Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.
It's the first day of winter, the shortest day—and the longest night—of the year. To prep for tonight's winter solstice, which is said to feature a full moon and a meteor shower (!), I'll be going home to my dog, brewing a cup of weak coffee with steamed milk (stirred together with a cinnamon stick), and sitting out in the courtyard to watch autumn recede into the hibernal skyline.
When it comes to the coldest and darkest season of the year, it helps for me to schedule little moments of peace like this, solo time for Quentin and me to gather our thoughts at the end of the workweek and be, as they say, with ourselves.
Afterward, we'll go back inside to warm up and get ready for a quiet night in—and some light Friday-night baking. On tonight's menu: clementine chocolate lava cakes.
It's a just set chocolate cake, scented with winter citrus. And during Christmas, I always have a huge box of clementines sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting to be peeled and eaten throughout the week—but also zested into a rich, chocolatey batter.
This recipe couldn't be simpler to bake. And by "bake," I just mean: 5 minutes of stirring together a handful of ingredients, 10 minutes of sitting by the oven (and salivating), and 15 seconds of eating (with a spoon, in bed).
I also like to serve these individual chocolate cakes for dessert at the end of long dinner parties (everyone loves chocolate). But more often than not I just end up making a batch, baking one ramekin off for myself right there, and stashing the rest, covered, in the fridge for the next three nights.
We spend so much time talking about meal prep, but dessert prep can get you a long way in these colder, darker days.
Eric Kim is the Senior Editor and 'Table for One' columnist at Food52. Formerly the Digital Manager of FoodNetwork.com, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson Kim. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway.