Cooking for One

December 16, 2012

I have been thinking alot about Happy Marriages:


And not just my own (which is happy!).  More like marrying flavors in cooking.  I borrow the phrase from Julia Child, who, in her recipe for leek and potato soup asks, has their ever been a happier marriage then the leek and the potato? I just love her attitude about food, and how she makes it so personal. It is personal!   That is why this post is about 2 happy flavor marriages but in a dish you can cook for your self alone:  A Mushroom and Gruyere Omelet.  

For starters, I think cooking for yourself is so important – to save soul-satisfying cooking only for others is so sad.  I bring it up also because a lot of 20-somethings I talk to say, “I really don’t know how to cook” or “I don’t have anyone to cook for”.  So this post is for all the Jamies and Rachels out there.

Judith Jones, Julia Child’s editor wrote a whole book about it called The Pleasures of Cooking for One. So to start, I would recommend this (along with Julia’s Cooking Wisdom, which I have mentioned before).


Like Julia, I love her food philosophy.  Even with a family, I often cook for myself because my husband is traveling and the kids are begging for something I don’t want to eat, or they are at school.  She notes that cooking for one lets you be really inspired by ingredients in the fridge or the farmer’s market.  She is totally right – this meal/post was inspired by a package of mushrooms sitting in my fridge.

The mushroom and gruyere (which is a type of swiss cheese, so you could use swiss cheese instead but try to find the gruyere!) omlete is a meal with very simple ingredients that turns out something close to perfection.  First you sautee the mushrooms, and for all novices, you’ll see here that Mushroom 101 is when you are sauteeing them, don’t crowd them in the pan or they will steam instead of turn golden brown.


Then comes the happy marriage part: Tarragon.  

This herb goes so well with mushrooms, they feel like they are missing something for me if I eat them with out it.  (Ina Garten points out that this herb brings out the flavors of chicken salad too, FYI). After sauteing them for a few minutes (flipping them to brown on both sides) they turn into this:

While they are cooking, prepare the omlete.  I almost always over cook my omletes, but I like them that way.  If you don’t, watch your heat closely. Heat one T. butter on medium heat, being sure to coat the whole pan.  Beat 2-3 eggs, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and add to hot pan.  Using a fork or spatula, push up the cooked eggs on the edges a bit  and tilt the pan to let the uncooked eggs run to the hot pan.  When the eggs are mostly cooked, lay down the cheese and turn off the heat.  The heat of the pan will continue to cook the egg.

Gruyere and eggs are a such a Happy Marriage! If you are making anything with eggs – a frittata, quiche, souffle, or casserole – it will taste amazing if you add Gruyere to it.  Here is an image so you remember it always: Eggs + Gruyere = Heaven.

When the cheese is starting to melt and the mushrooms are done sauteeing, add the mushroons:


Then with a spatula flip the other side over.  Voila, breakfast, lunch or dinner is served.

This might just be my favorite meal.  Looking at this picture is actually making me crave it!  I hope you taste this soon because it is such a testament to simple flavors and ingredients being greater then the sum of their parts.  Happy cooking, and to the new cooks out there, don’t let a solo table stop you from learning techniques and flavor combos.  You learn something every time you cook!


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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Yum – that looks so good! I love learning about better ways to use spices and what they compliment. I was lucky if my mom used salt in her cooking growing up, and it seemed like if she ever felt inspired to add an herb, it was always oregano. I think it was the only seasoning we ever had besides salt and pepper, and it never really seemed to compliment the dish it was in. As such, I’m lousy at knowing which herb goes with what food, but I’m learning. Slowly. So thanks for the tarragon and mushrooms tip. Maybe I can convince Patrick to come over to the mushroom side after all. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I know, you will have to stick with tarragon bringing out chicken salad for Pat 🙂 But when you are cooking for just you, bring on the mushrooms. Your gorgeous new kitchen will hopefully inspire lots of experimenting!

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