Ten Dollar Dinners is one of my favorite shows and I can vouch for the fact that many of the recipes are both cost-conscious and tasty. There are 140 recipes in this book, all accompanied by full color photos - but there is also so much more. Also included are strategies for saving money and stocking a "ten dollar dinner pantry." This info helps flesh out the book, even though it would be a very worthwhile purchase without the extras.
If you're a fan of the show, you'll recognize some of the recipes: Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, French Cut Steak with Carmelized Onions, Crispy Potato Cakes. I've tried every one of those and loved them. Of course, you may want to tweak some of the recipes to suit your taste but I've found I can use most just as written. I might add a bit more seasoning here or there but that is pretty typical...a cook tends to add a personal touch to a recipe.
I loved the section where author Melissa d'Arabian wrote about her life. She is someone who is so charismatic and enthusiastic on television that I was interested in learning more about her. She wrote so vividly about living in France for four years, meeting her husband, moving back to the United States, becoming parents to four girls, and learning to survive on one income.
Learning to live on a strict budget was quite a challenge but something she notes she was "hardwired to do." And her readers are the lucky beneficiaries of her efforts. Not incidentally, she beat out the competition to become The Next Food Network Star - and with a Potato- Bacon Torte that cost only fifty cents a serving!
Each recipe in Ten Dollar Dinners is listed on a scale from "downright cheap" to "pricey" (although the definition of pricey used here is still very inexpensive). Depending on budgets, readers can opt for only the cheapest recipes for a meal or mix and match various choices if there are extra funds.
Melissa also has many suggestions to cut costs on a regular basis: eat beans once a week as part of a main dish, use loss leaders, create a quick weekly menu plan in only five minutes, etc. We are huge fans of soup in our family so that section was particularly appealing. Somehow we also seem to have excess carrots around so the Orange Carrot Soup is one recipe I'm going to test immediately (today), especially since it takes very little time. The only soup recipe that doesn't look particularly attractive in the photo is the Creamy Any Veggie Soup but maybe it makes up for a lack of visual appeal with great taste.
If you have gourmet tastes, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find some unique flavor combinations (Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken Tangine) along with such basics as simple biscuits. When it comes to desserts, choices such as Classic Apple Tart or Strawberry Pavlovas with Apricot Sauce add a luxurious - but still budget-friendly- finish to meals. Vegetarians aren't left out either, with a chapter on using vegetables as main and side dishes.
Another bonus? Most of these recipes can be prepared in a snap. Even the ones that depend on slow cooking can be prepared for cooking in a matter of minutes and then just left to simmer while you go about the rest of your day. I'm so excited to make my old favorites from the show and try out the new recipes as well!
on August 14, 2012
I've been watching Melissa's show ever since she first won "Food Network Star", so I was very happy to hear that she finally came out with a cookbook of recipes from the series. I recognize and have made many of them, but some either escaped me the first time or are new. I like seeing new recipes, although I do wish that more of my own familiar favorites were included in the book, like her garlic chicken, or her individual tiramisus with the mock mascarpone. Not that I don't appreciate the recipes that she has included, though. I was very happy to see my favorite tuna panzanella salad and her orange scented carrot soup, both of which I've made many times.
I was expecting to like this cookbook, and I do. Melissa has a way with easy simplicity yielding a result that is more than the sum of its parts. Whenever I make her recipes I always find them even better than expected given that they are made from relatively few and cheap ingredients, and are so easy and quick to prepare. She has a way of pairing simple flavors, like ginger and orange, that go a long way in terms of bang for one's effort and buck. Her recipes do not offend the refined palate despite seeming almost pedestrian at first glance. I often say her recipes are a three way win: Cheap, easy, and taste great!
The cookbook itself is also a pleasant surprise. The pages are thick and glossy, with a typeface that is easy to see even without my reading glasses. The book is laid out in a simple and straightforward fashion, and is packed with beautiful color photos of the food, plus some of both Melissa and her family, whom she often talks about on her show. Now we finally have faces to match with those stories. It's almost hard to believe that we've never had a glimpse of them until now.
Scattered throughout the book are tips and tricks to keeping one's costs down. Some of these seem new to me but she has mentioned most of them on her show. I appreciate the tips, although some of them are just mildly interesting and fall short of helpful, at least for me. I am not a fan of dried beans and sometimes Melissa is like a broken record with recommending them. When I can go to my local discount store and find beans for 65 cents a can, I don't think I need to go through all the extra effort of using the dried beans, despite how much cheaper they may be.
I can see that Melissa made an effort to include a variety of types of recipes in this book. I almost think the book tries too hard to achieve that balance, because I feel like there should have been more main course meat recipes in it. Not that I don't appreciate all the salads, pastas and side dishes, though.
In all, for a first effort with help writing the book, this is an excellent start. After years of buying Rachael Ray cookbooks with no photos and cheap paper, this is like a breath of fresh air. Melissa continues to impress me. She comes off as understated and easy to approach, but she also manages not to dumb down her recipes too much. Considering the budgetary constraints she is under with the Ten Dollar theme, that is no small feat. I have a feeling that should she continue to have success and there should be a second cookbook, it will be even better than this one. Way to go, Melissa!
on August 19, 2012
I have enjoyed Melissa D'Arbian's television show, "Ten Dollar Dinners." I am finally in a position to cook full-time so I use her recipes constantly. I have a bulging notebook of her work. I so wanted her first cookbook to published. I immediately pre-ordered her cookbook. I got more than a cookbook. I got a treasure trove of cooking help and ideas for my $16.40.
Melissa gives you so much more than recipes in this book. She shows how any cook can save money and still serve fantastic food. You will get numerous tips and hints to help anyone who cooks: a family, a family of just two, and even a single person household. Everyone wants better homemade dishes and less take out or frozen meals.
After cooking her recipes from her shows and I excited about the new dishes and even a section on breakfast meals.
Now I never have to buy a frozen meal from the grocery store. For me and my husband it's fresh food, D'Arbian style.
This book is worth the price!
on August 29, 2012
I've been anxiously waiting for this book, and it has not disappointed.
I'm a Food Network junkie. Probably a little nerdy, but there's just something comforting about watching nice people cooking for you...feels a little like family. And FN has something for everyone...Italian, Southern, Indian, diner food, barbecue/grilling, indoor/outdoor, you name it, they've got it. However, there is an area that I think they were a bit lacking in, and that area is cooking on a budget. Specifically, cooking tasty and healthy food for a whole family on a budget.
Now don't get me wrong...I like the occasional splurge as much as anyone. If I want to make the best stroganoff in the universe, I can turn to Tyler Florence. His recipe might set me back about forty bucks, but it's guaranteed to be the talk of the town. I exaggerate of course, and I love Tyler, but you get the point. I think the majority of the wonderful meals cooked up on FN are what many of us would consider special-occasion meals...meals for the weekend, or when you have company coming. But what to cook on every other day? The weeknights after work...the day-to-day home cooking for working-class families who have to live on a less-than-extravagant budget but still want quality homemade meals? Enter Melissa d'Arabian.
I became a fan of Melissa's when I first watched FN's "Next Food Network Star". Kind of like "Dancing with the Stars", it was a show that made me think "eh, how good can this possibly be?" at first, but then by episode #2 I was completely hooked. Here was this lovely, down-to-earth mom cooking her heart out while some more formally-trained chefs looked down their noses at her. Okay maybe only one or two did that, but it was still dramatic and endearing. I remember the judges commenting on how Melissa was absolutely loaded with great tips, for saving money and for cooking for kids. During one challenge, all the contestants had to cook meals for children. Melissa left a few uncooked veggies on her finished plate alongside the cooked ones, to the horror of some of the judges. Melissa then explained why...one of her little girls likes the texture and that's how she gets her to eat them. Wow...practical advice. Who knew? And when cooking for some very esteemed higher-ups in the foodie world, and on an elaborate budget, Melissa served up a 55-cent-per-serving potato bacon torte and stole the show. Apparently world-class cuisine doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
Now, Melissa's own show "Ten Dollar Dinners" is going strong after who knows how many seasons. I continue to be amazed at all the quality, delicious recipes she turns out week after week. I've made several of them and have yet to be let down. It truly is exactly what she promises...four people, ten bucks. Excellent, exciting food that inspires me and makes me want to cook, rather than just thaw. Honestly I keep waiting for her to run out of inexpensive recipes and change her show to "20 Dollar Dinners", but it still hasn't happened.
With the cookbook, we not only get the best of Melissa's recipes, but loads of helpful tips...and I do mean LOADS...along with little stories about each recipes and some beautiful photos of her family as well as the food. The book really comes across as genuine, from a real person who has had to cook on a budget just like me. I don't feel like I'm being talked down to by a celebrity chef who is going to berate me for buying the cheap parmesan cheese instead of the $15-$20 Parmigiano Reggiano. I did have the opportunity to meet Melissa in person, albeit briefly, and I can tell you that this really is who she is. She is GENUINE. She cares about what she does and puts real thought and effort into everything she creates.
I cannot imagine any family or individual that wouldn't benefit greatly by having this book in their home. I've had it two weeks and already I know that I'll be consulting it before making my shopping list every week, because I'll be making these recipes.
on August 15, 2012
I absolutely love Ten Dollar Dinners and Melissa. She has taught me soo much. I love her concept, outstanding food recipes and menus at an inexpensive cost. (I dont like to use the word "cheap" only when referring to shoddy quality.) She came from humble backgrounds, like mine, and yet she has done all the homework for us of researching just how to feed a family of four, realistically with real size portions, make it with great flavor, nurishing, cost effective, and easy to do. its all here!
One thing I was hoping for was a little more help than she offers from the show in the book. For instance, she always tells of the bargain of buying dry beans, then cooking and freezing them when needed. I was hoping for instructions of how to do just that. Or how she frequently says on her show how you can use the tops of green onions by growing them again (somehow), I was hoping for that in the book as well.
I was glad to see more versatility with recipes than on the show here in this book. For example, the Shortbread recipe on the show is with rosemary and chocolate chips (it's lovely, BTW) and in the book she explains how to make it what you want by adding what you have and makes suggestions. There are many more recipes like that, how to make it with how you like it and what you have. (green smoothie and more)
with that said, do try some of our faves from her show in the book:
Cafe Salad withg Dijon Vinaigrette (this dressing makes it)
Thyme and Lemon Fish en Papillote (super easy, great for company, super healthy too)
Four Step Chicken Piccata (I learned how to make a simple sauce to tie it all together with that one)
Mustard Chicken (a must try for everyone, tarragon makes it -dont skip it, it really does)
Quick Sour Cream Biscuits (They puff when you cook 'em, easy and great!)
Buttery Shortbread (lovely and not a huge batch, just right)
and many others. (I wasnt kidding I'm a fan)
There are recipes I'm dying to try:
Crispy Chicken a l'Orange
Easy Coq au Vin
Herb-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes (this is the one she mentioned it took a while to get it just right)
Roasted Radishes and Carrots
Classic Apple Tart (on the show, she said it only takes like 20 mins to do, and thats with homemade crust!)
Much, much more
Beautiful pictures and feel to the pages make this book a super good value. I will be buying another for an upcoming bridal shower.
Keep them coming Melissa. You really have made a difference in my home cooking.
While prices may fluctuate and the $10 dinner may or may not be, using recipes from Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d'Arabian will help trim expenses while eating well. d'Arabian's recipes not the usual pasta, rice and beans meals, but meals creatively using all kinds of varied ingredients making mealtime a delight; and not boring. Some of the recipes you will find in her cookbook include:
Creamy Cheese and Basil Crostini
Crispy Kale Chips
Pork Loin Milanese with Arugula Salad
Bacon Deviled Eggs with Tuna Tartare
Pot Roast Carbonade
Each recipe has a dot index showing the cost to prepare the recipe. The more dark dots the pricier the recipe will be to prepare. An example of this is the Orange Carrot Soup recipe which received two dark dots out of five dots listed.
You will find a recipe cost index showing groups of recipes organized with color dots. The more dark dots the more expensive it is to prepare the recipe.
There is an interactive table of contents making navigation easy.
on August 22, 2012
I just knew I would LOVE adding her cookbook to my collection because I LOVE her show. She's honest, down-to-earth and realistic. Her cookbook is chock-a-block full of time and money saving tips. You don't have to be a gourmet cook to make her fabulous recipes because they don't call for weird ingredients or expensive spices that no one ever heard of and will never use again after making just one dish. And add to that the fact that she included a mini-autobiography - wonderful! Only makes her more genuine. Would not hesitate to recommend this cookbook to anyone.
on August 18, 2012
I have been a fan of Ten Dollar Dinners since the first show and I have tried many of the TV recipes. Some of the TV recipes featured in the book I have tried with great success are: California-Style Bruschetta, French Onion Soup, Parisian Cafe Salad, Salade Nicoise and Chicken a l'Orange. They are all not only inexpensive, but simple and delicious. However, she left my favorite recipe out of the book -- RATATOUILLE! It is simply the best recipe for this dish I have ever used and it is available from FN's website. I am ansious to try the new ones in the book. Well done, Melissa!
on August 22, 2012
I have tried several of Melissa's recipes from her show on the Food Network with delicious results! This cookbook is full of easy, un-intimidating recipes that I am so excited to try. Besides the recipes Melissa shares tons of money saving tips and tricks, along with smart meal planning tips. Very practical cookbook. My one complaint is that I wish there were more pictures. But overall, very well done!
I bought this cookbook about a month ago and I have made several recipies. Every one has been delicious. The "Shrimp Scampy Linguine" I have made twice and I think I could serve it weekly to my husband and not here a complaint. I also made a chicken recipe and "Citrus Butter Cookies" both delicious. The author gives information in the introduction on how she has rated the recipies for cost and throughout the book are hints on making meals from pantry staples. She even gives a list of staples to have on hand for quick and easy meals. The photos throughout are stunning and mouthwatering. This cookbook is a gem. I would give it 6 stars if I could.