Recipe: Cabbage & Chicken Stir-Fry

       Breakfast: A simple omelet that we shared with a bit of asparagus, a few cherry tomatoes and basil (from my plant). Cost: $1.74.   Snacks: We finished off our cottage cheese today, made a dent in our applesauce and a box of Ok-Mok crackers. Total cost for the day for meals, snacks, coffee at breakfast and dinner for our friend: $11.26 Observations: This week I've realized how reliant I am on what’s in my … [Read more...]

Recipes: Deviled Eggs & Easy Thai Curry

Tofu is widely regarded with suspicion by those on low-income budgets as it can smack of sprout-loving vegans, but I think it’s often overlooked. It’s high in protein, low in fat, endlessly versatile and inexpensive, about $1.50 a pound, or 38 cents per four-ounce serving. What to do with it? Mike makes great Thai food, so I’ve never tried it. But inspired by the most recent issue of Fine Cooking, I wanted to see if Thai … [Read more...]

Recipe: Spicy Creole Shrimp with Pasta

Years ago, I did a cooking class event with a special menu titled "Lunch from the French Quarter." I taught a gumbo recipe from my book, The Sharper Your Knife. I developed the recipe below based on a dish that I had in New Orleans during a rushed trip to the Crescent City during my first book tour. Lunch in the French Quarter Greens with creole mustard vinaigrette Shrimp, sausage and chicken gumbo Spicy creole shrimp … [Read more...]

Recipe: Pasta with olives, tomatoes and tuna

This is a cheap and easy meal to craft from pantry staples. The tuna bumps up the protein quotient, but it's optional. You can use fresh or canned tomatoes, but if you use the latter, be sure to drain them well. Cook the pasta in liberally salted water, and then reserve some of the water for the sauce. Be sure to taste before salting the final product; the salt from the olives and the pasta water may offer plenty without … [Read more...]

Recipe: Braised pork with cabbage, tomatoes and pasta

First, you’ll want to do a simple braise of the pork. Braise simply means to simmer in a bit of liquid with a tight cover to keep in the steam. It’s a vital lesson to learn to utilize inexpensive cuts of meat. You’ll need about 3-ounces of pork per serving. Leave the vegetables, but remove the rest of the pork and refrigerate for other meals. The key to a good braise is to brown the meat thoroughly. You’ll likely collect … [Read more...]

Recipe: Easy Pan-Seared Fish

I’ve been spending the week on Anna Maria Island. No trip is complete without a visit to Cortez, the historic fishing village named for the murderous bastard who wiped out its original population. Mom and I headed over to the Cortez Bait & Seafood Market yesterday and picked up some grouper and red hog snapper, also known as hogfish, caught by local fishermen in the Gulf. Back home, I did a quick slather with some … [Read more...]

Zucchini with Brown Rice

Inspired by a visit Lisa took to Sicily, this is an easy way to pair zucchini with pasta or rice. Plan on at least a half a pound per person, but feel free to use more. Feel free to use liberal amounts of salt and pepper.2 lbs. zucchini, choppedTwo tablespoons olive oilSalt, pepper8 ounces pasta, such as penneAbout a cup of hot pasta water or hot stockGrated Parmigiano or Grana cheese (optional)In a large non stick … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mushroom-Lentil Paté

One day during summer break in high school, my mother took me to lunch at the posh The Longboat Key Club, where she worked in HR at the time. Lunch at "the club" meant finger bowls, white linens and posh French food. The first course was chicken liver paté with toast points. I grew up on a farm. We did not eat paté, although my mother clandestinely padded the occasional dish with chicken livers, which came free from the … [Read more...]