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Jun 24, 2013 10:28 PM

A Call for the difficult, the labor intensive, and the cheapest recipes

I'm on vacation right now, and as a student and a total foodie, I find easy dishes with high end ingredients both boring and a bit impossible on the budget. Does anyone know some dishes that require a lot of love, patience, and skill, but use super cheap ingredients? I'm looking to turn unpopular meats and ingredients into something spectacular. I've made cheesecake, sourdough, fudge, stews, stir fry, barbecue- throw anything at me. Just remember- cheap, but time consuming and/or labor intensive.

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  1. I make a birria using something close to this recipe:

    The big difference is that since lamb and goat are expensive and/or hard to find here, I use a beef tongue.

    Here's some instructions on cooking the tongue (and making tacos from it).

    This is a recipe that you can play around with in all kinds of ways. If you want something cheap that requires skill and a lot of practice, make your own tortillas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JonParker

      That sounds good, though I'd have to go out and pick up a lot of those spices as well. Its definitely something to consider though, and it'll be good to learn how to cook tongue. Thanks! :D

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Are you referring to the daikon radish? I hear master chefs can shave it as one whole piece and then make decorative masterpieces with it!

            1. re: joonjoon

              Maybe, but I'm not a fan of omelettes much. :) Interesting suggestion though, I don't think I'd ever think of using some of those ingredients in an omelette.

              1. re: SummerBoredom

                Sorry about the late reply. Yes, daikon radish, and yes, some chefs can shave it as a roll. Many labor intensive, difficult and very inexpensive dishes can come from this.

              2. re: joonjoon

                Man, this looks tough. I am very impressed. I love watching these videos. They are so inspiring and also very humbling (for me to realize how unskill I am). This certainly fit the requirement of the original poster:
                intensive, difficult and inexpensive.

                Thanks for sharing.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I know isn't that nuts? I would love to have a bite of that omelette.

                  1. re: joonjoon

                    Not only it seems difficult to make, but it actually looks super tasty -- fluffy. :)

                    Japanese are really great at "turning the simplest ingredients into tasty and artistic foods".

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I suggest a bottle of liquid bandages to go with this challenge.

              1. re: wattacetti

                <I suggest a bottle of liquid bandages>

                I didn't even know there is such thing called liquid bandages. Now, I learned.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Me either! I'm getting some of that to keep on hand. Especially after I shaved off a piece of my thumb last weekend on the mandolin

                  1. re: ChrisKC

                    liquid bandage is great, but only for slice-type cuts- I don't think the kind of tissue removal that a mandolin causes would be candidates to LB. It's essentially superglue.

            3. get an indian cookbook and start learning how to make terrific curries

              4 Replies
              1. re: westsidegal

                And use the absolute cheapest cuts o meat, and cooks'em in a pressure cooker if you want to cut down on the time.

                Also, not just Indian. Also try Sri Lankan, Pakastani, Bangladeshi, and so on. I have lots of experience with Sri Lankan foods and they're incredibly good and flavorful. They rate right up there amongst the best food I've ver had.

                1. re: LMAshton

                  LMAshton - do you have a resource for your Sri Lankan cooking? (Books, online, or otherwise?)

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    I do. The cookbooks I use are out of print, published 45 years ago, so those you can't get. Sorry. There are other Sri Lankan cookbooks that are much more recent, of course, but I haven't used any of them, so I have no idea how good or authentic any of them are.

                    However, I have a food blog where I post Sri Lankan recipes, including those that my mother in law taught to me. I haven't posted all the recipes yet, so if you have any specific requests, please let me know. Also feel free to ask me any questions you have. :)

                    One more thing... there was a nameserver error with the domain which was corrected last night. DNS propogation sometimes takes up to 72 hours, although it's mostly done within 24, so if you have any problems accessing the site, it's temporary, so please try again. :)


                2. re: westsidegal

                  We use curry spice in my home, but we haven't made a lot of authentic curries yet! I think we've got an Indian cookbook somewhere in the shelves, so I should probably pull it down and read it sometime. :)

                3. I don't know that I could call this cake super-cheap, but assuming you have eggs, butter, vanilla, baking powder, etc. already at your house, the big purchases would be cake flour, coconut, coconut extract, coconut milk, coconut water, and almond extract.


                  It's really freaking amazing and plenty time-consuming!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Njchicaa

                    Coconut is sort of a fan favorite with me :) That looks delicious, and to be honest, I find the moistest cakes to be the most appetizing (though usually the heaviest in the stomach XD)

                    1. re: SummerBoredom

                      I promise if you make it you will be thrilled with it. I was as were all of my coworkers when I brought it in for them to try. One woman offered me $100 to make it for her next party (ingredients are probably $20-25).

                      1. re: Njchicaa

                        I've always wondered that if I got to make food that people want, if I could get them to pay me to make it for them! Heh, but I've still got a ways to go. All these recipes everyone's been telling me about ought to help me challenge myself though!

                      2. re: SummerBoredom

                        You could try a tres-leche cake with coconut milk as one of the milks... like this.

                        Not heavy, delicious, but actually not that hard so perhaps not making your criteria - but it would be awesomely good!


                    2. Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce. Takes pretty much all day since I do a 4x or 5x recipe.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: c oliver

                        This recipe really is amazing. Looks simple but the flavors are so much more than the sum of their parts.

                        1. re: girlwonder88

                          I'm headed towards making another big batch. Got family coming in a few weeks and I'm seeing her green lasagna :)