Springing from a family of restauranteurs and growing up in postwar France, Pepin developed both an interest in food preparation and a sense of frugality necessitated by circumstances. His idea of economy includes time as well as money. He chooses inexpensive cuts of meat and poultry, buys seasonally to get the best prices, purchases the exact quantity needed (avoiding those dreaded leftovers that spoil in the refrigerator), and tells how to cut the time spent in the kitchen.
The best lesson in this book is that leftovers should never be re-served in their original form. With a little preplanning, fresh meals can be devised that bear no resemblance to what was left from the previous day. A whole turkey, for example, can be used as follows: the breast meat becomes scaloppine, the skin goes into escarole salad with turkey crackling, the liver appears as turkey liver toasts, the legs and wings become fricassee of dark turkey meat, and the carcass is boiled to make turkey stock soup with lettuce strips. Similar practices with other meats and poultry create great diversity in menu planning.
Garlic, onions, leeks, and herbs figure prominently in these recipes. Vegetables that grow plentifully in the home garden, such as zucchini, squash, and tomatoes, fit into numerous summer and fall recipes. Although CUISINE ECONOMIQUE is not billed as a low-calorie cookbook, many of the recipes included here suit a low-calorie or low-fat diet. Pepin’s suggestions for penny-pinching in the kitchen become fun, whether a necessity or not, and his novel combinations of ingredients give flavor and interest to the food.