Now I have another refuge of recipe inspiration to recommend. Caroline Wright’s cookbook Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals*: *For Four People is chockablock with ideas for weeknight dinners (and lunches) that come together without trauma, using great ingredients to carry the meal. Don’t be freaked out by that asterisk-accented subtitle: though each recipe in the book is meant to serve four, so many of the dishes therein are perfect for single-gal suppers, as I call them. Trust me, I eat my share of solo meals and these scale down splendidly.
Written in a calm and conversational tone, Caroline draws on her time in the trenches at places like Real Simple and Everyday Food to devise dishes that are as simple as they are satisfying. Take, for instance, the sage-rubbed pork chops with peaches and onions—there’s not much to pull together, just a few juicy chops smeared with sage salt (or another homemade flavored salt, if you have it), then thrown on the grill with some halved peaches and red onion. But the dish becomes a classic example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts when eaten together, the caramelized peaches playing against the pork’s herbal jus and charred, sweet onion.
Even something as pedestrian as a grilled cheese sandwich gets fancy enough for a whole meal when you smear apricot preserves onto the bread and load it up with Fontina cheese. Caroline’s not afraid to throw in seasonal specialties like ramps into a crunchy breadcrumb-studded pasta, but she’s also got your back with substitutions (a bunch of scallions and a garlic clove sub in for pungent but elusive ramps) and variations (don’t have peaches and onions to go with your sage-rubbed pork? Grab some plums and shallots.)
She’s also a damn genius when it comes to desserts that bridge the gap between grown-up chic and childlike pleasure. Though that’s the one course of the menu I’m happy to relinquish to my dinner party guests when they ask “Is there anything I can bring?”, I might start assigning dishes from the book: hey you, bring the toasted brioche with Meyer lemon curd and black peppered berries! Or we can just whip up chocolate-buttermilk milkshakes (recipe below) and marvel at the sweetness, bitterness, and savoriness in each gulp.
Minimal ingredients. Easy instructions. Ultimate satisfaction. That successful formula carries through Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals and adds up to something awesome on every page. And, lucky for you, I’m giving away one copy of the cookbook—enter below.
Dark Chocolate Gelato-Buttermilk Milkshakes
adapted from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals*: *For Four People by Caroline Wright
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 1 pint chocolate gelato
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup Fox’s U-Bet Syrup or 2 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate, cooled slightly
Blend the gelato and buttermilk together in a blender until smooth, then drizzle in the chocolate syrup or melted chocolate until incorporated.
Divide between four glasses and serve.