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frugal gourmet

I'm invited to a wine an Gourmet party with the Theme Frugal Gourmet. We are suppose to bring our favorite bottle of wine under $12.00 and then prepare a gourmet dish to serve 30 guest for around $25.00. It can be anything from soup, salad , entree, dessert etc. Any idea's would be great. Remember it needs to be sort of gourmet not just budget.

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    1. I think we need more information. What is your favorite wine? Are you supposed to make a dish to go with the wine? How many people will you be cooking for? Is there a theme other than "Frugal Gourmet"? What are other people making? (I can't believe the host didn't assign dishes -- so it's possible you will end up with 10 desserts and no mains?) What is the palate of the people you are cooking for like? Adventurous? Are you comfortable cooking all kinds of food?

      With the limited info, and at this time of year, I would probably bring a bottle of Italian Red, and make a pasta dish with roasted peppers and sausage (there's a good recipe in Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking).

      If you provide more info, you will get better responses :-)

      1. Coq au vin another easy but gourmet dish....are you asking for ideas for the food or for the wine? There's a very nice thread on the Wine board about Wines under $15 in case you are interested.

        1. Wine is not my area of specialty but hit if Trader Joes Wine Shop if you have one nearby.

          For the main dish, I would suggest an Indian curry (maybe butter chicken?) or biriyani as they can easily be cooked for a large crowd and for under $25.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Shazza

            blah-- not everybody likes curry. i hate it. it's also a trickier dish to pair with wine -- it needs riesling or gewurztraminer, which not everybody likes. i think we need more info from the op, as suggested above.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              30 guests implies a minimum of 15 dishes and 15 bottles of wine. It's highly unlikely that everyone is going to sample every dish and bottle. (They'll suffer unpleasant consequences if they do!) You needn't have been so bluntly dismissive of curry or the wines. Nonethless, details are needed - if the hosts didn't apportion the course responsibilities, the OP should strongly suggest that they do so.

              In the fun spirit of the gathering, I suggest you look at some of The Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith) cookbooks. He has several, including many homegrown and international flavors, and breads. Breadmaking is not something that happens in the majority of modern, two-career,households, but everyone loves a freshly-made loaf. It would be very inexpensive to make a rolls or a couple of loaves, and maybe some compound butter as an extra fillip.

              1. re: greygarious

                sorry, but i really HATE curry. the smell of it would put me off eating anything else in the room. i happen to love the wines i suggested however, so please don't be defensive.

                why does 30 people imply 15 dishes to you? that's not how i read the op at all. it says: "prepare a gourmet dish to serve 30 guest for around $25.00. " choice of making soup, salad, entree, dessert. that's it. so make one course, enough to feed 30.

                i think your bread suggestion is terrific! :)

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I think grey might have seen it as 30 people = at least 15 couples, where each couple brings a bottle and a dish.

                  Or at least, that's how I saw it.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I mentioned a MINIMUM of 15 because the 30 guests might mean 15 couples.

                    Everyone loathes certain flavors or aromas which other people enjoy. In the interest of full disclosure, my ancestry is Germanic/Nordic. I never tasted Indian cuisine until I was over 40 and now it's one of my favorites. I worked as a mail carrier - when I told co-workers how wonderful I think Indian food is, the typical response was one of disgust. Most of these people delivered mail to apartment buildings where, unfortunately, old cooking smells permeate the hallways. Because the herbs and spices in Indian cuisine are bloomed in hot oil, they aerosolize. In time, the oily component becomes rancid, resulting in a stale odor. I suspect that the variety and complexity of Indian spices makes this more noticeable than in other cooking styles. The maintenance manager of one complex I delivered to complained that they had to replace carpeting in a unit whenever Indian tenants moved out. My explanation that freshly-prepared Indian food has wonderful aromas fell on deaf ears. Many of these folks also harbored anti-immigrant prejudices, so they probably wouldn't have wanted to try the cuisine anyway. Some generations back, these same folks would have disdained lasagna and scampi as the stinky food of the "garlic eaters". Since dislike of a certain dish can easily be assumed to imply dislike of the people originating it, best to express onesself more diplomatically.

                    Apparently, Annalisa is keeping her mom too busy to fill in the blanks about the party!

                    1. re: greygarious

                      "Some generations back, these same folks would have disdained lasagna and scampi as the stinky food of the "garlic eaters". Since dislike of a certain dish can easily be assumed to imply dislike of the people originating it, best to express onesself more diplomatically."

                      i work as a sommelier, graduated culinary school and have worked in hospitality nearly 20 years. i will try nearly anything presented to me and eat most things. last i knew, expressing a dislike for something is permitted on chowhound and not considered a non-pc slur. it's no different than saying somebody hates cauliflower, for heaven's sake.

                      may i politely suggest not seeking offense when none was offered?

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        You're right that expressing a dislike for a particular food is not a slur. But "curry" is not a particular food, and expressing a dislike for it is not like saying you don't like cauliflower. It's more like saying that Italian food is disgusting. It indicates ignorance and closed-mindedness.

                        First off, there really isn't such a thing as a "curry" in traditional Indian cuisine. It's a word that the British attached to a variety of sauced dishes because they couldn't be bothered to learn about them.

                        Second, a huge number of dishes are called "curries." And although most or all of them are going to use several traditional Indian spices, they vary so widely that there's really no unifying flavor. And as far as those traditional Indian spices go, they're the same spices that are used all over the world - the most common being pepper, cumin, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon.

                        Third, India has many distinct culinary traditions. Bengali food is completely different from Gujerati food which is completely different from Punjabi food. And on and on. The spices used, the way they're combined, and their quantities are all different depending on what part of the country you're talking about.

                        My mother hates curry. So every time I make Indian food when she's around, we all have to be careful to use the proper names for things. She's discovered that she really likes rogan josh, makkhani murghi, saag aloo, and masoor dal. But even though every one of those dishes could be called a "curry," she still insists that she doesn't like curry. So we just don't call it that.

            2. Rissoto is both budget friendly and as gourmet as you want to be. It can be hard to prepare in large quantities, but it is a dish that can be partly prepared ahead of time. I'd steer clear of the more traditional cheese-laden recipes and find a lighter, brothier one that won't congeal between the kitchen and the table. Oddly, even though restaurant rissoto is always done in that lighter style, almost all the recipies I find are cheese bombs! A similar option would be Jambalaya, which has the advantage of usually being finished in the oven instead of on the cooktop.

              For a large audience I guess I would prepare two batches and have everything ready for the final steps -- veggies and (optional) meats prepped and sauted, uncooked rice sauteed lightly, ready for the broth. At the party you just heat the broth, warm the rice in a pan, encorporate the broth and either bake it to finish or finish on the stove, depending on the recipe. With the right kitchen equipment you could do a single batch, but in my kitchen I'd want to double down for large amounts since it has to cook pretty quickly at the end or else it can turn into a gummy starch soup. Garnish with some fresh herbs. Simple, cheap, delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BernalKC

                We don't know what cooking facilities there will be. If even half of the guests needed to make last minute touches like this to their dishes, they could tie up the stove, oven, etc.

              2. Visually beautiful asparagus dish. ..if asparagus is inexpensive and in season I copied this from a friend. Lightly steam or microwave a large heap of trimmed asparagus. Chilll in a ziplock bag to keep the aspargus moist. Arrange in a generous decorative bunch on a platter. Pour the eye catching topping over the middle so it heaps and the olive oil puddles around the asparagus. I need to take a photo. Its an eye catching dish.

                The topping is made from plenty of chopped red roasted peppers, capers, chopped egg white, a little chopped green onion. You can include a few of the egg yolks. The secret ingredient is chopped dill pickles. Keep chopping and mixing until you have plenty and its looks festive and pretty with plenty of the bright red color as a contrast to the asparagus. Add a cup or more of olive oil. You can assemble it when you get there. Serve with tongs and a spoon.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Rhee

                  while i love asparagus, it's notorious for being a wine killer. it contains a sulfur compound called methyl mercaptan which can make wine seem unpleasantly vegetal. it does pair nicely with the wines i mentioned above, like a traminer or riesling, but is a disaster with a heavily oaked white or most reds. (the vinegar in your capers and pickles, along with the eggs, also make this a tricky dish to pair)

                  i'm hoping we get more insight from the op. if the hosts give a framework, we can provide menu options plus much more felicitous wine pairings.

                  1. My favorite inexpensive wines these days are reds from the Cotes du Rhone. Ogier is a negociant in Chateauneuf-du-Pape that bottles some great bargains. At $12, though, you have tons of options.

                    For a main dish, maybe a stuffed braised breast of lamb? I bought one yesterday for $1 per pound or so. If you'd prefer something less fussy, a daube would work as well. Again, I like lamb because it seems to be very reasonably priced right now, and using a cheap cut like the shoulder will keep you under budget.

                    1. I don't need suggestions on wine. I have that covered. to clarify the original question. We have a wine & Gourmet club and we have all been doing this together for about 9 years. every 3 months we all get together and we always have a different theme. We cook our meals in our own homes and take the dish so it's pot luck. This party theme is the frugal gourmet with the enviroment the country is in at the moment we thought it would be a fun theme.It is usually way more upscale and fufu. So there will be about 20 couples and so we'll end up with about 20 dishes. and about 40 bottles of wine. We don't assign dishes to people everybody just brings what they want but it always works out where we have enough of everything. So my question was idea's for things to feed about 30 guest ( as everyone will not try everything) for around $25-30 bucks. can be appitizer side main dessert no bread. Not only does it need to be budget but also a little gourmet. So thats my question hope that helps. I am still not sure what I am making so would love some more creative ideas.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Analisas mom

                        With the theme "frugal gourmet," I'd try to do something local and in season. I just saw some fresh asparagus at my market. For a simple but lovely appetizer, which you could do under your budget and still have it be "fufu," I'd probably do seasonal asparagus, lightly steamed, chilled, and wrapped with prosciutto.

                        Otherwise, you might want to hit up your local farmer's market and see what is in season. Spring can bring fiddlehead ferns, artichokes, asparagus, and other delicate spring greens, which probably would lead you in the direction of an appetizer, veggie side dish or salad.

                      2. Have you decided yet? What about soup as shooters or in small mugs, even demitasse cups. My first thoughts are asparagus or pea because of the season. Frozen petit pois are a very acceptable alternative to shelling fresh peas, plus you know they were frozen quickly after harvesting. In either case, if you use a ham bone or hock to make stock, it really adds wonderful flavor. I was going to suggest a shrimp or a bit of crab on each serving, but that would put you over budget. So how about making swizzle sticks out of bacon. Cut the bacon lengthwise before cooking, and depending on the size of your glasses or mugs, you might be able to cut them in half widthwise as well, stretching your purchase. If you use demitasse cups, maybe just a few sprinkles of chopped bacon or crisped prosciutto on top. If you serve it more room temp or even cool, a drizzle of yoghurt on top.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: nemo

                          I have a couple of Ideas I;m still waiting to see what others are doing so I can sort of fill in the gaps as I am one of the host. I am thinking of doing a sweet potato salad with fresh pineapple and coconut, another thought is deviled quail eggs with a tiny bit of caviar on each,or since I have beautiful herb garden that is producing wonderful sage at the moment I may do a gnocchi with a carmelized sage butter sauce. The other thought is to do a dessert with homemade pastry crust and fresh strawberries and whip cream.. I should be able to pick up a case of berries fairly cheap at our local farmers market at this time of year. One other thought is a watermelon and feta salad. I have yet to try this combo but I have seen several recipes and it sounds really nice for Spring time.

                          1. re: Analisas mom

                            watermelon and feta is a great combo. i add black olives and mint. it's packed with flavor but very light and clean.