Monday, July 16, 2007

Cooking for One

You are asking for recipes for meals for one. Not easy to find, but if you use a standard recipe for four then either divide quantities to make one portion, or make the lot and freeze the surplus three portions.
If money is not too tight, then summer is an ideal way to serve salads with steak or chicken. Less costly would be a cheese omelette which is packed with protein. If you feel slightly more adventurous - make one chicken breast do the work of two as in the following couple of recipes.

Gingered Chicken with Apricots: serves one
3 fl oz water
1 tbls dried milk
1/2 small onion, chopped into wedges
half a chicken breast
1 tsp pinch dried ginger
1 oz butter
4 no-soak dried apricots
2 tsp plain flour
1 slice bread, crumbed
Put the water, dried milk, onion and pepper into a pan. Stir to dissolve the milk powder then bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave to infuse. Dice the chicken flesh and toss in the dried ginger. Melt the butter in a pan and lightly fry the chicken. Transfer to a greased casserole. Add the halved apricots.
Stir the flour into the remaining juices in the pan,, stir and cook for one minute then gradually pour in the milk (remove and add the onion to the casserole), and cook until you have a thick sauce. Season to taste and pour this over the contents of the casserole and fold everything together. Scatter over the crumbs and bake at 180C, 350C, gas 4 for about 20 minutes until browned on top.
Note: as this used dried milk for economy, fresh milk could be used instead of the powder and water.

Lemony Chicken Stir-fry: serves one
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
1 dessp sunflower oil
half a chicken breast cut into long strips
1/2 onion, sliced
quarter to half a pint mixture of finely sliced celery and carrot sticks
(other vegetables if you have them - frozen peas, sweetcorn, mushrooms etc)
1 dessp. peanuts or cashew nuts (or flaked almonds)
Measure the lemon juice and add enough water to make it up to 4fl oz (115ml). Blend in the cornflour, honey and soy sauce. Set aside. Heat the oil in the pan and stir-fry the chicken until white, then add the vegetables (start with the ones that take the longest such as carrot, then celery, onion and finish with the mushrooms). After stir-frying for five minutes, add the lemon rind, the cornflour mixture, and the nuts. simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the meat and vegetables. Season with pepper to taste. Serve with rice or noodles.

Kedgeree: serves one
When serving a dish with boiled rice, keep some back to use the following day in a dish such as this. Alternatively (for speed) use half a pack of 2-minute microwave rice (freeze the rest). Also a good dish to use up a hard-boiled egg.
Knob of butter
good pinch of dried ginger
pinch of mustard powder
2 tsp sunflower oil
4 oz (110g) cooked rice
3 oz (110g) cooked smoked haddock, kippers or mackerel
1 hardboiled egg, chopped
Heat the butter in a pan, add the ginger and mustard, stir and cook for one minute. Add the oil, the rice and flaked fish, stir gently and cook over a gentle heat until heated through. Fold in the egg and serve on a heated plate.
Tip: Instead of the ginger/mustard, substitute curry powder to taste.

Old Smokey Soup: serves one
The type of soup that is chunky and virtually a complete meal in one bowlful.
5 fl. oz milk
2 - 3 oz (50-75g) smoked fish, pref. haddock
pepper to taste
knob butter
1 dessp. onion finely chopped
2 oz (50g) potato, diced
2 oz (50g) carrot, finely chopped
1 dessertsp finely chopped celery
1 tsp flour
Put the fish in a shallow pan and pour over the milk. Season with pepper, cover and cook/poach for five minutes. Leave to stand for five minutes then remove fish (keep the liquid) and flake. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the vegetables, Cook gently for five minutes. Stir in the flour then slowly add the saved milk and stir until thickened. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the flaked fish and cook for a further 5 mins. Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley if you have some.

Pan-Fry Pizza: serves one
1 tea-cupful of self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarb. soda
1/2 onions finely chopped
1 teacup chopped tomatoes
basil, oregano or marjoram
black pepper
pizza toppings: bacon, mushrooms, sliced cooked sausage, ham, sweetcorn, cheeses
Fry the onions in a little oil until softened. Add the tomatoes and the chosen herb and season with pepper. Simmer until thick. Put to one side.
Sift together the flour, bicarb. and stir in enough yogurt to make a soft but rollable dough (add extra flavour by adding a pinch of dried herbs to the flour). Put a little oil in a frying pan (omelette size is best for a one-portion pizza), roll out the dough to fit the pan and when the oil is hot lay the 'pizza base' in the pan. Cook for a minute or two until golden underneath, then turn with a fish slice (adding a little more oil to the pan to cook the other side). While the underside is cooking, immediately spread the tomato sauce over the pizza and top with anything you want, finishing with grated cheese. Then immediately pop the pan under a pre-heated grill to heat the toppings and melt the cheese. Serve at once. (if you let it stand, the base goes soft).
Note: With practice, and the toppings prepared, this can be made from start to finish in just five minutes. For ease, grate up oddments of cheese and store these in the fridge or freezer ready to add to whatever recipe calls for it. To make the sauce thicker (and take less time to cook) stir in a spoon of tomato puree.
Tip: when opening a jar or tin of tomato puree, decant into ice-cube trays and freeze - then bag up. They will last some time and one cube is equal to one teaspoon.

Poor Knights of Windsor: serves one
A really traditional dish using storecupboard ingredients
1 tblsp. milk
1 egg yolk
2 slices of bread, buttered
for a filling: jam, honey, or mashed banana etc,
butter for frying
Beat the milk with the egg yolk. Make a sandwich with the two pieces of buttered bread, fill with one of the suggestions above.. Cut the sandwich into fingers and dip into the milk mixture and shallow fry in the butter (or you could use oil) until crisp and golden, turning from time to time. Eat hot with honey or yogurt spooned over.

Lentil and Tomato Soup: serves one
7 oz (200g) chopped tomatoes
1 dessp tomato puree
good pinch sugar
5 fl.oz (150ml) chicken or beef stock
1 oz (23g) red lentils
pepper to taste
Put the tomatoes into a pan and add the tomato puree, the sugar and the chosen stock. Stir to blend then add the lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked (about 20 minutes). Serve as-is or blitz down to a puree. Season with plenty of pepper and serve hot with a sprinkling of cheese.

Cauliflower and Stilton Soup: serves 4
1 knob butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cauliflower, broken into florets
1 pint (600ml) chicken or light stock
1 tblsp cornflour
1/2 pint (300ml) milk,
4 oz (110g) Stilton or any blue cheese, crumbled
chopped parsley for garnish
salt and pepper
Fry the onion in the butter until softened. Add the cauliflower and stock and season to taste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Sieve entire contents of pan in a blender or liquidiser. Return the puree to the pan. Mix the cornflour with a little of the milk, add to the puree with the remaining milk, and bring to the boil. When thickened, stir in the cheese. Pour into warmed soup bowls and garnish with the parsley.
Tip: Other (grated) cheeses could be used, these would tend to melt into the soup so you get flavour without lumps. For fondues etc, use cheese that melts easily such as Gruyere and Emmental .

Mocha Dessert: serves 4
1 tblsp custard powder
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tblsp soft brown sugar
half a pint (300ml) milk
few drops vanilla extract
4 oz (110g) medium fat curd cheese
Blend the custard powder, the coffee and the cocoa together. Add the sugar with the vanilla and a little of the milk. Heat the remaining milk to boiling then pour and stir into the custard mixture. return to the heat, keep stirring until thickened. Cool slightly . Put the cheese into a bowl and work it down with a wooden spoon until softened. Gradually blend in the custard until smooth. Either use a wooden spoon or a whisk. Pour into individual bowls, chill and serve.
Note: This is even nicer when spooned over canned and drained pear halves.
Tip: An easy way to make curd cheese is to freeze tubs of plain cottage cheese. The freezing process breaks down the curds and they can then be easily worked together to make a curd-type cheese.

It occurs to me that not everyone has a blender or food processor, or even one of those blender wands on a stick (the sort you can use directly to puree anything in a saucepan). Alternatively, one of those Mouli (food)-mills woukd work well - as they too puree foods (mine was used originally to make baby foods, latterly to make smooth pates). If none of these, then resort to sieving. Harder work but you get there in the end (well if they worked for our grandmothers, they will work for us too). There is a bonus, using 'old-fashioned' labour is one that will help burn off unwanted calories. Thinking of it as a win-win situation might even get us 'switch on and watch' cooks changing our habits. Think of the electricity we will all be saving.