Tuesday, March 8, 2011

fresh & frugal

Fresh & Frugal is the third in a series by Chef Craig Flinn, a local Nova Scotian chef extraordinaire and creator of Chives Canadian Bistro. I've had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Craig more than once. And it's always a pleasure. We've talked about fresh & local, his first book and fresh Canadian bistro, still a favorite of mine (my Honey especially loves his Salad Nicoise & awesome vinaigrette).

His latest book follows the successful formula of his earlier two... the recipes all focus on locally produced ingredients. This time the seasonality factor is in an index at the back of the book, will definitely help you decide on dinner - especially in the winter when it feels like everything is imported.

Chef Craig adds a third element that reflects his growing up in frugal Nova Scotia. Each dish shares not only an informative intro & prep time in bold, but the cost of the dish as well. I thought I'd give a delicious example...

Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Soup
$1.80 per serving/ prep time: 45 minutes

"Cauliflower has had a resurgence in popularity in the past 5 or 6 years due to the move away from white starches in the North American diet. Roasted cauliflower makes a great "low carb" substitute for potato in many recipes, but here the absolutely essential step is the roasting of the vegetables, as cauliflower has little flavour when simply boiled. For an extra boost of flavour, try adding a small package of Boursin cheese or a smooth, spreadable garlic and herb cheese spread. Finally, bottled truffle oil is quite expensive on its own, but because it's so pungent you can cut it with regular olive oil to stretch it out, adding a lovely earthy aroma to the soup at the end (1 part truffle oil to 3 parts olive oil.)"

Even my Honey... not usually a soup eater, loved it!

I love the writing style. You really do get the sense that Chef Craig is in the kitchen with you.

Some of the recipes I have bookmarked... Lobster Bisque with Mussels ( I just have to find a fish monger who will sell me frozen lobster bodies. Apparently that's how real chefs get the lobster flavor without the cost of whole lobsters. Cost for this one $3.83 per serving, but if all you need is some good bread to help sop up the soup... the entire dinner doesn't cost much more.

His Barbecued Pulled Pork Sarnie with Apple & Fennel Coleslaw looks and sounds a lot like the dish he served up at the annual Savour Food & Wine Show I attended last week (more about that in the next few days). Of course one should have a BBQ to slowly smoke the pork, but the final prep is 10 minutes.

I know I'll be making his Grilled Ratatouille Salad this summer once my daughter's garden starts to harvest eggplants, red peppers, zucchini & tomatoes. So probably it will cost even less than the $2.50 per serving if I bought the veggies at the market.

Curried Coconut Mussels, Basil Pesto & Cream Cheese Crusted Haddock with Tomato & New Potato Ragout... are just two examples of bringing fine dining easily and inexpensively into your own kitchen.

Bottom line: even if you don't live in Nova Scotia, the principles are sound where ever you live. It's a scrumptious book.

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