Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: Poor Girl Gourmet

Summary: Love eating well but hate paying a lot? Amy McCoy's cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet (based on her popular blog of the same name), features decadent and delectable recipes for foodies with limited budgets, but sophisticated tastes.

In Poor Girl Gourmet, McCoy breaks down the costs for each dish while also offering money-saving strategies, including tips for growing and preserving your own food, as well as ideas for quick and delicious family meals. Each recipe serves at least four people, so it's perfect for families on a budget—because eating well while saving money is something that appeals to all of us. McCoy, knowing that a gourmet meal is enhanced by the proper wine, also reviews more than 25 affordable wine varietals and blends, with pairing suggestions for many of the dishes. And there is a chapter of splurges ($15 to $30 per entrĂ©e for a family of four) for when you're feeling fancy.

Because gourmets, regardless of their budget, appreciate a gorgeous cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet bucks the pared-down trend in cost-conscious cookbooks, and is illustrated throughout with McCoy's own mouthwatering full-color photography. -- Andrews McMeel

I don't know about you, but I love to save money -- it's gives me a sense of satisfaction. So when I discovered a cookbook that gives you gourmet recipes that also happen to be inexpensive, I thought it was a fantastic idea. POOR GIRL GOURMET: EAT IN STYLE ON A BARE-BONES BUDGET by Amy McCoy has loads of "fancy" recipes that won't break the bank. Plus, the few that I tried were extremely easy-to-make!

Needless to say, I really like the idea behind POOR GIRL GOURMET. However, I quickly realized that while many of the recipes appealed to me, they weren't exactly family-friendly (or should I say ones that my picky eaters would try.) I did find a few that I thought they'd eat including a chicken meal, a quick bread and a veggie side dish. The added benefit to me was that all three recipes could be eaten by my son who has many food allergies.

I definitely like the format of this cookbook. The author has written a personal introduction for every dish as well as section with the estimated cost for four people. I especially love the breakdown of the cast of each ingredient. In addition, she also gives Poor Girl Gourmet Tips as well as suggested complementary dishes. Ms. McCoy also includes a section at the beginning of the cookbook where she gives valuable gourmet pointers such as how not to waste food, how to buy in season, how to use coupons, how to buy in bulk, etc.

The cookbook is divided into the typical chapters: soups and salads, entrees, vegetables and sides, bakery and desserts, and splurges. In addition to these sections, there are also chapters on value wines and menu suggestions. I really found this cookbook to be a valuable resource!

The first recipe that I tried was for the Honey-Balsamic Chicken Thighs. Now, I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of meat with skin or bones, but I do realize that chicken thighs are more economical and have more flavor than boneless chicken breasts. The recipe was to bake the chicken and then cover the thighs with the honey-balsamic sauce. It was extremely easy to make and I loved the sauce. However, I think I will use the sauce over a pork tenderloin next time!

I also decided to make the Smashed Sugar-Roasted Sweet Potatoes. This was definitely my favorite recipe that I tried and it was so simple. All I had to do was peel and cube three sweet potatoes, cover them with a sugar/cayenne mixture and bake. Once they were soft, I just smashed them with some butter (well actually dairy-free soy blend) for a few seconds. The sweet potatoes were so good -- slight sweet but they also had a little kick from the cayenne. My family didn't appreciate them like I did, but that's because they don't like sweet potatoes. Trust me...this recipe was amazing!

I also made the Oatmeal-Wheat Beer Bread. It couldn't have been simpler with just seven ingredients, but I'm not sure that I'm a big fan of beer bread. I think this recipe a was good one (and definitely more healthy than most beer breads because of the whole wheat flour and oatmeal), but I find beer bread to be kind of heavy. It probably would have been better if I had made it when it was cooler outside and served it with soup or stew.

Amy McCoy is known as the "Poor Girl Gourmet." She has a very successful blog where she features some great gourmet and budget-friendly recipes. She is also a great photographer -- she actually took the photos of the dishes in the cookbook! Make sure you check out her blog to get an idea of the type of gourmet recipes that she creates.

Overall, I think POOR GIRL GOURMET is a great cookbook that will appeal to many gourmet chef wannabees. The recipes are definitely fancy and economical, and I think this cookbook will definitely come in handy for entertaining.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this cookbook.

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bermudaonion said...

I hate when I review a book the same time that you do, because my reviews always pale in comparison to yours. Great review of a wonderful cookbook!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't know if you'd call me a picky eater, but since I like whole wheat pasta and you don't.... On the other hand, I wouldn't even *look* at the one featuring chicken thighs, so maybe we're even! :--)

Chrisbookarama said...

Hmm, beer bread sounds interesting. Great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I should not be reading these cookbook reviews before I eat breakfast! Between you and Kathy, I'm drooling over all of it (even the whole wheat pasta).

Beth F said...

Those sweet potatoes sound awesome! I like the idea of this cookbook, and no one in this house is a picky eater. I would likely just adjust recipes to my preference (like using the sauce for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin, even though they aren't the cheapest cuts of meat).

Alyce said...

I don't like skin on chicken either. I make a similar sweet potato/yam recipe at home but without the cayenne pepper. I'm the only one in my family who likes them too, and every once in a while I just get a craving. I bake the potato, then slice it into discs, cover it with butter and brown sugar and roast it until the sugar is melted. It's delicious!

Meghan said...

This one sounds good - I like tasty food and I like to save money. I'll probably check out the blog first though!

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This sounds great and is definitely on my list!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Thanks for providing the link to her blog as well...I'd like to follow that for a while, at least until I can get my hands on the book in person. I really like to look through cookbooks before I buy them. I need pictures, pictures and more pictures. This one sounds like a good one :)

Karlie said...

The sweet potatoes sound great!

Esme said...

I have this book to review-I have glanced thru it but have not had the time to pick out some recipes yet.