M.F.K. Fisher on being a woman and dining alone, 1938:
“More often than not people who see me on trains and in ships, or in restaurants, feel a kind of resentment of me since I taught myself to enjoy being alone. Women are puzzled, which they hate to be, and jealous of the way I am served, with such agreeable courtesy, and of what I am eating and drinking, which is almost never the sort of thing they order for themselves. And men are puzzled too, in a more personal way. I anger them as males.”
I eat alone often, sometimes standing at the kitchen counter, feet bare, one resting on the other. Other times, after a rushed morning of errands, in a corner of a restaurant with nothing to look on but the empty seat across from me. The quiet, disturbed only by a gurgling pour of wine and the sharp rap of a plate being set down, is a brief respite from the louder clatter of daily details.
There is, as Fisher noted, a mistrust of a woman enjoying a meal alone, and for years, when I dared do it, I fidgeted and pretended to be busy looking through my bag while my food arrived. It takes time to feel at ease with oneself, but once it happens, it’s relief, reward, and perhaps a touch of defiance.
These recipes are a feast for one, but they do easily multiply to feed more, should the mood suit you.
ROASTED MARROW BONES
Ask your butcher to trim the bones down to size. This is a make-ahead recipe.
3 beef marrow bones, about 3 inches long
Maldon salt for serving
Blackberry preserves and crusty bread for serving
– 24 hours prior to serving, combine cold water and 2 tablespoons salt in a large bowl. Add the bones and refrigerate. Drain and rinse the bones about every 6 hours, replacing the saltwater solution. This will eliminate impurities and season the marrow.
– Drain the bones and pat dry. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a small baking dish and arrange the bones in the dish, standing straight up. Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until the blade of a knife slips easily down the center.
– Transfer the dish to a cooling rack and cool about 5 minutes. Scoop out with a knife or small spoon, spreading marrow on crusty bread. Sprinkle with maldon salt and, for a touch of sweetness, top with a small spoonful of blackberry preserves.
ROASTED CHICKEN & BEETS
Makes 1 chicken
Nothing says comfort like a perfectly roasted chicken. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll find yourself making it at least once a week.
If you find beets with nice green tops, wash them, thinly slice them, and toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper and serve them alongside the chicken and roasted beets.
4 beets, scrubbed, green tops reserved
1 (3 ½- to 4-pound) whole chicken
Kosher salt and pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
– Adjust oven racks to middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange an oven-safe cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet, or, set a V-rack in a roasting pan. Wrap beets in foil.
– Make a small inverted “V” incision at the point where the chicken breasts meet the cavity and pull out the wish bone—this will make carving easier. Run fingers between the skin and flesh, just to loosen it. Measure out ¾ teaspoon salt per pound of chicken and rub directly on the flesh and on the skin. Season liberally with pepper.
– Cut 4 tablespoons butter into thin slices and tuck under the skin. Tuck the wings behind the chicken, then use kitchen twine to tie the ends of the drumsticks together. Arrange the chicken breast side down in the prepared rack. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and lightly brush on the chicken.
– Set the beet packet on the bottom rack of the oven and the chicken on the middle rack. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then transfer to the stovetop. Carefully, using wadded paper towels or two kitchen towels, turn the chicken breast side up. Brush with melted butter.
– Return the chicken to the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F. Roast until golden and thigh meat registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 40 minutes longer. Transfer roasting pan or baking sheet to cooling rack and allow chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
– Meanwhile, transfer beets to a cutting board and open foil packet. When cool enough to handle, peel off beets’ skin with paper towels. Carve chicken and drizzle serving with rendered juices. Cut beets in half, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Once cooled, freeze leftover choux puffs in a zipper-lock bag. When ready to use, warm through in a preheated 350°F oven, then allow to cool to room temperature.
For the Choux Puffs
½ cup water
2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
– Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with vegetable cooking spray.
– In medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts. Stir in flour all at once, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough, 4 to 5 minutes.
– Remove from heat and transfer dough to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, add the whole eggs one a time, beating well after each addition. The eggs should be well incorporated and the dough smooth. Transfer dough to a pastry bag or large zipper-lock bag with 1-inch of bottom corner trimmed off. Scrape dough into bag and pipe dough out into about 1 ½-inch mounds, spacing them about 2 inches apart from each other. Alternatively, use a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop with spring release to scoop out dough.
Beat egg yolk, pinch of salt, and cream in small bowl. Brush tops of dough with egg wash. Bake puffs for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and dark golden. Transfer puffs directly to cooling rack and cool completely.
For the Chocolate Sauce and Assembly
For easy assembly, scoop out ice cream onto a tray and place in freezer to set.
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or chocolate chips
Ice cream flavor of choice
– Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and salt and stir until chocolate is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
– With fingertips, carefully split the puffs and fill with ice cream. Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.
This looks amazing! What else can you use the marrow/bones for? ~ nerdwithtaste.wordpress.com
I sometimes use the marrow to roast vegetables — scoop out the marrow, and toss it with, for instance, fresh asparagus. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast until crisp-tender. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
You can put it on a baguette! YUM!
The roasted chicken and beets is what I really want to cook!
Aaah, I love this!! The whole thing just made me feel so… what’s the word? Well, kind of like standing in rain. Refreshing? Refreshed but also with a tinge of something else… anyway, this is fantastic. And the beginning was phenomenal.
Lovely compliment, thank you.
I love this part of that quote “It takes time to feel at ease with oneself, but once it happens, it’s relief, reward, and perhaps a touch of defiance.” Great capture!
Oh, thank you so much!
No no no no no!!! You are doing it all wrong! For 6th of July you shouldn’t book a table for 1, but for several… Including a few bottles of booze of course! Happy IZBUHVAM DAY!!!
I love Choux Puffs! It’s nice to see someone else who takes the time cook.
Love your photography of the food (and my mouth is watering).
Oh the pictures look damn good …… Mouth watering recipes made me crave for them. Loved the post 🙂
I’m another who is quite comfortable when I eat out alone, which I do often – no explanation, no excuse needed. No problems!
That’s a great use of marrow, I’ve never really known what to do with it before but definitely want to give that a go now! Thanks!
It’s so easy to make. Try it! Sometimes I make extra, save it, and plop it on vegetables instead of oil for roasting. Amazing.
Yum, what delicious sounding recipes! Beets are so delicious.
You know, roasted beets are also amazing with green tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette. Lots of color, texture, and perfect balance of sweet-and-earthy and tart.
I’m salivating here… 🙂
You have me drooling on my keyboard.
good .. I Love this
This way better than the so-called ‘haute cuisine’.
Liked the recipes. Thank you.
Reblogged this on CHANAPLUM.
Maybe the thoughts about women dining alone is because some people get scared when faced with such independence. Through the centuries, women`s independence has been a fight, and someone eating alone is the prime example that it did not work to tie them down. According to D. Burns: You should especially enjoy eating alone. Why wouldn`t you treat yourself as good as you do when with someone else? Why not take care to make wonderful food, put candles up and eat every bit slowly and happily ?
And I’m even vegetarian :)))
I love the pic of ixe cream. 🙂
Reblogged this on Lucifer Luceafar Luceafarul.
I love your food pictures.
Thanks! And, thanks for introducing me to Ray Caesar on your blog. Love his work.
Love the Fisher quote. I eat alone a lot too, sometimes out of choice, sometimes not. These profiteroles look yummy!
I know this is a table for one, but you have to invite me over at least once! Hah! Nice piece!
Come on over!
“It takes time to feel at ease with oneself, but once it happens, it’s relief, reward, and perhaps a touch of defiance.”
I fully agree with this. I often dine alone myself and am very comfortable doing so, but wasn’t at first either. It was such a rewarding feeling, a strong independence, when I finally felt comfortable traveling and dining out with just me, myself and I.
The recipes look amazing! Thanks for this post!
Thanks! And, love your handle 😉
I am traveling a fair amount for my work, and enjoy eating out! But eating out alone can sometimes become a real issue – an offer of a glass of wine from someone unknown, an unwanted look or sleazy smile! I now have a strategy – a book. My best companion when I am on my own! And a haughty look that hopefully should chill any intentions
Ahhh, yes, that does happen. A lot. Sometimes you meet some great people and other times you wish you had a Tazer!
The tazer certainly can come in handy! Happy travels !
Love the introduction. I always feel the need to have someone with me when I go out, even to watch a movie and no one is looking at me! People need to be more comfortable being alone at times and sometimes being among others. Of course, the dishes themselves look drool-worthy.
We must dine together, el pronto! Your recipes have my mouth watering. I was especially intrigued by the first. Bone marrow is divine, but I’ve never considered it within the manner you prepare it. Surely it is amazing on a crusty sourdough with said jam. 🙂
I love your photographs. They, more than anything, make me want to try all of this immediately!
Reblogged this on Luceafar Luceafarul VIII `Lucifer.
Love the sound of the marrow bones – that’s something to add to my list of out of the ordinary foods I want to try, just after brains 🙂
That looks yum! Seriously, I’m considering that for a cookout this weekend!
since I am single I eat alone most days … and I don’t really like it when I am at home and put on the tv or radio for company. But in restaurants or Cafes I love to sit and linger and enjoy my own company
Mouth-watering recipe aside, approaching the subject of eating alone is highly respectable! I appreciate your subject matter just as much as our taste in cooking.
Wow. Your recipes look great. But, I seriously can not get over you photos. They are beautiful. They remind me os American Pyscho. Just stark and crisp and contrasty. ❤
That looks fantastic! I think marrow has got to be one of my favorite foods, it’s why I’ll order osso bucco any time I find it.
i absolutely love bone marrow!!!! one dish i had recently at an omakase at a local sushi restaurant was a giant piece of marrow with 4-5 delicious mussels perched on top. we scooped the bone marrow with the marrow and took a bite of those heavenly mussels. so delish. and i like eating alone sometimes. it’s nice to not have to talk to anyone and just be with yourself.
OK, I can’t cook whole chickens – (they look like headless babies) but I promise to try it with chicken pieces because the beets sound amazing!!
So funny. Try the pieces and the beets while you become used to the headless babies 😉
Great idea, I’ll try it! Thank you!
it looks extra yummy! 🙂
Love the artistic food portraits!
I love, love, LOVE marrow! Now I want some! 🙂
Really, This does look yummy, Thanks!!!lol
Now I am hungry….lol
Well done. Enjoyed it very much. -Cheers
Great post and very artistic photos! I recall fondly of eating alone in Milan when I was on a business trip. I was determind to eat well instead of ordering room service so wandered out into the streets to find a trattoria. I think that others are more uncomfortable with the notion of table for one than the diner themselves. I took a book, which I guess is kind of cheating, but at least it allowed me to zone in to my own space without too many people trying to have conversations with the ‘lone’ diner. Another business trp I found myself in Zurich on Valentines night….I thought about finding a place to eat but thought room service on this occasion might be more appropriate. Best Torie
Thanks for the compliment and for sharing your outings! I’m eating alone more and more and more…out of town, I go to restaurants, and actually, it’s great for trying hip spots where a table for a few is hard to get. Alone you can quietly climb onto a bar stool… Room service is great sometimes. I usually stick to safe and satisfying stuff like fries, extra ketchup.
marrow… creepy. delicious. and so. even creepier.
Ha! I love this.
Love the diptych and great post! I enjoy eating out or having a drink or two on my own. Sometimes people get curious and start chatting with me, which can be quite fun. Making a meal for one can sometimes be boring though; I end up preparing the same things, albeit in different ways, from a lack of inspiration. So I make up for it by taking photos of what I’ve cooked : )
How right you are. And I understand about the initial reticence – wanting to appear ‘busy’ at the table, so as to hide any self-consciousness or fear of being judged. There always seems to be a backstory to a woman dining alone – was she stood up? Is she just odd? I have often brought a book out or a newspaper, but actually it’s much nicer to focus on the food and the environment. It’s interesting how the awkwardness lifts after a while. Thanks for sharing. Sophie
You know, I have met some interesting people at dinners alone. Usually I just want to unwind after a long day, enjoy my cocktail, etc., but I hear the most interesting stories because I’m willing to chat. Then again, I tend to be a creep magnet, so proceed with caution! Ha.
Your prose and photos are perfectly complementary! What wonderful recipes. I eat alone more often than I care to… I have managed to dine out for lunch alone like a pro, but haven’t been able to make the leap to dinner alone at a restaurant. Perhaps, inspired my MFK, I’ll re-evaluate.
Thank you! It really isn’t that bad, and you can really focus on the food. My suggestion is to have a drink first to unwind a little bit, and then order. Slowly.
I love to eat alone and go to the movies by myself! Love this post – the photos are amazing!
how beautiful! we use bone marrow often in moroccan tagines – delicious! your photographs are gorgeous!
I love tagines. Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? We’d be happy to make it and shoot it!
Reblogged this on Another Asian Foodie and commented:
These recipes are awesome and for a single girl like me, useful!
I am single and have been for some time, but even when I wasn’t I enjoyed and frequently dined alone. Also travelling a lot gets you used to it as well. So long as I have something to read I am completely untroubled to eat alone, in fact having company means I have to stop reading!
Lovely looking profiteroles, havent made in years, must do so…
Have you made the profiteroles yet? I think I’ll make floating islands for an upcoming post…seems a perfect splurge for a Saturday evening alone! Thoughts?
No I havent, I need an event otherwise I will make them and eat them ALL and that would be bad
I love this post! In the past year, I’ve been forcing myself to take in my surroundings and not depend on my phone for distraction when I’m along – anywhere from waiting for a bus to waiting for a friend a the bar. It’s exciting to confidently sit somewhere, alone, and realize the daily happenings of life are going on around you.
Awesome recipes and photos!
I’m glad you did! I eat alone at least three times a week, so I’m becoming a pro. It’s actually really relaxing. Glad you like the blog!
Wow this looks awesome!
cooking and shooting is indeed fun! 🙂
Loved the profiteroles! As for dining alone as a woman, I fully agree… Plus the mystery why men do not see a woman sitting somewhere with a book not as a woman wanting to read, but as a woman desperate to be chatted up.
Great job you did here on your blog! Keep it up!
Thanks for sharing your blog keep on sharing
Thanks for a thoughtful post – I am a HUGE proponent of dining alone, as it allows me to more thoroughly enjoy my meal, usually get treated to better service, and allow me to slow down for a little while and just…think. I actually enjoy those quizzical looks and stares – many wondering if I’m a critic, just a confident diner, or otherwise 🙂
We’re gearing up to do more dining alone posts — I’ve been having to do it more and more, and oddly, have found that I LOVE it.
Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and
detailed information you offer. It’s great to come across
a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Great read!
I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.