As a single woman for many years, I had no qualms about eating alone in restaurants or at home. When out, I enjoyed people watching in my quiet corner. At home, I could relax and eat in my sloppy sweats in front of the TV or with a good book. Sometimes, since I like cooking, I longed to share my creations with someone; to validate that I actually made this or that delicious thing.
According to the National Day Calendar, this Friday is National No-One-Eats-Alone Day, so what better time to suggest that you cook enough to share? Whether you invite a friend or neighbor to your table or arrange a group potluck, here are a few recipes to keep it simple but interesting. Whatever you make, remember that many great ideas — and lasting friendships — have been forged over a good meal.
Creamy and light, this quiche can be varied with the addition of mushrooms and/or bacon. Recipe from “Gourmet with Ease” by Joyce Swetland; serves 6-8 as a buffet item or 2-3 as a main course. Leftovers, if any, taste pretty good the next day, too.
9-inch pie crust, partially baked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound asparagus, touch ends snapped off
Mushroom Quiche: 1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Bacon Quiche: 1/2 pound bacon, cooked until crisp
Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg together in a bowl; stir in cream until well mixed. Cook asparagus until just tender; drain well. Add asparagus, in a single layer, to pie crust. Gently pour egg mixture over the top; bake 45 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven, until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
If adding mushrooms, saute them slightly and place on top of asparagus before adding egg mixture. If adding crumbled bacon, place on top of asparagus before adding egg mixture.
Spicy Molasses Barbecued Drumsticks
You can make the sauce in advance and refrigerate up to two weeks. Recipe from Weight Watchers “Dining for Two,” which suggests serving with chopped romaine lettuce and shredded carrot, tossed with low-fat blue cheese dressing. Makes 2 servings.
3 tablespoons bottled chili sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons plain or seasoned cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light molasses
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle en adobo (usually canned)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
In a small saucepan, combine chili sauce, vinegar, molasses, chili powder, chipotle, and garlic; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, spray a grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare the grill. When grill is hot, place chicken on grill and cook, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Brush chicken with barbecue sauce. Cook, turning, until deeply glazed and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes longer.
Pureed Carrot, Potato and Ginger Soup
What could invite good conversation better than a big bowl of creamy soup (without the cream, in this case) perhaps paired with fresh bread? This quick and easy recipe from “Fresh &Fast” by Marie Simmons makes 2 to 4 servings.
1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 medium potatoes (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into half-inch dice
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
3 to 4 cups unsalted or reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
In a large saucepan, combine carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, chicken broth and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside, covered, about 10 minutes to cool slightly. With a slotted spoon, transfer all solids to a food processor; puree until as smooth as possible. With machine running, gradually add hot broth to the puree. Return soup to saucepan; bring to a simmer. Add fresh grated ginger and season with salt and lemon juice to taste. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top each with a swirl of yogurt.
Almond Polenta Pound Cake
The rough cornmeal used extensively in Southwestern cooking gives this cake a crunchy texture that almost tastes like sweet corn. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries if desired. Recipe from “Coyote Café” by Chef Mark Miller; makes one 9-inch cake.
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) almond paste
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and paper a 9-inch cake pan. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, almond paste, 1 cup of the sugar, and vanilla; scrape down sides of bowl frequently. Add egg yolks; blend well. In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, cornmeal and baking powder; add to butter mixture along with the cream. Mix until well blended; set aside.
In a third bowl, beat egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form. Fold half the whites into butter mixture; incorporate well. Gently fold in remaining whites; pour mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake 30 minutes or until the top of cake is golden and firm to the touch. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.