Saffron mussels

Steamed mussels with saffron

It’s getting warmer, and while I love mussels anytime of the year, they seem like an especially spring dish to me for some reason. I don’t make mussels myself too often, just because you need to cook them and eat them all in one day, you can’t save some for leftovers. But, as mussels are actually a pretty cheap thing to cook for seafood, at about $5 for 1 pound, it’s a great ingredient for gourmet on a budget.

This recipe, fromĀ Epicurious,Ā calls for saffron, which is the most expensive spice on the planet. But, as a little goes a long way, the price doesn’t end up being that much for this dish, making it fit within a reasonable budget.

Budget: $16 for 4 servings; or $4 a serving.

Recipe details after the jump.

A regular feature in which I cook cheap, gourmet dishes. (more…)

winter squash risotto

For your valentine: winter squash risotto

Light those candles, dim the lights and make this for your valentine: winter squash risotto. I don’t have a link here, because this is sort of a U Street Girl original. Not that I’ve invented risotto, but this is the way I make it, I’ve played around and this is what works for me.

Risotto, to me, is perfect food to cook for a special occasion. It’s very tasty, luxurious, but also homey and relatively simple to make. Plus, once you’ve mastered the base recipe, you can add whatever you want: shrimp, asparagus, broccoli, chicken, pesto, etc etc. It just requires your full attention for a half hour. Plus, this version is sort of vegetarian, if you want to use veggie stock. Where the hell else can you get a gourmet Valentine’s day meal for less than $10?

Budget: $7, makes 4 servings so $1.75 a serving. I know you’re only serving two so you could cut in half and then it’s only $3.50, but I like having the leftovers.

Recipe details after the jump.

A regular feature in which I cook cheap, gourmet dishes.

(more…)