Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mardi Gras Cuisine with The 99 Cent Chef

You are in for a movable feast during this Cajun holiday called Mardi Gras, and today is the culmination: Fat Tuesday. Read on and watch for my videos to see some delish Cajun recipes, plus I'll even give you a personal Po' Boy Sandwich Tour of New Orleans. So scroll on down!

 Click on any photo to see larger.

I lived in Gonzales, Louisiana during my high school daze. I didn't know what to expect when our family moved there from Texas. I did some wild stuff over the next four years and ate a lot of down-home Cajun cooking. The video below takes place in a local flea market, so check it out to get the flavor of the place.



I hitchhiked with my high school buddy Marvin to New Orleans for Mardi Gras during school break. Back then it was all about grabbing a Po'boy sandwich, listening to music, catching some beads thrown down by inebriated revelers perched behind French Quarter iron wrought balconies or Mardi Gras parade floats, and getting a good buzz (we were underage, so no booze, but we found other ways.)

Chef, Marvin & Dennis - high school buddies

We knew no fear and locals were friendly enough - even picking us up: a couple of hitchhiking long-haired teenagers. One memorable ride was in a hand-painted hippie Volkswagon van were the college aged driver wearing tie-dye, and cool chicks in tight bell bottom jeans in the back bench seat passing around a doobie, before dropping us off in the city.


Now, I'm much more tame. Check out the video below to see how I slowly roll these days, when I visit New Orleans in search of a delicious Po' Boy Sandwich with my high school bud, Marvin.


You will get a street-level experience of the Big Easy and the eccentric locals from my documentary short.


 New Orleans Po'  Boy Tour

I know you are here for the recipes, too, and boy do I have a pirogue boatful. Between Mom and my Cajun line-cooking nephews, Matt and Zakk, I got that covered.

When I visit Gonzales Louisiana to see my Cajun family, it's a party. And this first recipe is made with a beer flavored sauce. Warning, in the video we had to go through a Party Pack of Abita beer to find just the right flavor.


My nephew Matt has been cooking for years now and has some major culinary skillz. I'll let him give you the low down on a Southern classic Shrimp and Grits video recipe (click here for recipe photos and text.)


Shrimp & Grits Recipe


The cheapest Cajun entree is Red Beans and Rice -- made by my Southern friend Miss Patti. She is a vegetarian with a menagerie of critters she keep on her property just outside the city of New Orleans.

For real New Orleans-style Red Beans you should use the brand of beans called Camellia. But if you can't find them, it's okay to use any cheap red kidney beans.

We always have a good time together and you will too watching us cook together. Recipe details are a click away, here.


 Red Beans and Rice

 Mom knows Cajun cuisine best. And she is here to share a few with you right now.


It's best to start at the beginning and here's the first recipe we did together, Jambalaya.


I make this recipe the most. Nothing too it: just brown chicken pieces and sausage with a whole chopped onion. Finally add rice and water to make the best comfort food ever. Well this is my Mom's version of Jambalaya (click here to read all about it.)


 Jambalaya

 Mom also makes a killer Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. The trick is all in the deep chocolate colored roux - actually just flour that's slowly browned in oil.


I'll let Mom explain in the video below (the recipe text is here.)


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

My other line cooking nephew, Zakk, knows how to blacken fish the Cajun way. And boy does he do a skillful job at it, as my video below will show. He also throws in a mind blowing  side of Sweet Potato Hash.


 Zakk's recipe is a family affair were his Mom and my Mom make a noshing appearance. So do check out his delicious Cajun recipes below and click here for all the written details.



I can't actually remember all the good times I've had during my Mardi Gras high school years, it gets a little foggy. If you are not in New Orleans today attending the glittery festivities, you can still have a tasty good time - if you remember to bookmark this page and come back to make my Cajun Mardi Gras meals. And Laissez les bons temps rouler!

New Orleans Po' Boy Dining:
Short Stop Po-Boys - 119 Transcontinental Drive (near New Orleans Airport)
Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Phone: (504) 885-4572
Website: http://www.shortstoppoboys.com

Mother's Restaurant - 401 Poydras
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Phone: (504) 523-9656
Website: http://www.mothersrestaurant.net

Parasol's Bar and Restaurant - 2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone:(504) 302-1543
Website: http://www.parasolsbarandrestaurant.com

For a tasty local Los Angeles Po' Boy try The Gumbo Pot in the Mid-City located Farmer's Market. $8.75 for Shrimp or Oyster, and $9.75 for Mixed. For menu click here. Warning, the seafood Po' Boys have a sour bite because of inserted sliced lemon -- I usually take the slices out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Superbowl Recipes - Touchdown!

Head to the end zone for a long pass of recipes from The Culinary Quarterback. Are you ready for Superbowl Sunday? The Fried Pig Skin Lovin' Chef has some tasty football food that will leave enough green in your wallet to buy an extra keg for your tailgate party.

Just click on any recipe name below to see what I mean. There are no fumbles in this recipe list!

Next to pizza and hotdogs, Fried Chicken is a fan favorite. And I've come up with a crunchy coating that will empty the bleachers and have fans storming the kitchen! Kickoff Superbowl Sunday with my Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe or use my special flour and spice mix for regular bone-in chicken parts.


Fans will take a half-time break and huddle around your cast iron pot of my fragrant and spicy Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya and Cajun Gumbo. Or, go straight up the middle with a tray of Teriyaki Spam Musubi. Weave through the living room backfield with a pile of Mexican Carnitas Tacos (slow-cooked pork) and you'll be lucky to make it through without being sacked!

Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

For all you Carolina Panther fans I have the prefect recipe for you, a succulent and smoky BBQ Pulled Pork recipe.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

I use regular BBQ sauce, but you will want to serve a local mustard/vinegar/brown sugar sauce for the home team. My Pulled Pork recipe is easy and cheap to make, of course. Just check out the video below or click here to see all the tasty recipe details.



If fish is on your mind then hook your bleacher bums with some of my homemade Sushi Recipes. Try tackling a Spicy Tuna or California Roll. How about setting up a sideline station of chopped veggies and fresh fish and roll your own delicious Hand Rolls? It's easier than you think, and I have simple photo-illustrated instructions a click away, here.


While everyone's watching the pre-game show send in any of my delicious sideline sides, including: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Tomato & Basil Bruschetta, Deviled Eggs, Portabella Mushroom Fries, Sweet Fried Plantains, Ceviche with Avocado and Black Beans, and Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.


Denver Bronco fans will eat up my omelets. Now, while I don't have a Denver Omelet recipe, you can use my French-style Omelette one and add the prerequisite sauteed bell pepper, onion, cheddar cheese and ham.



Or just click here to see my Veggie Frittata recipe that will feed all your hungry team players (again, just add some ham pieces to fill out the frittata.)


East Coast revelers will eat up my riff on a Lobster Roll -- a cheaper Scallop Roll. And if fans can't make it to Denver for game day, then throw another log on the fire and gather in front of the big screen with a steaming bowl of my cheap$kate Clam Chowder.

 Scallop Roll

Los Angeles locals know an LA Street Dog will not get flagged. And, everyone will huddle around sandwich plates of gooey, cheesy Patty Melts, hearty Meatball Subs, Homemade Deli Pastrami, Falafel Pitas, and steaming Sloppy Joe's.


If you're looking for one pot meals, so you don't miss any action on the field, just check out my Pork Bourguignon, French Cassoulet, Chicken Tinga StewMr. Patti's Red Beans & Rice, Baked Pasta with Cheese and Cauliflower, Baked Lasagna with Ground Chicken, Shepherd's Pie, or Sausage & Sauerkraut with Beer recipes.

Baked Lasagna with Ground Chicken

 Looking for a sneak-play recipe? How about a different twist on Buffalo Wings with my African Spiced Water Buffalo Wings? This original recipe features chicken legs, but you can substitute wings.


The Cheap$kate Chef's Turkey & Black Beans Chili recipe will add extra points on your scoreboard for flavor. Make it spicy, but be sure to have an ice chest full of brews for all your bench-warming guests. And don't forget to send in from this Whisk Welding Coach a most versatile of plated plays, the Pita Pizza -- a varied list of toppings you can use would fill the coaches chalkboard.

Pita Pizza

Tired of stale, soggy stadium hot dogs? I have a great and easy Corn Dog Recipe made with Vienna sausages -- but you can use regular wieners. There will be no fumbles as your hungry guests dip these crunchy coated pig skins into my tasty honey-mustard sauce.

Since you have the fryer going you might as well make a batch of my Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They're as light and airy as the Goodyear blimp.

So get your backfield in motion and click on any of my tasty treat names above to watch an instant reply of recipes from my blog. Your guest will be cheering you on -- from their cheap seats!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wife Approved Recipe - Trader Joe's Curried White Deli Chicken Salad


My wife loves Trader Joe's Curried White Deli Chicken Salad, and so do I. She will often chastise me after I finish off the small tub of leftovers she leaves in the refrigerator - hey, it's her own dang fault for not hiding it better!


She shops at Trader Joe's more than any other grocery store. If you don't know Trader Joe's, it has a fanatical following (like In-n-Out Burger) here in Los Angeles, and it's even spread to New York City, after a store opened there a few years ago. (Click here for the website.)

They carry specialized frozen and fresh packaged foods, locally baked bread, organic veggies and fruit, hormone-free meat, chicken and fish, along with a huge selection of exotic beer, wine and spirits.

They my be best know for introducing the tasty 2 Buck Chuck line of wine (no longer 2 bucks, but still cheap) that is the favorite beverage of starving artist and actors, served at parties, dorm rooms, and gallery openings. There is even a popular cookbook series devoted to Trader Joe grocery store ingredients (see them here.) Check out  below a few stocked items.






Wall of Cheese

Well, I picked Trader Joe's recipe lock for my latest cheap$kate treasured bite. What makes Trader Joe's Curried White Chicken Deli Salad so good is the disparate flavorful contents. You have green onions and raisins, cashew nuts, garlic powder, lime juice and shredded carrots, with chicken, all in a mayo, mustard, honey and curry sauce. Whew, it shouldn't all work together, but boy does it ever.


This chicken salad will quickly move up the ladder on you favorites list. It's crunchy with cashews, creamy with mayo, and so flavorful with cumin or curry spice, plus an added sweet touch of honey. Especially when I can make almost twice as much, for less than the price of Trader Joe's eleven ounces at $3.99!


And luckily I can get almost all the package listed ingredients from my local 99c only Store. I bought a chicken breast on sale for 99 cent per pound at my local Latin market and poached it in water. Or, you can use any leftover chicken from a roast you buy in the deli section of your local grocery. (Using dark meat is the cheapest, but still tasty, way to go.)


I always find small packages of nuts. This recipe calls for cashews, but regular cooked peanuts are a cheap substitution. If you buy salted nuts, I recommend rinsing off the salt, then allowing them to dry. Too much salt will overwhelm the chicken salad.


Chicken and nuts are the most expensive ingredients, while raisins, green onions, shredded carrots, mayo and mustard are cheap enough. You need curry and garlic powder, but I find ground cumin has all the curry flavor you need. (I also find prepared curry powder cheaply at my local India or Middle Eastern mom and pop groceries.)


My Curried White Chicken Deli Salad is not as yellow as Trader Joe's version because turmeric powder is used. While this spice adds another level of flavor, it also adds a yellow tint. But I find the overall taste is close enough to Trader Joe's chicken salad, even without it. If you have turmeric in your spice rack then go ahead and add a teaspoon. I'm not replicating their recipe exactly, I'm more concerned about the overall flavor and using ingredients any of my visitors can find for the right price.

I make this as I would a regular mayo-based chicken or tuna salad, just adding the extra ingredients listed above. The ingredient amounts are the main mystery. Hmmm, I'm just guessing the balance, but I think it's close enough. And you can always adjust any ingredient amount to suit your own taste buds.


This recipe is wife approved, so I know everyone will like it. And don't let Trader Joe's know that I ripped off their Curried White Chicken Deli Salad recipe and made it for almost half the price, I don't want to get banned from getting their 2 Buck Chuck Chardonnay!

Ingredients (3-4 servings. Yeah right, like it will last that long!)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast - I poached a large half-breast. Okay to use roasted chicken from your favorite grocery store. Poaching dark meat chicken is a tasty and cheaper way to go.
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts - if salted, then rinse them off and allow the nuts to dry. Okay to substitute with cheaper roasted and shelled peanuts.
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of shredded carrot - I used packaged. You can thin "matchstick" slice a carrot, or hand-shred it with a veggie shredder.
  • 2 green onions - chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mayo - okay to add more or less for desired creamyness.
  • 1 teaspoon mustard - any type. I used coarse ground mustard.
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin or curry powder - I find ground cumin is the cheap and easy way to go, as it is close enough to regular powdered curry (which can be hard to get.) If you have turmeric then add a teaspoon for color and extra flavor.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder - or granulated garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice - fresh or from a bottle.
  • 1 teaspoon honey - or any favorite sweetener.


Directions

Roughly chop or shred cooked chicken breast. Total amount should be about 2 cups. You can use deli store bought roasted chicken, or follow my chicken poaching method below.

I bought a large half-breast of raw chicken. I filled a pot of water halfway covering the chicken breast. Season it with salt and pepper (or any favorite spices and aromatic veggies like onion and garlic.) Put a lid on the pot and low boil the breast about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, depending how large the breast is. You can slice into the thickest part of the chicken breast to make sure it cooks all the way through.


When chicken is fully cooked remove and allow it to cool so you can handle it. (And save the homemade chicken broth for a tasty soup, like my veggie loaded Mexican Calabasitas, a click away here.)

While chicken is cooking you can prepare the other ingredients. Chop 2 green onions and shred a carrot, unless you buy shredded carrot in a bag.


If roasted cashew nuts are salted, then rinse them off under water then allow them to dry out.

When chicken is cooled down after cooking, then remove the meat from the breastbone. Pull off the skin and any fatty pieces and discard. Finally, slice or shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. (Do the same if you use dark meat.)


Now time to bring it all together.

Add into a large bowl the sliced and cubed chicken, along with chopped green onion, raisins and cashews.

Add a teaspoon of mustard. Spoon on 1/2 cup of mayo. (After everything is mixed together, taste it as see if you want more mayo - if so, then add a teaspoon at a time to desired creamyness.)


Sprinkle on the cumin (or curry powder) and garlic powder. Finally drizzle on a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice, and a teaspoon of honey, or a favorite sweetener.


Mix well. That's it.

Best to refrigerate the Curried White Chicken Deli Salad for a couple of hours, so the spices and other flavors intensify. Store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I like this chicken salad served with crackers. You can put it on sandwich bread or in pita bread. Also, try adding a couple scoops to a favorite leafy salad.

Hindsight
Again adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. If you want a lighter curry taste then take away some ground cumin, curry, or turmeric powder.

Same goes for honey, mayo and mustard. Add a little at a time, then taste. Using less, or no honey, is okay as raisins add a good amount of sweetness.

Also stretch it out with more carrot, raisins and green onions - you could even add some celery or apple. If you like a lot of protein then add more chicken.

Substitute regular roasted peanuts instead of more expensive cashew nuts. You can taste the difference when fresh made, but after a day, or so, the curry flavor takes over and any nuts will taste the same.

I've made Trader Joe's Curried White Chicken Deli Salad with dark meat. There recently was a great sale at my Latin grocery store for skinless and boneless leg quarters (thigh and leg combined) for 88 cents per pound! While white meat is more common in chicken salads, I like dark meat, as it's more moist than white meat. You can poach a leg quarter and chop it for this salad. Dark meat has more fat that you can easily remove if necessary.


This recipe is easy to double the ingredient amounts. Although, you may not want to exactly double the mayo, mustard and cumin (curry powder,) just add a little more at a time and taste.
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