This cookbook has a copyright of 2009. I don't know where I got this cookbook. I have never cooked from this cookbook before.
There are only two of us in our household. Though I have no problem with leftovers and I tend to bring Mom tastes of dishes I'm cooking, sometimes there are reasons to only cook enough food to feed two people. It might be an ingredient that I'm not sure I'll like or maybe an ingredient that costs quite a bit, so making enough for two seems prudent. Or maybe I'm headed out of town for the weekend, or have other plans where any leftovers would be wasted. I hear you saying "just freeze it" but not everything freezes or reheats well and you would have to have room in your freezer for that (don't ask). Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that I like to try different recipes and if it's the choice between having five different dishes for dinner during the week or eating the same dish for those five days? I'll choose the variety. And yes, I know that I could probably take dishes for six or eight and divide them down to work for two, but that isn't always practical. I'd rather take the easy way out and have someone do the division for me. Plus, this is an America's Test Kitchen book. They've done all the figuring out of splitting up of stuff to make sure the final result is appetizing. And lets be serious here...probably the most important reason for only making two servings of a dish? Cuz that's means I'll only eat one serving. Can't tell you how many times I've made a dish that "serves 4" and there is barely enough leftover for a decent meal the next day! I think Cooking for Two cookbooks should be on any dieters bookshelf.
This is actually an annual recipe collection that takes Americas Test Kitchen recipes from the year and cuts them down for two (I believe it started in 2009 and there has been a new one printed every year). The cookbook starts out with a Smart Shoppers Guide which gives you ways to use the ingredients in more than one dish. For example if you buy a can of sweetened condensed milk, it lists two recipes using the milk so you don't have a partial can sitting around (both recipes are listed under Sweetened Condensed Milk in the index too). There is a Stocking the Kitchen for Two page which lists equipment that might be used in the cookbook and that would be helpful when cooking for two (like a 4 1/2 inch spring form pan).There is a nice Conversions & Equivalencies section with volume, weight and oven temperatures.
Chapters listed: Skillet Meals; Pasta for Dinner; Everyday Main Dishes; Fancy Dinners; On The Lighter Side; Last-Minute Suppers from the Pantry; One Big Roast, Three Great Meals; Dinner off the Grill; Side Dishes, and Desserts.
Approximately 150 recipes with 49 full page color photos. As with most America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, little black and white photos of ingredients, equipment or step by step instructions are included throughout. Lots of "Notes from the Test Kitchen" giving more information about an ingredient, a process, or tips on how to make the recipe better. For Greek Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches, the Notes talk about the best whole-milk yogurt, storing iceberg lettuce and what feta cheese is. Remember the Smart Shoppers Guide at the front of the book that lists several recipes using leftover ingredients? Periodically you'll find a "Use it Up" bit in a recipe that will tell you what to do with a leftover ingredient. In the recipe for Pasta with Garden Vegetable Sauce it calls for the use of half a zucchini. There is a section in the recipe for "Use it Up-Zucchini" which gives you a quick recipe for Zucchini and Chickpea Salad which uses up that other zucchini half (personally, I wish all cookbooks did something like this when you use half a head of cauliflower or half a can of coconut milk).
Recipes are easy to follow. They list substitutions if possible. What I love is that if they list "3 garlic cloves" they tell you that means "about 3 tablespoons" (I always have a problem when someone says the "juice of one lemon" and I have two lemons on my counter..one the size of a golf ball and the other the size of a baseball!). Ingredients can be found at any good grocery store (even the dishes in the Fancy chapter didn't call for any strange stuff). A lot of the recipes list "variations" from the main recipe (Shrimp and Grits, Shrimp and Grits with Chipotle Peppers, Shrimp and Grits with Bacon).
One of the things America's Test Kitchen does best is go through all the possible ways to make a dish the best it can be. And they spend lots of space in the pages of their cookbooks, telling you what did and didn't work and why, in perfecting each recipe. While I used to read all this information when I bought one of their cookbooks (and the magazine) I admit to rarely doing that anymore. Just not enough time to read a page and a half about how they got to a simple recipe for making Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas. I tend not to read that information unless I'm actually going to cook a recipe (and I do find it very useful, especially when I think I might take a shortcut and find they alreay tried that and it didn't work).
I read some reviews online that weren't happy because the desserts called for small baking equipment...but it's hard to bake a cake in a 10" pan when you are trying to make it for two, so having some of the smaller items on hand didn't seem out of the ordinary for me (plus, small cakes and pies are very "in" right now).
The main thing that struck me about this cookbook were the dishes that I never thought could be for just two...dishes like Lasagna, Beef Wellington, Raspberry Nectarine Pie. Originally I thought the recipes might be too simple, boring or just not interesting enough to try. Luckily I found quite a few I'd like to make: Chicken with Israeli Couscous, Spinach, and Feta; Chicken with Orzo, Asparagus, and Parmesan; Tortilla Casserole; Stir-Fried Beef with Snap Peas and Red Pepper; Stir-Fried Beef with Tangerine, Onion, and Snow Peas; Greek Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches with Tzatziki Sauce; Shrimp and Grits (and with Chipotle Chile and with Bacon); Polenta Dinner with Italian Meat Sauce; Pasta with Chicken, Caramelized Onion, and Red Bell Pepper; Pasta with Chicken, Bacon, Peas, and Gorgonzola; Pasta Caprese; Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce; Lasagna; Spaghetti and Meatballs; Baked Manicotti; Chicken Tikka Masala; Chicken Mole; Pan-Seared Shrimp with Chipotle Sauce; Pan-Fried Crab Cakes; Roast Rack of Lamb with Whiskey Sauce; Individual Beef Wellingtons with Madeira Sauce; Chicken Kiev; Broiled Scallops with Creamy Mushroom Sauce; Turkey Chili; Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Mango Relish; Bacon, Potato, and Cheddar Frittata; Pantry Corn Chowder; Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas; Cheese Souffle;Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps; French Style Pot Roast; Rigatoni with Beef Ragu; Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos; Easy Pork Enchiladas; Grilled Bratwurst with Onions and Peppers; Creamy Peas with Bacon and Goat Cheese; Potato Gratin; Blueberry Crumble; Pear Crisp; Apple Dumplings; Raspberry-Nectarine Pie; Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake; Rustic Peach Cake; Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting; New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding; and Flan.
I think it's awesome to have recipes for two for things like Lasagna, Pot Roast or a Cheese Souffle. I'm really looking forward to making some of the dishes in this cookbook!