APPLYING a little, Washington jargon to the kitchen cabinet is one way to sound clever about the economy measures every cook has to talk now and then.
For instance, "trickle down turkey" means buying a boneless breast (first benefit: someone else gets the drumsticks, the wings and the giblets), taking a few slices off the end and treating them as scallopini (second benefit: it's a delicious, cheap substitute for veal) and then making hot turkey hash for Sunday brunch. Not only have you fed your guests well, but you've gotten an extra meal off it. And you might have leftovers--"surplus," that's called.
"Supply-side sourdough" is the perfect economy measure because once you put in the starter, it generates batch after batch. (Maybe you can sell it to a Russian friend.) Ditto homemade yogurt, which once begun is never finished.
I have a friend who calls her one-pot, clear-the-cupboard meals "glop," but I prefer "Third World Stew." Call your new diet "affirmative action." "Mark up a bill" the way they do in Congress--only pay half of it (or twice as much). You can work out a "pork barrel" for yourself.
Get into two-fers, the only practical form of culinary inflation. By getting two meals for one, you cut your time and expenses, and show off your ingenuity. As little time as anyone has to cook these days, why scramble from (or for) scratch every night? It's just a question of capital double-think.
Here's a two-fer that's become essential to my domestic policy: DOUBLE ENTRY DIP (Makes about 1 1/2 cups dip and 3 to 4 servings for pasta sauce)
This is a wonderful salad dressing and a seductive cocktail party nosh (spread over french bread and cheese) in its own right; but it can also be one of the world's great pasta sauces. Divide the dip in half; add a saute'ed chopped onion, pour in the liquid from a 28-ounce can of Italian tomatoes, coarsely chop the tomatoes and let the whole thing simmer until thick. Add some green herbs, a splash of red wine, maybe a little more pepper--even a can of chopped clams, if you really want to go whole quahog. 14-ounce can artichoke hearts or 2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped and drained 5 3/4-ounce can pitted black olives, drained and finely chopped 1/2 cup or more fresh or canned roasted sweet peppers, finely chopped 1 pound fresh mushrooms, finely chopped Vinaigrette dressing to coat vegetables Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Minced garlic to taste
Combine artichoke hearts, black olives, sweet peppers and fresh mushrooms. Add enough vinaigrette dressing to coat, coarsely ground black pepper to taste and minced garlic, if you like. Let ripen for an hour or so. (All the measurements are optional; use a lot of whatever you like most.) Now you can freeze it in something like those little plastic vats cream cheese and chip dip come in. SPREAD THE WEALTH (4 to 6 servings as a spread and 2 servings for pasta)
This makes enough spread for four sloppy or six more sedate bagels. Meanwhile, it leaves half of the package of salmon to shred for fancy fettucine alfredo (the oiliness of the packaged salmon makes it easy to mix with pasta). 8-ounce tub whipped cream cheese 1/2 3-ounce package smoked salmon (reserve rest for fettucine alfredo) Hot pepper sauce to taste In the food processer, blend whipped cream cheese and half (the bigger half, if there is one) of the salmon slices with a drop or two of hot pepper sauce until the spread is smooth and dotted with tiny bits of salmon. STOCK OPTIONS
If you're poaching scallops or fish in the classic wine-water-onion-celery potion, of course you'll reduce the poaching liquid for the classic sauce. But don't toss out the veggies. Put the now soft and fragrant celery (with the outer threads stripped before poaching) and onion in the food processor and pure'e. Use to add flavor and body to a dinner soup, especially a simple broth or miso-base vegetable soup. Or stir into pure'ed turnips or parsnips or celery root.
To bend Gresham's Law a little, bad food chases out good: Once you get into tuna noodle casserole, there's no going back. So take a tip from Keynes. Cook for the short run. In the long run, we'll all be catered.