EATER’S COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR
From the Michelin-starred chef and
Iron Chef America and
Top Chef Masters contestant—a hilarious, self-deprecating, gorgeous new cookbook—the ultimate guide to cooking for one. With four-color illustrations by Julia Rothman throughout.
The life of a chef can be a lonely one, with odd hours and late-night meals. But as a result, Anita Lo believes that cooking and dining for one can, and should, be blissful and empowering. In
Solo, she gives us a guide to self-love through the best means possible—delicious food—in 101 accessible, contemporary, and sophisticated recipes that serve one.
Drawn from her childhood, her years spent cooking around the world, and her extensive travels, these are globally inspired dishes from Lo’s own repertoire that cater to the home table. Think Steamed Seabass with Shiitakes; Smoky Eggplant and Scallion Frittata; Duck Bolognese; Chicken Pho; Slow Cooker Shortrib with Caramelized Endive; Broccoli Stem Slaw; Chicken Tagine with Couscous; and Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie—even a New England clambake for one. (
Pssst! Want to share? Don’t worry, these recipes are easily multiplied!)
San Francisco Chronicle, The Atlantic, Epicurious,
Grub Street, The Forward, Newsday, Mother Jones, and
Food52 Best Cookbook of the Year
“There is no smarter cookbook out this year, filled with personality and grace, that’s better at nudging us into the kitchen, in the midst of tumultuous times, to nourish ourselves. . . . Unlike many cookbooks that promise chef-driven techniques adapted for the home cook,
Solo actually delivers.” —
“A book celebrating the simple act of cooking for yourself. . . . A cookbook that speaks directly to a growing proportion of single Americans. . . . [Lo] carefully stocks her own kitchen with kimchi, tahini and dried anchovies. A touch of any of these ingredients can change the direction of a dish.” —Tejal Rao,
The New York Times
“Lo knows that cooking for oneself is an important aspect of self-care. . . . The recipes serve as a meaningful reminder that cooking for one can be delicious and fun.” —
San Francisco Chronicle
“Anita Lo is my hero. Her weeknight recipes challenge you to eat better, treat yourself better, and find comfort in meals made by your own hand. . . . This is the cookbook that made my heart sing in 2018.” —Alex Beggs,
“Bold and joyous.” —
“A small book packed with big ideas. . . . [Lo] combines humor . . . a well-stamped passport and an instinctual distaste for waste into a global roster of uncomplicated, chef-driven dishes that are a far cry from microwaved frozen dinners.” —
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Those of us who’ve improvised sad solo dinners of microwaved frozen corn or boxed mac and cheese with hot sauce understand that learning how to cook decent meals for one is a real and urgent need. . . . [
Solo] provides elegant, knife-sharp solutions. Recipes employ toaster ovens, electric pressure cookers, grill pans, and other small-format energy-savers—and the food is flat-out beautiful.” —Helen Rosner,
The New Yorker
Solo is a testament to celebrating
all of the reasons we find ourselves alone at the table with knife and fork—and never apologizing for any of them.” —
“[Lo] has humor in her well-stocked arsenal. . . . Fans of the Franco-Yankee dishes in Judith Jones’s
The Pleasures of Cooking for One will be jazzed to spin the globe with Lo, whose travels and culinary background have made her fluent in Chinese, Korean, Thai and Japanese cuisines, among others. Lo never stints on flavor, often adapting restaurant-y techniques for the toaster oven (amen)."—Christine Muhlke,
The New York Times Book Review
“A very good cookbook. . . . The recipes [in
Solo] are complex, personal, comforting.” —
“[Lo’s] guide to solo cooking is peppered with stories, illustrations, and recipes for dishes like salt-broiled Spanish mackerel with broccoli rabe and orange, twice-cooked sweet potatoes with kale, mushrooms, and parmesan, and mac and two cheeses (yes, please!).” —
Food & Wine
“Anita Lo is exactly the person we want teaching us to cook at home for ourselves. . . . The recipes are downsized and oh-so-practical . . . though they can easily be doubled (or tripled) should guests suddenly show up once they hear about the meals you’re making for yourself.” —
“[A] compendium of smart recipes. . . . Lo gives everyone, from lovelorn singles to people who prefer the company of their pets, instructions on how to fly solo efficiently in the kitchen.” —
“[Los’] writing is engaging, filled not only with linguistic factoids but also vivid personal stories and self-deprecating humor.” —
“A book of compelling and approachable recipes that waste neither ingredients nor time. . . . [Lo] peppers the book with valuable tips and brief vignettes that will take readers along with her to Vietnam, Alaska or France.” —
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A book after this forever-single guy’s heart. It gives me joy to think that, from a single chicken, I can make Lo’s smothered chicken leg and a biscuit, Thai white curry with chicken, and chicken tagine with couscous, and still have bird to spare.” —Wendell Brock,
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“In Lo’s hands, solitary dining becomes almost sexy, from hand rolls of mackerel, cucumber and avocado to braised short rib with caramelized endive and cauliflower chat with onions.” —
“As someone who struggles to do anything well-rounded that’s not also overly complicated, I really admire Lo’s tight, mindful style.” —Vivian Howard,
“The lesson here is that cooking for yourself is tantamount to loving yourself. . . . It can be surprisingly difficult for single young professionals to cook meals for themselves. . . . Luckily, Anita Lo, the chef and owner of the late restaurant, Annisa, has done a lot of the hard work for us, drawing on her decades of experience as a professional chef, her upbringing as a child of immigrants, and her extensive travels for a delectable guide on cooking for ‘a party of one.’” —
ANITA LO is an acclaimed chef who worked at Bouley and Chanterelle before opening the Michelin-starred restaurant annisa in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 2000, which she ran until it closed in 2017.
Food & Wine named her one of ten Best New Chefs in America, and
Village Voice proclaimed her Best New Restaurant Chef. She has appeared on
Top Chef Masters,
Iron Chef America, and
Chopped; in 2015, she became the first female guest chef to cook at the White House. She lives in New York City and on Long Island.
I put the “Lo” in alone. I’ve been dumped almost as many times as I’ve been in relationships—and I can count those on less than two hands. Spread over my 50 year life-span, that’s a lot of solo meals! So if you take that—coupled with my many years working as a professional chef—it seems that I’m particularly well-suited to write this book. Those chefs who say they can’t cook for less than 40 people? Not me—I can do math. It is my Asian birthright.
I’m also fanatical about waste. Waste is what makes cooking for one, at least efficiently, so difficult. My parents were Chinese and my father survived the Cultural Revolution. Food, at least at some point during their lives, was scarce; as a result, I was taught never to waste one bit. In cooking school at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris we were taught to utilize every scrap, and at Bouley—my first cooking job—the sous chef used to look through our garbage cans to make sure we weren’t wasteful. It is an economic issue, but also an ecological and social one. When I cook for myself, much of my food involves using the sometimes overlooked but just-as delicious parts of meat and vegetables. For example, I grew up eating broccoli stems as well as the florettes. Instead of discarding cabbage hearts, my mother gave them to me to snack on raw while we were cooking. We didn’t use radish leaves, but they’re virtually identical to turnip greens, so I generally cook those along with the root itself, which helps you include more dark green vegetables in your diet. And all those parts in the bag that comes inside of a chicken? If used properly, those parts are pure flavor – and another meal. Plus, cooking this way is important if you’re working with fresh ingredients or off a budget.
The hospitalitarian in me also dictates that meals should be balanced. (Yeah, chefs are neurotic.) There always MUST be a vegetable or two. And food should vary from day to day. It should be diverse in ingredients as well as in cultural provenance. Some days you’ll want to eat light and healthy; on other days, butter is a perfectly good substitute for love. True hospitality extends to others and to oneself. Too often we forget about the latter. This book will help you to remember how to take care of yourself.
When I’m cooking at home, I generally make ingredient-focused dishes that are fast and easy—I leave the more complicated recipes for my professional life. I’ll buy a whole chicken from a local, humane farmer, which might cost a little more, but I make sure that I use every bit. The first night I’ll break it down and place the legs and wings in a vacuum sealer bag in usable portions to freeze. If I’m alone I’ll do the same with one side of the breast, and cook the other for dinner. The bones and neck and gizzard will go into a stock right away or into the freezer for a later date; and I’ll either freeze the liver until I have enough to make a mousse or chopped liver, or I’ll make a salad with it the next day, along with the heart, for a quick bistro lunch. Yes, dining alone doesn’t mean you’re misanthropic. Nor does it have to be depressing. Cooking and dining alone can be one of the most blissful and empowering experiences you can have.
This book is for urban dwellers who would like to cook a fabulous, sophisticated meal for themselves, regardless of their circumstance. Although I have a soft spot for the depressed, jilted single, SOLO is also for those who are happiest on their own; or those who may be part of a fractured family in all its forms—quite often these days, even if we’re not single, we are left alone due to our partner’s work/family’s social obligation. This book is also for those who may have different taste than their family or partner—why shouldn’t they eat what they crave?
I hope you’ll find this book to be the ultimate guide to self-love through the best means possible—delicious food—and to celebrate the moments that you’re alone. And if my reader happens to get a date or decides she or he wants to share, these recipes are easily multiplied by two.
After all, they say the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach. So far, it has worked for me.