Skip to content

Cooking for one does not have to be routine — live a little

A little research will reveal many recipes that may tempt you to make that special meal.
wp pizza
Dough can be made and frozen in individual portions. Simply pull one out of the freezer and let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator for fresh homemade pizza.

WESTERN PRODUCER — Cooking for one can become exhausting and routine. Variety suffers for the sake of convenience. It is easy enough to make a big batch of chili or spaghetti sauce and freeze some for later but there are times that I crave freshly made food.

Take pancakes as an example. I sometimes make a full batch of pancakes, cook them all and freeze the extras to pop in the toaster another day. But I prefer fresh pancakes. This Dutch baby recipe for one serving is ideal to satisfy that pancake craving.

Pork tenderloin is another meal that has too many leftovers and I truly dislike frozen, revived pork. The duck breast is a much better solution for a fresh and gourmet dinner for one.

Recipes for one seem to be a hot item these days. A little research will reveal many recipes that may tempt you to make that special meal.

A special occasion is not a prerequisite for a special meal. Live a little.

Homemade pizza

Dough:

  • 3 3/4 c. unsifted all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough 925 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast 1 mL
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt 10 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. water 375 mL

Toppings:

  • 28 oz. can peeled Italian tomatoes 875 mL
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt 5 mL
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into large chunks 250 g
  • arugula, baby tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 175 mL
  • 1 slice prosciutto

Make the dough in a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.

Cover the bowl with a fitted lid, plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.

Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into four equal parts and shape them into balls. The dough should not be sticky. If it is, dust with more flour.

The dough can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze up to three months. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for two to three hours before needed.

Assemble and bake.

Put the pizza stone on a lower rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C) for 30 minutes.

Drain tomatoes and pass through a food mill or just squish them with your hands. Stir in the olive oil and salt. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm). Don’t worry if it’s not round. Don’t handle it more than necessary. You want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Generously dust a pizza peel, an unrimmed baking sheet or a rimmed baking sheet that has been flipped over to use the bottom side with cornmeal or whole grain flour and lay the disk onto the centre. It is now ready to be topped.

With the dough on the peel, spoon tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Distribute hunks of mozzarella on top.

With quick, jerking motions, slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burned, about five minutes.

Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Top with arugula, sliced fresh baby tomatoes, prosciutto torn into pieces and shaved cheese. Slice and serve immediately.

Single-Serve Dutch baby pancake

These little oven pancakes, known as a Dutch baby, use just a small amount of flour with an egg and milk. They’re delicious with fruit or syrup or serve with warmed preserves and a dusting of icing sugar. It is traditionally made quite large, this variation is cooked in a five-inch (12.5 cm) cast-iron skillet, just the right size for a single serving.

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 c. milk 60 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract or almond extract 1 mL
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, optional 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, optional 2 mL
  • icing sugar, for dusting, optional
  • 1/2 c. preserves or fresh fruit, optional 125 mL
  • syrup, optional

Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 475 F (245 C).

In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, extract and lemon zest, if using. Whisk to blend thoroughly. Whisk in the flour until smooth.

Use a shallow container with sides no more than three inches (7.5 cm) high, such as a small saucepan with an ovenproof handle, or an oven-safe ramekin. A five-inch (12.5 cm) cast iron skillet is perfect for one pancake.

Put the pan with butter in the hot oven and melt butter.

With an oven mitt, swirl the pan to coat the entire bottom and sides with the melted butter. Pour the batter into the hot pan and place in the hot oven. Bake the pancake for about 10 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Remove the Dutch baby from oven. It will soon fall and be flat. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over it, if desired. Serve it dusted with icing sugar or top with syrup, preserves, fresh fruit, sausage, bacon or ham.

Quesadilla

  • 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 7 mL
  • 3-4 spears asparagus
  • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips 125 g
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 1 mL
  • 1 medium flour tortilla
  • 1/2 c. shredded Monterey jack 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar 125 mL
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil 7 mL
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • sour cream, for serving

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add asparagus and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, five minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with spices, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and cooked through, eight minutes. Transfer to the plate of asparagus and onions.

Lay flour tortilla in skillet and top half of the tortilla with a heavy sprinkling of both cheeses, cooked chicken, asparagus and onion mixture and green onions. Fold the other half of the tortilla over and cook, flipping once, until golden, three minutes per side.

Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and avocado slices.

Duck breast

A duck breast is small and ideal for one or two servings. Serve it hot the first day and then cold the second day, if you have leftovers.

First you want to let your duck breast come to room temperature. Remove from fridge and salt it, then let sit for 30 minutes or so. Pat dry.

With a duck breast you won’t need much fat or oil to start in the pan. Cut through the skin, but not the meat, in a cross-hatch pattern. This will allow the fat to render out while keeping the meat from curling as it cooks. You can start the breast in a cool pan or slightly warmed and raise the heat after the fat starts rendering out. Finish it with medium high heat to get a crispy skin.

Let it cook about three-quarters of the time on the skin side. This renders most of the fat and crisps the skin. Flip the breast when the skin is browned and crispy and let cook on the meat side for a few minutes.

Finally, let duck breasts rest on a cutting board, skin side up. If they are a little underdone, you can tent them with foil, but it softens the crispy skin. Slice to serve.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: [email protected].