- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

“Frugal” is not a word typically used in the same sentence as “foodie.”

After all, it usually takes money — lots of it — to experience the creme de la creme of flavor and texture combinations, whether it’s saffron-infused bouillabaisse or sherry-glazed moist apple cake.

But along came foodies Alanna Kaufman and Alex Small, authors of the newly released “The Frugal Foodie Cookbook,” and not only did they have the guts to put the two words right next to each other in the book’s title, but in the book’s pages they describe exactly how to make a saffron-infused bouillabaisse for no more than $5 per serving and a sherry-glazed moist apple cake for $2.50 per serving.

“The key is to center the recipes around cheap ingredients and use expensive ingredients as accents,” Ms. Kaufman says.

The bouillabaisse serves as a good example, she says. Many of the ingredients, including the vegetables and herbs, are relatively cheap, and when it comes to the seafood, she recommends the home cook chooses the white-fleshed fish that’s the least costly.



“You can easily substitute cod for halibut,” she says.

The saffron? There’s no way to get around the steep cost — an ounce costs roughly $100, according to a recent online search, or it can be purchased for about $10 a gram. Once you’ve bought a batch, though, you’re good for a while. A little goes a long way, she says.

Another tip is to buy what’s local and in season. For example, lobster is considered an expensive delicacy, but the cost depends largely on where and when you buy it. If you’re in Nova Scotia, Can ada for example, she says you might find it’s quite affordable.

Comparing prices and not going to just one store for all groceries also helps, she says.

This book is not necessarily for the time-pressed as some of the recipes can be quite time-consuming, she says, adding that while the recipes are all simple, they sometimes can take hours to complete from start to finish.

“If we make one of the soups — like the veggie soup — we make an afternoon of it,” she says.

Baking, obviously, also is time-consuming but the rewardsare hard to beat. Think home-baked bread fresh out of the oven covered with a thin layer of butter.

Other tips: Use a separate wine for cooking (don’t waste a $20 bottle in a recipe), freeze herbs and use leftovers from baked chicken to make chicken stock.

And use lots of cheap protein, she says, in the form of bean dishes such as hummus and black bean soup.

“The spicy black bean soup is one of my favorites,” she says. “We often eat it as a main course with a few slices of fresh avocado, melted cheese and some chips.”

Cost?

Roughly $2 per serving.

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