I’ve been thinking about cooking for one a lot lately. (Cooking for one person, not cooking for a sailor.) A while back I wrote a blog post about making Vesper Martinis and Martini Cured Salmon Blinis for one and mused on the joys to be had in treating yourself to something fancy, even when on your tod. This prompted my film archivist chum Margie Compton to send me a book recommendation, Judith’s Jones’ The Pleasures of Cooking for One.
It is a fabulous book and I loved Judith’s writing style so much that I immediately bought her bread book too.
Last week’s Guardian Feast had a cooking for one theme and my non-movie-star-cooking-hero Ottolenghi speaks absolute sense.
I do indeed find cooking for me, myself and I calming and peaceful. For about the first 8 years of this blog I was single, so, therefore, cooking for one was the norm, and I still live on my own. I do have the lovely Mr Rathbone to cook for at the weekends. But as everyone who is coupled up knows, there are certain things you don’t eat with your other half, because they don’t like ’em. Case in point for me, cabbage.
Illustration by my chum, fabulous food illustrator Miriam Figueras
I love cabbage, especially savoy cabbage and even though making this delicious buttery cabbage side dish necessitates TWO cooking pans and therefore more washing up than might be strictly necessary, it is well worth it. The other utensil that I used for this solo din-dins was my much loved and very much used enamel mini pie dish.
I would say this is the best kitchen purchase I ever made and I think it cost me about £3. I have had this dish for about 20 years and I only use it for one thing, heating up leftover portions of delicious food as dinners for one.
In this case, I had some Vincent Price Coq au Vin from the frozen archives with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in the dish, foil over the top and bunged in the oven. Accompanied by Richard’s cabbage, it was a winner, winner singleton’s dinner. So, if you happen to live alone, I highly recommend getting yourself one of these dishes. Treat yourself to a bit of buttered cabbage on the side of whatever wonder you find in your fridge or freezer to heat up in the oven. Personally I don’t have a microwave, but even if you do, I think heating up food in the oven heated feels a bit more like treating yourself to something good.
When I made this buttery cabbage the other night, I made it with a big handful of cabbage leaves and one shallot. Perfect. I have also made this with sausages on top which Richard suggests and that was super delicious!
Here’s Richard’s vague but good recipe. “Boil the cabbage with a quantity of onions and chop them together; season with pepper and salt and fry in butter. This is a homely dish, but savory, and is also very tasty served with fried sausages topping it. Top with this a light dessert and Cafe Royale and you really have something.”
As Judith Jones points out in The Pleasures of Cooking for One, one of the nicest things about it is that you only have yourself to please. If something doesn’t turn out great, that’s no big deal. Boiled and buttered cabbage might not be everyone’s cup of tea and I wouldn’t cook it for company, but man, I love it!
“…if it isn’t quite perfection, tant pis. Only you will know – and it will taste delicious” Judith Jones.