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Food Network Star Can Cook on the Cheap

Amanda Freitag doesn't shy away from challenges.

The executive chef of the popular Manhattan eatery, The Harrison recently battled "Early Show" contributor Bobby Flay on the Food Network's "Iron Chef." And the frequent judge on that same network's "Chopped" accepted "The Early Show Saturday Edition"'s invitation to be this week's "Chef on a Shoestring."

In that role, she sought to prepare a scrumptious, three-course meal for four on our meager budget of $40.

She also was automatically entered in another competition, our "How Low Can You Go?" The "Shoestring" chef whose ingredients' costs are lowest will be invited back to cook our whammo, blowout year-end holiday feast!

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!

• Sweet Pea Soup with Bacon and Croutons
• Chicken Fricassee
• Banana Caramel Parfait


Fricassee: A dish of meat (usually chicken) that has been sautéed in butter before being stewed with vegetables. The end result is a thick, chunky stew, often flavored with wine. (Source:

Cremini (cremino) mushrooms: A dark-brown, slightly firmer variation of the everyday cultivated white mushroom. Cremini mushrooms have a slightly fuller flavor than their paler relatives. They have a smooth, rounded cap that ranges in size from 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.The portobello mushroom is simply the fully matured form of this mushroom. The cremino is also referred to as common brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. (Source:

Arugula: Also called rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, arugula is a bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavor. Though it has long been extremely popular with Italians, American palates often find its flavor too assertive. Arugula (which resembles radish leaves) can be found in specialty produce markets and in some supermarkets. It's sold in small bunches with roots attached. The leaves should be bright green and fresh looking. Arugula is very perishable and should be tightly wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 2 days. Its leaves hold a tremendous amount of grit and must be thoroughly washed just before using. Arugula makes a lively addition to salads, soups and sautéed vegetable dishes. It's a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C. (Source:

Dulce de leche: A Latin dessert sauce made by boiling milk until it's caramel-like (Source: Dulce is Spanish for "sweet," dulce generally refers to an intensely sweet confection made with sugar and cream. Leche is the Spanish word for "milk." (Source:


Sweet Pea Soup with Bacon and Croutons

6 cups sweet peas
1 spanish onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 bunch mint
1/4 pound bacon, diced
2 slices rye bread


Begin by sautéing the Spanish onion in olive oil until soft, no color. Add peas and cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Add 4 cups water and cook until boils (approx. 7 minutes). As soon as mixture is boiling remove from the heat and add in mint leaves and puree in a blender immediately.

Dice bacon into small cubes, and sauté until crisp, drain fat from the bacon and place bacon on a paper towel and reserve. Also dice rye bread into same size cubes as the bacon and toast in the oven until golden brown.

Pour soup into the bowl and garnish with the croutons, crispy bacon and serve.

Chicken Fricassee

8 chicken legs
4 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 bunches spring onions, quartered
2 cups cooked fingerling potatoes, halved
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 bunch baby arugula
4 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat a large oven-ready sauté pan over high heat with olive oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper on both sides and dust the skin side with flour. Carefully place the chicken legs into the hot oil and let brown on the skin side for about three minutes and then turn over. Place into the oven for 15 minutes or until the juice of the chicken leg is clear when pricked.

Place chicken pan back on a medium heat and add in the spring onions and sauté. Deglaze with the chicken stock and add in the mushrooms and reduce the liquid by half. When the liquid is reduced stir in the potatoes and heat them through.

Serve 2 chicken legs per person and top with the mushroom, onion, potato mix and pan sauce that has been created.


Banana Caramel Parfait

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 bananas, sliced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
4 graham crackers


Cook the can of sweetened condensed milk covered in water on a simmer for 4 hours to create dulce de leche. This can be prepared a day in advance and held at room temperature.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt the butter and brown sugar together. Place the banana slices in the pan in a single layer and coat them with the brown sugar mix and cook for 3 minutes and reserve.

Whip the cream until it is in stiff peaks, no sugar.

In a sundae or a parfait glass start with a spoonful of bananas and then whipped cream, then a drizzle of dulce de leche and repeat. Garnish with a graham cracker and serve.

So, how did Amanda do in our "How Low Can You Go" competition?

VERY well!

Sweet Pea Soup
sweet peas $3.00
spanish onion $1.29
mint $1.29
bacon $2.99
rye bread $1.69
total $10.26

Chicken Fricassee
chicken legs $4.76
cremini mushrooms $5.98
spring onion $1.32
fingerling potatoes $2.49
chicken stock $2.79
arugula $2.50
total $19.84

Banana Caramel Parfait
sweetened condensed milk $1.59
bananas $1.20
heavy whipping cream $2.49
graham crackers $1.79
total $7.07

Grand total: $37.17

She now tops our Leaders Board!

1. Amanda Freitag $37.17
The Harrison

2. Kelly Liken $37.20
Restaurant Kelly Liken

3. Stephen Kalt $37.40

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