Poor Girl Gourmet

Poor Girl Gourmet by Amy McCoy, Andrews McMeel, 2010 $16.99, paper, 222 pages

So here I am at Whole Foods, eating my dinner at the salad bar (working late tonight) and I’m amazed at my colleagues who do this everyday for lunch. I spent eight dollars on an okay box of grains and greens that I know I could do myself just as well and for less money.

That’s where the Poor Girl Gourmet comes in. Lots of us are belt-tightening these days and from making a list and sticking to it, to exploring delicious cucina  povera dishes, McCoy offers timely kitchen advice, based on what she’s learned through downturn cooking.

Right up front, she writes about value. She still shops at her local gourmet grocery and farm markets, but she shops seasonally, buys less meat, and in amounts she will use. Abundance is appetizing, waste is not.

She’s found, as anyone with a housewifely turn of mind will know, that “the key is to cook at home.” McCoy writes that it’s not difficult and she’s right. And though she doesn’t mention it, cooking is a real joy—mastery of technique, aesthetic appreciation of color and aroma, and the satisfaction of a dish well cooked.

So, what’s for dinner? Start with soups—Spicy Carrot Ginger or Chicken Orzo for example. You can choose from salads, entrees, vegetables and sides, including Pasta with Pancetta and Peas, Braised Pork Shoulder, and Cider-Braised Fennel. Simple dishes, inexpensive cuts of meat, and building flavors in creative combinations keep costs low and flavor high.

McCoy also allows for a few splurges—veal stew, lamb shanks, or pork chops, but there’s not much denial here. The complete range of recipes are simple enough to make a full and appealing plate.

And the belt-tightening may turn into belt loosening with desserts and baking like Sweet Corn and Basil Ice Cream, Apple Crumble with Dried Cranberries, and Butterhorns. Who needs a pricey gelato shop or expensive frozen roll dough with recipes like these?

McCoy will help you appreciate, and even revel in, the flavors of a thrifty kitchen.

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About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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