Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Frugal Gourmet Retread - Jeff Smith

When I came back to the U.S. from college overseas in the 80's, I became a type of "househusband". While my hairdresser gf was at work, my duties included vacuuming a one bedroom apartment and preparing a gourmet dinner with appropriate wine pairings. My culinary skill at that time could be described as "collegiate bachelor" (I had almost succumbed to PIZZACIDE on numerous occasions). As has so many times come my rescue, TV was there for me: every weekday afternoon on KERA a slew of talented chefs doled out inventive and informative kitchen knowledge. Jaques Pepin taught me which knife to use and how to use it, Justin Wilson taught me the seductive, invaluable allure of the pepper, and Jeff Smith showed me how to celebrate the world and its cultures through cuisine. They opened up a new world for me - and in a year I could kick out an Ossobuco alla milanese, a Blackened Steak, or a champagne brunch. I was well on my way to becoming "domesticated".

Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet, served as a touchstone for common sense, joy, and humor in the kitchen. His fall from grace was traumatic and unbelievable.

Jeff Smith's OBIT in the SEATTLE TIMES

Jeff Smith
Acclaimed 1980s TV celebrity and chef known as "The Frugal Gourmet" and the shortened nickname "The Frug"; owner of Chaplain's Pantry in Tacoma, Washington, in the 1970s, was an ordained Protestant minister. Jeff's national television career took off when he appeared on the Phil Donahue Show; his popular TV show was the most watched cooking show in the US at the time. Author of a dozen successful cookbooks, including The Frugal Gourmet, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, and The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American. Died in 2004.

"I know that most of us believe that corn on the cob cries out for fresh butter. But, in order to cut down on the cholesterol, try this: Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add a bit of crushed garlic. Do not let the garlic brown, but let it cook a tiny bit. Brush that on your corn and you won't miss the butter at all. In fact, I think that you will prefer the garlic oil."

"Try to buy the herbs and spices that you use most requently in bulk, and then put them in your own spice bottles. The saving realized here is about 70 percent. Hard to believe, but it is true."

Extracted from: Smith, Jeff. The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, William Morrow and Company, Inc., NY, 1987.

"How can people say they don't eat eggplant when God loves the color and the French love the name? I don't understand."

"The squid is so cooperative. Its body forms a tube that can be stuffed with marvelous fillings. You don't have to be Greek to enjoy this one."

"Slaves were taught to be fine chefs, but they endangered their lives if they made a mistake or served an ill-prepared dish. Rather than being reprimanded, they were often hauled into the dining room and flogged in the presence of the guests."

Extracted from: Bay Gourmet website, (

"Remember that a grill is different from a griddle in that the griddle has ridges so that the food does not lie flat on the cooking surface. A griddle, on the other hand, is simply a flat cooking surface."

"Herbs and spices are some of the most important ingredients in your kitchen. Try to keep them as fresh as possible, so don't buy them in large amounts. Keep them in tightly sealed jars. Try to buy most herbs and spices whole or in whole-leaf form; they have much more flavor that way. Crush the leaves as you add them to the pot. Or use a wooden or porcelain mortar and pestle."

Extracted from: Smith, Jeff, The Frugal Gourmet Whole Family Cookbook, William Morrow & Company, NY, 1992.


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