the vast dairy state conspiracy cafe
The hummus at the grocery store was $3.49 for a little tub. My SO and I thought about it for a few seconds, and decided to make our own.
1 giant can of chick peas (Goya brand, $1.50.)
Juice of one lemon (50 cents)
About 3 tbsp tahini (about 15% of a $5 jar; so 75 cents)
A bunch of garlic (pantry item)
Olive oil (pantry item)
Salt (pantry item)
Stick it all in the food processor and puree until smooth. (This did remind me I "need" a better processor than the off brand I got at the thrift store for $4.)
Total = $2.75 plus pantry items for two to three times as much hummus. Total prep time? About 7 minutes, and half of that was figuring out the proportions.
Next time, I might roast some red peppers or add some olives.
1 splash canola oil
Chopped ginger and garlic
A bunch of leftover rice
Fry the ginger and garlic in the oil in a wok for a minute, then add the rice.
Fry for a couple of minutes. Add light and dark soy sauces, and a little bit of mirin, and blend well. Then push to the side.
Add more oil if necessary.
Crack two eggs in the empty part of the wok. Scramble, then fry until soft-set. Chop into little pieces, mix with the rice.
Add some thawed peas and carrots.
Look around for other stuff to add.
Add some leftover tonkatsu (from a restaurant the night before), cut into tiny pieces. Decide whether to add katsu sauce to the mix. (Decision: No.)
Smell some pineapple that has been festering in the fridge for too long. If it smells OK, add it too.
Stir-fry until everything is warmed through. Adjust the seasoning. Watch the SO enjoy it and the three year old go "eeeew."
Yesterday was a "whip up a good meal with only pantry and freezer ingredients" day, as I had very little fresh food and it was 3 degrees out.
My pantry is well stocked with Asian ingredients.
Luckily, I had a 10-oz pork tenderloin in the freezer.
So, my dinner for two last night:
1. Defrost and thinly slice the pork. Dust with cornstarch, and marinate in soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil and a touch of sambal oleck.
2. While that was marinating, I boiled up some rice noodles, then tossed with soy sauce (dark for color, light for flavor) and a little sugar.
3. I heated the wok, added some canola oil, and threw in some frozen green beans. I stir-fried until the beans were hot but not fully cooked, and then added a splash of rice vinegar and way too much sambal. Oops. (BEANS O FIRE!!!) I stir-fried until the beans were done and then dumped them from the wok and kept them warm.
4. After wiping the fire oil from the wok, I added the pork and stir-fried until it was cooked (only a few minutes), then threw in the remaining marinade, brought it to a boil and it quickly thickened into a nice gravy.
So, dinner was stir-fried pork, BEANS O FIRE!!! and rice noodles in sweet soy sauce. My SO was impressed.
What do you do when you have to cook from your pantry and freezer?
4 cups quick-cooking rolled multi grain cereal (Trader Joe's sells it for $2 for a giant canister) or else 1 cup each rolled oats, barley, rye and spelt (health food store time)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 c honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Mix together the liquids, toss over the solids, stir until coated.
Bake in a 9X13 parchment-lined pan at 325, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 30 minutes.
Let cool. You can toss in raisins, dried cranberries or currants if you want. Then store in an airtight container.
Yield: A lot of granola.
Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit for a quick, healthy breakfast.
1. Melt 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 c water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Let it boil and cook until it's nice and golden and reduced slightly in volume. (Basically: Make a simple syrup, but cook it further.)
2. Quickly pour into six small ramekins. The syrup will harden quickly. Let cool to the point where it's not too hot to touch.
3. Preheat oven to 350.
4. In a large bowl, combine four egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 big can (it's 12 ounces or so, I'm not sure) evaporated milk (NOT skim, NOT condensed). Mix with a whisk until well blended and a little frothy.
5. Pour into ramekins over the hardened syrup.
6. Put ramekins into a baking pan. Fill the pan with water up to the level of the custard (about 1.5 inches, I've found).
7. Bake at 350 until the custard is set. This took 45 minutes in my oven, but there's no rhyme or reason for anything with custard. Check after 30 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, cool for a bit on a rack, then refrigerate until cold. These keep for a day or two.
9. To serve, insert a knife around the custard, cut it loose, and invert on a plate. The syrup will have re-liquified, and will make a nice sauce. Garnish with berries if you wish.
This recipe can be doubled and baked in an 8-inch casserole (in a water bath, still), too.
A big hit with the toddler...(then again, we asked her if there was any ice cream she didn't like, she replied: "I don't like tree ice cream.") Perfect for a warm fall day.
Heat one cup whole milk, one cup heavy cream to 170 F. Meanwhile, beat four egg yolks until they're blended and bright yellow. Add a ladleful of the heated milk mixture to the yolks, and stir thoroughly. Add the tempered eggs to the remainder of the cream, whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Make sure the eggs spend at least 1 minute at 170 to kill any nasties. Remove from heat, add 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Refrigerate until cold, then freeze in the ice-cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
Meanwhile, either make applesauce or use a commercial chunky brand -- minimally sweetened is better. I used aging Fuji apples, a little lemon and cinnamon, and no sugar. I think a tarter variety would have been better, but that's what I had. Make sure the applesauce is cold.
When the ice cream is done churning, fold in the applesauce. I used about a cup and a half for this recipe, but you can use as much or as little as you want. My ice-cream maker has a pouring spout, so I added the applesauce and let the paddle mix it in.
Transfer to a freezer container.
Serve by itself or with some simple cookies -- butter or shortbread works nicely.
(Serves at least four.)
I should note -- the "red wine" was leftover Zinfandel from the meal before. It cost $8 initially, and I used maybe a third of the bottle between the two recipes here.
Roasted or Grilled Veggie Ratatouille (sp?)
• Roast (400 degree oven, 20-30 minutes) or grill the following, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper :
A big bucket of tomatoes (you can buy the flawed "ugly" or "canning" ones for this), halved (the skins will come off after cooking) -- $3
One small eggplant (halve if grilling, cube if roasting) -- 50 cents
One red onion (ditto) -- 33 cents
One each, small red, green, purple and white pepper (ditto)-- $1
One head garlic in foil -- 50 cents
Reserve half of the tomates and 1/4 of the onion for the zucchini sauce. Cut up the rest of the veggies into cubes (if they're not there already), squeeze the garlic out of its skin (reserve 2-3 big cloves), stick the whole lot of the rest into a stockpot, with a little olive oil, red wine, basil leaves (50 cents). I also added some pitted kalamata olives (free -- my parents brought them last time they were in). Cook the whole mess until everything's tender, the flavors are blended, and the alcohol's cooked out. S&P to taste.
• Four Italian sausage links ($3, use whatever combo of spicy or not you want), or 1# bulk sausage. Take the sausage out of the casing, brown, drain.
• Take the reserved tomatoes, peeled; the reserved garlic, chopped or mashed; another handful of basil, a splash of the wine, a tiny squirt of honey, S&P. Cook in a little olive oil until the flavors are blended (won't take long because everything was roasted/grilled already). Puree with a hand blender. Add the sausage and stir until coated. You'll probably have more liquid than it looks like you need.
• Take two large-giant or three or four small-medium zucchinis (67 cents -- I got a bucket of 6 for $1), halve lengthwise, scoop out seeds, arrange in baking dish, cut side up. Coat with olive oil. Arrange the sausage mixture in the cavities, and spoon extra sauce over and around everything. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with shredded parmesan (pantry item). Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese looks as brown/melted as you want it to.
And then, a side starch, made of pantry items:
Israeli couscous (the big grains), in rosemary-infused chicken stock.
I plated everything thusly -- I used a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter as a template for the couscous, and leaned one zucchini half about 1" on top of it, with the rest extending below. The ratatouille should go alongside the couscous, from the zucchini to a place on the plate that looks good. Garnish with basil leaves or parsley or whatever.
So...total cost to feed four people (with leftovers! not everyone takes seconds)...
$9.50 in new costs.
Maybe $2 worth of couscous (stock was homemade from chicken bones and frozen; I consider that free) and $3 in leftover wine, and a few pantry items.
I love the market! I'm going to another one tomorrow! Whee!!!
(indoors if you're in a cold climate)
This is a great menu -- you can prepare it up to a day in advance, if you would prefer not to spend your Valentine's day cooking. It's also not super-heavy, so it won't put you to sleep or weigh you down, should you have (cough) V-day plans beyond dinner.
1. Salad of hearts of palm and olives
Take one 14-ounce can of hearts of palm. Drain, and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Slice 1/2-cup mixed good olives. Mix together.
Toss with dressing made from 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3/4 tsp dried oregano, 1 clove garlic (if you're OK with garlic on a date) and 3 tbsp olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on a bed of Boston lettuce. (If you're making this in advance, you can refrigerate the salad but take it out 1/2 hour early to bring the oil back to room temperature, and then plate with the lettuce.)
2. Prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches
Put two slices of Italian bread side by side on a board. Layer the following:
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 large roma tomato, seeded and chopped
3 oz. prosciutto
1 bunch arugula, trimmed, chopped and tossed with olive oil (S&P to taste)
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
Two more slices of bread to top
Cut sandwiches in half diagonally, wrap tightly in plastic, chill at least one hour, up to a day.
Serve plated with blood orange segments and pomegranate seeds.
Prosecco is a good choice to accompany dinner.
3. Chocolate-raspberry pot au creme
Bring 2/3 cup whole milk to a boil, slowly over medium heat.
Meanwhile, combine one egg, 2 tbsp sugar, pinch salt, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 tbsp hazelnut liquor in a blender. Pour in 1/3rd of the boiling milk, blend for 30 seconds, repeat until milk is gone. (This cooks the egg -- although if you're at all worried, use pasteurized eggs -- and melts the chocolate.) Blend until smooth. Pour into four 4-5 oz ramekins (you won't fill them all the way) and chill until firm (about an hour, but you can do this a day in advance too).
Top with raspberry sauce (1 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries, thawed slightly; 1/2 shot Chambord, 1/2 tbsp confectioner's sugar, pureed and strained), whipped cream and fresh raspberries. (This recipe serves four, but there's no good way of halving it, with the egg, so you'll have leftovers.)
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
Member since 2003 before July 6th
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