Simple, Inventive Cooking for One

One benefit of being a food writer and cookbook author is that eating is pretty good.  One is either recipe-testing, taking photographs, or writing about food. Guests and children love it too because someone has to eat all this stuff. However, when does a cookbook writer have “down time” in terms of cooking? When my children were young and having a dinner they particularly liked they would ask “is this a recipe test?” If I answered “no” they would then advise that I had better write the recipe for the preparation because it was particularly good. Being able to just cook, with no ulterior motive than a nice, delicious dinner, seemed to escape me. Now the kids are grown and gone, my work load is lessened and I’m finding more opportunity to just cook without thoughts of publishing the recipe. So, in this post, no recipe, but I will describe, in a series of posts, dishes I recently made for myself–dining alone–that I particularly enjoyed and I think you will too, cooking without a recipe and just using your common sense.

The first dish I made was pan-seared beef skirt steak with sauteed escarole. (I’ll add more dishes later.) The skirt steak is simple enough: heat a cast iron or carbon steel skillet over high heat for 10 minutes. Lay the skirt steak down and cook until crispy brown on both sides then season with salt and pepper. If more smoke is being generated than your exhaust fan can handle, reduce the heat. Meanwhile, take a head of escarole and quarter it then rip into smaller pieces. Heat a quarter cup of olive oil in a large saute pan or flameproof casserole over medium-high heat and add two large sliced garlic cloves to it. When the garlic begins to sizzle add a handful of pitted black olives and start adding the escarole in handfuls and cook until it starts to wilt, adding more batches as they wilt, about 10 minutes in all.  Once all the escarole is in, reduce the heat to low, and cook 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir, and serve with the skirt steak. You’ll have leftovers of escarole if you’re eating alone but that’s okay because it makes a delicious antipasto at room temperature the next day.

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