Food for Less: Create a five-star meal on a two-star budget
I love going out to restaurants for the atmosphere and spending time with family and friends, but often times I find myself saying, “I can make that!” Here are a few decadent, restaurant-style splurges we would normally pay top dollar for but can re-create at home for half the amount.
Oysters Rockefeller. Don’t be turned off by the thought of making this delicious dish at home. It's easier than you think, and you will win over your seafood-loving guests.
12 oysters, rinsed and shucked
1 bag fresh spinach
2 to 3 strips bacon, uncooked
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons cream
1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Breadcrumbs, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Render bacon in a hot skillet until almost crispy. Add garlic and pull from the heat. Stir well to cook. Fold in the spinach, cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of mixture onto an oyster.
2. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup cheese. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the crumbs. Top the oyster with the crumbs and repeat the process.
3. Place oysters in a pan, bake at 400 degrees for five to six minutes, or until topping is slightly browned.
Broiled lobster tails. Lobsters pack a flavorful bite and have a subtle aftertaste. Whether you bake, broil, steam or grill, you can cook lobster at home, even in the Midwest.
2 whole lobster tails
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish
1. Preheat the broiler. Place lobster tails on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, carefully cut topside of lobster shells lengthwise. Pull apart shells slightly, and season meat with equal amounts butter, paprika, salt and white pepper.
2. Broil lobster tails until lightly browned and lobster meat is opaque, about five to 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges to serve.
Steak. My go-to steak recipe is one I found while reading an article on my favorite chef, Tom Colicchio. This recipe will blow you away and not break the bank!
1 lb hanger steak
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Place 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season hanger steak with salt and pepper. Add canola oil to skillet and sear meat for four minutes on each side.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter and three sprigs of thyme. Using a spoon, baste steak with butter for two to three minutes, flipping it once halfway through to cook it evenly. Carve hanger steak into three-quarter-inch slices and top on potatoes or vegetables.
Chocolate Soufflé. The standard for chocolate lovers everywhere, they're light, airy and dramatic.
7 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus for preparing the molds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
8 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
1. Brush six 6-ounce ramekins with butter, coat with sugar and place in freezer. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch of simmering water, stir chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
2. Combine egg yolks and warm water and beat until frothy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until ribbons form, about 5 minutes. Lightly fold yolks into the chocolate mixture.
3. Remove ramekins from freezer. Add lemon juice to egg whites and beat on medium until frothy; then add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
4. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten; then fold in remaining whites until blended. Spoon mixture into ramekins and place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake until the soufflé rises about 1 1/2 inches and tops are touched with brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.