Eating Well: The pleasures of cooking with Judith Jones

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When you need to find the best recipe for a particular dish, reach for a cookbook edited by Judith Jones.

Jones has dished up the works of Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, Edward Giobbi, James Beard, Nina Simonds, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Jacques Pepin, Joan Nathan, Marion Cunningham, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis and many other culinary greats during her 53-year career.

With her late husband, Evan Jones, she is the co-author of three cookbooks: “The Book of Bread,” “Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!” and “The Book of New New England Cookery.”

The Joneses were famous, too, for cooking for their friends in their apartment in New York’s Upper East Side and at their summer home in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. (Judith Bailey Jones’ father was from Montpelier.)

After Evan Jones died in 1996, Judith writes in the introduction to “The Pleasures of Cooking for One,” “I was not sure that I would ever enjoy preparing a meal for myself and eating it alone … but I was wrong, and I soon realized that the pleasure that we shared together was something to honor. I found myself at the end of the day looking forward to cooking, making recipes that work for one, and then sitting down and savoring a good meal.”

She enjoys the creativity of selecting and preparing the food and, the moment of drama when she takes her plate to the table where she has “set a place for one with a cloth napkin in a family napkin ring.” She opens the wine, lights the candles, turns on some music, and gives thanks.

You’ll be thankful for the recipes in “The Pleasures of Cooking for One.” Try boeuf Bourguignon, lemony scaloppini of pork, a simplified lamb curry, broiled mackerel over a bed of artichoke hearts and potatoes, pan-seared salmon, steamed eggs nestled in a bed of greens, or calf’s liver with shallot and wine pan sauce.

In her blog (, Jones says she began cooking when she was about 9 years old. Her parents decided then (in the early 1930s) that she was old enough to take care of Sally MacGregor, the Vermont-born Scotty dog who went to live with the Bailey family in New York City. Dog care included cooking, and Judith cooked liver and bacon for her pet.

Jones, renowned senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf, visited Portland in March. The Portland Museum of Art’s 2010 Bernard A. Osher Lecture sponsored her talk, “Judith Jones, My Life in Food.”

New England Bouillabaisse

Jones calls this a mock bouillabaisse, because she uses leftover fish in it. Usually a fresh white fish is included in bouillabaisse, but Jones likes to use leftover salmon. If you haven’t time to make fish stock, she suggests using clam juice, diluted by half with water because it is quite strong.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 cups fish broth
A few parsley stems
Pinch of fennel seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 or 5 small clams
1 dozen mussels
A piece of leftover cooked or fresh fish, about 4 ounces
A sprinkling of chopped parsley
2 slices French bread, toasted
A generous dollop of pistou sauce (recipe below)

Heat the oil in a medium pot, and saute the onion and garlic gently until softened. Add the tomato, saute another minute, then pour in the fish stock and seasonings, tasting to judge how much salt and pepper you need. Simmer for about 20 minutes, and add the clams (if you are using fresh fish, slip that into the pot, too); clams always take longer than mussels, so give the clams a few minutes before adding the mussels along with the piece of leftover fish. Sprinkle parsley over, and have alongside a couple of slices of toasted French bread with pistou on top.

Pistou Sauce

Use a tablespoon for one serving of bouillabaisse. Jones says this is good swirled into a vegetable soup, too.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 fat garlic cloves
A pinch of salt
1/4 red bell pepper, roasted, peel removed, and cut into small dice (or use roasted pepper from a jar)
A large pinch of sweet paprika
A small pinch of hot pepper flakes

Smash, remove the peel from, and chop two fat garlic cloves. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt on top, and mash with the flat of your large knife until you have a paste. Stir that into 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise. Mix in about a quarter of a large red bell pepper and season with paprika and hot pepper flakes. Taste, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Small Meatloaf with a French Accent

1/3 pound ground beef
1/3 pound ground pork
1/3 pound ground veal
2 plump garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt, or more as needed
2 shallots, or 1 small onion
4 or 5 sprigs fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaved
1 teaspoon dried porcini (no soaking needed)
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/4 cup red or white wine
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 bay leaf
1 strip bacon

Vegetable Accompaniments

Olive oil
2 new potatoes, cut in eighths lengthwise
2 young carrots, peeled
1 young parsnip, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, or another root vegetable similarly prepared.

The night before you’re planning to have a meatloaf dinner, put the meats in a bowl. Smash the garlic cloves, peel and chop them fine, then, with the flat of your chef’s knife, mash them into a paste with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Chop the shallots and parsley, and crumble the porcini. Add all these seasonings to the meats, along with the herbes de Provence, the wine, several grindings of your pepper mill, and the remaining salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands, squishing the meat with your fingers. When thoroughly mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let macerate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

The next day, remove the meat from the fridge and pull off a tiny piece. Cook it quickly in a skillet, then taste to see if it needs more seasoning. If so, add whatever is needed. Form the meat into a small loaf. Break the bay leaf into three pieces, and arrange them on top of the loaf; then lay the bacon strip, also cut in thirds, on top. Transfer the loaf to a medium baking pan. Rub a little olive oil and salt over the vegetables you want as an accompaniment, and distribute them around the meatloaf. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, turning the vegetables once.

Everything is done when the meat looks lightly browned, the bacon a bit crisp, and the veggies tender (the internal temperature of the loaf should be about 150 degrees). Let rest for at least 5 minutes, then cut three or more slices, and arrange on a warm plate, with the vegetables surrounding the meat and the juice poured over.

Leftover meatloaf is good cold – but not overly chilled. Eaten with a dab of Dijon mustard, little cornichons, and a glass of red wine, it will taste almost like a French country pate.

Sidebar Elements

Susan Lovell and her husband John, a great cook, live near Pat’s Meat Market & Cafe in Portland, with a hungry Maine coon cat and a poodle who eats cat food. An eighth-generation Mainer, she likes shellfish, steak, baked beans, cole slaw, corn bread, blueberry pie and Moxie. Her great great-grandfather, from Wellfleet, Mass., and his cousin founded Boston’s Union Oyster House and she really likes oysters and Guinness. And Boston cream pie.

“The Pleasures of Cooking for One” is the latest cookbook from editor and writer Judith Jones.