One of the things on my long list of summer self-improvement is to eat better when my husband is gone on business. In efforts to do this, I ordered The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones who, if you don’t know, worked with Julia Child for many years and has now written a cookbook full of recipes she has learned as a result of her new life as a widow. While that, of course, is not my situation, I do eat alone about 4-7 times a month, and Trader Joe’s stir-fry is good but gets old. This book has so many promising ideas from a single, stuffed Portobello mushroom to beef bourguingnon for one. I find myself looking at solitary dinnertime with excitement rather than lonely maybe-I-should-just-have-cereal-tonight desperation.
A couple of weeks ago, I ventured to make a steak for myself and use the leftovers 2 nights later in a gratin which was yummy. My latest try from Jones’s book, however, blew that away. This was so incredibly good that I think I’ll want to double it and make it when Scott is around as well. A bonus that makes the dish even better is that it is nourishing, fun to make, and composed of real, wholesome ingredients. I’ve never thought to eat eggs for dinner before, but she has a whole chapter on the usefulness of eggs for the single cook, and I think I just opened a whole new door that I never knew existed. The final result of this particular recipe is so decadent and so French. I seriously felt like I was back in Paris, sitting in a street-side table along the Seine. Sigh.
Baked Egg with Vegetables
First grate a single, small zucchini. Place the shreds in a colander and salt them. Wait about 30 minutes for the zucchini to drain. (You’ll be surprised at how much water comes out, and you don’t want your final result soupy.) Next melt a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan, add diced onions (she specifies shallots) and sliced mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes. Now squeeze the grated zucchini so that most of the excess water comes out. Throw the zucchini in the pan and saute with the onions and mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Next add 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. (DIVINE. Makes everything better.) Stir and cook for one minute. Judith Jones also says you can throw in any other leafy green vegetables you have. I threw in Swiss Chard from earlier this week, and it was delicious.
Now spoon the vegetables in to a small gratin dish and make a small well in the middle. Crack one egg on top. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Pour 2 more tablespoons of heavy cream on top and sprinkle some parmesan cheese if you have it and want it. Cook in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the egg is set. It comes out looking like this and smelling incredible.
There’s something about sitting down to eat a perfectly proportioned one-person meal in a little individual dish. Heaven.