In the Detetcheverrie household, we enjoy eating well on a limited budget. I personally enjoy the therapeutic value of gathering ideas for, then the ingredients of a particular recipe, preparing the components for assimilation, combining the parts, tasting the result to see if it requires modification, then finally presenting and sharing the dish.
We don’t have an idea in mind, then go shopping for the ingredients. It’s far less expensive to just grab staples and anything interesting that’s on sale, we have a coupon for, or has been banished to a clearance table. Our champagne tastes serve us well in this beer-budget town where many gourmet delights end up marked down simply because the average citizen is not familiar with black caviar, wood ear, capers, water crackers, shortbread, scones, béarnaise or what have you and it doesn’t sell at regular price. While I might peruse the offerings in a big city gourmet boutique, I’m more likely to procure useful high-end items much less expensively in the general grocer’s of any small town. After we’ve amassed a number of oddball items, we take a look at the basic stuff we bought on our weekly shopping trip, then begin forming the ideas for recipes in our heads. A quick verification that we’re on the right track through a cookbook or research online and voila, a gourmet dinner is served. So while we may be out of ground beef, there may be a tin of mushroom pate hiding in the refrigerator. No more canola oil? There is a garlic and pear infused olive oil hiding amidst the collection of hot sauces. No bread for sandwiches? Wrap the meats and cheeses in these amazing organic leafy greens we picked up on a whim from a sidewalk farmer’s market. A grand imagination and the ability to improvise on a moment’s notice will serve the aspiring home chef well.
This chapter of the Backyard Gourmet begins a series of recipes and cooking tips I will share with you featuring the most popular recipes in the Detetcheverrie household. These are the dishes we return to again and again, the items that make up the bulk of our delectable, affordable diets. Enjoy.
1 Tablespoon of flour, 1 Tablespoon of arrowroot powder, 1 Tablespoon of dried minced onion, 1 crushed beef bouillon cube, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder,1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon of brown sugar.
Add mix with ¾ cup of water to a pound of cooked and drained ground beef or cooked chicken, bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes, stirring frequently.
The original recipe called for garlic salt and onion salt instead of garlic and onion powder, but the results were way too salty. Add them back in if you prefer saltier food. Meat prepared this way is good in tacos, over rice, as part of a Mexican themed dip, over pasta, wrapped in eggroll wrappers and baked or fried, as sandwich filling, over eggs, or as filling for omelets. Use 2 Tablespoons of flour if you don’t have arrowroot powder, or use cornstarch, rice flour, or masa instead.
29 oz. can of diced tomatoes drained with the liquid reserved, 4 oz. of diced fire-roasted green chilis, ¼ cup of thin sliced green onion, ¼ cup of stemmed and washed cilantro, 2 Tablespoons of lime juice, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ cup of the reserved tomato juice.
Run it through the blender. Makes a nice marinade, too.
Pumpkin Marinara Sauce
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Saute one sliced onion and 4 minced garlic cloves until golden. Add 10 oz. of diced tomatoes and stir. Add another 10 oz. and one bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper, ½ teaspoon of parsley, ¼ teaspoon of thyme, ¼ teaspoon of paprika and 3 bruised sprigs each of rosemary, oregano and basil. Stir. Let most of the liquid cook off, Add 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, 1 ½ cups of sliced pumpkin, and one shredded carrot. Stir until liquid has cooked off. Add 8 oz. tomato sauce and 4 oz. tomato paste and stir. Add up to 1 ½ lbs. of cooked ground beef or other meat if you like.
Wonderful over pasta, and a great way to sneak veggies past kids. No one knew this had pumpkin in it until I told them! Unlike most people, I don’t precook my pumpkin for recipes like this, and like to use a vegetable peeler to get the thinnest strips possible that seem to melt away when cooked.
2 Tablespoons of butter, 2 Tablespoons of arrowroot, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ cup of beer, ¾ cup of cream, 6 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese, 2 drops of hot sauce, ½ of a minced onion.
In a medium to large saucepan on medium heat or in a crockpot set to high, whisk arrowroot in butter. Whisk mustard, onion, steak sauce, salt and pepper into butter mixture. Whisk in beer. Whisk in cream. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add hot sauce.
A delicious thick sauce that’s wonderful on all sorts of foods like bread chunks or toast, asparagus or broccoli, poured over grilled sausage, smothering baked potatoes, or anything else that sounds like it could benefit from an accompaniment of a hot beer/cheese sauce.
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, 1 teaspoon of basil, 1 teaspoon of parsley, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of dried minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt.
Pour through a running blender. Place some on a plate or in a bowl and pour ¼ to ½ of a cup of extra virgin olive oil on top and dredge bread through it.
I’ve eaten so much of this at one time I’ve made myself sick.
¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil, 3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 3 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of thyme, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.
My favorite use of this dressing is over a salad of cored and cubed Red Delicious apples mixed with peeled and cubed cucumbers, served chilled.
2/3 cup of white vinegar, 1/3 cup of lemon juice, 13 garlic cloves, 3 Tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of marjoram, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.
Run through the blender for 30 seconds. While it’s still running, slowly add 2 ½ cups of extra virgin olive oil. Stir in 1 teaspoon of bruised oregano leaves.
A good marinade and also delicious brushed over toasted bread.
¼ cup of white vinegar, 3 Tablespoons of water, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, 1 teaspoon of onion salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of parsley, ¼ teaspoon of basil, ¼ teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of thyme.
Mix in a cruet or jar with a lid. Add ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well. Keep refrigerated.
If the oil solidifies in the refrigerator, remove it well before serving and shake well before pouring. Excellent as a marinade.
Onion Soup Mix
8 teaspoons of dried minced onion, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 4 crushed beef bouillon cubes, ¼ teaspoon of celery salt.
Add 4 cups of water for soup or 1 cup of sour cream for dip.
Great to know this one in case a recipe calls for the addition of an envelope of onion soup mix and you don’t happen to have any on hand. Try it as part of sauces and gravies, mixed into meatloaf or burgers, or mix it with a cup of softened cream cheese or cottage cheese for a dip.
1 Tablespoon of celery seed to 2 Tablespoons of coarse salt. Run through the blender at high speed for 30 seconds.
I only had to learn this one so I could make the onion soup mix recipe.
2 ½ Tablespoons of paprika, 1 Tablespoon of salt, 2 Tablespoons of garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon of black pepper, 1 Tablespoon of onion powder, 1 Tablespoon of cayenne, I Tablespoon of oregano, 1 Tablespoon of thyme.
Unfortunately, I have a lot of issues with humidity making this spice blend clump. Make sure you keep it in a tightly sealed container and use a food-grade dessicant pack if you have one. For this reason, this blend is best made fresh as needed rather than stored.
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon zest, 1 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1 1/3 cups of sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 ¾ sticks of unsalted butter in small pieces.
Whisk zest, juice, sugar, eggs and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until bubbles appear (about 10 minutes). Pour through a sieve and chill in a covered container.
This is the very first gourmet recipe I ever learned to make. Make sure you get no pith with the zest (all peel, no white parts), and mince finely before use if you like. The tricky business with curd is making sure the eggs don’t cook too fast and turn into chunks. Originally, this recipe was presented to me cooked in a double boiler, but I’ve had no issues heating it over an electric element. Lemon curd is a delight on toasted slices of poundcake, poured over angel food, smeared over toast or scones, as a cookie dip, or part of a sauce for poultry.
Okay, so you’ve aced the easy recipes. Look for the next installment of the Backyard Gourmet where I’ll be sharing my recipes for fresh grilled breads and pastries!