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Be Your Own Restaurant


Whether it’s Per Se or Chinese takeout, restaurant meals are the black hole of New Yorkers’ discretionary spending. Personal chef and cooking instructor John Scoff of Home Cooking New York ( can help. For $300 for a 2.5-hour lesson, he’ll come to your apartment and show you how to cook a fast, easy, inexpensive, and delicious meal. Here, Scoff tells us how to make a home version of Morandi’s salmon al vino rosso.

Go with wild Atlantic Salmon; it’s got the most fat, and fat is flavor. The fish should look wet and shiny when you buy it, not dull or dry. Ask for a thick steak cut from the center. Instead of roasting the fish, do it on the stovetop in a ten-inch nonstick skillet. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil on high heat, until the oil starts to smoke. Now lower the flame to medium, season the salmon with salt and pepper, place it in the pan skin side up, and sear it for two to three minutes. When it’s crispy take it out of the pan and set it aside. In the same pan, throw in a chopped shallot, then cremini or shiitake mushrooms. Cut a yellow summer squash into half-moon shapes a quarter-inch thick. Artichokes are a pain to prepare, so get the cocktail ones from the prepared-foods section. Rinse off the marinade, because you never really know what’s in there, quarter them, and add to the pan. To make a pan sauce, you need to add an acid like red wine. Dribble a little Cabernet or Merlot (not “cooking wine”) into the pan to deglaze it; it’ll pull all the tasty little fish bits into your sauce. When the wine’s evaporated, add a half a cup of chicken stock. Take some basil leaves and tear them—don’t cut them or they’ll turn black—and add to the vegetables. When the stock boils, put the salmon back in skin side down, reduce the heat, and let cook for a minute with the lid on. If you can’t tell a fish is done from sight, use a meat thermometer. A nice medium salmon should read 150 degrees. Before you take out the vegetables, add a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and let it melt before adding salt and pepper again. Now add more salt and pepper. Home cooks tend to underseason.

Annual Savings: $1,248
(Based on two $24 entrées per week, minus two homemade entrées, $12, per week.)


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