Several times in my life, I have found myself trying to buy groceries and make a dinner for two ( or one) and still make it creative and tasty. The first instance would have been at college when I had a roommate and we wanted to save money by cooking at home. Neither of us knew much about cooking ( and, that was a very long time ago- way, way, way before the Food Network channel!) , so we didn’t put too much thought into it. The next “two” period in my life was after graduation when I moved to San Francisco, lived with my boyfriend and delightfully discovered food. Really, really, good food. That’s when I became interested in cooking and found it to be my source for relaxation and meditation.
Next came the married years before kids… two of us and we were both working full time. Meals were still a priority, but the time it took to cook a gourmet meal was compromised by our work schedules, so special dinners were limited to weekends. And, now as empty-nesters, I am once again faced with wanting great food, with fresh ingredients, yet only needing to purchase small quantities at the grocery store and feeling like I don’t want to spend money on herbs, and veggies and meat in quantities that seem to be packaged for families of 4 or more.
Enter my new favorite cookbook (my daughter told me about it): One Pan, Two Plates. Carla Snyder has written a cookbook geared to those in the “two” stages of life. The book contains 70 complete meals for two and all the meals can be made in less than an hour with ingredients that are readily available in grocery stores. The recipes are divided into 4 sections: 1. Pastas and Grains, 2.Meat dinners, 3.Egg, Turkey and Chicken dinners, and 4.Fish dinners. She also recommends a particular wine with each meal, in case you don’t have the time or mental energy to choose one for yourself. She keep things very simple on the premise that you don’t want to spend too much time collecting and preparing the food. In some cases, I would rather skip her shortcuts and, for example, make my own garam masala or harrisa paste instead of quickly purchasing it at the store.
A few of my favorites so far are the Thyme Rubbed Salmon with Shallots and Caramelized Cauliflower, Cornflake Crusted Chicken Fingers with Rosemary, Sweet Potato Fries and Chutney, Catfish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw, Thyme Dusted Pork Medallions with Pear-Rutabaga Mash, and Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Prosciutto. As you can see from the names of these dishes, these are not run of the mill recipes. You may even find that you are cooking with ingredients you have never used before. It’s fun and creative.
I also have a difficult time sticking strictly to a recipe, but I found that this book gives you great ideas for the beginnings of a terrific meal. And, as the title implies, everything can be made in one pan and served on two plates!