Archive for challenge
Day 7. It began with the chicken and in a closing, circle of life kind of way, it should end with the chicken. The legs and thighs from Day One were topped with a bit of BBQ Rub and baked in the oven. The meat was then shredded and added to a from scratch pizza crust topped with the red sauce, fresh mozzerella and the rest of the brie cheese. As a picture is worth a thousand words, the previous week is recapped in photos. Food on a budget can be Delicious And nutritious; food from the heart is good for the heart.
And that brings us back to “
Do Re Me Fa So La Te Do” I mean Day 7: Start at the top!!
For Day Five it’s a spicy trip to the Chesapeake Bay. Simple sautéed shrimp are elevated with some classic Mediterranean style spices, herbs and a touch of heat. Once the shrimp salad (recipe follows) is finished, form about eight ounces in to four two-ounce patties (reserve the remaining two ounces of salad for ravioli stuffing). Dredge the patties in 2 Tbs of flour mixed with 1 Tbs of Old Bay. Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat and cook each patty until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes each side. Serve with a simple mashed potato and sautéed green beans. For a little international flair, top the shrmp cakes with salsa and guacamole.
Spicy Shrimp Salad
- ½ pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if greater heat desired)
- 3 oz. grated parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbs tomato paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs parsley, minced
- Staples: olive oil, salt, pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Cook the shrimp along with salt, black and red pepper. Allow to cool. Mash all the remaining ingredients together with the shrimp, or pulse in a food processor.
For Day Four, it’s back to a continental classic! An under appreciated treat of French cuisine is a well prepared classic tri-fold omelet with a little melted brie in the center. Add fresh pasta with a drizzle of Alfredo sauce and….
- 2 cups flour (about 9 ounces)
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs water
- ½ tsp. salt
- Staples: olive oil, salt
Combine all the ingredients of a stand mixer, or make a well with the dry ingredients on a working surface, and add the eggs, water and oil. Gently start the mixer on low, mixing until the dough appears crumbly and binds together when squeezed in your hand. If mixing by hand, add the water to achieve the same consistency. The exact amount of water required may vary by the flour, ambient humidity, and other factors, so you need to go by the look and feel versus specific amounts. Next, knead the dough, if working by hand or use the dough hook attachment if using a stand mixer. Knead until the dough takes on a shiny appearance or pulls away from the ball. Rest at least one hour, wrapped in the refrigerator. Once the dough is rested, use the settings on your pasta rollers or measure out to about 1/32 of an inch for linguine or fettuccine. Cut the pasta with a sharp knife, or use the pasta cutting mechanism of your mixer. Dust the pasta with a little flour to prevent sticking. Bring salted water with a few drops of olive oil added to a boil, add the pasta, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until it is out al dente The pasta can be made ahead of time and keep for several days in the refrigerator. Serves 4
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs flour
- 4 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- Staples: butter, pepper
in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour was together. When you have a soft white paste (or blonde roux), add the milk. Continue to heat until the sauce it just starts to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the cheese. Season with the white pepper.
Day two takes us back to the game of chicken. This time however, we are going to change the rules, or at least the tastes and textures. Instead of the the more continental cuisine prepared yesterday, today we go East. With some some minimal effort we transform the bird into a porcine infused picture of pork-fection. The only take away here is a tummy full of delicious goodness!
Egg Flower Soup
- 1 egg
- 1 qt. light chicken stock
- 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. + 1 Tbs water
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sherry
- ½ tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- ¼ tsp. Chinese 5 spice
- 1/8 tsp. crushed saffron (optional)
- Staples: cornstarch, spices, salt, soy sauce, sherry
Mix the egg with 1 tsp. of water and set aside. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining cold water in another bowl and set aside. Place stock in a medium or large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients except cornstarch and egg. Add the cornstarch. Once the mixture thickens turn to low. Swirl the mixture, as the mixture swirls add the egg so it forms strands
Asian Stuffed Chicken Wings
- 2 chicken wings
- 4 ounces Asian style minced pork (see recipe below)
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- Staples: Salt, pepper, spices
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Debone the chicken wings. Using a boning knife or other sharp knife cut around the first wing joint. Pull the skin and meat downward. It will stop at the next joint. Force the joint backward dislocating the top bone and remove. Pull the meat and skin downward. Repeat the severing process at the next joint and then pull downward. Again force the joint against itself dislocating the last two bones. Pull the wing tip back through. Stuff each wing with 2 ounces of the pork. Place on a baking pan and cook for about 25-35 minutes, remove and allow to cool. Heat oil in a wok or sauté pan until smoking. Combine the salt, pepper and 5-spice with the flour. Dredge the wings in the seasoned flour and cook until crispy on all sides. Serve atop Pork Stir-Fried Rice. 2 servings.
Asian Style Minced Pork
- 8 ounces ground pork
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
- 1 dash Sriracha or other hot sauce
- Staples: soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce
Combine all ingredients.
Pork Stir Fried Rice
- Oil for wok (or pan)
- 4 ounces Asian Style Minced Pork
- 2 carrots, sliced thin
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbs cilantro
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- Juice ½ lime
- 1 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp. corn starch
- 1 Tbs. water
Heat a little oil over medium high heat until smoking. Add the carrots, cook for 1-2 minutes and remove. Add the pork and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Move the pork to the edges of the wok and add the rice. Stir for several minutes. Create a little well in the center and add the egg, stirring constantly for about a minute. Add back the carrots. Create another well and add the sauce, stir constantly to combine with all the other ingredients and it should thicken in about a minute. Add the cilantro, stir another 30 seconds, remove and serve. Four servings.
For those interested:
This is the time of the year connected with joy, celebration and feasting. Yet for many of the less fortunate, it can be a time of sadness, hardship and despair. Enjoying delicious, handcrafted meals is often associated with increased costs; costs many would deem an unaffordable luxury. Indeed, socioeconomic level is inversely correlated with a healthy diet and subsequently good health. Those with the least suffer the worst diets and a greater proportion of illness. But it need not be so. With some ingenuity, planning and a little effort, great food can be had on a budget. Great food the Grassroots Gourmet ™ way, not only great tasting but great for you!
Impossible, you say? Well, as the proof would literally be in the pudding we have undertaken a seven day food stamp challenge. Checking the food stamp allotment, now known as the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for a household of two we come to a figure of $367.00 maximum per month in 2012[i]. Dividing by four weeks, we arrive at $91.75 for two people for one week.
To get started, the basic game plan is to have a basic game plan. Whether it is the operating room or the kitchen, you need a plan-a little something we call mise en place, from the French and translating roughly as “everything in its place.” Then shop around. While the mega chains may have the staples at the best prices, great bargains on fresh, wholesome foods can often be found at Farmer’s markets, produce stands or specialty shops. Finally, execute the plan. As you’ll see as we walk through the example prepping the food, the order of the meals flows logically from the use of items, so next to nothing is wasted. This is what transpires in professional kitchens, and it should in yours as well.
·Make a Plan: From the menu that follows you can see that we built a lot of the week’s food around several items. For example, the chicken is broken down on day one. The breast is prepared and served for dinner. The legs and thighs are used creatively later in the week. By utilizing different spices and flavor profiles we can create interesting and tasty meals with contrasting textures and tastes from limited stock. The carcass of the chicken is used to create four quarts of stock for use throughout the week. Homemade stock is not only significantly cheaper, but much healthier for you containing no additional sodium or other preservatives or additives. Some of the tastiest meat on the chicken is found on the carcass. Exploiting this fact, the chicken meat recovered after the carcass has been used to make stock is added to the red beans and rice to give it some additional zing.
·Shop Around: The bulk of the items were obtained at the local grocery store. However, substantial deals were found at the local produce stand. Another advantage was getting fresh local vine ripened tomatoes. There was also a great deal on some just picked green beans. Finishing up at the local fishmonger’s shop, there were some even greater values. There were some small count fresh gulf shrimp that were on sale. Since these were to be used in shrimp cakes and ravioli stuffing, this is one time when size didn’t matter. Perhaps the bargain of the week was the grouper cheeks. Grouper is one of my favorite fishes and incredibly delectable. However, the fillets were also $17 a pound. But who needs a filet for some blackened grouper fish tacos? Grouper cheeks, which pack all the flavor and then some, were $5.99 a pound.
·Execute: By doing some smart and comparative shopping, we got some great quality items and stayed within budget. We had a budget of $91.75 for two people for the week and we came in at $91.00. Bringing all the items home, it is time to execute the plan. We start that tomorrow. Stay tuned all week long for an exciting, instructional and most importantly incredibly delicious week of food – all on the SNAP budget.
Lunch: Baked Potato
Dinner: Chicken Liver with Balsamic Onions (appetizer), Parmesan Crusted Lemon Chicken with Crispy Rosemary Potatoes and Sautéed Zucchini & Yellow Squash
Lunch: Chicken, Beans and Rice
Dinner: Egg Flower Soup, Asian Stuffed Chicken Wings and Pork Stir-Fried Rice
Lunch: Pita with Roasted Garlic Hummus
Dinner: Blackened Grouper Tacos topped with Salsa and Guacamole served with Refried Beans
Lunch: Tortillas, Guacamole and Salsa
Dinner: Brie Omelet with Fresh Pasta Alfredo
Lunch: Egg Salad with Pita
Dinner: Shrimp Cakes over Mashed Potatoes with Sautéed Green Beans
Lunch: Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
Dinner: Shrimp Diablo Ravioli with Red Sauce
Lunch: Potato Gnocchi with Red Sauce
Dinner: BBQ Chicken Pizza
[i] (Saving to Invest, 2012)
Saving to Invest. (2012). 2012 Food Stamp (SNAP) Income Eligibility Levels, Deductions and Benefit Allotment Payments. Retrieved December 15, 2012, from Saving2Invest.com: http://www.savingtoinvest.com/2012/01/2012-food-stamp-snap-income-eligibility-levels-deductions-and-benefit-allotment-payments.html