I just got married and am cooking more than ever, but I'm in a rut. I usually cook French food but want to branch out without going broke. Ideas?

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17 Comments

irina August 2, 2014
I find that knowing different cooking techniques helps me make food from around the world. Braising for example. I make lamb shanks that I use in gyros, pork tenderloin for carnitas in tacos, veal shank is osso buco (serve with risotto) etc.
Good luck
irina
 
Megan T. August 1, 2014
Thank you SO much for all of your thoughtful replies! What a great community... Can't wait to try these ideas.
 
trampledbygeese August 1, 2014
Please let us know how it goes.
 
bugbitten July 31, 2014
My specific suggestion is that you go Moroccan and try making tagines. You'll need to invest in a bit of saffron, ginger powder, and preserved lemons (which you can buy or make yourself). A great place to start is with "Cooking at the Casbah" by Kitty Morse. The recipes are all straightforward, and your guests will think you're a genius. Best wishes!
 
boulangere July 30, 2014
I've learned much about Indian cooking from recipes posted by Panfusine. Each is a cultural experience as much as an excellent meal. Ingredients are not expensive, nor are they generally difficult to find. Have fun on your quest!
 
Sam1148 July 30, 2014
Do you have a large mexican market nearby?
We have one near us..and it has great prices. Example: Milanesa de res...which is very thin steak--extremely thin. About as big as a dinner plate. 2.50 for 2 pieces. You cut them into a smaller bits, flour, eggwash, seasoned bread crumbs. Serve with lime wedges; and rice (Sazaon Seasoning with Anchote for 'yellow rice" don't buy packed 'yellow rice mix), and a side salad.

Also if you're really into french food...you'll find some of the less popular cuts of meats at the mexican market for cheap. Like goat, odd bits of jaw meats, hoofs, and tails.
I really love the milanesa de res cut I get at mine. You can use it to wrap up green beans, in a roll with string and sear and braise with soy sauce/thyme/garlic/wine/water..then cut like sushi and serve with the reduced braising sauce.
 
Marian B. July 30, 2014
Congratulations! I suggest investing in a cookbook you find appealing, that will carry you through the seasons -- consider Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy, or the Smitten Kitchen book, or Zuni, or the Food52 book! A good book will make you feel like you have a little more guidance and structure. And be sure to subscribe to the Food52 newsletters! Lots of good stuff in there always, although I'm biased.
 

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trampledbygeese July 30, 2014
Do you have a garden? Or perhaps a local fresh grocer with seasonal produce? Maybe you are within easy distance of a farm or two. When I'm looking for something different to explore I look for what's most plentiful and/or affordable. Start with a seasonal veg, fish, meat, herb... whatever is plentiful. I bring it into the kitchen, make a beautiful display from the fresh ingredient if they aren't perishable, then sit down at my bookshelf or computer and start hunting for recipes that celebrate those ingredients. This site is one of my favourite because the recipes are ones actually tried by real people, not like many of the results some of the search engines bring up. Don't forget to search the Columns section as well as the recipes, great info there.

There are a lot of ways to discover new cooking ideas, some more expensive than others. When I seek out a new recipe, I like to choose ones where I have to purchase 4 or less ingredients, the rest of the contents are already in my kitchen waiting to be cooked. With the exception of Indian food.

I second the notion that Indian is a great budget food. A lot of healthy flavour for surprisingly little, so long as you stick with more traditional versions - ie, not every dish needs meat. Not all Indian food needs to be spicy either.

A really good book to start would be Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. He has a small chapter on English style Indian food in there, complete with optional recipes on how to make the pastes. You don't need many spices for his dishes, but the ones you do need will stand you in good stead for when you branch out into more complicated dishes. It's also a good book for exploring other kinds of cooking on a budget. Your local library should have that book, but it's well worth having your own copy for easy reference and inspiration ideas.

One final book to recommend, and I'm so please my library has a copy as I've gotten it out 4 times already this year, is An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. Although there are a few recipes in there, it's more an inspiration book with essays on how to make the most from simple ingredients. I've really enjoyed trying some of her ideas, and it's reduced my food budget by almost 20%.
 
trampledbygeese July 30, 2014
ps. Congrats on your nuptials.
 
Nancy July 30, 2014
In addition to the good ideas already presented, I suggest two ways to choose. One, investigate a cooking that has some connection to your or your spouse. This will be especially good if you have older relatives still living, who can mentor you, tell stories, enjoy the adventure with you. It will be a gift to your future as a couple. Another way is to figure out what flavors you both like and develop expertise in one or two cuisines that favor them. see this chart on 36 cuisines. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2675345/Cook-worlds-cuisines-using-just-THREE-ingredients-Infographic-reveals-staple-foods-used-globe.html#ixzz37GHSt0HJ (It's not 100% accurate. e.g. Jewish cooking may have chicken fat and sour cream, but not traditionally in the same dish or meal. So take with a grain of salt.)
 
Maedl July 30, 2014
Nancy, your suggestion to investigate a cuisine with a family connection is so good and thoughtful. I wish I had written that!
 
caninechef July 30, 2014
I also think this is a really good reply. Unless both your families have lived on takeout there must be family favorites that you will really apreciate having in your repertoire.
 
ChefJune July 30, 2014
The world is your oyster. Literally. What cuisines would you LIKE to try? The suggestion to take books out of the library is a good one, because although there are great recipes here, Inspiration is often found in the continuity of a book by a great recipe writer, cook and teacher. If you're thinking Italian, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest the work of two "lesser thought about" cooks/writers/teachers -- Lynne Rossetto Kasper ("The Splendid Table") and Anna Teresa Callen ("Food and Memories of Abruzzo, "My Love for Naples.")
 
aargersi July 30, 2014
There wa a "cheap feast" contest theme here on Food52 a while back - maybe start with the community picks? (and the winner of course)

https://food52.com/blog/6112-community-picks-recipe-testing-your-best-cheap-feast
 
Susan W. July 30, 2014
There are a kajillion recipes on this site. I
like typing in an ingredient that I am in the mood for in the search function to see what comes up. I do the same with Google.
 
Maedl July 30, 2014
It depends on your tastes, really. I love cooking Indian, Moroccan, Persian and Middle Eastern dishes, but they require a good supply of spices. That may be costly to assemble, but once you have them, you are set for a while. For daily sustenance, though, I return time and again to Italian foods.

Go to the library and look at the books in the cooking section. Choose a few that appeal to you and see how they "cook". Marcella Hazen, Lydia Bastianich, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, Claudia Rodin, Paula Wolfert, Deborah Madison will provide lots of good recipes and inspiration.
 
Maedl July 30, 2014
Edit function please! That is Roden, not Rodin.
 
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