It takes a certain chutzpah to dine in a restaurant alone, especially without the crutch of a book or magazine. But eating solo at home can be pretty depressing too.

It can be hard to feel inspired about whipping up a gourmet meal for one when it's just as easy to wait for a ready meal to go 'ping' in the microwave, or open a tin of beans.

At least 65% of all households in Britain are occupied by one or two people, and even if you do live with a crowd, busy lifestyles mean mealtimes are often fragmented and many households end up eating in shifts.

Even if you manage to avoid the temptation of resorting to toast, or worse, eating cereal from the packet, one of the frustrating things about cooking for one is the hassle of figuring out how much to make.

While it's wasteful to throw food away, it can be incredibly dispiriting to eat the same dish night after night.

This is where new book Clever Cooking For One Or Two comes in - not only are the recipes designed for smaller households, but they use fresh ingredients that you can buy in just the quantity you need, plus a few storecupboard standbys.

Try these recipes for Red Pepper And Tomato Soup, Sweet Potato Rosti With Poached Egg, Two Cheese And Onion Tart and Raspberry Muffins - but don't invite anyone over or you'll have to share them!


Serves 2

2 large beefsteak tomatoes
2tbsp olive oil 1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
600ml/1pt vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:

1tbsp single or double cream, optional
Small parsley sprigs to garnish, optional

Using a small, sharp pointed knife and cutting at a slight angle, cut out a cone shape from the stalk end of each tomato to remove the white, woody centre.

Put the tomatoes into a heatproof bowl, cover them with boiling water and leave to stand for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the water and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Cut each tomato in half horizontally and remove the seeds - using a small teaspoon or round-bladed knife - then roughly chop the flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the red pepper and onion and cook gently for five minutes, or until slightly softened, but not browned.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomato paste, orange zest and juice, and stock to the saucepan.

Bring the soup up to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook gently for about 45 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are softened. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the soup to cool. Then, puree the soup, in batches, in a food processor or blender.

Place a large sieve over a clean saucepan and use the back of a wooden spoon to pass the soup through the sieve to remove the coarser pieces of skin from the peppers and the tomatoes.

Reheat the soup, season to taste and serve garnished with a little cream and parsley sprigs, if using. Serve accompanied with warm, sun-dried tomato and olive ciabatta bread.


Serves 2 (suitable to freeze)

Half a pack of ready-rolled puff pastry
2tbsp tomato chutney with red pepper or chilli
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
110g (4oz) cheddar cheese, Double Gloucester or Red Leicester mixed with a blue cheese like Gorgonzola or stilton, cut into cubes 6 baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Carefully unroll the whole pack of pastry, cut it in half and put one piece (measuring 18 x 23cm/7 x 9in) on to a heavy baking sheet and re-roll and re-wrap the other piece and chill or freeze for later use.

With a sharp knife, mark a border about 1.5cm (1/2in) in from the edge all round and lightly mark it for decoration. With a fork, prick inside the border, to keep the pastry flat while it cooks.

Spread the chutney inside the border, then strew the onions slices all over followed by the cheese cubes and tomato halves. Season with pepper.

Bake the tart in the bottom half of the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is browned and crispy. Cool for a few minutes and then sprinkle with a little parsley and cut into two or four squares. Serve the tart warm or cold with a fresh leaf salad.


Serves 1

For the rosti:

1 sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tsp sunflower oil
Small knob of butter
1 egg
A dash of vinegar
To serve:

A few chopped chives
For the rosti, mix the potato, egg and seasoning in a bowl. Press the mixture into a patty shape.

Heat a small frying pan, and add the sunflower oil and butter. Slide the sweet potato rosti into the pan, re-shaping it if necessary. Cook for 3-5 minutes, and slide a palette knife or fish slice under it to make sure it hasn't stuck to the base of the pan. Then place a small plate over it and turn the pan over so the rosti drops out onto the plate. Slide the rosti off the plate back into the pan and cook it for a further 3-5 minutes, until cooked through and golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the egg. Break the egg into a cup or small bowl. Heat some water in a small saucepan and add a dash of vinegar. When the water comes to the boil, use a spoon to stir the water to swirl it around, and then when the water is still spinning, tip the egg into the centre of it. Cook the egg for 3-4 minutes or until the white has set, but the yolk is runny. Remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Slide the rosti onto a serving plate and place the egg on top. Scatter with a few chopped chives and season the top with pepper.


Makes 9 muffins

200g (7oz) self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
75g (3oz) caster sugar
1 egg
175ml (6fl oz) milk
125g (4 1/2oz) butter, melted and cooled
175g (6oz) fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Line muffins tin with nine muffin cases. Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder and caster sugar into a mixing bowl.

Whisk the beaten egg with the milk and cooled butter and stir into the dry ingredients, until just mixed (don't overmix). Then add the raspberries.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Enjoy one while still warm! Then leave the rest to cool on a wire rack.