BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Truffled Grilled Cheese

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 4 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $10
  • 0 Comments

Grilled cheese has played a bigger role in my life in the past year than it ever did before. 

I've always been a fan, but it wasn't until the production of the first episode of Young & Hungry, wherein Gabi Diamond scores her dream job by cooking her would-be employer, Josh Kaminski a killer grilled cheese that I began to see what a magical sandwich it really is. In an instant, that grilled cheese changed both of their lives, kind of like how the show has changed mine. Now halfway through filming season two, I am in disbelief that things made it this far. And so, so happy.

Tonight, I'm excited to tell you, the premiere of season two airs on ABC Family at 8/7 Central

To honor the humble comfort food, and celebrate this exciting night, I'm making grilled cheese.

But of course, I can't make just any grilled cheese. This one is fancy.

Behold: Trader Joe's Italian Truffle Cheese.

 When you want black truffle flavor for as little money as possible, don't reach for truffle oil (which rarely contains actual truffles). Instead, go for this delicious cheese, studded with real black truffle pieces.

Since the cheese is so sublime, my goal with this sandwich was to celebrate it and not try to add any other flavors that might overdominate it. Just good bread and butter.

I decided to use sliced sourdough, since it get so gorgeously crispy when buttered and heated.

It's always good to get your ingredients together before you begin assembly. Make sure your butter is at room temperature so it spreads easily (just leave it on the counter for 20 minutes or so).

Also, it's so important to shred your cheese. This ensures that it will melt evenly and quickly.

 Assemble the sandwiches.

And don't be afraid to be generous with the butter. If you put enough on the sandwiches themselves, you don't need any for the pan.

A quick pan-fry on both sides yields a beautifully golden-brown and crisp exterior.

Then slice, eat, an seriously contemplate making another one.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 slices sandwich bread, preferably sourdough $2.50 for a loaf
  • 6 ounces Italian Truffle Cheese, or another creamy cheese with truffles, shredded $6.50 for 8 ounces
  • salted butter, brought to room temperature $1 for a stick

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. Heat a nonstick frying pan or a cast iron griddle over medium heat.
  2. While the pan gets hot, divide the shredded cheese between the slices of bread, making sure to distribute evenly.
  3. Top each slice of bread with a second slice of bread, to make four sandwiches.
  4. Butter the top and bottom of each sandwich generously.
  5. Cook the sandwiches, one or two at a time if neccessary, on the hot pan for 1-2 minutes per side, until the cheese melts and the bottoms become golden-brown and crisp.
  6. Flip and cook for another minute or two, until the second side is browned and crisp.
  7. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  8. Slice in half if desired, and serve immediately.

Sardine Pâté with Lemon and Parsley

  • Prep Time 2 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $6.50
  • 1 Comment

I've been wanting to get into sardines for awhile, but I must admit, I've been a little scared. 

I'm not the biggest fan of canned tuna (though I do like the kind that comes packed in oil), and intense fishiness tends to be off-putting to me. But I've been reading about how heart-healthy sardines are, thanks to their rich Omega-3 content, which helps lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, curb joint stiffness and promote overall heart health. So when Season Sardines offered to send me a few sardines varieties to try, I decided to take them up on it.

I was immediately inspired to make something akin to my smoked tuna salad--something I could eat on crackers or with salad greens for a healthy lunch. Sardines have so much natural flavor that they need only need a few brightening elements to highlight them.

I went with lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, and flat leaf parsley. Classic fish pairings.

The resulting pâté was delicious on crackers and celery, but it would also be good on toast, as the filling of a sandwich (it's like tuna salad but much creamier and smoother), or as the protein component of an entree salad.

I'm excited to try making this again with different herbs. Cilantro and chilies would be tasty, as would tarragon and minced shallots, for a more classic French flavor profile. But meanwhile, I'm pretty darn pleased with this super-quick appetizer/snack. And I'm happy to report, I'm no longer afraid of sardines. Delicious things are never scary.

Note:  I was compensated by Season Sardines for this post and for developing the recipe. However all opinions are completely my own.

Ingredients

  • 2 4.25 tins of sardines (water-packed or oil-packed) $5
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use 1 tablespoon, if using oil-packed sardines) Pantry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • black pepper to taste Pantry
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped roughly $1 for a bunch
  • small squeeze lemon juice $0.50 for 1 lemon

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. If you are using sardines packed in water, drain them. Oil-packed sardines don't need to be drained.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
  3. Serve with crackers, toast, celery sticks, or atop a mound of greens.

3-Ingredient Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

  • Prep Time 2 minutes, plus 2 hours to freeze
  • Estimated Cost $5
  • 0 Comments

I worry.

I worry about the physical and emotional health of the people I love.

I worry about the future, both near and far, mine and yours.

I worry that the city I love so much is becoming probibitively expensive to just about everyone.

I worry that it's really not supposed to be this warm in early March in San Francisco. 

I worry that the path I have chosen is flawed.

I worry that, actually, it is perfect, that it is I who is flawed.

I worry about those flaws.

And worry, and worry.

Sometimes, we need a break from the worry.

A sweet, tangy, cold, creamy break. 

This is my break.

It couldn't be easier to make, so that's good. 

You just need frozen strawberries (though frozen raspberries, plums, mango, or peaches would be tasty, too).

Some thick yogurt.

And a touch of honey (though you could skip it, for a lower-sugar result--I worry about sugar sometimes, too).

Just blend it up in a food processor.

Pour it into an airtight container with a fitted lid. 

And freeze, until it firms up (usually about two hours).

Then scoop a bowl of worry-free bliss.

For a few moments, your only worry will be locating a spoon. 

 

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces frozen strawberry (a 1-pound bag) $2.50
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (any fat percentage is fine) $2.50 for 8 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon honey Pantry

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. Combine the strawberries, yogurt, and honey in a food processor.
  2. Puree until the mixture resembles a thick smoothie.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl or plastic container with a fitted lid. 
  4. Cover tightly and place in the freezer until firm, about 2 hours. 
  5. Scoop into bowls and serve immediately.

Creamy Lemon Pappardelle

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $11
  • 2 Comments

I actually first posted about a pasta recipe with a creamy, eggy lemon sauce the first week this blog was live, back in 2009. The recipe was inspired by one by Dave Lieberman, whose boy-next-door good looks, and proclivity for challah bread pudding and stuffed cabbage caught my attention when he was briefly on Food Network, hosting his fantastic show, which focused on fresh, affordable, simple foods, Good Deal with Dave Lieberman

When the San Francisco-based pasta company, Three Bridges sent me some fresh pappardelle (a wide, tender noodle), I knew I had to break it out again. 

The key to getting really rich, lemony flavor is a one-two punch of both lemon juice and lemon zest.

Though there is a little bit of technique involved, the dish is actually pretty simple. The main work is in whisking the sauce, which is cooked over boiling water, so the eggs cook gently with the half-and-half and lemon without scrambling.

If you have a double boiler, this is a great time to use it, but if, like me, you don't, just make your own with a bowl and a pot.

All that whisking really pays off though, because the sauce is utterly decadent. I top the sauced pasta with more lemon zest, plus parsley and coarsely chopped, lightly toasted almonds for crunch.

Serve this with a crisp green salad and Prosecco or another crisp white wine

 

Oooooh yeeeaaaahhh. 

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks $1.50 for 6 eggs
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half $1.50 for a half-pint
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced Pantry
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (reserve a little zest for garnish) $1
  • salt and pepper to taste Pantry
  • 8 ounces pappardelle, fresh or dried (if you can't find pappardelle, use fettucine, linguine, or any other wide, long-strand pasta) $3
  • 1/8 cup chopped, toasted almonds $3 (buy in the bulk section for the best price)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely $1 for a bunch

Recipe Serves 2

Directions

  1. Combine the egg yolks, half-and-half, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a heatproof bowl (or in the top of a double boiler).
  2. Place over a pot of boiling water (check out the photo in the introduction to get a sense of how this should look--make sure the bowl is large enough to sit on top of the pot without falling in). 
  3. Whisk until the mixture thickens into a pale yellow, smooth sauce (depending on the size of your bowl, this could take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes).
  4. Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
  5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle according to directions. 
  6. As soon as the pappardelle is cooked, toss it with the sauce.
  7. Use tongs or forks to divide the pasta into bowls and top each one with a sprinkling of almonds, parsley, and more black pepper if desired.

Category: Meals

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Buffalo Tofu Bites

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9
  • 2 Comments

My boyfriend is a liar.

I mean, his particular brand of lying is relatively innocuous, but still. 

"I feel your pain," my mother says to me, when I tell her about his wrongdoing. "Your father did the same thing to me."

What I'm talking about here is sports. Specifically the fact that, when we met, he claimed to not follow them. A fact which, until learning the truth, I was pretty thrilled about. 

And look, I had good reason to believe him. He once texted me after a pick-up game of softball that he had "scored so many points!" Points. He called them points. 

"It always starts this way," my mother says to me. "When your father and I were first dating, he would read me Shakespeare love sonnets over the phone and declare that sports were silly. But soon enough, he was yelling at the television on Sunday afternoons."

I always knew Evan loved his home state, Wisconsin, and therefore had affection for teams from Wisconsin (the Packers, the Badgers), but until recently, I didn't know that he actually pays attention to the details of the current rosters and understands football strategy. I didn't know that, like my father, he has the capacity to yell at the television. That was his dirty little secret. 

"It's not football! It's the Packers!" he insists. 

"Do the Packers play football?"

"Well, yes."

"So, we're still talking about football."

But when you love someone, you must find a way to accept them, flaws lies well-disguised differences and all. That is why, in the past few months, I have found myself in more than one Packers bar (they are in nearly every city, it turns out), and that is why I hugged him as he mourned the Pack's tragic loss to the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago. And it's also why, on Sunday, I will make my sneaky, mostly vegetarian man a special Superbowl snack. If his beloved team is not in the game, he might as well get some delicious comfort food out of it. 

And, unlike balancing a Spotted Cow and a plate of cheese curds in a packed bar, it's very easy.

First, you make a simple, spicy, buttery Buffalo sauce (named after the city in New York, not the animal).

Then, you get your extra-firm tofu ready. Cut it up into wing-size bites.

Get it really crispy in a pan.

Pour on the sauce and let it really flavor the tofu bites.

Then serve it up with a creamy dressing and some crunchy carrots and/or celery. 

I suppose you could offer people toothpicks with these, but why should the chicken wing-eaters have all the finger-licking sauce fun? I say dive right in. 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of cayenne-based hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco $3.50
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar $1.50 for 8 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar Pantry
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (use Earth Balance if you want the bites to be vegan or pareve) $1
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder $1.50 for 1 ounce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste Pantry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced Pantry
  • 3 tablespoons canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or coconut oil Pantry
  • 1 16-ounce block extra firm tofu, cut into 1 1/2-inch x 1/2 inch pieces $1.50

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, whisk together the hot sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar, butter, chili powder, salt, and garlic. Stir well to combine.
  2. Let the sauce come to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10-12 minutes, until thickened. 
  3. While the sauce cooks, heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Working batches if necessary, fry the tofu pieces on one side until a thick, golden crust develops on one the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Flip the tofu pieces and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. The tofu should be quite crispy at this point.
  6. Pour the thickened buffalo sauce into the pan and swirl it around to coat the tofu pieces evenly.
  7. Let cook for 5-7 minutes, turning the tofu pieces a few times during cooking to ensure even coating of sauce.
  8. Use tongs or a spatula to carefully transfer the cooked tofu onto a serving plate. 
  9. Serve with a creamy dressing, like yogurt ranch, or prepared blue cheese dressing, and carrot and/or celery sticks.