Sunday, June 21, 2009


Last week raced by, it's already time for another Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell. This weekend, the focus was on creating a meal for 4 for under $10.

As always, one of my goals was to do something I've never done before. We also wanted to push the envelope and create a full course meal without looking like we spent $10.

Blueberries were being sold for a reasonable price and yogurt was a bit too expensive to remain within budget, so the menu took a detour when we went shopping. I italicized purchased ingredients or felt I should mark as purchased.

Blueberry Tea
We love tea. We love blueberries. We always have two pitchers of black tea in the refrigerator all year 'round. Yogurt was too expensive so I decided to utilize some of the berries in tea versus a yogurt drink.

The blueberry syrup for blueberry iced tea recipe is from Recipezaar. Here is the recipe more or less verbatim.

2 c blueberries
1 c water
1 c sugar (varies)
5 black tea bags

1. Place blueberries in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Set sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towel over a bowl and pour in the blueberry mixture.
3. Gently press out the juice with a spoon or by twisting the cheesecloth. Discard pulp and measure the juice in the saucepan.

Blueberry kasu
Blueberry skin and seeds

4. Add 1/2 cup sugar for each cup of juice.
5. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
6. Bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes.
7. Chill and pour into covered jar. Store in refrigerator.
8. Add 2 Tbsp to each glass of prepared iced tea. Stir well and garnish with a lemon slice.

Blueberry tea
Blueberry tea after a few sips

My brew yielded a little over 2 cups of juice. This will probably yield 10+ tasty servings of tea. We typically steep 5 family-sized tea bags in the fridge overnight.

I am quite pleased with how delicious, easy, and inexpensive this turned out. While we rarely add anything to our tea, we're definitely going to do this throughout the summer with other fruits, since we can.

Total cost: $1.49 (10+ servings)

Deviled Eggs
I could eat deviled eggs all day long. They are cheap to make but a source of frustration because I don't have the patience to carefully peel eggs.

Egg white
Messy egg halves

6 eggs, boiled, peeled, and cut length-wise
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
S&B Japanese curry powder

1. Separate yolks and mix with a fork until yolk becomes fairly evenly granulated.
2. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper. Mix thoroughly until smooth.
3. Fill egg halves with mixture.
4. Top with a dab of sriracha or a sprinkle of Japanese curry powder.

Deviled Eggs
All dressed up and ready to go

We don't bake cakes or cookies at all, so we didn't have any icing dies to fill the eggs decoratively, so I filled a plastic Ziploc bag with the egg mixture and cut the tip off one of the bottom corners. Bug did a great job of filling the eggs.

Deviled Eggs Trio
Plain, sriracha, and Japanese curry deviled eggs

This yields 4 servings. Three halves per serving? This was such a cheap dish to make since all of the spices and condiments are standard pantry items. The only cost I've projected is the eggs...which we always have in the refrigerator. I didn't want to seem too cheap!

The sriracha deviled eggs were good, but the curry turned out much better than expected. It was slightly sweet, a bit salty, with a distinct curry flavor. The trick with the curry is to not have a heavy hand, as it can easily overwhelm. Bug was also excited about the curry deviled eggs and lukewarm on the sriracha.

Total cost: $0.50 (4 servings)

Vegetable Soup
Bug was inspired to make this soup after seeing Joanne Weir's show on Create.

2 cans 14.5 oz chicken broth
1 c water
1 c carrots, chopped
1 c fresh green beans, sliced
ground pepper
oregano (dried)
bay leaf
1 c red bell peppers, diced
1 c yellow squash, chopped in half moon
1/2 c fresh basil, shredded
1 c tri-colored rotini, cooked

It's soup, so my directions are kind of vague.
1. Combine chicken broth, water, carrots, green beans in a pot. Add desired amount of pepper, oregano, and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add red bell peppers, yellow squash, and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add pasta to bowls and ladle soup over pasta.

Vegetable Soup
Vegetable soup

This recipe will serve 8 generous portions or ~10 regular portions.

I love soup, so it's a good day when we add yet another clean tasting soup to our roster.

Total cost: $5.28 (8 servings)

Chicken Salad Sandwich and Wrap
Once we decided to do soup, sandwiches were a natural complement.

1 chicken breast
1 tsp Zatarain's Creole seasoning
1/8 c basil, shredded
1/2 c peas
1/4 c red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp Zatarain's Creole seasoning
ground black pepper
6 whole basil leaves

1. Coat chicken with 1 tsp Zatarain's Creole seasoning and refrigerate overnight.
2. Grill chicken. Chop chicken to pieces.

Chicken without Salad
Bug's grilled chicken pieces

3. Mix desired amount of mayonnaise with chicken, basil, peas, and red bell peppers. Add 1 tsp Zatarain's Creole seasoning and pepper to taste.

Chicken salad
Chicken salad

4. Layer whole basil leaf on bread. Add chicken salad.

Chicken salad sandwich
Chicken salad sandwich

At first, the plan was to use iceberg lettuce, but when I unfurled the basil and saw that we had large, unmarred leaves, there was no choice but to use the large leaves to layer whole.

I couldn't quite do the sandwich justice once I cut it in half, as I alotted 1-1/2 sandwiches per serving. One sandwich was too chintzy.

We usually have tortillas in the refrigerator, since Bug makes breakfast burritos regularly. Not today.

Chicken Salad Wrap
Chicken salad wrap

We made a quick run to the store and bought some tortillas. They weren't really pliable, so I had a difficult time making presentable wraps, which was a bit disheartening.

Chicken salad wrap close
Closer look at the chicken salad wrap

I'm really not a fan of peas, but I wanted something different. The peas were sweet, the red bell peppers were crunchy, and the chicken retained its grilled and outstanding seasoned flavor. Each bite had just the right amount of basil flavor that didn't overpower the sandwich. Bug was quite ecstatic about this.

Total cost: $3.32 (5 servings)

Blueberry Peach Cobbler
We initially planned on grilling peaches topped with a fruit yogurt sauce for dessert. Because we had good amount of blueberries, I thought a cobbler would be nifty, except I didn't want to stress out too much.

The no dough cobbler recipe at was intriguing, so we tried it. There really is dough, but it's not manicured. Perfect! The recipe is as follows:

1/2 c butter
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c milk
2 c fresh peaches, sliced
2 c fresh blueberries
1/2 c sugar

1. Melt butter in 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Set aside.
2. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and baking powder. Add milk, and stir until blended.
3. Pour batter over butter in dish. Do not stir.
4. Combine peaches, blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar. Spoon over batter. Do not stir.
5. Bake at 350┬║ for 45-55 minutes.

The recipe states this will yield 12 servings. With the baking dish we used, or perhaps with the serving sizes we're accustomed to, we felt this would serve 6.

Bubbling Blueberry Peach Cobbler
Blueberry peach cobbler just out of the oven

As Bug was putting this together, he was skeptical how this would turn out because it looked pretty ugly going in and a bit too simple.

We didn't expect it to come out of the oven bubbling and colorful. The fruity aroma was tantalizing that we were giddily waiting to try it. An hour later, the cobbler had already heaved its final sigh, having sunk to 2/3rds its height when it gloriously emerged from the oven.

Blueberry Peach Cobbler Plated
Blueberry peach cobbler

The fruits are at their peak, so the cobbler could use less sugar. With the amount of butter and sugar, I am thinking we can't indulge too often.

Bug was so exuberant, he is already planning the next cobbler -- mangoes and blueberries.

Total cost: $2.52 (6 servings)

Our total came out to $13.12. All in all, a pretty successful venture if you take pantry items and overages into account. Bug appreciated the challenge to keep costs low and the addition of new recipes.

Some music to cook by...I got nostalgic for music my mother played on the electone and guitar. She was a superb flamenco guitarist.
Summertime with Billie Holiday (Mica Paris does an awesome rendition of the song)
Malague├▒a with Jose Feliciano
Lonely Bull by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
Cherry Pink and Apple Blossoms White with Perez Prado

Blueberries in tea
Blueberry Bacta tank

- Cassaendra

4 deep thoughts:

Arm70 22 June, 2009 14:31  

Awesome job on the Cook and Tell!!!

SicklyBug and Cassaendra 23 June, 2009 18:02  

Hiya Arm~

Thanks! It was an interesting challenge - they have all been interesting thus far.

Mrs. L 24 June, 2009 15:40  

You did a great job for Cook and Tell! And I find the Blueberry Tea something I have to try. I'm hoping to get some fresh blueberries at the farmers market this weekend.

SicklyBug and Cassaendra 25 June, 2009 00:00  

Hi Mrs. L!

Thank you! One of the best parts was licking the spoon afterwards. Your No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake looks awesome.

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