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Cooking For One

Instock's picture

Hi All.  I just got my own place and now I have to cook for myself.  I could really use some menu suggestions.  I don't really know how to cook, but I'm not afraid to try stuff either.  I tried looking around online but it's just a sea of stuff out there and I don't know what to focus on.  Also, I want to avoid garlic because it gives me terrible gas.  It seems like they put garlic in everything! 


Thanks,
Shawn

MadMom's picture

(post #30770, reply #1 of 117)

Hello, Shawn, and welcome to CT.  You'll find a lot of helpful people here.  We've had a lot of threads about beginning cooks and about cooking for one.  Someone who is better with the search than I can point you in the right direction.  In the meantime, what type of foods do you like?  Do you want to learn to cook different types of food, or just the basics?  Do you have any good cookbooks?  Would you like to hear some advice about cookbooks, equipment, etc.?



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Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #2 of 117)

Thanks for the warm welcome. 


Do I have any good cookbooks?  Good question.  I guess that's a good place to start, huh?  I did look at a few at Borders.  So many to choose.  


What do I want to accomplish?  I want to quickly move away from the basics.  Perfecting the art of grilling chicken doesn't really excite me.  I rather be a little snooty and make something with a name that nobody can pronounce.  I want to cook meals that I can be proud of and have people beg me for the recipe.  And even when I give them the recipe, they still can't get it to come out right. 


I'm a sucker for strange and unusual techniques.  Anything that involves using a kitchen blow-torch will definitely get my attention.  Or intentionally putting aluminum foil in the microwave.  =)  Great conversation items. 


I like hot food.  Marinated meats.  I love pasta and rice.  I love every kind of cheese.  I like fish and pork and ham.  Mushrooms. 


I don't like "caveman food" - anything where I feel like I'm gnawing the meat off a dead animal carcass (like ribs or drumsticks).  But at the same time, vegetarian stuff is pretty boring too.  I eat vegetables.  Spinach and tomatos and asparagus are pretty good.  But vegetables don't really excite me. 


I don't mind investing in some tools, if they'll last.  That's not a problem. 

schnitzel's picture

(post #30770, reply #3 of 117)

Welcome, Shawn!


You'll want to invest in good knives (if you haven't already); a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a honing steel.

Here's a pasta recipe that's pretty easy, a bit spicy, and contains NO garlic: Capellini Capricciosi . The recipe serves six, so you'll want to halve it and maybe halve again...depends on your appetite. 


For blowtorch fun, I suggest this classic: Crème Brûlée.

Stick around and you'll learn a lot here.



~Amy W    Cooks Talk T&T Recipes

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."  Julia Child

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #6 of 117)

Thanks everybody.


Schnitzel, I tried your capellini capricciosi suggestion tonight.  I do have to get some good knives.  Cutting up that bacon was a chore!  I've always loved those little peperoncini peppers.  But I just pop them whole.  Sitting and cutting the seeds out of those little things felt kind of silly.  I had a little trouble with the angel hair pasta clumping together - I'm not sure why.  I was using a pretty big pot, but maybe with the colander insert, it isn't as big as it looks. 


Anyway, that was really good.  Delicious.  Lots of yummy ingredients.  Funky Italian name to impress my friends.  Nothing too difficult or time consuming.  That was a great suggestion.  Thanks. 

schnitzel's picture

(post #30770, reply #9 of 117)

Treat yourself to really sharp knives, you'll be amazed at the difference it makes. 

And try partially freezing the bacon, it's much easier to cut that way.

Leave the seeds in the pepper if you like. Remember, a recipe is a guideline, make it what you want. And you can always add some red chile flakes for more heat. I've made this same recipe using pickled jalapenos and loved it.

Stir your pasta in the beginning to prevent it from clumping together.
Check this out: Cooking Pasta Properly


BTW, Lidia Bastianich has mentioned many times how she cannot digest garlic. She adds a slightly smash whole garlic clove or large slices to a her cooking, then removes the garlic before serving. So the dish benefits from the 'perfume' of garlic without actually having to ingest any of it.

Good luck and have fun!



~Amy W    Cooks Talk T&T Recipes

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."  Julia Child

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #10 of 117)

Leaving the seeds in will give a little (or a lot  more depending on the pepper) heat.  To split them and seed them quick just use your thumbs- split the pepper and push them out- works great for pickled or roasted..  Fresh peppers strip out pretty quick. With practice it get quicker.  Welcome to the site.

ashleyd's picture

(post #30770, reply #13 of 117)

The heat in chiles is concentrated in the ribs, not in the seeds, although if you remove one you tend to remove the other, hence the common misconception. Although removing the seeds with your thumbs is the quickest method it also means that you get a lot of capsaicin on your fingers, which you will surely notice if you rub your eyes, or other sensitive parts of your body.


“In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #18 of 117)

Seems like I've got some heat when I've gotten hold of seeds.  And absolutely when working with the hot and spicy keep the hands away from any sensitive area.

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #11 of 117)

Just a quick thought on the bacon.  When I get it I separate it into the servings I think I'll use-2 or 3 strips and wrap it in wax paper and put it in a ziplock bag.  It keeps as long as I like ( within reason) and its easy to take out a serving and slice up.  I just take a long piece of wax paper, lay the bacon down and start rolling adding more servings as they get covered.

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #12 of 117)

OK, now what do I make tomorrow?  Hmmm.....


And I need to come up with something good for Sunday's BBQ too.  Last time I brought some shish kabobs with marinated chicken and italian sausage and vegetables and mushrooms.  That was good.  Everybody liked it.  But I want to kick it up a notch this weekend and whip together something really exotic. 

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #19 of 117)

Main course, desert or side?

Fledge's picture

(post #30770, reply #14 of 117)

cool tip Kathi

sittin in la la waiting for my ya ya, uh huh....

You don't scare me

I have an African Grey

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #17 of 117)

My cats, rabbits and ferrets I like living and fuzzy- bacon no thanks. :)

Astrid's picture

(post #30770, reply #15 of 117)

A less expensive alternative to buying cookbooks right away is to buy a couple of copies of good cooking magazines and read through them from front to back. You will find quite a few recipes and general information about cooking, as well as ads for cooking equipment and supplies. Magazines are good for a general view of a subject. Libraries also are a good source for cookbooks for free.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Lword's picture

(post #30770, reply #20 of 117)

>What do I want to accomplish?  I want to quickly move away from the basics


Hi, and definitely look in the Tried & True folder! Do you think you have the basics down? There is SO much you can do with either herbs or presentation that makes something simple seem complex - like strawberries with balsamic vinegar. 


>I'm a sucker for strange and unusual techniques


That sounds like fun. About all I can say is that I'm looking for easy and approachable and not too much work!


Don't worry so much about "cooking for one" as almost everything will keep for a second helping if you cook a recipe for two.


>I want to cook meals that I can be proud of and have people beg me for the recipe.  And even when I give them the recipe, they still can't get it to come out right.


For that, make soup from leftover veggie scraps. Even you won't be able to duplicate it ;)


L.
L.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #21 of 117)

Vinegar on strawberries?  I can't imagine that that could possibly be appetizing, but I'm keeping an open mind here......


I like that Tried and True folder.  Good suggestion.  Too bad it isn't better organized.  That's what I'm looking for.  Tried and True stuff that just works.  =D


Yeah, I'm looking for a little adventure.  I probably should work on the basics first.  Walk before you can run and all that.  But what exactly are basics anyway?  You could spend a lifetime working on the basics.  I don't have the patience for that.  I prefer the what-the-hell attitude. 


I learned everything I know about cooking in the Boy Scouts.  So, for me, cooking on a stove top is a little peculiar. 

KarenP's picture

(post #30770, reply #22 of 117)

Vinegar on strawberries?  I can't imagine that that could possibly be appetizing, but I'm keeping an open mind here......


It is terrific!  Don't forget the pepper.

ashleyd's picture

(post #30770, reply #23 of 117)

Vinegar on strawberries?  I can't imagine that that could possibly be appetizing


You missed the key word 'balsamic', if you tried ordinary vinegar on strawberries it would be far from appetizing. So there is a little lesson, learn about ingredients, what they are, what they taste like, what you can do with them, once you have a 'feel' for ingredients you can embark on your what-the-hell adventures.



“In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #24 of 117)

I didn't miss it.    I went right downstairs and grabbed a bottle.  Honestly, though I never got passed the smell.  Smells like vinegar...  Now I'm gonna have to go taste it.  =P

ashleyd's picture

(post #30770, reply #25 of 117)

Balsamic vinegar comes in all grades from the cheap, and frankly nasty, to the old and revered. If your balsamic cost less than $10 for a fairly small bottle then you are at the lower end of the market and what you basically have is vinegar with a few additives. Above that it gets more interesting - and tasty. To improve the taste of cheaper balsamics simmer gently in an uncovered pan until the liquid is reduced by half.


“In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #26 of 117)

Ahhhh...  Ok.  So that's your secret.  I don't know where this stuff came from, but it was probably less than 10 bucks for a fairly large bottle.  I did like you said.  Sure enough.  It is a lot more palatable. 

Fledge's picture

(post #30770, reply #28 of 117)

hmmmmm, interesting

sittin in la la waiting for my ya ya, uh huh....

You don't scare me

I have an African Grey

Cissy's picture

(post #30770, reply #27 of 117)

Vinegar on strawberries?  I can't imagine that that could possibly be appetizing, but I'm keeping an open mind here......


If nothing else, you need FC's/Taunton's Cooking New American cookbook.  There is a wonderful recipe for Strawberries with Balsamic (vinegar) Sabayon in it.  We've served it with Plant City (FL) strawberries -- used margarita glasses for a nice presentation -- and nobody said a word until the last strawberry was gone.  This Taunton cookbook is a collection of favorite recipes from the magazine.

Lword's picture

(post #30770, reply #29 of 117)

Others have explained very well the balsamic vinegar, but it might not be a flavor combination you like.


You would probably have success cooking any of the T&T recipes, or simply making a soup or salad with fresh ingredients, tasting as you go.


The "basics" depend on what you cook, bake or assemble. One aspect of basics could be interpreted as combining sweet and tart or sweet and sour, etc. Another could be knowing terms such as fold, saute, simmer etc. Stick around here and ask questions. These people know EVERYthing!


 


L.
L.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #58 of 117)

Good balsamic on strawberrries with pepper-thats lliving.  If you want to make the people nuts inject strawberries with grand marnier and hol for an hour or so- dip in bittersweet chocolate and serve with whipped cream.

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #62 of 117)

What's hol?  And how do you inject it into a strawberry? 

Adele's picture

(post #30770, reply #63 of 117)

hol is probably a typo- 'hold' for an hour.  Inject with a syringe.

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #65 of 117)

Ahhhh.  Hold for an hour.  Yeah, that's what I kind of figured after searching the Net for a half an hour where I could buy a half liter of "hol".  :)


As for the rest of you banana washers...  I learned to cook in the Boy Scouts.  I'm a firm believer in the 5 second rule.  And those black specks in there are pepper!  I dunno.  Some things can really make people sick and I'm very conscientious about them - like raw meat.  But, overall, I believe humans were made to handle eating a little grit - and it's not going to affect my quality of life in any statistically significant way.  A hint of garlic gives me terrible gas, but a few traces of brake fluid never bothered me.  Some people don't see it that way and I guess that's a good lesson for me to learn on the Internet, rather than have a guest turn his nose up at something I put a lot of energy into.  :) 

KathiM's picture

(post #30770, reply #67 of 117)

Typo for hold or let marinate for an hour.  What you inject is the Grand Marnier till it oozes out the pores. Yum.  :)

Instock's picture

(post #30770, reply #68 of 117)

That Grand Marnier cost me 23 bucks for 350 ml!  You gotta warn me about stuff like that KathiM.  This better be good.  So far, the only thing oozing is money out of my wallet.  hehehe  =P  Maybe I'm too cheap for this whole cooking thing.  I'm going back to Ramen Noodles. 


Grand Marnier does have a cool French name, though.  And it's in my dictionary, so I could even look up the pronunciation: "Grahn Marnyay"  Beautiful. 


I just picked up a bottle of hol from shoprite.  In the pickle aisle.