A while back I had a bit of an “aha!” moment regarding biscuits that sorta works for me, and I thought I’d share as my starting point.
See, you’ll see a number of recipes that tell you to knead the dough 10-12 times – just enough to barely start the gluten – then you roll it (which also works the gluten a bit) or pat it (not so much) out and cut it. Then you gather the scraps, bring them together, and make a few more – and these are a bit tougher. And yet I realized that nobody every doesn’t eat the tougher biscuits.
I knead the dough a bit less – 8 to 10 times. Then I diverge. I pinch off equal sized chunks, form them into somewhat smooth balls, and flatten on a floured board. The balling and pressing works the dough a bit just like rolling, but the reduced kneading compensates a bit.
Now where this has come into play is almost a divergence. See, I’ve been working with cooking for one or two. As anyone who’s had to do so to any decent extent knows, anybody who tells you to “just cut down the recipe” hasn’t got a clue. Biscuits is an example. I made a half batch off a recipe for 10 biscuits. I got two clean biscuits, one almost clean, and two more from the scraps. It was a pain, frankly. I tried it again the next day, but as I was mixing got the “aha!”. I wound up with four very nice biscuits, and a lot less mess and frustration.
While the technique was picked up for small meal cooking, it will work for larger as well. I know this – I did it when we had some company and it worked just fine.
I may be kicking out some other things I’ve encountered while working on small meals – techniques, and places to avoid having either a ton of leftovers (meals or ingredients) or waste. Both are, of course, the normal frustration in such cooking for most people these days. Hopefully I’ll have a solution or two for you down the road.