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Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week Paperback – August 14, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Recipe from Ten Dollar Dinners: Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

Serves 4; Preparation time: 25 minutes; Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 2 bacon strips
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 14-ounce can wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the potato and cook until a paring knife easily slips into the center of the potato, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and, once the potato is cool enough to handle, peel it and place it in a bowl. Use a fork to break up and fluff the potato. Set aside.

2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon on both sides until browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate (save the fat in a small bowl), cool, and then crumble. Place the bacon in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small skillet over low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the onion cool, then add to the bacon along with the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest, stirring to combine. Add the salmon and then the potato, mixing gently after each addition. Then form into 12 small patties.

4. In a small, shallow baking dish, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper. Press both sides of the salmon patties firmly into the bread-crumb mixture to evenly coat both sides.

5. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the salmon cakes in 2 batches until they’re golden on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total, adding more oil when necessary. Serve warm.

Amazon Asks Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d’Arabian

What's your elevator pitch for Ten Dollar Dinners?

It's about so much more than cooking with inexpensive ingredients! It's a full philosophy of spending with purpose and managing our resources wisely while nourishing our bodies.

Which new cookbooks or chef memoirs are you most excited about?

I can't wait to read Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef and Michael Symon's Carnivore.

What’s the best place you’ve eaten recently?

I had an incredibly special dinner at Uchi in Houston... truly one of the best dinners I've ever had.

What's been your most memorable author moment?

Opening the envelope that had the very first copy of my cookbook in it. I opened it with my husband, very delicately, as if it were fragile.

What other talent would you most like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

I'd love to be a genius at organization. (To do that, I think you have to be able to really think in 3-D, and I'm very linear.)

What are you obsessed with now?

Doing splits. I'm almost there!

What's your most treasured possession?

My grandma's confirmation bracelet. She gave it to me as my "something old" at my wedding, and I wear it all the time--unless I'm filming Ten Dollar Dinners. She passed away last month, so it's extra special now.

What's on your nightstand?

They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, and Alephonsian Deng.  

What's next for you?

After book tour, I'm settling into the new school year with my four daughters--and then get straight back to work on Book # 2!


“Melissa’s real life experience as a wife and mom make her the perfect person to help all of us get dinner to the table.”
“Melissa really gets it. She is a mom who knows firsthand that cooking on a budget can be delicious, inspiring, and healthy. She brings it all here with flair and the comforting presence of a good friend.”
“Who knew that something as tasty and fun as steak with caramelized onions could be so cheap and easy to make? Melissa’s Ten Dollar Dinners broadens the horizon of dinnertime possibilities and deliciousness. This is a great resource for new, affordable cooking ideas.”
“I am a father and husband before I am a chef, so when it comes to mealtime I want to use simple recipes that utilize the freshest foods possible. That’s what Ten Dollar Dinners is all about. I also like to cook with my family, which means that Melissa’s recipes are perfect for us to create together.”
“Here’s a mom, raising and feeding four cute daughters, while giving a nod to her French husband’s palate, as well as conquering the corporate world. Plus her pie crust rivals a pastry chef’s! I knew Melissa was a winner from the start. Her recipes save you money and her tips make sense—saving you time so you can go out and enjoy life as she has.”
“Melissa proves that delicious food doesn’t have to cost big bucks. I love her blend of California freshness, French flair, and frugality.”
—ROSEMARY ELLIS [editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping]

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 7/15/12 edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307985148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307985149
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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!
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Format: Paperback
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.
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