Washington Post Food and Travel Editor Joe Yonan was in town recently signing his new cookbook. It's getting great reviews, partly because of its somewhat unusual subject and partly, I think, because he's such a delightful storyteller.
"Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" evolved from the Cooking for One column that Yonan writes for The Post. He saw the statistics: more than "31 million solo dwellers in the U.S. ... with single-person households making up more than a quarter of all homes." He was one of them, and if he wasn't dining out or cooking for friends, he wanted a satisfying home-cooked meal.
As a solo dweller myself, I find it all too easy to stop by one of my favorite restaurants on the way home from work, or even settle on the sofa with a plate of good
cheese and the fruit of the season. "Serve Yourself" offers a challenge. With preplanning strategies and recipes scaled for one, Yonan has made it pretty simple, and interesting, for us singles. Among the many mouthwatering recipes, his no-knead pizza dough that one can portion and freeze, array of fantastic fillings to be rolled in soft corn tortillas and creative use of grains and noodles provided aha moments for me. And I appreciated the reminder about the often-overlooked Cornish hen.
"Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" is a semi-hard cover. Published by Ten Speed Press. $22.
1 guinea or Cornish hen or other small bird (preferably no bigger than 3/4 pound)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs rosemary
1 (16-ounce) can pineapple juice
3 very small potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Rinse the hen under cold running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Remove giblets and discard. Rub hen with 1 teaspoon of the butter, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper inside and out. Loosen the skin over the breasts and tuck 1 of the rosemary sprigs under the skin on each side.
Shake the pineapple juice well, remove the paper exterior from the can, rinse, and dry the can. Use a can opener to completely remove the top of the can. Pour half the pineapple juice into another container and reserve for another use.
Spray the can's exterior with cooking oil spray. Set the can in the middle of a small ovenproof skillet and set the hen on top of it, carefully working the can into the hen's cavity without spilling the juice. Scatter the potatoes around the hen, season them with salt and pepper, drizzle with the olive oil, and scatter the leaves of the remaining sprig of rosemary around them.
Roast the hen for 30 to 40 minutes, until it is nicely browned, the juices run clear, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads at least 165 degrees. Remove from the oven, use oven mitts or tongs to remove the hen from the pineapple juice can, and transfer it to a serving plate. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. If the potatoes are not fork-tender, return them to the oven to continue cooking while the hen rests.
Pour the contents of the juice can into a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the lime juice and remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Bring to a boil and let it bubble away until it has reduced to a syrupy glaze, about 10 minutes.
Cut the hen in half and scatter the roasted potatoes around it. Drizzle the hen with the pineapple-lime glaze and eat it while it's hot.
--Adapted from "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One"
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