Last updated on February 7th, 2021
They say there are only a few certainties in life. Death. Taxes. And people looking for quick, easy, real meals that don’t serve an army.
Despite the innumerable sources for recipes in print and online, somehow the idea of finding tasty meals that don’t leave single gals (and guys) and small families with days of leftovers remains a daunting task, judging by the questions I field on a regular basis.
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 and variations, like using a bunch of scallions and a garlic clove instead of pungent but elusive ramps.
She’s also a damn genius when it comes to desserts that bridge the gap between grown-up chic and childlike pleasure.
Like chocolate buttermilk milkshakes made with quality gelato and melted bittersweet chocolate.
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 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.
- 1 pint chocolate gelato
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup (80 grams) chocolate syrup or 2 ounces (57 grams; about 1/3 cup) melted bittersweet chocolate, cooled slightly
- whipped cream (optional)
- Blend the gelato, buttermilk, and chocolate syrup or melted chocolate together in a blender until smooth.
- Divide between 2 tall glasses.
- Top with whipped cream and additional syrup, if desired, and serve.
adapted from Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals*: *For Four People by Caroline Wright
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 708Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 297mgSodium: 567mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 5gSugar: 50gProtein: 18g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.