Got $10 bucks? Make “caviar.”
Being a budget gourmet is sort of my hobby. It’s a challenge that brings poached orange scallops with mint, peppered sirloin with cranberry reduction and wasabi burgers with green pepper and parmesan into your life.
In “The $10 Gourmet: Restaurant-Quality Meals That Won’t Break Your Budget,” Canadian celebrity chef Ken Kostick offers chicken gumbo with white wine and sun-dried tomato that looks like a bowl of jambalaya, with no liquid in sight. His jambalaya with chorizo and mussels acknowledges rice is the dish’s constant and as for flavors, anything goes.
They may not be traditional, but they do look amazing. I’ve long tried to convince co-workers that being broke doesn’t mean overpriced frozen food, instant noodles and unhealthy fast food. Photos in this book could convince them. Kostic starts with a $50 pantry and inspires diners to shop fresh and seek sales for basics and accents such as this:
Mushrooms & Apple Caviar
2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup apple juice
1 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
_ teaspoon dried basil
_ teaspoon oregano
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook the mixture on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Serve over pasta, rice or grilled foods.
My coworkers still remember the mushroom log I had at my desk in the old building. For one memorable week, the dark, damp log produced mushrooms you could snap off and eat.
I got the second log of my life from Gourmet & Mushroom Products of Graton, Calif, the people making fungus fun. This log produced some big ol’ shrooms that flavored a satisfying rice dish, but the best part is just watching them grow. It’s a conversation starter. Just keep your log wet and watch the little guys form. You can chop up the log for composting. Gotta love nature.
While slinky silver sandals are holiday standards, revelers can go informal with Barefoot Wine’s moscato for about $8. It’s sweet with pear and lemon flavors that makers suggest can aide in your holiday cooking. Try two tablespoons in your pumpkin pie recipe. The wine, paired with fruit and cheese, could be one of the lower calorie meals of the season that feels like a splurge. Here’s a colorful one designed to brighten the holiday.
4 ounces (1/2 cup) Barefoot Moscato
2 ounces (1/4 cup) cranberry juice
2 ounces (1/4 cup) orange liquor
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
2 slices lime
Shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with lime peel. Serves 2.