Our Cooking for Two series continues with one of the biggest challenges faced by those trying to cook on a small scale: portion sizes! Refer back to the MyPlate diagram in Part One of this series to see how much of each type of food you should be serving, and then use these handy basic recipes below to get you started! You can get creative and add different seasonings, use various types of protein, and adapt them to suit your preferences!
All of the dishes pictured below were created by students in my Cooking for Two classes at various times and locations. Each time they were given the same information as appears in Part One and here in Part Two, given the run of my kitchen, and then they had one hour to prepare either a Soup, Salad, Entree, Omelet, or Dessert. As you can see, they had enough time to get fancy with their presentations as well!
Basic Salad Dressing for Two
1 tablespoon vinegar or combination of vinegar, wine, lemon juice, etc.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good quality oil – olive, walnut, avocado, etc.
2 teaspoons of flavorings – chopped garlic, fresh or dried herbs, shallots, onion powder, etc. , salt and pepper to taste. Try fresh ground black pepper to bring out the flavor!
Place all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Gradually whisk the oil in a few drops at a time until completely incorporated. The mixture should be an emulsion, not separated into layers.
Basic Rice, Quinoa, or Polenta Recipe for Two
1 cup rice, quinoa, or corn grits
2 cups water, stock, or fruit juice
Pinch of salt
Bring the liquid to a boil, add grain and salt, stir. Allow to come back up to a boil, stir, then reduce heat and cover until cooked, approximately 20 minutes. Rice and quinoa do not require further stirring, but grits, oatmeal and some other stickier starches should be stirred every few minutes to prevent scorching.
Basic Omelet Recipe for Two
Up to 1 cup of small diced vegetables or meats
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs (optional)
2-4 ounces of shredded cheese
1 tbsp butter
Melt butter in an egg pan, do not let it burn. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk vigorously to incorporate air. Pre-cook heavy fillings such as meats or raw veggies. These can be left in the pan and incorporated into the egg as it cooks, or can be removed and added to the center right before service. Be aware that meats with additives like ham and bacon will leave a sticky residue on the pan that will make it harder to flip your eggs. Heck, if your omelet breaks apart, it will still be delicious scrambled eggs.
When the pan is hot, add the eggs and swirl them around the pan to evenly distribute. Lift up the edges to allow uncooked egg to come in contact with the pan. When the omelet is half cooked through, flip the pan to turn the whole thing over. (Use a spatula if you must, but good luck getting it to flip in one piece). Allow to cook on the other side just long enough to set the eggs. Add filling and/or cheese. Remove from heat and slide the bottom half out onto a plate, then use the pan to fold the rest over the top. Top with more cheese, herbs or sauce such as hollandaise. For extra flourish, place under a broiler to toast the top before service.
Basic Soup Recipe for Two
Chicken and Rice Soup
4 cups chicken broth
8 ounces cooked chicken
1 small onion, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 cup cooked rice
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. sage
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add sage, along with some salt and pepper. Do not over-salt!
Add the cooked chicken, breaking up the chunks into bite-sized pieces.
Add the onion, carrot and celery and let them cook into the broth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Add rice and let cook for 6 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor!
For cold soups such as Melon, Cucumber, or Gaspatcho, use the same basic measurements, using a food processor to turn some of the veggies into liquid.
Stay tuned: Part 3 will provide a list of tools for a well-stocked kitchen for 2! Be sure to check out Part 1 for Tips and Tricks as well!