I GOT A NEW COOKBOOK! I’m not sure how to explain to you my enthusiasm for cookbooks and cooking magazines. I’ll flip through the same cookbooks over and over marking different pages and trying to plan out recipes to try. Cooking magazines are great because they are also chalked full of new recipes and ideas for the kitchen. A new cookbook is just as great… well, except for the fact that sometimes the spine isn’t worn enough for you to keep the page open to the recipe you want to make and you have to figure out how to hold it down so you can read and cook at the same time. Oh the woes of a home cook. ;)
Ever since I’ve been living alone and cooking for myself, I’ve wanted a “cooking for one” cookbook. However, a lot of the reviews for single cookbooks that I have read seem to classify the books as more introductory cooking (how to make a hamburger, how to cook a chicken breast, etc.) designed for college kids that are trying to get away from dorm food. Not really my style—I mean, I can adapt most recipes for four or six down to one or two especially when it is things with which I’m pretty familiar. Recently, I came across the cookbook “ServeYourself” by Joe Yonan, and since I still had a B&N giftcard from Christmas (yes, I realize it is May), I figured I would give it a whirl. It is certainly an interesting cookbook with lots of “different” types of recipes. I would say he gets a lot of his inspiration from Asian cuisine. But I’ve bookmarked some recipes and will be giving them a try and sharing what I like (and potentially dislike) about them with you. What I like most about his cookbook is his mindset about cooking for one that I also share:
“Cooking for yourself doesn’t need to feel like a chore or, perhaps worse, it doesn’t need to bring to mind that character in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Remember Miss Lonely Hearts? As Jimmy Stewart’s character watched through his binoculars from across the courtyard, she set a table for two, raised a glass, forced a smile, and mimed a romantic dinner with an empty chair… I gotta eat, I gotta cook, and I’m determined to do both well. When I make myself dinner, I don’t pretend my true love is sitting across from me—I’m often too excited about the flavors I just put together to think about much of anything else.” –Joe Yonan, "Serve Yourself" introduction
Isn’t that just the perfect attitude? I really enjoy cooking and eating the food I make, so cooking for myself is a pleasure. It makes me happy to spend time in the kitchen and then to share those recipes here with you. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to cook for others as well. It’s just that some nights, you are eating dinner alone so you should appreciate not just the guests or family you cook for but yourself as well.
Ok, I’m stepping off the soapbox and going to share with you the first recipe I tried from Joe’s book. I chose this Thai fried rice recipe because I had some extra rice in the fridge from the weekend and fried rice is always a good bet with leftover rice. He includes a recipe for Nam Pla Prik, Thai chiles rehydrated in fish sauce, to serve alongside it. However, I didn’t have the chilis and wasn’t up for a trip to the market. Instead, I spiced it up with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce at the end. I also didn’t quite have a cup of chopped mushrooms, mine was closer to 2/3 cup, but next time I will certainly up the mushroom content. I’m not sure how I feel about Asian fish sauce. I’ve had this ginormous bottle in my pantry for a while (I bought it for some recipe) and will add it when it is called for, but I don’t really experiment with it. It has such a strong smell of fish, and I like fish, that is just so overpowering. But the taste is fine. You really just have to get over pouring it into the skillet and the flavor is good. There’s my warning.
Thai Fried Rice with Runny Egg (from “Serve Yourself” cookbook)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup (or less) mushrooms, cutting into ½ in pieces
1 cup cold white or brown rice
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup canned diced tomatoes (or 1 tomato, cored and chopped)
2 tsp Asian fish sauce
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup thinly sliced cucumber
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat. Add the garlic and stir fry until golden, about 30 sec. Add the mushroom and stir fry until softened, 1-2 min. Add the rice, breaking it up with your fingers as you toss it into the wok. Keep the rice moving for 2-3 minutes, scooping and tossing and pressing the rice against the bottom and sides of the wok to sear it. Add the scallions, tomato, fish sauce and soy sauce. Stir fry about 30 sec. Transfer to plate.
Wipe out the wok and decrease the heat to low. Add 1 tsp oil followed by the egg. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the top of the egg as barely filmed over with the white and the yolk is still runny, about 2 min. Carefully lift out the egg and place on top of rice.
Garnish with cucumber slices and Sriracha sauce (as desired).