Monday, April 13, 2009

Thrifty and Good

So I hear, there's an elegant restaurant in San Francisco called Spruce where chef Mark Sullivan prepares dishes like California caviar with a potato blini and a brioche ($90) and buttered Maine lobster with gnochhi ($40). An article in Food & Wine a few months ago offered "thrifty" versions of a few of Sullivan's recipes, and while the whole idea of making these fancy dishes for less was a good enough gimmick, what really drew me in was the recipe for Cod with Artichokes and Chickpeas.

At Spruce, Sullivan makes this dish--which is essentially cod fillets browned in a skillet with some olive oil, served over a melange of veggies softened by simmering with chicken stock and seasoned with some herbs--with highbrow ingredients like chanterelle mushrooms and baby artichokes. He charges customers $29. For F&W's home version, they suggest using shiitake mushrooms and frozen artichoke hearts. (I wound up using jarred artichoke hearts, and they worked just fine.) I think Fork & I spent about $29 total for all the groceries we needed for this dish, and it served two, with plenty of vegetables leftover to toss with pasta for another meal.

The other ingredients in the dish are onion, carrots, garlic and chickpeas, so it's pretty healthy. And tasty; the cod was cooked just enough for buttery bite-sized pieces to flake off perfectly. Each bite was a little different, depending on which veggies you'd picked up on your fork. It was a lovely meal, no need for accompaniments, and we wiped our plates clean, thinking, "Twenty-nine dollars a plate--as if!"--S

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