"The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by Judith Jones focuses on cooking for singles.

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“The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones (Alfred A. Knopf, $27.50)

What it is: Legendary editor Judith Jones, who cookbook-coached Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey and Jacques Pepin, among others, brings a warm-hearted approach to the joys of slicing, dicing, mixing and cooking for one. Not a chore, not a state to be bemoaned, it’s a chance to “roll up your sleeves and enjoy, from day to day, one of the great satisfactions of life,” she writes.

“You have only yourself to please,” she adds. “There’s no need to be a perfectionist. … If a sauce curdles, you’ll eat it anyway. And you’ll learn from your mistakes.”

Praise and quibbles: Jones, a widow since her husband, Evan, died in 1996, peppers the book with her wit (leftovers are “treasures in the fridge that inspire me to do something imaginative”) and mantra (“flexibility”). The book’s 130-plus recipes — broiled chicken, risotto with veal, and crepes, to name a few — are informed by the cookbook authors she edited. Lamb shank with couscous one night becomes lamb curry another. We love her garlicky take on potatoes Anna, dubbed “A Potato Dish for Julia.” Tips augment the recipes: how to turn a single preparation into several meals (boeuf bourguignon morphs into a tomato-enriched ragu) on through using up leftover bread.

If there is a quibble, it’s that this book will require you to do more than push buttons on a microwave.

Why we think you’ll like it: Consider “Pleasures” a visit from your best friend who is also a superb, savvy cook, encouraging you to be creative and treat yourself well.

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.