The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking

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The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking

Authored by Perry P Perkins

1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful:
Synonyms: thrifty, provident, careful, prudent, penny-wise

fine cooking
the preparation of gourmet food, high-class cuisine

Frugal, and fine cooking...are they mutually exclusive terms?
Not at all!

The irony of the modern day restaurant menu, is that many, many of the meals that we now consider "fine cooking", those dishes served in minuscule portions for outrageous prices in "high-end" restaurants, began their evolution as frugal cooking.

Creations of the poor working class, or slaves, tossed aside by the wealthy as unworthy of their table, elevated with those ingredients that could be grown in one's backyard, or picked along the roadside for free, and which, by necessity, and through long generations of trial, error, imagination, and perfecting, achieved a quality and flavor far surpassing the "fillets and chops" of the manor house.

Spices required for the preservation of foods in a pre-refrigeration societies, by those who couldn't afford to let a single scrap go to waste, have become the iconic flavors that people travel the world to find.

Ask the best "cooks" of the modern era, what the most important ingredient in their food is, and you'll get the same answer over, and over...


Food cooked for family, for those we love, with care and concern, will always trump expensive ingredients and fancy presentation.

And it has ever been so.

A culinary fact of history, that is oft forgotten, but still greatly effects our modern dining society, is that these "gourmet" dishes of yore were, when we look at the cultural significance behind them, little more than the "drive through" foods of those bygone days. Quick and easy, for certain, but typically monotone, single-note fare whose value lay more in being easily digestible, than in gastronomic appeal.

They are popular now, all these centuries later, for little more reason than that they have always been "what the rich folk ate."

So, I invite you, my fellow peasants (and everyone else) to take back the culinary history of our people, to join me in exploring the best foods ever to be born of necessity. Dishes where simple technique takes precedent over price, recipes created from imagination, and served with love, are transformed into their finest selves.

Food that is ever so much more pleasant to the palate...and the pocketbook.

SAMPLE RECIPE (As seen on AM Northwest)

Pasta Fajioli
(pasta va-zool)

1 lb chicken meat, cooked and chopped
36 oz chicken stock
28 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained (or freshly roasted*)
15 oz tomato sauce
1 large onions, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
4 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups beans (cannellini, kidney beans, etc,) rinsed and drained
2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tsp coarse black pepper
8 ounces uncooked pasta (medium shells, macaroni, etc.)
4 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium low, and saute onions, celery, and carrots until just beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, and transfer to a stock pot.

Add broth, sauce, beans, oregano, and black pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add pasta, parsley; simmer, covered, 10-14 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Stir in chicken meat, and serve with crusty, warm bread.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Publication Date:
1548924539 / 9781548924539
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Cooking / Methods / Gourmet

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