I’ve been through a number of economic downturns. Maybe you also have. You might remember the recession of the early 90s, a financial downturn that lasted about a year. During that time, culinary expert Jacques Pepin, award-winning cookbook author and PBS star, wrote “Cuisine Economique” (William Morrow, in print).
His goal with this book was to make the food dollar go further without sacrificing taste, creating recipes that turn pennies into a delicious experience. Born in France to a family of restaurateurs, his second nature is thrifty. The Second World War broke out in his childhood and the time was challenging. Less wasted in his kitchen; Shredded meats or vegetables are used in soups, as well as stock dishes that often end with a sauce.
I’ve written about Pepin’s frugal recipes before, but here are two that are new to me, as well as my nana’s simple yet delicious pudding.
Grilled pork shoulder with sweet potato
Pepin wrote that the dish blends cultural influences. “(It’s) seasoned in a Puerto Rican style, showcasing classic French techniques and capturing the traditional American flavors I’ve learned to love.”
If you are feeding four or less, this savory dish can be stretched to serve two meals. One option for the second day, is to serve the roast in a sandwich with bread fortified with shredded cabbage seasoned for a sweet-sour-spicy taste.
Productivity: About 6 servings
A 3-pound boneless pork shoulder (sometimes labeled “Boston Butt”)
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground dill
2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 4
2 large brown onions
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
Optional: coarse salt
Optional: finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Place the roast pork in a cast-iron or enamel saucepan with a lid (I use my medium-sized Le Creuset casserole). Add water, soy sauce, Tabasco, vinegar, honey, and cumin. Bring to a boil over high heat; Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and cut it into 2-inch-long slices. Peel the onion and cut each from top to bottom into 6 packs. After 1 hour on the stove, add the garlic, onion, and sweet potato to roast in order (some potatoes may not be in the cooking water, don’t worry). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring to a boil again over high heat on the stove; Cover and simmer gently over medium heat for 15 minutes.
3. Cover and place in the center of the preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring the meat in the water every 15 minutes. At the end of the cooking process, the meat should be tender when pierced with a fork, the vegetables should be tender with the juices concentrated in the pan.
4. Meat and juice tasting; If needed, sprinkle with salt to taste. Slice the meat and serve in shallow bowls along with juices and vegetables. If desired, sprinkle more parsley.
The source: Adapted from “Cuisine Economique” by Jacques Pepin (William Morrow, $22)
Jacques Save garlic soup
Oh my, this soup is delicious. It’s not far off from leek and potato soup, but the result is a creamy mixture that includes lots of leeks and cream. This version is economical using less leeks and has no cream. Garlic is the backbone of the earth.
Productivity: 6 to 8 servings
2 medium and large leeks
1/4 cup canola oil, divided by uses
12 to 15 garlic cloves, peeled, cut into thin slices
6 cups chicken broth, more if needed for desired consistency
2 pounds potatoes, Russets or Yukon Golds (whichever is cheapest), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Toasted bread: Thinly sliced baguette (about half a loaf), spread with remaining canola oil or see cook’s note for choice of onion garnish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Cook’s Notes: If leeks are too expensive, a combination of scallions and brown onions can be substituted, but Pepin cautions that the soup won’t have the same rich flavor. At my house, to enjoy, instead of bread, just before serving, I sprinkle the top of the soup with fried onions that I buy ready-made at Trader Joe’s in an 8-ounce container labeled “Gourmet Fried Onion Piece . I also use them to garnish rice dishes, baked potatoes, vegetable casseroles, and Asian noodle concoctions.
1. Prepare the leeks: Cut off the roots. Using the white and light green parts, cut into 1/2 inch slices; Place in a bowl of cold water and rub around the slices to remove any dirt. Drought drying. Blot dry on paper towels. You should have about 2 cups.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften. Add broth, potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and cook on medium-low for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile make the toast. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Place baguettes layer by layer on a rimmed baking tray. Brush the tops with oil. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and crisp (it takes about 7 to 8 minutes in my oven).
4. When the soup is done, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the broth and set aside. Puree the soup. I. I use an immersion blender (stick blender), but you can puree it in a food processor. Re-add just enough broth to achieve the desired consistency (you can add more if needed). Stir butter into hot soup. Ladle into bowls and top with a few toasts (see cook’s note).
The source: “Cuisine Economique” by Jacques Pepin (William Morrow, $22)
Nana’s Old Style Pudding
My late grandmother, Belle Oliphant, made pudding several times a month. In her generation, frugal cooks wanted to make good use of stale (or even older) bread. The bread is soaked in a sweet custard mixture and baked until solid and has a golden brown crust on top. Nana’s recipe has lots of custard, enough for a thick layer to coat around and underneath the bread.
Productivity: 4 to 6 servings
6 thick slices on stale bread crust, broken or cut into pieces about 1 inch long
2 tablespoons melted butter
Optional: 1/3 cup raisins, raisins or dried cranberries
4 large eggs, beaten
4 cups milk, whole or 2 percent
3/4 cup sugar, or a little less
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan or 2-quart roasting pan (I use an oval ceramic gratin dish that holds 2 quarts and is 13 1/2 inches long), spread the bread crumbs. Drizzle with melted butter and, if using, sprinkle with raisins.
3. Put eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until well combined and gently pour over bread. Use a spoon or fork to submerge the bread. Bake in the preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until poked, the center springs back up. If you want a browner, crispier top, move the oven rack and place it 8 inches below the chicken breast. Turn on the oven and bake until golden brown (you need to watch this closely, as the cake can burn quickly).
Cooking questions? Contact Cathy Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/13/recipes-inflation-squeezing-your-food-budget-make-these-3-frugal-dishes/ Inflation squeezes your food budget? Make these 3 frugal dishes – San Bernardino Sun