all home cooking experiences are geared towards a happy family or a smiling, co-habiting couple.
"Serves four" the recipe book will inform you, judgily, alongside a picture of a beautifully set table replete with candles and four place settings for your non-existent partner and two delightful but imaginary children. "Dine in for £10" says Marks & Spencer of its deal for two of sea bass, alright wine, side of red cabbage and a dessert.
Pretty much the only dining experience you're left with as a solo person is a Tesco Meal Deal and, while a tuna sandwich and a packet of Monster Munch may do the job sometimes, it's hardly the warm, comforting meal you want on a cold evening at home.
Cooking for yourself should be a pleasure, and a joy. It shouldn't be buying extra ingredients you don't need only to decant the leftovers into countless Tupperwares which will inevitably get lost at the back of your fridge.
Which is why we're thrilled with a new book called
Solo by Signe Johansen, a Norwegian chef who's mastered the art of recipes that are suitable for just one person – and that person is you.
Click through to find three recipes from Signe that are to be enjoyed all by yourself.
Radicchio, pink grapefruit and gorgonzola winter salad Full of bold colours, textures and flavours, this is a super salad to try in the midwinter months when citrus fruits are at their best and you need a change from soup. You can use dried grapefruit or orange ‘crisps’ (shop-bought or homemade in a low oven) instead of fresh grapefruit for an extra crunch, but juicy citrus fruits really complete this dish. Ingredients 1 radicchio head 1 pink grapefruit small wedge of gorgonzola cheese small handful of toasted almonds leaves from 1 sprig of thyme For the dressing 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp sherry or wine vinegar of choice 1 tsp wholegrain mustard 1 tsp plain or acacia honey sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Instructions 1. Wash the radicchio and either peel the leaves all the way off or give the head a rough chop. Place the leaves in a shallow pasta bowl or on a dinner plate, then peel the grapefruit, and slice the flesh (thickly enough that the slices hold their shape) and scatter it on top. Place little bites of gorgonzola around the salad. Scatter over the almonds and thyme leaves. 2. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a jam jar or cup (if using a jam jar, just seal and give it a really good shake to emulsify the vinaigrette) and taste. I like a very punchy, vinegar-rich dressing for this salad but if you prefer a more traditional vinaigrette, simply add a spoonful or two more olive oil until you have the consistency and flavour you like. 3. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad and keep any spare for dunking bread into. Variations: – Radicchio also marries well with pear and apple and, if you’re a fan of bitter flavours, blood orange. – Use other leaves such as chicory, frisée, watercress or rocket, if you prefer. – Lightly grill the radicchio if you fancy a warmer salad: chop it and lace it with a little oil then grill or quickly pan-fry it.
Late-night miso ramen Rather than diving into a packet of crisps, instant or quick-cook ramen is ideal when you’ve been out late and fancy a bite to eat before bedtime. Ingredients 150g packet miso ramen noodles (or plain noodles) handful of frozen peas, or any vegetables you have lurking in the fridge (carrots, sugar snap peas, corn, bean sprouts, finely shredded cabbage, courgette, etc.) 1 egg 1 tbsp red or brown miso paste (if using plain noodles) 1 fresh green chilli, sliced 1 spring onion, sliced and placed in a bowl of iced water for a few minutes a generous pinch of black or white sesame seeds toasted sesame oil, to taste Japanese dried nori seaweed, to serve (optional) Instructions 1. Cook the ramen noodles according to the packet instructions, adding the frozen peas (or whichever veg you opt for) to the pan so they cook at the same time. Cook the egg by poaching it in the broth (whisk it in a bowl first then pour it into the broth or crack it in), boiling it whole in a separate pan, or giving it a quick fry. 2. Add the miso paste to the noodle cooking liquid (if cooking plain noodles) and stir through. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chilli, drained spring onion, sesame seeds, sesame oil and any other toppings you like. The egg goes on last if you cooked it separately, along with the seaweed (if using). Variations: You can really play around with this recipe, adding all manner of ingredients. These work particularly well – assorted pickles, citrus, herbs, mushrooms, kimchi, sriracha sauce, coconut milk or cream, peanut butter and Korean gochujang paste. Leftovers: Add leftover roast meat such as chicken, shellfish such as prawns, or tofu.
Cherry, almond and dark chocolate tiffin Sometimes known as the rather prosaic ‘Refrigerator Cake’, this tiffin ticks all the boxes: rich, dark chocolate, crunchy biscuits, nutty almonds and the mouth-puckering dried sour cherries. Some days you just need chocolate. When you don’t want cake, or indeed a plain bar of the dark stuff, make this instead. Cuts into 8-10 slices to leave in the fridge as a snack. Ingredients 150g dark chocolate (I use Green & Black’s 70% cocoa solids cooking chocolate), broken into pieces 100g unsalted butter, softened 2 tbsp golden syrup 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 egg handful of dried sour cherries (about 75g) handful of toasted flaked almonds 6 digestive biscuits 4 shortbread fingers a sprinkle of fleur de sel or sea salt (optional) a sprinkle of cocoa nibs (optional) Instructions 1. Line the base and sides of a 450g loaf tin with cling film (if it doesn’t stick, greasing the base with a little oil will act as an adhesive). 2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, then remove the bowl from the pan and set it aside to cool slightly. 3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the golden syrup and vanilla for a few minutes until pale. Add the egg and beat rapidly. The mixture may split but it will come together again when you add the chocolate. 4. Add the melted chocolate, fold everything together and add the cherries and almonds. Roughly crumble the biscuits and shortbread into chunks (if they’re too crumbly you won’t get that nice crunch when biting into the tiffin) and fold them in to make a lumpy, chocolatey mess (that’s the beauty of tiffin). 5. If you’d like a little extra crunch, sprinkle the salt and cocoa nibs on to the bottom of the prepared tin, then spoon the tiffin mixture into the tin and press it down with the back of a spoon or spatula to level out the surface. 6. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Cut into slices or smaller bites and keep in the fridge for up to a week.