BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Sardine Pâté with Lemon and Parsley

  • Prep Time 2 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $6.50
  • 1 Comment

I've been wanting to get into sardines for awhile, but I must admit, I've been a little scared. 

I'm not the biggest fan of canned tuna (though I do like the kind that comes packed in oil), and intense fishiness tends to be off-putting to me. But I've been reading about how heart-healthy sardines are, thanks to their rich Omega-3 content, which helps lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, curb joint stiffness and promote overall heart health. So when Season Sardines offered to send me a few sardines varieties to try, I decided to take them up on it.

I was immediately inspired to make something akin to my smoked tuna salad--something I could eat on crackers or with salad greens for a healthy lunch. Sardines have so much natural flavor that they need only need a few brightening elements to highlight them.

I went with lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, and flat leaf parsley. Classic fish pairings.

The resulting pâté was delicious on crackers and celery, but it would also be good on toast, as the filling of a sandwich (it's like tuna salad but much creamier and smoother), or as the protein component of an entree salad.

I'm excited to try making this again with different herbs. Cilantro and chilies would be tasty, as would tarragon and minced shallots, for a more classic French flavor profile. But meanwhile, I'm pretty darn pleased with this super-quick appetizer/snack. And I'm happy to report, I'm no longer afraid of sardines. Delicious things are never scary.

Note:  I was compensated by Season Sardines for this post and for developing the recipe. However all opinions are completely my own.


  • 2 4.25 tins of sardines (water-packed or oil-packed) $5
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use 1 tablespoon, if using oil-packed sardines) Pantry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • black pepper to taste Pantry
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped roughly $1 for a bunch
  • small squeeze lemon juice $0.50 for 1 lemon

Recipe Serves 4


  1. If you are using sardines packed in water, drain them. Oil-packed sardines don't need to be drained.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
  3. Serve with crackers, toast, celery sticks, or atop a mound of greens.

3-Ingredient Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

  • Prep Time 2 minutes, plus 2 hours to freeze
  • Estimated Cost $5
  • 1 Comment

I worry.

I worry about the physical and emotional health of the people I love.

I worry about the future, both near and far, mine and yours.

I worry that the city I love so much is becoming probibitively expensive to just about everyone.

I worry that it's really not supposed to be this warm in early March in San Francisco. 

I worry that the path I have chosen is flawed.

I worry that, actually, it is perfect, that it is I who is flawed.

I worry about those flaws.

And worry, and worry.

Sometimes, we need a break from the worry.

A sweet, tangy, cold, creamy break. 

This is my break.

It couldn't be easier to make, so that's good. 

You just need frozen strawberries (though frozen raspberries, plums, mango, or peaches would be tasty, too).

Some thick yogurt.

And a touch of honey (though you could skip it, for a lower-sugar result--I worry about sugar sometimes, too).

Just blend it up in a food processor.

Pour it into an airtight container with a fitted lid. 

And freeze, until it firms up (usually about two hours).

Then scoop a bowl of worry-free bliss.

For a few moments, your only worry will be locating a spoon. 



  • 16 ounces frozen strawberry (a 1-pound bag) $2.50
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (any fat percentage is fine) $2.50 for 8 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon honey Pantry

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Combine the strawberries, yogurt, and honey in a food processor.
  2. Puree until the mixture resembles a thick smoothie.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl or plastic container with a fitted lid. 
  4. Cover tightly and place in the freezer until firm, about 2 hours. 
  5. Scoop into bowls and serve immediately.

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.