Gourmet dinners from the $0.99 store

Like frugal chef Christiane Jory, who wrote a gourmet cookbook using products only from the 99 Cent Only store.

"I just moved into this apartment and I was in between jobs and I was broke," Jory said.

So we went to the discount store on La Brea, where she mapped out her culinary journey.

The first stop: the fancy food section, with sauces, smoked seafood, organic vegetables, spices and jams like Kiwi Preserves.

There are plenty of non perishable gourmet goodies but surprisingly, some discount stores now carry milk, whip cream and other refrigerated items along with produce.

"I got raspberries and blackberries. Those are normally 4 to 5 bucks. Bertolli's are like 8 bucks," shopper Barbara Sanchez said.

Yet Sanchez found each for a penny shy of a dollar, paying just $65 for a full cart.

All of this would easily be $120-$150 at a regular store.

Back at her apartment, Jory featured her finds by creating a party spread. Roasted corn salsa in cherry tomatoes, spicy sesame noodles, spinach artichoke puffs and chicken balls with peanut pesto dip.

Her newest creation: a pineapple ham caramelized onion tart, with bread pudding topped with espresso cream for dessert.

All 99 Cent Store creations.

"My main point for doing this book is for inspiration, think outside the box," Jory said. "Because originally it was how to have a cocktail party and let's be hip for cheap, and now it's lets survive together."

It took her six years to perfect recipes, relying only on foods in boxes, cans and jars as that's what the store stocked.

But canned foods are not necessarily a bad thing. These foods go to the field to the factory in a flash keeping in good taste and nutrients with no risk of spoilage. So you can stock up on the sauces and the spices for your own 5 Star soiree, all the while pinching pennies till they scream.

You can find the "99 Cent Only Cookbook" by Christiane Jory on amazon.com.

Violet's Morning Cake
8 Servings
Cost - approx. $1.99

1 (18.24 oz.) box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe butter recipe cake mix
3 Country eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) Imperial margarine
2/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon Spice Classics orange extract
1 cup Deluxe apricot jam

1. Prepare two 9" cakes according to instructions on box, adding the orange extract to the batter.
2. Let cool. Spread the apricot jam on the top of one cake and put the other cake on top of it.
3. Wrap tightly and refrigerate. Serve with coffee or tea.

Christiane says her grandfather ate a piece of this every morning. Her grandmother used to make it from scratch. The apricot jam is the special touch.


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