Small plates: If you're cooking for 2, here are some recipes for your little bubble
Chef Andie Bulman has 3 small recipes and some storage tips
In pre-pandemic times, I took plenty of pleasure in preparing big meals and having guests over.
Now, in my tiny bubble, I hate cooking with big-batch recipes. I've never been especially keen on leftovers, but the daily slog and sameness mean that food is one of the only things I look forward to.
Most of my favourite cookbook authors seem to create recipes with big serving sizes. It's a confusing practice because we're not currently hosting big parties and the nuclear family hasn't been the norm for decades.
Baking recipes are even worse. I don't want to make six loaves of bread in an afternoon. I want small-scale recipes for my small family, but they seem to be a little scarce on the ground.
I understand that some of you with small households store leftovers in deep freezers or reassemble things into a new dish the next day. I applaud you. Others are meal-prepping experts and batch cook all of their meals. They waste nothing, and I applaud them too.
These recipes, however, are not for that crowd. These recipes are for folks in a small bubble, who want to eat something different each day, and who get a little bored before they finish the entire batch of brownies.
I think it's also worth noting that I hate wasting food, so these recipes come alongside a few tips for storing groceries.
Small batch pancakes with partridgeberries
Sometimes I want pancakes, but I don't have the fortitude to work through a stack of 12. This recipe makes two large or three small pancakes for two people — and it only dirties a single bowl.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. of granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp. of melted butter
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup of local partridgeberries.
*A little citrus zest or cardamom is an excellent way to spruce things up.
*Butter can be swapped for coconut oil, and almond milk works instead of buttermilk.
Whisk the dry ingredients together. Now, add the egg, vanilla, buttermilk and melted butter until things have just begun to combine. We don't want to see any dry pockets of flour, but we don't want to over mix, or the pancakes will be stiff and lifeless. Add your berries, but don't mix them in! We don't want to make purple pancakes.
Heat a non-stick pan (cast iron is best) over medium heat and place a dollop of butter into the pan. Pour about a quarter cup of the batter into the pan. Cook until the edges are golden brown and delicious-looking and tiny bubbles are visible in the centre. Flip and cook for about two more minutes. Serve with butter and maple syrup. Enjoy!
Rosemary and parmesan drop biscuits for 2
This recipe is less work than an average biscuit. You don't have to find your biscuit cutter or stress about layers. You don't have to grate chilled butter into your dry ingredients.
These are drop biscuits, so we're skipping lots of steps. This recipe makes four biscuits, so that's two each. Again, it only dirties a single dish.
- ⅔ cups of all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ⅛ tsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅓ cup of buttermilk
- 2 tbsp.of unsalted butter
- ¼ cup of aged cheddar or parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp. of very finely chopped fresh rosemary
Heat your oven to 450 F and line your baking sheet with parchment. Whisk your dry ingredients together and add in your grated parmesan and your chopped rosemary.
Now, pour in your melted butter and buttermilk. Biscuit recipes usually demand hoards of frozen butter, so this melted butter and buttermilk combination goes against everything I've ever learned about biscuits, and yet it works. Stir your buttermilk mixture into your dry ingredients until everything is just incorporated. Add a little freshly ground black pepper!
Using a greased ice cream scoop or a quarter cup, scoop out dough for four biscuits and plop them onto your parchment. Bake for 14 minutes and brush them with more melted butter after you remove them from the oven.
Small batch tomato soup
I think a bowl of homemade tomato soup and a grilled cheese made with smoky cheddar and sourdough bread is the perfect winter meal. This recipe only uses one can of tomatoes and a handful of pantry staples! It barely dirties any dishes and it's very, very affordable to make. You can double it easily and freeze it if you're so inclined.
- 1 tbsp. (14 g) butter
- ½ cup diced onion, or 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tsp. brown sugar
- 1 14-ounce can of tomatoes crushed
- ¾ cup chicken or veggie broth (or water)
- 3 tbsp.heavy cream
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
*If you're avoiding dairy products, you can simply leave out the cream! Another great option is to puree a slice of bread (with the crusts removed) into the soup; this adds body and a creamy texture!
*red wine, sherry vinegar, or regular white vinegar will give acidity to your soup if you'd instead leave out the apple cider vinegar
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions or shallot and cook until softened and starting to colour. This process takes about 7 minutes. Season! Many folks make the mistake of seasoning their soups at the end, but it's important to layer your seasoning.
Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and smoky paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Add in your crushed tomatoes, and then gently pour your broth into the pan. Add your brown sugar too! Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
If using an immersion blender, blend soup until mostly smooth. If using a countertop blender, then wait for things to cool and do this in two batches. Return to saucepan. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in your vinegar—this is adding a touch of acidity to the whole thing. I like serving this soup with some combination: basil, croutons, crispy chickpeas, and fresh parmesan.
Storing groceries for your small bubble
Supermarkets tend to sell herbs in giant batches — a practice I dislike. The key to making your herbs last is to rinse and dry them gently. Wrap the herbs in a damp paper towel and place them in a partially open Ziploc bag. Herbs stored in ice cubes are another solution! Chop em, place them in an ice cube tray, add water, and freeze! You can take these out and add to soups, easy peasy.
Nothing worse than finding out your potatoes have sprouted eyes. Onions speed this process up by releasing gases that encourage your potatoes to germinate, so keep the two apart. Don't keep them both under the sink. I see this all the time and it shortens the lifespan of your potatoes.
Ground spices lose freshness very quickly and typically lose flavour after six months. If you pay attention to the dates, you'll use your spices before they expire. Also, don't store your spices above the stove or anywhere near heat! Finally, your red spices — paprika, chilli powder, cayenne, sumac — should be stored in the fridge.
Wrapping ginger in tinfoil or plastic and placing it in the fridge locks in condensation and makes things go moldy quicker. The best thing? Store your ginger in the fridge without any coverings at all, and try to use it quickly.
Most folks don't realize how quickly nuts go bad, but they have high-fat content, and the oils go rancid quickly. My husband and I once spent the night in Halifax's ER after he ate a bag of peanuts that had gone off. There's an easy solution, though! Freeze your nuts. Just store them in a Ziploc bag.