The results are in: it's easy to make a great meal from the best local ingredients for $20. We were excited to try this today. We both love Marlow and Daughters and not only want to support local shops and farms but to show people that eating well does not always mean you have to spend a lot of money. Here is how we did it.
After spending a long long time staring at the gorgeous spread of meat and the baskets of produce I devised a plan. The staff was more than happy to help when they heard we were working on this project. Being that it's basically still winter, I went with a bunch of root veggies, a tiny shallot and an even smaller head of garlic, two nice portions of blade steak and splurged on a bulb of fennel. After it was all rung up we had come in under our mark by 96 cents!
We decided we would blow our coins on a sliver of cheese. The cheese weighed in at around 85 cents so we thought we were good. Back at the cash register we got the bad news. With the paper and sticker it came out to $1.12. We were over budget. Figuring that we were close enough and had already bugged the staff enough with our requests to return a potato we headed home feeling slightly defeated, knowing we could have just gotten a smaller carrot or parsnip to make our mark.
I drew up a quick game plan and got to work. Nothing fancy and using only salt, pepper and olive oil from our pantry I started chopping. I cooked the fennel, garlic and shallot in olive oil then added some water and hit them with an immersion blender to create a nice blended sauce. Then I added the cheese and some of the fennel greens. I seared the steaks and broiled the carrots, parsnips and fingerlings and plated the whole thing up into a beautiful cozy winter meal.
With some smart shopping like buying what's in season and only what you need, you can afford the best local food on a modest budget. We encourage others to try this little challenge at Marlow or your favorite local market, send your pics, recipes, stores, feedback to email@example.com, even instagram your progress to @mcgarveybarlow #20dollarchallenge, we will continue the challenge and encourage you to as well! -S
The funny punchline: after dinner I was looking at the itemized receipt to see what I could have possibly done better when I spotted a HUGE error.
Steak @ 15.75lb = 9.92
Six fingerling potatoes @ 4lb = 88 cents
Fennel bulb = $3
Two carrots @3lb =57 cents
Garlic @$12lb= 12 cents
Shallot @8.50lb= 26 cents
**Parlsey Loose at 19.50lb = 4.29 (WE DIDNT GET PARSLEY!)
Simple human error the parsley/parsnips button on the computer is dangerously close, but in our case today, good news actually because instead of walking away 12 cents over budget, we were in fact a little over $3 under our budget! Maybe a $15 challenge is in order.
Who said you can't have fresh and local for cheap? We have been challenged, so we are off to the store now to try and disprove this.
To make this more fun and likely much more difficult, we are going to our local gourmet market Marlow & Daughters in Williamsburg to purchase everything we need to cook a nice gourmet meal for two people, for $20.
The thinking behind this is to see if it's possible to eat some of the cities best food on a tight budget. Marlow always has a wonderful selection of local produce and meats but of course it's priced understandably high.
A couple rules:
All produce, meats, dairy and bread must be purchased for $20.
Exceptions are the most basic of pantry items such as oil, salt and pepper.
I've been looking forward to taco night for a while, here's my process for turning a huge chunk of pork into melt in your mouth taco filling. Mouse over the photos to see my notes. -s
Another amazing week of making soup and delivering it to friends around town. I really love creating the menu, running around finding the perfect ingredients, cooking all day and then delivering to all my local soup lovers. Thanks again everyone, I've been meeting amazing folks and forming some great relationships that will surely lead to fun collaborative projects in the near future! - S
in case you missed the menu...
1. Roasted Carrot & Peanut Soup. A slightly spicy smooth soup w/ vibrant moroccan flavors.
2. Spanish Style Fish & Chorizo. w/ basmati rise, chickpeas and tomatoes.
3. Mushroom Barley w/ big chunks of slab bacon. Because bacon is awesome.
important meeting at mel & co
WEEK 2 MENU
no.1: Smoky Potato w/bacon and leeks. A thick hearty soup that gets lots of flavor from smoked ham hocks and fennel seeds.
no.2: Vegan Kale Soup. I love kale so this might be a trend you will see. Also with white beans, tomatoes and garlic.
no.3: Ginger Chicken w/ wild rice. A classic chicken soup with carrots and celery packed with fresh ginger to fight off those pesky colds.
An update from this week....
So many soup lovers in the neighborhood! In addition to enjoying the cooking process, I really loved hand delivering each jar, what a cool way to meet people. Lots of happy people with their soup supply for the week. A couple soup delivery shout outs are Kelly Geary of Sweet Deliverance NYC and Benjamin Sargent of Brooklyn Chowder Surfer, so awesome to connect and see what projects you are working on. -s
In other news we are on Twitter now. Follow us for updates on what's cooking. Follow @mcgarveybarlow or click the twitter link above
Some pics of the soup process, we have a super happy soup maker here in brooklyn -m
Delivery: Tues Feb 26-Wed 27
1. Hearty braised pork with root vegetables. Homemade pork stock with slow braised chunks of meat, potatoes, carrots, and turnips. To make it extra healthy I will hide some kale in there too. This will be a solid winter meat and potatoes kinda soup.
2. Slow cooked red cabbage and beef short rib soup. Heavy beef flavors get brightened by hoisin, lemongrass and ginger with a touch of chili peppers to spice it up.
3. Vegetarian oven-roasted squash soup. A little creamy, a little chunky with lots of flavor. I will dry toast whole spices like cardamom, fennel, coriander and cloves then grind them myself to get the most flavor.
Request by Sunday Feb 24th- here
Everyone who knows me, knows I have a passion for making soups. Now I am trying to turn that love into a fun food project. Starting Feb 25th for a donation, I will be offering jars of fresh homemade soup and delivering them right to peoples door in South Williamsburg. -S
Our dear friends are building a home together and we got a grand tour of the progress this past weekend with our friends Anna and Ryan. The last time I had a chance to see the place, Jay was tearing through the woods on his ranger showing us the property lines...and now look! What an insane project. I'm so impressed with their dedication and attention to every detail. I can't wait to nap and bask in the sun on their living couch and know that the place around me was built with so much heart. What an inspiration these two are. -m
Also, on this trip while the rest of the crew was cozy in their beds, Ryan and Anna wanted to test out some of their new gear for their mountain climbing adventure coming up in March. They are currently training to climb Mount Rainier in Washington, an active volcano 14,410 above sea level. They had snowshoes and sleeping bags to test, it was funny at 1am Anna had already fallen asleep by the fireplace and they both rallied and powered up their headlamps to pitch their cute little tent in the snow. I can't wait to see them off and am looking forward to amazing stories from their trip. Here are a few pics they took from their adventure testing in Pawling... -m
Our friends Jay and Katie Rose invited us up to their home in Pawling for the weekend to check out the progress of the new amazing house they are building and to have a nice sunday dinner next to a roaring fire. I made a simple meal of lamb shanks braised in red wine and herbs with mashed purple potatoes and artichokes. Local legend Phil Ciganer, owner of the Towne Crier Cafe joined us to fill us in on all the exciting news about his new venture in Beacon, NY. -s
I am so in love with the giant Asian market we found in Brooklyn.
We decided to not fight the crowds in Brooklyn for a dinner reservation on Valentine's Day and just stay home and cook for some friends and roommates. I had brought down a bag of cornmeal from Maine that I was very excited about. Organic heirloom cornmeal!
I whipped up some polenta by adding some leeks, red onion, garlic and veggie stock. Once that set up I cut it up and fried it in some chicken fat I had trimmed. Served it with grilled chicken, some pan seared veggies with a small arugula and radish salad. -s
Shane is big about cooking with his kids, its adorable to watch them both getting excited about simple things like cooking peas or frying chicken. This particular night the two of them were arguing over who was going to get to dip the chicken in egg, flour and breadcrumbs. Shane says they are way better at eating all of their food when they've had a hand at preparing some of it, makes sense to me! Loved this night with them. -m
We hosted a book release party for a friend Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Events and Event space consulting. She was releasing her 2nd wedding book, a beautifully designed wedding planning binder, which you can find here. Anyway, a beautiful view, amazing food by Shane and really great company, can't ask for more. Congrats to Alison and her team!
Shane likes to style my breakfasts, he always takes the messy plate :) -m
Late summer of 2012 we had our first date. Not at all a normal date. We grilled dinner and drank beers on the roof, had a candle lit dinner then bar hopped around Williamsburg. Right away we knew there were things we needed to do together. A cook and a photographer. -s
At one point he had suggested going out for tacos because of time constraints and the long drive home. I didn't have a favorite Mexican restaurant at the time and felt like taking him to a taco truck after a 7 hour drive would just be rude. I thought maybe cooking him dinner would be an option so as a backup plan I picked up yummy meat and produce from my local spot. I gave him the option of discovering a new mexican place, cooking together or me cooking him dinner. He agreed to none. Above he says we grilled dinner, meaning he actually made me dinner on my rooftop at my apartment on our first date, the sweetest ever. -m