I have been waiting for SERVE YOURSELF since Joe Yonan, food and travel section editor at the Washington Post, told me about it, a year or so ago. I have always enjoyed his cooking for one column in the Washington Post so I knew I was in for a treat. And boy, does the book live up to it’s promise: delightful recipes that you will want to make again and again. The book is focused on cooking for one but I found that I could easily and effortlessly increase the quantities of the ingredients to feed my family.

What I really liked about the book, in addition to the recipes, were tips on how to store half a lime, that half drunk bottle of wine, the half can of coconut milk. The tips are smart, tested and very useful.

Each recipe has a headnote and I spent hours reading them. Joe is a food editor, after all, and can really make these notes rock. I would advise all my writing students to pick up the book and read his headnotes.. a good lesson!

I have made the pickled onions, the curried shrimp on sweet potato and am now eyeing the desserts section. It looks amazing – who would not want to make a coconut French toast with Banana Foster.

Ten Speed has agreed to giveaway one copy of this lovely book! Post here as to why you want it and I will enter you in the giveaway. Winner announced on April 4th, at 4:00 pm EST. Open to US and Canadian residents only, please.

Curried Shrimp on a sweet potato
By Joe Yonan adapted from his new book, “Serve Yourself” (Ten Speed Press, 2011)
1 serving

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed clean (about 6 ounces)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and cut crosswise into thin slices
1/4 medium red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips (julienne; about 1/4 cup total)
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (may substitute good-quality Indian curry powder)
3 tablespoons low-fat coconut milk
4 ounces any-size uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use a fork or sharp knife to prick the sweet potato in several places. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender and can be easily squeezed.
(Alternatively, to speed up the process, the pricked sweet potato can be microwaved on HIGH for 1 minute, then carefully transferred to the oven and seated on a piece of foil. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the potato is tender.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, toss in the ginger and saute, for 1 to 2 minutes or until it becomes fragrant and starts to soften. Add the bell pepper and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the strips lose their crunch. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the curry paste and coconut milk, stirring to thoroughly combine. Add the shrimp and stir to incorporate. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the shrimp are firm and opaque. Season with salt to taste; remove from the heat.

When the sweet potato has finished baking, place it on a serving plate. Use a sharp knife to make a centered, lengthwise slit in the top, pinching the potato on each end to expose the flesh and make a pocket for the filling. Spoon on the shrimp mixture and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve hot.

Gorgeous photo of the shrimp on potato taken by the terrific Sala Kannan

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  1. Sounds terrific, Monica. I love the looks and sound of this recipe and who doesn’t need tried and true kitchen tips? Thanks for the review! 🙂


  2. I am looking to expand the types of food I prepare …..this book would do the trick.

  3. I’m often cooking for one, and always looking for something more interesting to do that doesn’t leave tons of leftovers! And I love reading Joe’s columns. This cookbook would be great!

  4. This will be perfect for those summer days when the kids are off at camp and I can make all those things that I like and they don’t!!

  5. I love Joe’s column in the Post and their Food section’s online chats, so I know this book will be good.

  6. I would love to win a copy of this book! With a house full of teens who have different eating schedules and preferences, I often find myself cooking for one…myself!

  7. laviza shariff (eclectic gourmet)

    what an interesting way to prepare the sweet potato! just had one last nite, the usual way. w/ sour cream….
    sounds like a really good book and one that will be well used!

  8. I’m also a big fan of Joe Yonan. I look for his articles every week. This book would be great since most nights i’m cooking for one. Thanks!

  9. I love the idea of this book as I live alone and I constantly have halves of things I’m not sure what to do with!

  10. Monica, from what I read, this book sounds wonderful…a sheer culinary delight…and it has useful tips as well. I would always want a book in my kitchen library…which I want to refer again and again and make everyone happy. 🙂 🙂

  11. I work from home and need to make lunch just for myself everyday. I very often get into “oh, I’ll just have a salad” rutts so I think this book would be a go-to one that will help me out of the salad spinner!

  12. Love Joe and his section. I’ve been cooking for leftovers lately but would appreciate discovering new, more “compact” recipes. Plus it’s always fun to read a book written by someone who lives in my city.

  13. Ohhh! I need some fun inspiration to try some fun, new stuff!!

  14. I’ve been eating a lot of curried things lately to compensate for my new low-salt diet, including curried seafood and baked potatoes with lemon-pepper-curry. Combining the two is such a natural step I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it! I used to eat jacket potatoes with various toppings as a cheap lunch in my student days in Britain, but I guess I’d just forgotten about them after a decade of American-style baked potatoes with only butter and sour cream. This is totally going in my lunch rotation!

  15. I made this, and my husband LOVED it!

  16. What a treat! Not only would this book fortify my cooking arsenal, but since I’m often cooking for just myself I’m terrible at storing odds and ends of ingredients. To save 1/2 a lime or a part bottle of wine would make a real difference in my pocket book and garbage output!
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  17. I would love to try Joe’s new book–I can tell he really has a way with food from his writing, and I’m sure I would flip for his flavors.

  18. My fiancee has been overseas for 5 months now. As a result, I spend my time readjusting and learning to cook for one. I have been itching to get my hands on a copy of Joe Yonan’s book but my local Borders didnt have it in the other day. A lot of my friends cook for one and I have been trying to gear some of my recipes on my blog towards 1-2 people. Joe’s book would really help me with this. Thanks for the opportunity to win a free copy!

  19. I am a woman living on my own who loves to cook but am sick and tired of having to make full recipes, have scores of leftovers, or just avoid certain recipes all together because they are not “single eater friendly.” I would love to find new, healthy entrees for my dinners and think Joe’s book is the perfect way to start down this path of discovery. Leftovers be gone!

  20. I would love to add this to my collection !

  21. The winner is Charles Thompson! Please email me and I will get you the book asap!

    Congrats and you will enjoy it. It is a really fun book.

  22. This book is good to use when you go on vacation. My wife would certainly remain shocked when she’ll see how well I cook. I don’t not know how to cook! But this book will certainly make me a great chef.

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