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Simple (AKA cheap) recipes that will impress your friends

 
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With the holidays swiftly approaching once again, I was reminded by one of Anne's threads about the recipe for "Pommes Anna," which is a simple dish consisting of potato slices laid in a pan with rounded bottom in a sort of dalia shape, seasoned and baked with just butter and spices, then browned on bottom on a stove, then flipped over on a tray to serve. So simple, yet so novel and impressive. What are some other recipes that are simple and cheap to make that we may use to impress our friends and family this season (or any for that matter) without adding more expense and stress than we already get over the holidays?
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I can't say it's super cheap, but I get pretty good mileage out of little Greek salad bites, and it's stuff I typically have on my grocery list or in the fridge.

Feta cheese block
Small cherry or grape tomatoes
Pitted Kalamata olives (my choice)
Olive oil
Dill
Toothpicks

I cut the feta into 3/8 to 1/2 inch cubes, toss in olive oil and dill, then skewer an olive, a tomato, and then the feta cube.  They (mostly) stand upright on the feta.

Eaten as an entire bite, it's a refreshing little appetizer or buffet addition.

On the toothpick-type foods, a seedless grape over a cheddar cheese cube goes over pretty well, too.
 
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One of the fancy dishes that I have had is simple and elegant is an Onion Rose:


Source


source

Another one made famous  by Outback steakhouse:


source


source

both of these are very impressive!
 
pollinator
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Those look yummy.

Mine is not cheap as such, because it is meat. But I always slow roast my roasts. My inlaws don’t and their roasts are always on the dry side. Mine fall apart from the bone.

I also roast on a bed of chopped onions and carrots. It makes the most amazing gravy.

Simple changes that lift the whole meal.
 
Jordan Holland
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Michael brings up a very good point that the simplest actions in preparation can make all the difference in the final product. It can often cost nothing or little to make something several times better with just a little work, and often (such as with slow-cooking methods) virtually no extra work at all.

Purchased meat can be expensive (especially these days), but the ease of preparation may well make up for it. On several occasions, I have had great results with making a simple venison roast. Costs almost nothing to aquire, and many people do not know how to prepare it. Many in my area seem to look down upon most wild game, and tend to create a dozen hurdles in their minds that must be overcome to make it edible. They often ask many questions about my doubtlessly intricate method to make it not only palatable, but delicious. I have explained countless times: 1. Coat the meat in spices (salt, pepper, coriander, paprika, whatever you like), 2. Place it on a rack in an oven, BBQ, etc. and cook it. They can't believe it. I don't think any of them ever try it, though.
 
Anne Miller
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I like to watch a show on the Food Network called "The Kitchen".

Today's show featured these Beef Wellington Bites:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 large egg, beaten

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 3-inch squares

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

12 to 16 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into twenty 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Creamy Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Creamy Horseradish Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper





   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

   To the bowl of a food processor, add the mushrooms, garlic, shallots and thyme. Pulse until finely chopped.

   To make the duxelles, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushroom mixture and sherry and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released from the mushrooms has mostly evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a sheet pan or large bowl. Refrigerate until cool.

   On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry sheet into a 10- by-12-inch rectangle. Cut into twenty 2 1/2-inch squares. Place the squares on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart. Prick each square all over with a fork (leaving about a half inch from each edge untouched).

   In a small bowl, beat the egg and 1 tablespoon water together. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of each square of pastry with the egg wash. To each square, add one piece of prosciutto, then gently press 1 heaping teaspoon of the duxelles into the center. Bake until the puff pastry is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

   Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the beef cubes with a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and toss with the mustard. Add to the skillet and cook until browned all over, 4 to 5 minutes.

   Transfer the pastries to a platter, then add one piece of beef to the center of each pastry, gently pressing down to nestle the beef into the pastry. Drizzle with the Horseradish Sauce, then garnish with the chives.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce:

   In a medium bowl, mix together the mayo, sour cream, horseradish, honey and mustard. Taste and season with salt and pepper.



https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jeff-mauro/mini-beef-wellington-bites-11982869


Simple and elegant.

 
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We had a thread called healthy home cooking for under a dollar per plate, and some dishes I mentioned there would also fall into this category.
For example the empanada gallega
It is mostly flour, and the filling is either shredded chicken, tuna, other fish morsels, or cooked eggs etc. mixed with onions, tomatos, bell peppers but looks (and tastes) really good.

I would also include the loaded hummus. Hummus if homemade is ridiculously cheap, and you can add whatever you want. The dish can be very appealing and colourful and if you add homemade flatbread it is a complete meal.

Now that I have learned to make potstickers (chinese dumplings) I would also list those as cheap but impressing.
And Rice spanish style Spanish inspired rice. If you are not vegan/vegetarian you can add shrimps.

Organic meat or chicken is very expensive here and if you replace or use very little you have a lot of choices (especially if there are some vegans/vegetarians in the family or friends crowd).


 
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I like to make really good soups and stews - it’s possible to get lots of flavour in these without using as much meat as would be used in other dishes, and can often be made ahead (or have most of the work done in advance).

Using a good bone broth in the stew adds so much flavour and satisfaction, and using good quality herbs and spices helps too.

With slow cooked soups and stews it’s easy to use the cheaper, tougher meat cuts, which tenderise with the slow cooking and develop really lovely flavours.

Another idea for something cheap and impressive (but not as simple) is to think of a country or region, find recipes from that place, and make several different dishes from there that go well together - many cuisines have affordable dishes that will be impressive if there are plenty of different things on the table.

Another favourite of mine is slow cooked meat dishes such as pulled pork or beef barbacoa - these are made from the cheaper cuts of meat, cooked slowly and simply with minimal hands-on time, and then they get served up with side dishes, such as coleslaw and other salads, and some rice or flatbread.

Roasts can be impressive and simple to make. The meat doesn’t have to be an expensive cut, and traditional roasting vegetables such as potatoes and carrots are easy to grow at home or cheap to buy in the shops. Making gravy and Yorkshire pudding means less meat is needed. Meat prices can vary a lot so it’s worth finding out what the best and most affordable roasting cuts are - I like topside of beef a lot, not sure if it goes by that name in other countries, but it is tasty, affordable, and easy to cook here.
 
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