Thanks for all of the great responses to my last post. In light of my last post I thought I would do a little series on cheap yet delicious dinner options. Part One will feature one of my favorite cheap foods--the incredible edible egg! I love eggs, they are yummy, cheap, filling and very nourishing. While I can't eat chicken eggs right now I can eat goose or duck eggs. Right now I have goose eggs that I eat. Mr. P still eats chicken eggs. I highly recommend getting eggs from a local farm or trying to find organic eggs from grass fed chickens as this really does impact the nutrients in the egg. Even though organic eggs or farm fresh eggs are more expensive they are still much cheaper than meat. We buy our eggs from a local farmer for $3.50 a dozen. Considering there are 12 eggs in a dozen that's up to 6 servings of eggs.
When I moved into my first apartment in college I was really really poor. I had a part time job working 30 hours a week at the local news station (making minimum wage) and I had to pay all of my living expenses our of that measly pay check. One day I was whining to my Dad about how poor I was and how much it sucked and that I didn't have enough money for food. I was hoping he would offer to give me some money each month for food. Instead he went to St. Vincent De Paul's and bought me a cook book from the 30s. He said that people were really poor in the 30's and since I was poor maybe this cook book would provide options that fit into my budget. As much as I hated to admit it at the time he was right and the cook book ended up being a life saver. Besides being one of my first cook books it was full of cheap foods that have fallen out of the standard fare these days but are no less delicious. Perhaps the best thing about this cook book was it had an entire section on eggs. Not just your standard scrambled, fried, and poached eggs for breakfast, but entrees for dinner. This was especially wonderful because my room mate's parents had a farm with lots of chickens giving us an endless supply of free farm fresh eggs. Here is my favorite egg dish from that cook book:
Baked eggs and rice, serves 2
1 cup left over cooked rice
2 Tb flour
2 Tb butter
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese or 2 Tb tomato paste
salt and pepper
bread crumbs, optional
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat butter in small sauce pan, when melted add flour. Cook together slowly for 2 minutes or so to make a roux. Slowly add milk stirring the whole time. Cook over med heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Once sauce is thick add either cheese or tomato paste to make either a cheese sauce or a tomato cream sauce. I think the cheese one is tastier but the tomato sauce is still good and is a lot cheaper. Season with salt and pepper. If you make tomato sauce you will need a little more salt and pepper. Set aside.
Divide the 1 cup rice into four sections of a muffin tin. Or into individual ramekins if you have them. Spoon some sauce over the rice. Note, the rice and sauce should not fill more than half the tin or the egg will overflow. Crack an egg into each cup directly over the rice. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Place in oven. How long you cook the eggs depends on how done you want your eggs. I think we usually cook them for 15-20 minutes. I'd cook them for 10 minutes and then check them. I usually pull mine out just when the whites are set and the yolks are still nice and runny. Gently lift egg and rice onto plates. Or if you do have ramekins you could just place two ramekins onto each plate. Top each egg with a generous helping of sauce. My husband loves these with roasted asparagus, especially if I wrap the asparagus in bacon first. They are also wonderful with sauteed fresh spinach, which is usually much cheaper than the asparagus. As a variation you can use marinara sauce instead of making a sauce. I have also used salsa. I would puree the salsa first it works better.
*adapted from Searchlight Recipes, 1930 edition
My favorite way to eat eggs for dinner:
1 cup masa
cooked black beans, or canned
some really good salsa
hot sauce to serve
Place masa in bowl. Add some water while mixing with hands until you have a good dough consistency. I believe it's maybe 1/4 cup water but I just add a table spoon at a time until it feels right. When you have a nice dough roll about 2 Tb into ball and then flatten on counter with hands. Usually the palm of your hand pound to flatten into disk. Once you have a disk gently lift up with spatula. And place in hot dry pan. At least med-high heat but closer to high. Do not add oil to pan or you will ruin. Cast iron works best but a regular skillet will do. Cook tortilla for a few minutes then flip it should have blackened burn marks and be nicely toasted. Repeat to make 4 tortillas. Put two on each dinner plate. (If you want to skip this part you can and just buy corn tortillas. However homemade masa tortillas are really really good and totally worth it. Also masa flour is dirt cheap.)
Lower heat in skillet and add butter and eggs. Salt and pepper your eggs. While your eggs are cooking heat up your beans if needed. And place beans over tortillas. Cook your eggs to desired doneness either sunny side up or over easy works fine. Place an eggs over tortillas and beans. Top with a lot of salsa and serve with hot sauce.
Mr. P's favorite way to have eggs for dinner:
Chorizo Breakfast skillet
2 links of chorizo
1 Green bell pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 onion chopped
3 red potatoes or yukon gold potatoes chopped
salt and pepper
1 40z can Green chilies
1 cup good fresh salsa
red or green Tabasco to taste
4 eggs beaten
Heat olive oil in skillet to med-high heat. Add potatoes salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally 5 minutes then lower to med heat. Cook another 5 min. While potato is cooking peel casing off chorizo and chop into small pieces. Add chorizo to potatoes cook another 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper cook another 5 minutes. Add salsa and green chilies bring heat back to med-high. cook a few minutes until most of liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Beat eggs and pour over potato mixture. Cook stirring constantly until egg is cooked about 3 minutes. serve with warm corn tortillas and hot sauce.
I made this recipe last night and it was delicious. It is from a cook book called The Spanish Table.
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 onion chopped
4 tomatoes chopped
4 oz chorizo
4 oz pancetta (I left this out)
salt and pepper
fresh parsley chopped
Pre-heat oven to 350. In skillet cook chorizo until browned. Do not drain skillet. Add onion, garlic and cook a few minutes. Add bell peppers and tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook over med heat until cooks down (about 25 minutes). Divide tomato mixture into baking dishes. I think the recipe means into 4 ramekins. I took 1/3 of the mixture out for my lunch the next day and then divided the remainder into two little bread pans I have. Top tomato mixture with fresh parsley. Crack eggs into each dish. Season egg with salt and cayenne pepper. Back until eggs are set. About 8-10 minutes. Garnish with more parsley.
I served these over some rice with some sauteed spinach. They would be good with some crusty bread or tortillas too.