What better way to spend a post-holiday Monday than online shopping? A number of sites offer discounts—or at least free shipping—through midnight today. We’ve collected a few of our favorites for cooking and entertaining, so you can finally snag that KitchenAid stand mixer or set of vintage cocktail glasses at a discount.
You’ll have to sign up for a free membership to access this site, but the collection of mostly small-batch spirits is worth it. All are priced below retail value, so you’ll save on that bottle of Ardbeg single-malt for the boss.
The deal: Spirits are offered below retail price normally, plus free shipping today for orders over $100.
“Tools for the serious chef” is the tagline of this online retailer, and you’ll find the accessories at a pretty steep discount today. We like the looks of an All Clad three-quart sauté pan, Le Creuset stock pot, and Chantal fondue set.
The deal: Varies by item.
In the market for fresh truffles, caviar, or a charcuterie gift basket? You’ll find all of the above and more from this fine-foods purveyor, including a free-range goose for a Christmas roast.
The deal: Use the promo code SAVEMORE at checkout for up to 20 percent off.
Epicurious isn’t just for recipes and helpful/amusing reviews. The online shop includes an array of cooking tools and pantry items; you’ll find cyber specials on KitchenAid stand mixers, Riedel glassware, Calphalon pans, and more.
The deal: Varies by item.
This online retailer specializes in homey items; Rachael Ray and the Cake Boss are among the affiliated brands. Shop for the likes of retro Looney Tunes pint glasses, deep fryers, and decorative aprons.
The deal: Save up to 70 percent through December 3.
If you’re more of an entertainer than a home cook, you’ll love the various tabletop finds on this site—think vintage bamboo trays, antique silver barware, and various glass cloches.
The deal: Sadly no steep discounts, but you’ll receive a gift and free shipping on every order.
Ask a chef where to buy a great knife, and chances are Korin will top the list. Browse the gorgeous Western-style and traditional Japanese knives, including gift-friendly utility blades and all-out splurges. (Wish-listed: a $5,175 tuna knife for celebratory carving rituals.)
The deal: The holiday knife sale last through December, with 15 percent off blades.
Provisions by Food 52
We love this James Beard Award-winning publication’s website, which recently launched an online kitchen-and-home shop. You’ll find everything from vintage copper cookware to spice sets, barware (a Mason jar shaker, anyone?), and more.
The deal: Free shipping and a gift for any order over $75.
Sur La Table
This national retailer offers a range of deep discounts, including marked-down Wusthof knife sets, All-Clad slow cookers, and Starbucks espresso makers.
The deal: Up to 70 percent off certain items, and free shipping on all orders over $59.
Get a taste of New York with a variety of edibles from this Upper West Side institution. Gift baskets are a top options for the holidays, filled with the likes of smoked fish and bagels, kosher pastries, or Zabar’s brand coffees.
The deal: Get 10 percent off site-wide until midnight.
“If I were throwing a New Year’s Eve dinner party,” says Nicholas Stefanelli as he dices an onion, “I’d make it a potluck.”
The sentiment is understandable—no host wants to break the bank on a party or spend the entire night in the kitchen. But the Bibiana chef met the Frugal Foodie challenge—dinner for eight for less than $50, not including pantry items—while also cooking a meal that could be prepared almost entirely ahead of time.
Stefanelli planned on making braised lamb, but at the grocery store he realized it was too expensive, so he switched to short ribs. He picked up lentils and Arborio rice from the bulk aisle and sifted through blocks of cheese, all priced by weight, for that perfect-sized piece. In the checkout line, he came in three dollars over budget and joked it was the wine and Parmesan, which in his house count as pantry items.
A lone butternut squash sits on the shelf. Philippe Reininger, executive chef at J&G Steakhouse in downtown DC, looks concerned and tells me it’s too big. On the scale, the squash weighs in at just under four pounds. Even on sale, that eats up nearly $4 of Reininger’s budget.
Reininger accepted our Frugal Foodie challenge to make a fall dinner for four for less than $20, not including pantry items such as flour, sugar, and oil. The squash isn’t helping.
We move through the produce section and Reininger studies a shelf of mushrooms, shaking his head slightly. He chooses a few ounces of shiitakes, looking for ones where the gills are close together.
We move through the rest of the store, picking up crème fraîche, Arborio rice, and other ingredients, but lesson learned: Monday afternoons, when everything has been picked over from the weekend rush, isn’t the time to get the best produce.
At the checkout counter, Reininger comes in $3.57 over our initial budget. I blame the produce and let the extra slide.
At my apartment, I see Reininger has brought two of his own small Thai chilis—which cost a quarter and weren’t available at the store—and a single piece of candied ginger.
Reininger moves methodically as he boils the squash in chicken stock for a soup, creates an herbal-infused water for risotto, and gently rubs the skin off boiled beets. And, in the end, he dishes up a rich butternut-squash soup, a brightly flavored beet-and-goat-cheese salad, and a mushroom risotto with a touch of heat from the Thai-chili-and-herb-infused broth. It’s a delicious fall meal, even with those slim produce pickings.
>>For more photos of Muneihiro Yonemoto in action, click here.
I love to grill. But as summer winds down, I find I’m in a barbecue rut. Slow-roasted ribs, quick-fired tuna steaks, pork loin with chimichurri are like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”—a little too heavy in the rotation.
To bust through my barbecue boredom, I turned to Muneihiro Yonemoto, the chef behind the DC izakaya and sushi restaurant Kushi. Yonemoto accepted the Frugal Foodie challenge and agreed to whip up an Asian barbecue for six for less than $25.
At the store, we pick up ground chicken breast, ginger, corn, scallions, and two cucumbers. Our meager groceries come to just $14.76. At my apartment, I watch Yonemoto unpack small containers of plum sauce, miso paste, wasabi, Kagayaki rice, and soy sauce, and I understand. Yonemoto admits he was concerned that the grocery store wouldn’t carry those ingredients. He was right on some counts. After a quick price check at two stores—Hana, an Asian grocery store on U Street, and H Mart in Virginia—I agree that buying these ingredients would still keep him within the budget.
He gets to work, chopping the scallion, slicing the cucumbers, whisking wasabi with mayo, and mixing the chicken with ginger. Next, Yonemoto fashions the ground chicken around a skewer and works the steamed rice into triangles with a dab of plum sauce in the middle.
The ingredients prepped, Yonemoto heads to the grill. He lays the rice triangles on the grill to give them a smoky finish. Then he adds the chicken, cooking what’s known as tsukune, or a chicken meatball. Finally, he adds the corn, basting it lightly with soy sauce.
Bright-green cucumbers dipped in wasabi mayo, rice balls with slightly crisp tsukune—it was like switching from Katy Perry to Katie Herzig.
>>For more pictures of Hernandez putting together his semifreddo, click here.
Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month, and celebrating with an ice-cream social seems like the perfect way to cool off. Lacking an ice-cream maker but still wanting to make something from scratch, we asked Douglas Hernandez, pastry chef at the downtown DC Italian dining room Bibiana, to teach us how to make semifreddo.
Semifreddo, which means “half cold” in Italian, is a partially frozen custard. The result has a mousse-like, airy texture similar to ice cream.
Hernandez accepted our Frugal Foodie challenge—to make semifreddo for ten for less than $30, not including pantry items—with a Neapolitan-inspired dish that can be served in almost endless variations.
At my apartment, he methodically preps all the ingredients. He separates the eggs by hand, washes and slices strawberries, and whips heavy cream. In no time, my counter is covered with tiny bowls.
Hernandez starts off with strawberry semifreddo. He makes a sabayon, a mixture of whipped egg yolks and sugar, then combines it with whipped cream and folds in a strawberry purée (he says almost any fruit purée will work, and he recommends mango, banana, and blackberry—just blend fresh fruit in a blender).
Hernandez follows similar steps for vanilla and chocolate semifreddos. He offers ways to tweak the basic recipe for alternate flavors—for coffee semifreddo, use instant espresso instead of vanilla extract—and gives tips on the best way to whip cream (stick it in the freezer and start with it very cold). As he finishes each flavor, he fills his mold, layering the vanilla on top of the strawberry, then adding the chocolate and topping the whole thing with a pistachio praline.
After filling two molds, there’s still plenty of semifreddo left. Hernandez shows me a variety of serving options, including filling a martini glass with one flavor or layering three flavors into a beer stein.
We shuffle things around in my freezer and carefully fill it with pans of semifreddo. Hernandez warns me that it’ll melt faster than ice cream. Not a problem—I couldn’t imagine that once it was served, it’d last that long anyway.
>> For more photos of Albisu grilling, click here.
“It’s primal. It’s simple,” says Victor Albisu, explaining the beauty of barbecuing. Standing over a hot grill laden with meat and vegetables, it certainly feels that way.
The BLT Steak chef accepted the Frugal Foodie challenge to make a four-person steak dinner for less than $25—not including pantry items.
Albisu suggests meeting at Plaza Latina, a small market in Falls Church where he knew we could get good-quality but inexpensive meat and produce. Of course, knowing the owner helps, too—that’d be Albisu’s mother.
He buys a flank steak, four chorizo sausages, short ribs, corn, peppers, onion, parsley, and more for $27.50. And there’s no family discount.
Back at my apartment, Albisu gets to work. He seasons the steak and short ribs with olive oil, crushed whole garlic cloves, salt, and pepper and lets them sit while he starts the chimichurri, a piquant, parsley-based Argentinean sauce.
Albisu chops garlic, onion, jalapeño, red bell pepper, cilantro, and parsley, then seasons it all with oregano, red chili pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper. He mixes in some red-wine vinegar and olive oil, then has me try a bite.
“I’m going to tell you a family secret,” Albisu says. With that, he takes a little water he boiled in my kettle and adds it to the sauce. The hot water, he explains, blanches and relaxes the parsley. He has me try another taste. It’s still zesty and bright, but the bite is gone.
With the chimichurri finished, we go outside to grill the meat and vegetables. When my charcoal grill is medium-hot, Albisu arranges the ingredients over the grates. After about 20 minutes, he pulls everything off and we head inside. Back in the kitchen, Albisu slices open a piece of crusty bread, cuts half a chorizo down the middle, spreads the chimichurri on top, and hands me the sandwich—a pre-dinner snack.
Later, my friends and I sit on the front stoop, our plates piled high with steak and tomatillos and corn. It’s primal, simple, and most of all, delicious.
>>Click here to see a slideshow of Susur Lee cooking dinner.
“Are you fast?” asks Susur Lee.
I know Lee doesn’t mean what I’m thinking. I pause long enough for him to add “in the kitchen.”
While I love to cook, I move slowly, deliberately, and often with a glass of wine in hand. I simply tell Lee no, but I’m willing to help and learn.
“I’m mean,” he tells me.
Lee, the Zentan chef who accepted our challenge to cook a dinner for eight for less than $50, is speedy. We’re in and out of the grocery store and back to my apartment in less than 40 minutes. And that’s nothing.
In the kitchen, Lee moves like a Tasmanian devil who has sucked down too much Red Bull. He asks me to peel the asparagus. By the time I’ve done that, he’s de-boned and butterflied two chickens and started the chicken stock. He also sliced rhubarb and grated apple for a baked dessert.
Sure, I’m pausing to ask questions, writing down recipes, and taking pictures. But I also remember what they said about excuses in Platoon. I try to pick up the pace. Egg shells, dishes, vegetable peelings, and utensils pile up in my sink. I worry something might break and then wonder if I got all the plastic out before I ran the disposal.
>> Click here to see a slideshow of Dalling cooking his brunch.
Jason Dalling is crouching in front of a row of butter with a bulky calculator that looks like it was borrowed from Doogie Howser.
The chef at the Fairmont accepted our challenge to cook brunch for six for less than $25. After wandering through the grocery store, selecting eggs, fennel, English muffins, mango, apple, and other sundries, he wants to make sure he’s under budget.
Content with his options, we head to the checkout line. I pull out my frequent-shopper card, which knocks almost $4 off the bill. Dalling’s eyes light up, and he heads back into the store for fennel and a tomato.
Over a recent long lunch, a friend asked what kind of dessert I’d serve with Sauternes, a sweet white wine. This led to a discussion about what desserts we’d pair with port, Champagne, and other dessert wines. Ultimately, though, the answer was “I don’t know,” which is how I ended up at the grocery store with 2941’s pastry chef, Anthony Chavez.
For this Frugal Foodie challenge, I asked Chavez to make desserts that could be paired with Sauternes, port, and Champagne. The three desserts would have to feed six and, not including standard pantry items and the wine, cost less than $50.
At the grocery store, Chavez studied the bulk aisle, buying the exact amounts of almonds, popcorn, and dried apricots that he needed. In the produce aisle, he picked the stems and leaves off satsuma mandarin oranges so they wouldn’t add to the weight and cost. He splurged on vanilla beans, thick Icelandic yogurt, and European-style salted butter. The bill rang up to $48.62.
Birch & Barley chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac have done their advance work. After the married duo accepted our Frugal Foodie challenge to make Valentine’s Day dinner and dessert for two for less than $20, they priced out their grocery list the day before.
But as soon as Bailey realizes chicken bouillon counts as a pantry item, freeing up $3, he scratches his original plan. Studying the meat counter, he decides on two lamb’s necks.
With a main course in mind, we wander through the grocery store picking up the rest of the supplies. The two consult each other on cheeses, digging through a pile for the smallest package of blue cheese they can find. In the bulk aisle, they discuss what would go best with the coconut flan MacIsaac is making. Bailey makes a plea for brandied cherries, a personal favorite, even though they wouldn’t go with the dessert. Finally, they agree on dried bananas and cashews.