Cookbook specializes in singles, couples

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

CONCORD, N.H. -- Nancy Mair doesn't believe single people should have to figure out what 1/4 of 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon is, just to enjoy a batch of homemade cookies.

But more often than not, people who aren't feeding an army every night find themselves doing just that, halving or even quartering recipes written to feed four, six and sometimes eight people.

This was the inspiration for Mair's innovative cookbook, "The Intimate Vegetarian" (2001, Renaissance Books, $18.95), which offers more than 150 recipes that make only one or two servings.

Harder than expected

Mair gathered her favorite vegetarian recipes and began testing how to make them for one, and then two. And it wasn't as easy as it sounds.

Mair's recipes are arranged so that any can easily be made for one or two servings. Each contains two lists of ingredients, depending on the number of servings desired.

But what about desserts? Would two servings of cake really be enough? Wouldn't that defeat the pleasure of going back an hour after the meal and grabbing just one more brownie?

Luckily, Mair allows for that in her proportions. She said the desserts are ample and the recipes should make just enough for picking at after dinner.

For an intimate meal for one or two, try Mair's Potachos, a cross between potato skins and nachos.

This dish calls for cheese, but can be made dairy-free with an easy substitution of soy or rice cheese. Or leave cheese and its alternatives out entirely and instead use an equal amount of chopped tomato and a splash of white wine vinegar.


(proportions for 2 servings follow each ingredient)1/4 teaspoon salt ( 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon garlic granules ( 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon chili powder ( 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon cumin ( 1/2 teaspoon)

1/8 teaspoon oregano ( 1/4 teaspoon)

Pinch coriander (1/8 teaspoon)

Dash cayenne pepper (dash)

2 cups white or red potatoes, diced (4 cups)

1/2 tablespoon canola or safflower oil (1 tablespoon)

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)

2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely diced (1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons black olives (1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons green onion, chopped ( 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix together salt, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Peel potatoes, or rinse and scrub skins clean. Pat dry with paper towel. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and spread in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (9-by-13-inch for two).

Drizzle olive oil over potatoes, then toss and rub potatoes with your hands to lightly coat. Sprinkle evenly with spice mixture and toss again to coat.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking an additional 15 minutes.

Remove dish from the oven and sprinkle first with cheese, then with bell peppers, olives and green onions. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Serve warm.

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