The farmers' market last fall, courtesy of M.V. Jantzen

This always makes me sad. This weekend is the last for our farmer’s market at 14th and U: so stop by to stock up for the winter, pick up Thanksgiving day supplies, and say farewell to the vendors. The market will be back next May, but you can stop by the Dupont market in the interim, which is open all year.

14th/U farmers market (courtesy of Andrew Bossi)

Sigh. My favorite time of the year is coming to a close: this weekend is the last you’ll be able to saunter down to 14/U and get farm fresh veggies, fruit, great Copper Pot sauces and pasta, bread from Panorama and those great pumpkin whoopie pies. Definitely make sure to get to the market this Saturday to stock up for the winter. I’ll see you there.

Spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs

I love me some America’s Test Kitchen, and in an episode I saw last weekend they made spaghetti and meatballs. So I decided it was time to make some as well. Let me be honest, I’ve had trouble with meatballs in the past. I’ve tried to pan-fry them, but I’ve found that as you try to cook them on each side they don’t look as round but more octagonal. Plus, they didn’t cook all the way through, and when I was trying I wasn’t making my own sauce, and even so, wouldn’t have thought to continue cooking them in the sauce.

Of course, America’s Test Kitchen has the answer: cook the meatballs in the oven and then finish them in the sauce. Genius. I modified their recipe a little bit because I didn’t want to use pork sausage for the meatballs, just beef. Otherwise I stayed true to the recipe.

This takes time, about an hour and a half for me. But man, is it rewarding to have made your own sauce and have meatballs that are round. And, it’s very filling and comforting, good food for a cold day like today. Plus, this recipe, which I halved for the sauce but not for the meatballs, could feed an army. They say it serves 8, but I would say it could easily serve 12 if not more. The leftovers are going in my freezer for another cold day.

Not very pretty, but very tasty French onion soup

Not very pretty, but very tasty French onion soup

OK, secret here: the cheapest dish you can make that is healthy, low calorie, and low fat is soup. I have so many soups in my repertoire, from butternut squash and apple (I make it without the cheese topping and it’s delicious), turkey chili, classic tomato soup, curried pea soup,  and the great summer hit peach and tomato gazpacho.

French onion soup, with the melted cheese topping, isn’t exactly low fat or calorie, but it is a great dish for these cold winter days. Like most soup, it does take time to make, but the reward is how cheap you can make it for. And, it’s so hearty it can be a whole meal for me, maybe with a side of salad.

I have to admit, I found this recipe harder to make than I expected. The onions took forever to caramelize, and I had to speed up the process by turning up the heat to make it in less than two hours. But, the results were still very tasty.

And, if anyone has any tips to get onions to caramelize in less than an hour and a half without turning the heat up, I’m all ears.

Budget: $10, makes about 4-6 servings, $1.66-$2.50 a serving.

Recipe details after the jump.

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

(more…)

Holiday display, courtesy of WBUR (Flickr)

Holiday display, courtesy of WBUR (Flickr)

… from snowy, rainy, wet, strangely warm Massachusetts.