on one side, then turn and brown the other. Turn the veal on its side to make room for the onion, carrot, tomato and leek pieces. Sauté them for a minute or two , then flip the shank over so it is bone-side down, and pour in the wine. Stir to get up any browned bits, and reduce the wine by half. Pour in the broth; add several grindings of pepper, lay the rosemary and parsley stems on top, and cover. Let cook for 1 ¾ hours at a gentle simmer.

[amazon-product]0307270726[/amazon-product]Meanwhile, put together the gremolata – the tasty, garlicky topping – by simply mixing the minced garlic, lemon peel and parsley together.

When the meat is very tender, remove it to a warm plate, discarding the parsley stems, and sprinkle the top with as much of the gremolata as you like. Eat with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce. And don’t forget the marrow. Use a little coffee spoon to scrape it out and extract the last precious morsel.

Makes 1 serving.

From “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones

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