One Is The Hungriest Number: Holiday Edition

Lots of you asked for a newsletter about cooking for one (recipes, strategies, etc), so a few weeks ago my longtime friend, colleague, and cookbook guru, Kerri Conan, tackled the first installment. Here she is with the second. As I said before, whether you're cooking for yourself or for lots of people, for a quiet night or a special occasion, when it comes to strategizing and planning day-to-day and week-to-week cooking, Kerri is a master. Here she is.

—Mark

Eating solo is finally getting some respect. We who help Mark with his newsletter have introduced a recurring feature on three easy approaches to cooking for yourself. (In case you missed the first installment, “One is the Hungriest Number,” .) And recently pieces have run in the New York Times about dining alone in restaurants and the struggle many widows face returning to the kitchen after the death of a loved one.

Talking about how to cook for one person—regardless of the circumstances—is something readers told Mark they wanted to hear. And we’re hoping to provide both useful tools and encouragement. That includes navigating the potentially fraught holidays.

When you go to parties and other gatherings this time of year, odds are you’ll bring a contribution to the table.The first three recipes here are good for anyone to bring to a potluck, but work especially well for people used to cooking for one—easy, vegetarian, make-ahead appetizers that go with all kinds of menus. They’re even flexible enough to cross over to other parts of the menu.

Take the Caramelized Spiced Nuts: They work as a tantalizing snack before the meal, or a garnish for salad or simply cooked vegetables; you can even incorporate them into dessert or a cheese course. Deviled eggs are always a hit. Mark’s got several new spins in case you want to go wild. To make them even easier, chop up the eggs, stir in the other ingredients, and serve them with crackers or vegetable sticks. The eggplant dip is one of my all-time favorites. Pita chips are a good not-too-hefty compromise to start a starchy meal; they also make the dip a manageable finger food for cocktail parties. Or toss the dip with cooked pasta or grains to make a hearty vegan side dish.

To scratch your itch to cook turkey and stuffing in a way that’s both realistic and satisfying, I’m including a recipe for legs roasted on an easy cracker stuffing with sage-butter drizzle for “gravy.” It’s ready in less than an hour and ensures enough for yourself and a couple friends, or a solo celebration with enough left over for sandwiches or soup—which is as important a tradition as the big meal.

—Kerri


Sugar and bit of spice make these only slightly more involved than plain roasted nuts, and even more addictive. Use all one kind of nut or a combination. Add seeds to the mix if you like; sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds all add flavor and texture.

CARAMELIZED SPICED NUTS


A wonderful old standard that can be varied in dozens of ways and infinitely scaled up. For lower-fat deviled eggs, replace the mayonnaise with yogurt. For a richer version, use sour cream or crème fraîche in place of the mayonnaise.

DEVILED EGGS, UNLEASHED


There is nothing like grilled eggplant, and its smoky flavor makes a sensational dip; if you grill or roast a red pepper at the same time, so much the better. Serve with bread or crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.

GRILLED OR ROASTED EGGPLANT DIP


Butter and sage make everything taste like Thanksgiving—even a simple turkey leg with cracker-meal and vegetable dressing.

ROAST TURKEY LEGS WITH CRACKER STUFFING


Talk To Me, Goose!

Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.