Still Hungry? Dining Solo


(Story by Cullen Curtiss)

Did you know there are more people living alone now than at any other time in history? Even in Paris, the fabled city of lovers? Oui, oui! So what does this mean right now during the month of love and romance? It means: love thyself right on up to your eyeballs by cooking delicious, soul-hugging food for your table of one. On our hunt to get you started, we plucked four cookbooks, among a surfeit of options, that stand out for their inventive recipes, charming stories and practical tips…and each is designed for the solo cook. The following books (and highlighted recipes) will help you not just cook, but feast!…as well as eschew take-out, plan, shop and store wisely, prep and be thoroughly sated and nourished by cooking for No. 1. 

Cooking for One: A Seasonal Guide to the Pleasure of Preparing Delicious Meals for Yourself, by Mark and Lisa Erickson—yes, they’re married, but they live apart because he’s provost at The Culinary Institute of America in New York, and she’s in Atlanta—is seasonally organized with periodic his-and-her modifications. It’s designed to shift the solo person’s thinking from cooking-is-a-chore to cooking-is-a-celebration. Heed the Ericksons’ words to you: reduce waste, operate in a mise-en-place fashion and feast throughout the week on what they call planned-overs (featured).

Southwestern Beef Stew

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided use
11/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 pasilla or ancho chiles, stemmed, seeds and veins removed
¾ water
1 cup homemade chicken stock
8 to 1 ounces beef stew meat, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
1 cup large-diced Tukon gold potato
Warmed corn tortillas

Preheat the oven 325˚ F

Heat ½ teaspoon of the canola oil in a small pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring frequently until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the water and stock and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until flavorful, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, let it sit for 30 minutes to cool and then pureé it in a blender until smooth. Set the sauce aside.

Heat the remaining canola oil in a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add it to the hot oil. Sauté until browned on all sides, turning the beef as necessary, about 6 minutes.

Add the reserved sauce and bring it to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 45 minutes, adjusting the temperature as necessary to maintain a simmer. Add the potatoes, return the casserole to the oven, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the beef is very tender when pierced with a fork, another 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the oven and skim off any fat that has risen to the surface. Taste the stew and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with warmed corn tortillas.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking for One: A Seasonal Guide to the Pleasure of Preparing Delicious Meals for Yourself by Mark Erickson, cmc, and Lisa Erickson, copyright © 2011. Photography by Ben Fink. Published by The Culinary Institute of America.

Cooking-SolowebCooking Solo author Klancy Miller unabashedly acknowledges her happy single life and reminds you that, as a single person, you only have yourself to please—in the kitchen and otherwise. Organized by meals that can be cooked in 30 or so minutes, find international influences inspired by Klancy’s globetrotting childhood. During her France stint, she earned a Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Her friend’s response to the dinner she’d made for herself—a salad of sautéed smoked duck breast with frisée, mâche, carrots, orange zest, and lardons? “Tu t’aimes bien.” Translation: You really love yourself.

Roasted Chicken with Mango Chutney on Rye (the Tina Fey)

For the chutney:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
1 cup chopped ripe mango
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon seeded and minced Thai chile
¼ teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

For the sandwich:
2 slices rye bread
4 thick slices roasted chicken
2 lettuce leaves

1. For the chutney: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, tilting the pan to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mango, vinegar, brown sugar, chile, curry powder, and pinch of salt. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mango is slightly mushy, 6 to 8 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Remove the chutney from the heat, and stir in the cilantro, if desired.

2. For the sandwich: Toast the bread. Spread a tablespoon of mango chutney on each slice. Top it with the chicken and the lettuce, close the sandwich, and enjoy.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself by Klancy Miller, copyright © 2016. Photography by Tara Dunne. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Serve-YourselfwebWith sections devoted to sweet potatoes, sandwiches, tacos and condiments, Serve Yourself by two-time James Beard Award-winning food and dining editor of The Washington Post Joe Yonan is refreshing throughout. He positions himself as the opposite of Miss Lonelyhearts, who, when seated alone at a table for two in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, raises her glass and tries to conjure a smile in the direction of her phantom lover. No forced smiles when dining solo, Joe writes, “I gotta eat, I gotta cook, and I am determined to do both well.” Enjoy his 100 recipes—so sensible, inventive and globally inspired—as well as his confessional anecdotes, which will make you revel in singledom.

Personal Paella with Squid and Scallions

1 cup seafood stock or clam juice
Small pinch of crumbled saffron
¼ teaspoon pimento (smoked Spanish paprika)
4 to 5 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut into ¼-inch rings and tentacles halved lengthwise
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Arborio, Bomba, or other short-grain rice
4 large cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat the oven to 400˚F

Combine the seafood stock, saffron, and pimento in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to very low and cover.

Lightly season the squid with salt and pepper. In an 8-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the squid and cook, stirring frequently, just until the squid lose any translucence and exude their juices, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer the squid to a plate and decrease the heat to medium.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, then the red pepper flakes, scallions, and garlic, and sauté until the scallion starts to soften, another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the pan mixture, 1 minute.

Pour the hot broth and bring to a gentle boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Taste the liquid and add salt to taste, then let it continue to gently bubble, swirling the pan occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the rice has swelled and absorbed much of the liquid; it should still be slightly soupy.

Stir in the squid and the tomatoes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is al dente, or mostly tender but with a little resistance in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the rice is tender. Uncover and return it to the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook about 2 more minutes, to brown the bottom of the rice.

Spoon it out onto a plate, and eat. Don’t worry if it sticks. Just scrape it up and know that this is what the Spanish call soccarart, the crispy pieces that are considered a sign of a great paella.

Reprinted with permission from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2011. Photography by Ed Andersen. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Eat-Your-VegetableswebAlso compliments of Joe Yonan is Eat Your Vegetables, which is “a vegetable cookbook, not a vegetarian one.” Talk about romance—after the preface alone, you’ll be a swooning believer in the virtues of solo cooking: “[it’s] a worthwhile, satisfying, potentially meditative, possibly invigorating, and even delightful endeavor.”



Creamy Green Gazpacho

1      medium tomato, cored and cut into quarters
1      small cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks
Flesh from 1/2 avocado, cut into large chunks
3      large basil leaves
1/2  jalapeño (optional)
3/4  cup lightly packed watercress or baby spinach leaves
1      small celery stalk (optional)
1      clove garlic, crushed
1      tablespoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1      tablespoon honey
2      ice cubes
Filtered water (optional)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1      teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Reserve one-quarter of the tomato, two cucumber chunks, two avocado chunks, and one basil leaf. Combine and finely chop for garnish.

Stem and seed the jalapeño half and reserve the seeds. Cut the jalapeño into several pieces. Combine one or two pieces of the jalapeño with the remaining tomato, cucumber, avocado, and basil and the watercress or spinach, celery, garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, and ice cubes in a blender or the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth. Add 1/4 cup or more water to thin the mixture, if necessary.

Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if needed. If you want the soup spicier, add more of the jalapeño, a little at a time, as well as some of the seeds if desired, blending and tasting after each addition. Refrigerate until cold, then pour into a bowl and top with the reserved chopped tomato, cucumber, avocado, and basil and a drizzle of olive oil, and eat.

Reprinted with permission from Eat Your Vegetables by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2013. Photography by Matt Armendariz. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.









Still Hungry?

pomegranates-1178367-1279x850Shocking, but true—some scholars suggest the forbidden fruit instrumental in Eve and Adam’s split from the Garden of Eden was not the apple, but rather the pomegranate! Seasonally germane for cooks looking to give their holiday dishes some zing, the pomegranate may indeed bear some biblical guilt when one considers the pivotal Hebrew word peri in the Old Testament translates into a variety of fleshy seed-bearing fruits aside from the apple. With many fruits potentially implicated, we’ll grant the juicy infamy to the pomegranate, and move on.

Equally juicy is the pomegranate’s recent fame. We extoll its health bennies as an antioxidant (helps prevent some diseases), an anti-inflammatory (reduces eye puffiness the morning after) and as a mega vitamin C purveyor (offers 40 percent of your recommended daily). As well, the gems tarten any savory dish with the perfect tickle, and they’re seasonally pleasing to your holiday palette (and palate). While American culture heralds these qualities, ancient cultures exalt differently. In the Jewish tradition, the pomegranate symbolizes righteousness because it is believed to have as many arils (fleshy seeds) as commandments in the Torah—613! Housewarming gifts in Greece? Predominately pomegranates, which are symbolic of abundance, fertility and good luck. Memorialized in many paintings, including Sandro Botticelli’s 1487 “Madonna of the Pomegranate,” the fruit is also celebrated in Tehran at the annual Pomegranate Festival. And in some Hindu traditions, the seedy fruit symbolizes prosperity.

Yes, there are countless ways the leathery-skinned, akin-to-a-Christmas-ornament pomegranate is celebrated, but let’s just rejoice that this real jewel of a fruit can be sourced far and wide, depending on the season, thanks to cultivation beyond its ancient origins—from the regions of modern-day Iran to northern India—and offer some culinary ways to enjoy a holiday evening with the bold rubies. Continue reading

Pro Party Tips – What the Caterers Know

LL-Blue Plate01If you’re anything like me, your holiday dance card is full of late-afternoon, early evening and dinner-time parties. Plus, the occasional brunch or all-day open house. And that doesn’t count the shindig you’re throwing yourself! ’Tis the season for grazing, drinking, gobbling and noshing.

How will it all get done, you ask? Professional caterers seem to keep their cool, even when practically every day arrives with a new menu to create, dishes to deliver, setup, serve and clean up. The pros must have secrets to pulling off a casual get-together or a swanky soiree with ease, grace and finesse. So I asked them how to avoid the overwhelm when putting on anything from an informal open-house to a fancy sit-down dinner yourself.

Mindie Huntington, Rebecca Montoya and Catherine Lind keep Blue Plate Catering humming along all year. Their calendar is booked with breakfast, lunch and dinner events ranging from elaborate dinners to low-key receptions.

“Appetizers, smaller foods and finger foods are definitely the trend this year,” Huntington says. “People can walk and mingle more.” Blue Plate’s finding variety is in demand, too: gluten-free and vegetarian options like stuffed mushrooms, tomato caprese on skewers with balsamic drizzle, and cranberry compote on flatbread with goat cheese. Bite-size is the watchword for desserts. They say they like to pass around little cookies, cheesecakes and mini brownies. Huntington says, “It’s a way for people to indulge but not feel like they’ve overindulged during the season.” Continue reading

Still Hungry?

Green Chile Corn Chowder_terraThe etymological confluence of the word soup and the word restaurant offers a satisfying story for chilly November days of waning light—and our Still Hungry? column. Apparently, in 16th century France, what we know of as soups were called “restaurants” (from the French verb restaurer, meaning to restore). “Restaurants” were advertised and the soups sold cheaply by street vendors as wellness remedies. A couple centuries later, a French businessman opened a shop that specialized in “restaurants” (essentially, consommés or soups!). His enticing call to action? Some Latin words inspired by and riffing on the well-known Gospel of Matthew narrative, “Venite ad me vos qui stomacho laboratis et ego restaurabo vos,” or, “Come to me you who are weary and I will restore you in the stomach.”

Fast-forward to today’s “shops that sell soup” in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and it’s not only the dine-in customer, but scores of hungry families, who benefit from the modern confluence of restaurant and soup. We’re talking about Souper Bowl, of course, that delicious January fundraising event presented by Albuquerque’s Roadrunner Food Bank and Santa Fe’s The Food Depot. For the last 20-plus years, participating restaurants have concocted soups in promising categories to be tasted by discerning soup-lovers, who pay to vote for their faves. Proceeds help both food banks to distribute food and manage food programs that assist hungry people and communities across New Mexico, which has been ranked among the hungriest states in the nation.

This Thanksgiving season—just in time for soup and gratitude, that delightful duo—we asked four of the recent Souper Bowl winners for a home-cook soup recipe, so that our readers could try their hand at restoring tummies. Thank you very much to Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Terra Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado and Dinner for Two in Santa Fe, and to Bocadillo’s Slow Roasted in Albuquerque—congratulations on your fine food and philanthropic spirit, arguably one of the greatest approaches to restoration there is. Continue reading

Still Hungry? October 2017

Chef Jonathan in Los Poblanos field

Chef Jonathan in Los Poblanos field

With autumn in full swing and its chile-scented chill in the air, our palates welcome the warmth of spices just as our bellies make room for heartier dishes. And as the days grow shorter—even while the workday does not!—we hunt for good reasons to toast and sip a fine glass of wine at the end of the day. So this month, we have indeed not just one good reason to toast, but three great excuses to say three cheers—and three delicious recipes, to boot. These three Duke City staples hold the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. This particular award, in the words of, is given to those establishments that “offer at least 90 selections, feature a well-chosen assortment of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. Whether compact or extensive, focused or diverse, these lists deliver sufficient choice to satisfy discerning wine lovers.”

We asked each of them to share a recipe and wine pairing of their choice…and in return we received three excellent wines to enjoy alongside delicious dishes that incorporate the warmth and spice of autumn. Thank you, Ranchers Club of New Mexico, Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm (Campo, their new restaurant, opens this month!), and Bien Shur at Sandia Resort and Casino for giving us a reason to eat out—and now, cook in—drink up and say cheers. We know you’ll enjoy Campo Chef Jonathan Perno’s squash soup with spicy pepitas, and two different takes on Moroccan lamb—Ranchers Club Chef Christopher Galle’s chops with gremolata sauce, and Bien Shur Chef Martin Torrez’s spiced rack with mint chimichurri—and of course, three very different, very excellent wines.

Continue reading

Still Hungry? August 2017

DeborahMadison_Cover In My KitchenTo food—and especially vegetable—lovers, kitchen dwellers, cookbook collectors, New Mexico locals and beyond, Deborah Madison needs no introduction. The veteran food writer and chef is, for many of us, a household name, and her recent cookbook, In My Kitchen : A collection of new and favorite vegetarian recipes, is bound to become another kitchen staple. It’s a beautiful homage to, and revisiting of, Deborah’s favorites, recipes that have survived, thrived and evolved over the decades—among many new additions.  

“I started cooking for others decades ago,” Deborah—who has cooked in the kitchens of the San Francisco Zen Center, Chez Panisse and Santa Fe’s Café Escalera—writes in the book’s introduction. “I began cooking when vegetarian food was weird.” These days, of course, “vegetarian food is part of a great mash-up of taste, values, and experiences.” Much has changed in the decades since she began cooking—“from values to ingredients” to ourselves, and Deborah’s dishes, like time, culture and individuals, are the result of a fluid, organic evolution. In My Kitchen shares over 100 recipes “that have settled happily into my kitchen and my life,” she writes. “So in a sense, these are all new albeit familiar dishes. Sometimes they’re recipes that have been forgotten or overlooked but that deserve to be revisited and brought to light.”

This month, we share three recipes from In My Kitchen that exemplify Deborah’s gift for simple yet creative dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients that we might pluck right out of our own gardens, or purchase from our local farmers. As Deborah puts it in the book’s introduction, “I hope you find these—some of my favorite recipes and approaches—delicious and that they enhance your life as they do mine.” Continue reading