BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Creamy Lemon Pappardelle

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $11

I actually first posted about a pasta recipe with a creamy, eggy lemon sauce the first week this blog was live, back in 2009. The recipe was inspired by one by Dave Lieberman, whose boy-next-door good looks, and proclivity for challah bread pudding and stuffed cabbage caught my attention when he was briefly on Food Network, hosting his fantastic show, which focused on fresh, affordable, simple foods, Good Deal with Dave Lieberman

When the San Francisco-based pasta company, Three Bridges sent me some fresh pappardelle (a wide, tender noodle), I knew I had to break it out again. 

The key to getting really rich, lemony flavor is a one-two punch of both lemon juice and lemon zest.

Though there is a little bit of technique involved, the dish is actually pretty simple. The main work is in whisking the sauce, which is cooked over boiling water, so the eggs cook gently with the half-and-half and lemon without scrambling.

If you have a double boiler, this is a great time to use it, but if, like me, you don't, just make your own with a bowl and a pot.

All that whisking really pays off though, because the sauce is utterly decadent. I top the sauced pasta with more lemon zest, plus parsley and coarsely chopped, lightly toasted almonds for crunch.

Serve this with a crisp green salad and Prosecco or another crisp white wine


Oooooh yeeeaaaahhh. 


  • 3 egg yolks $1.50 for 6 eggs
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half $1.50 for a half-pint
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced Pantry
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (reserve a little zest for garnish) $1
  • salt and pepper to taste Pantry
  • 8 ounces pappardelle, fresh or dried (if you can't find pappardelle, use fettucine, linguine, or any other wide, long-strand pasta) $3
  • 1/8 cup chopped, toasted almonds $3 (buy in the bulk section for the best price)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely $1 for a bunch

Recipe Serves 2


  1. Combine the egg yolks, half-and-half, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a heatproof bowl (or in the top of a double boiler).
  2. Place over a pot of boiling water (check out the photo in the introduction to get a sense of how this should look--make sure the bowl is large enough to sit on top of the pot without falling in). 
  3. Whisk until the mixture thickens into a pale yellow, smooth sauce (depending on the size of your bowl, this could take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes).
  4. Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
  5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle according to directions. 
  6. As soon as the pappardelle is cooked, toss it with the sauce.
  7. Use tongs or forks to divide the pasta into bowls and top each one with a sprinkling of almonds, parsley, and more black pepper if desired.

Category: Meals

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Buffalo Tofu Bites

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9

My boyfriend is a liar.

I mean, his particular brand of lying is relatively innocuous, but still. 

"I feel your pain," my mother says to me, when I tell her about his wrongdoing. "Your father did the same thing to me."

What I'm talking about here is sports. Specifically the fact that, when we met, he claimed to not follow them. A fact which, until learning the truth, I was pretty thrilled about. 

And look, I had good reason to believe him. He once texted me after a pick-up game of softball that he had "scored so many points!" Points. He called them points. 

"It always starts this way," my mother says to me. "When your father and I were first dating, he would read me Shakespeare love sonnets over the phone and declare that sports were silly. But soon enough, he was yelling at the television on Sunday afternoons."

I always knew Evan loved his home state, Wisconsin, and therefore had affection for teams from Wisconsin (the Packers, the Badgers), but until recently, I didn't know that he actually pays attention to the details of the current rosters and understands football strategy. I didn't know that, like my father, he has the capacity to yell at the television. That was his dirty little secret. 

"It's not football! It's the Packers!" he insists. 

"Do the Packers play football?"

"Well, yes."

"So, we're still talking about football."

But when you love someone, you must find a way to accept them, flaws lies well-disguised differences and all. That is why, in the past few months, I have found myself in more than one Packers bar (they are in nearly every city, it turns out), and that is why I hugged him as he mourned the Pack's tragic loss to the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago. And it's also why, on Sunday, I will make my sneaky, mostly vegetarian man a special Superbowl snack. If his beloved team is not in the game, he might as well get some delicious comfort food out of it. 

And, unlike balancing a Spotted Cow and a plate of cheese curds in a packed bar, it's very easy.

First, you make a simple, spicy, buttery Buffalo sauce (named after the city in New York, not the animal).

Then, you get your extra-firm tofu ready. Cut it up into wing-size bites.

Get it really crispy in a pan.

Pour on the sauce and let it really flavor the tofu bites.

Then serve it up with a creamy dressing and some crunchy carrots and/or celery. 

I suppose you could offer people toothpicks with these, but why should the chicken wing-eaters have all the finger-licking sauce fun? I say dive right in. 


  • 8 ounces of cayenne-based hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco $3.50
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar $1.50 for 8 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar Pantry
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (use Earth Balance if you want the bites to be vegan or pareve) $1
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder $1.50 for 1 ounce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste Pantry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced Pantry
  • 3 tablespoons canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or coconut oil Pantry
  • 1 16-ounce block extra firm tofu, cut into 1 1/2-inch x 1/2 inch pieces $1.50

Recipe Serves 4


  1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, whisk together the hot sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar, butter, chili powder, salt, and garlic. Stir well to combine.
  2. Let the sauce come to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10-12 minutes, until thickened. 
  3. While the sauce cooks, heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Working batches if necessary, fry the tofu pieces on one side until a thick, golden crust develops on one the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Flip the tofu pieces and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. The tofu should be quite crispy at this point.
  6. Pour the thickened buffalo sauce into the pan and swirl it around to coat the tofu pieces evenly.
  7. Let cook for 5-7 minutes, turning the tofu pieces a few times during cooking to ensure even coating of sauce.
  8. Use tongs or a spatula to carefully transfer the cooked tofu onto a serving plate. 
  9. Serve with a creamy dressing, like yogurt ranch, or prepared blue cheese dressing, and carrot and/or celery sticks. 

Mushroom Bacon

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 50 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $5

I was a vegetarian from early childhood until I about six years ago (a long story involving the Sonoma County Fair's petting zoo and an ill-timed slice of pepperoni pizza). Even today, though I do enjoy meat, the person I share most of my meals with keeps kosher, so it's just easier to cook predominantly vegetarian and pescatarian meals for both of us.

Throughout my time as a vegetarian, and now, as a someone who still loves vegetarian food, I have been continually frustrated by vegetarian products masquerading as meat. It just seems like an insult to vegetables, which, in my opinion, are perfectly delicious as they are--no meat-ification needed. 

Besides, some vegetables can even be naturally meaty...which brings me to Exhibit A: The King Oyster mushroom. 

Mushrooms have long been a meat "substitute," especially in hearty dishes like pasta, or on vegetarian sandwiches, where their chewy texture and deep umami essence satisfies carnivorous cravings without the use of animal products.  

On Friday night, to welcome Evan home from a sad but important trip he took, I cooked a special Shabbat dinner of whole wheat challah, crunchy tofu, kale salad, and thickly cut, slow-roasted slices of King Oysters with onions, smoked sea salt, fresh parsley, and olive oil. 

"These are so smoky and meaty," he commented between mouthfuls. "They're almost like bacon."

And with that, the foodie floodgates in my brain were opened and, until I could get back into the kitchen to experiment, I could think of nothing other than how to turn the remaining mushrooms in the refrigerator into sweet, smoky, crispy bacon that even my kosher, mostly vegetarian boyfriend could eat. 

I am pleased to tell you that I was blissfully successful. With some inspiration and guidance from this Serious Eats recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt I created something I know I will make again and again, whether alongside fried eggs, tucked inside a BLT or grilled cheese, or crumbled atop a Cobb salad. 

In the Serious Eats recipe, smaller mushroomse are called for, but one reason the King Oysters seemed like an ideal base for this recipe is because of their size. Sliced lengthwise, they nicely resemble a halved slice of real bacon. 

This also makes them an ideal size for sandwiches.

In the Serious Eats recipe, Alt-Lopez takes his mushroom chips to the next level by actually smoking them. Lacking a stovetop smoker (and being the owner of a smoke alarm that cries wolf at the tiniest amount of steam), I decided to try to coax some smoky flavor into my mushrooms with gorgeous smoked paprika... well as a little smoked salt. This brand of the latter, from Trader Joe's, has apparently been discontinued, but I had about 1/2 a bottle in my cabinet. If you can't find smoked salt for a reasonable price at your grocery store, it's pretty easy and cheap to make at home

I mixed these smoke-ifiers with some brown sugar (which always goes beautifully with bacon), and plenty of black pepper, and tossed the mixture with my mushroom strips, after giving them a dousing of extra virgin olive oil to help them further mimic bacon's fatty deliciousness. 

The strips went onto a lightly greased baking sheet and into the oven at a relative low temperature (325 F) to get bacony and crisp.

 The results? Crisp, meaty, umami-like-crazy mushroom bacon. 

 Like whoa.



  • extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt (if you can't find this, use regular kosher salt) $3 for 3 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika $1.50 for 1 ounce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper Pantry
  • 2 large (or 3-4 smaller) King Oyster mushrooms, sliced into bacon strip-sized slices (about 1/8th inch thick) $0.50

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
  2. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, smoked (or regular) salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Place the sliced mushrooms in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and toss well to combine. 
  6. Add the brown sugar mixture to the oiled mushrooms and use your hands or a spoon to toss well, ensuring each mushroom slice is well-coated.
  7. Arrange the mushrooms on the oiled baking sheet with space in between each one.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the mushrooms turn dark brown.
  9. Flip the mushrooms gently, using a spatula.
  10. Bake for another 15-17 minutes, until very brown.
  11. Let cool for at least 10 minutes (this will also crisp the mushrooms). 
  12. Serve immediately. Unused bacon will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Cherry Pepper Romesco Sauce

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $7

I resolve to cook more in 2015.

I know that sounds absurd, since you are right reading my blog all about cooking, but hear me out. 

I want to cook more, better, and deeper in 2015. I want to eat real, whole, lovingly-prepared food, even when I'm tired. Even when I've been in meetings and on airplanes all day long and all I want to do is order dumplings and eat them in bed. 

I want to shop locally for fresh ingredients in small quantities, and cook them within a couple of days. Then I want to shop again.

I want to cook, serve, and eat food that is utterly delicious in its simpleness. I want to be inspired by the seasons, not by food or diet fads. 

And I want to do it every day. 

This is not always easy (see aforementioned meetings/airplanes/dumplings scenario), but I still want to try. So I'm going to start with sauce.

Building a meal around a sauce might seem counterintuitive (most people build meals around proteins), but it really helps me to plan meals better. Take, say, peanut sauce. If I make peanut sauce in the beginning of the week, I can make at least two or three meals with it. I can serve it with spring rolls and salad one night, then toss it with grilled chicken and broccoli and serve it over rice noodles. If I'm lucky enough to have more left, I can spoon it over grilled salmon and sauteed kale and serve it with brown rice. 

Romesco sauce is a similarly versatile sauce. It hails from Catalonia, Spain, and is often served with grilled bread. Here I've tailored it to my tastes, using sweet-hot cherry peppers in place of the traditional roasted whole red bell peppers. They give the sauce a pleasant but gentle kick of spice.

I've also omitted the sometimes-called-for bread or bread crumbs, which I think make the sauce taste starchy. It's just peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, almonds, good extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and salt. 

The sauce comes together in just a few minutes. An immersion blender makes the process easier (P.S. If you have a small kitchen, an immersion blender is a must-have appliance. It can do the work of several larger appliances, and it's small enough to be stored in a drawer), but a regular blender or food processor will also do the trick. 

Once the sauce is pureed, it will keep in a jar for up to a week, but I highly doubt you'll be able to wait that long to start using it. 

For dinner tonight, my plan is to grill some sausages, slice them up, and then cover them in romesco and Parm, and pop them under the broiler. Tomorrow, the leftover sauce will be my base for shakshuka for lunch, and then I'll toss some with roasted cauliflower to have with dinner. 

Meanwhile, for lunch today, I spooned a little over a bit of ricotta and ate it with some seed crackers. 

The romesco was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and just a touch on the spicy side. The creamy ricotta proved the perfect balancing addition, and the nutty crackers played nicely with the bits of almond in the sauce. 

So what about you? What are your cooking resolutions for this year? Whatever they are, I invite and encourage you to get your sauce on. 


  • 1 16-ounce jar cherry peppers packed in vinegar (I love the kind from Trader Joe's$3
  • 1 15-ounce jar diced tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety) $1.50
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped Pantry
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds $1.50
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper Pantry
  • salt to taste Pantry

Recipe Serves 6


  1. Drain the cherry peppers, but reserve about 1/8 cup of their vinegar.
  2. Combine the cherry peppers, the reserved vinegar, and all remaining incredients except for the salt in a pot over medium heat and stir well. 
  3. Cook for 5-10 minutes, just to gently mellow out the garlic.
  4. Puree using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender until desired consistency is reached (I like it slightly chunky).
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Use the sauce immediately (see headnote for suggestions) or store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Root Vegetable Latkes

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cook Time 20 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $8

When I think about the exterior caramelization that happens when a shredded sweet potato hits hot oil, there's just nothing else for me.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I prefer sweet potatoes.

I know, I know. As an American Jew (two groups known for their deep love of the white potato), it's practically blasphemous for me to shun the humble Russet. And yeah, I can see its place in a recipe now and then: The toothsome steak fryThe knish. The pierogi--potatoes do makes sense there. But still, given the choice, I go for the yams.

It seems like the latke should be the kind of potato exception that a non-potato-lover like myself should make. But when I think about the exterior caramelization that happens when a shredded sweet potato hits hot oil, there's just nothing else for me.

Here, I've taken things over the top by adding more sweet root vegetables: carrots (I used rainbow carrots, but any kind will work), and beets, which add a pop of bright purple color, as well as earthy sweetness. I've kept the seasoning simple--just thinly sliced scallions, salt, and pepper, but these would welcome a bit of grated ginger, fresh turmeric, and/or minced garlic, too. Feel free to get creative. 

But whatever you do, be sure to eat these hot, right out of the pan (or oven, where you'll warm them), with plenty of sour cream and/or applesauce. Tonight, I'll be serving these alongside mouthwateringly tender brisket and some roasted broccolini. But between you, me, and the applesauce, these latkes will be the star of the show.  

I mean, just look at that. How could they not be?


  • 2 pounds (orange-fleshed) sweet potatoes, scrubbed and grated (no need to peel) $2.50
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and grated $1
  • 4 small beets, cooked, peeled, and grated (Trader Joes' Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets are a great shortcut here) $2
  • 3 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and sliced thinly $1 for a bunch
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly cracked black pepper Pantry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten $1.50 for 6
  • 1/3 cup flour Pantry
  • oil, for frying (I like the flavor of a half-and-half blend of olive oil and cocont oil, but vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oils all work well) Pantry  

Recipe Serves 6-8


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato, carrots, beets, scallions, salt, pepper, egg, and flour. Stir well, using a spoon or your hands, until well-combined.
  3. Pour the oil into one or two large frying pans until it comes up about 1/2 inch in the pan. 
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, until it sizzles when a piece of grated sweet potato is added. 
  5. Wet your hands under running water, and form a latke into 2-1/2-inch rounds that are about 1/2 inch thick. (though you should feel free to make them larger or smaller as desired). 
  6. Add the latke immediately to the hot pan and continue forming latkes and adding them to the pan, until the pan is full, with plenty of space between each latke. (To give you an idea of what this looks like, I cook 4-5 small latkes at a time in my 12-inch frying pan.)
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. 
  8. Flip the latkes in the order you added them to the pan so they brown evenly, then cook for another minute or two, until the latkes are crispy on the outside.
  9. As the latkes finish, transfer them to a baking sheet (make sure to leave space between them), and keep warm in the oven.
  10. Serve the latkes hot, with sour cream, creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt, and applesauce (my favorite is this one, which features cardamom).