Book Club: “Serve Yourself” by Joe Yonan
I can’t help it, I’m from a big family and I’m a restaurant-trained cook. One or two portion meals aren’t in my cooking vernacular. And I love buying in bulk because I am (also) cheap. Ergo my freezer is full of portioned soups and leftover this and that (rarely labeled and dated) or I tend to eat more than one person should at any given meal.
Enter Joe Yonan, food and travel editor of The Washington Post and his most excellent new cookbook Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One (Ten Speed Press). There are many reasons this is a terrific book, from the ease of recipes to their width and breadth of ingredients and flavors, to his humor and scholarship. But what struck me most is Yonan’s respect and empowerment for his readers. Being solo in the kitchen with a good palate doesn’t have to mean a roster of take-away numbers programmed into our phones. The book is arranged as one might expect; master recipes for dressings and broths, vegetables, chicken through fish and desserts, but Yonan also includes chapters on ingredients and techniques he really digs, such as eggs, tacos, and pizza.
I’m already hooked and feeling less marginalized as a singleton with his recipe for roast chicken leg (no need to roast the whole bird) with gremolata and sunchokes or eggplant and his spicy hummus flatbread — you can make your own dough or use store-bought. Additionally, I live alone, but I do have visitors and the flatbread makes a great appetizer.
Joe Yonan will be at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts on 4/9, for a cooking demonstration and book signing (10 a.m., 617-354-2020, cambridgeculinary.com) and at Tremont 647 on 4/11 for a dinner and signing (6 p.m.; $57, 617-266-4600, tremont647.com).