Sunday, October 14, 2018

Best Lamb Curry with Vegetables - Video Recipe

My latest recipe is loaded with veggies, too. Lamb Curry with Vegetables starts with a basic meat curry, then when that is ready I add the veggies and finish it up - so my latest recipe is a twofer: Lamb Curry, and Lamb Curry with Veggies.

Curry comes in all flavors depending on the region of origin, from India to Thailand. I am making a simple India-style curry. Even in India, curries vary from region to region.

I make a basic Lamb Curry with spices, coconut milk, tomato sauce, onion and garlic. All I do is saute the meat and onion, add liquids and spices, then cover and simmer the Curry about 2 hours until the lamb is tender.

And I build a basic curry powder from scratch, but if you have access to pre-made curry powder then it's okay to use it. The spices I use are mostly easy to get and include: ground cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander. It's okay to mix and match my curry ingredients. If you don't have coriander then leave it out. Spices can be expensive, but I'm lucky to have  99c only Stores to shop in.

The main curry powder ingredient is ground cumin, if that's all you can get, then use only that- all the other spices just make the curry powder more complex.

Click on any photo to see larger.

For a richer curry I add coconut milk or cream, and tomato sauce. This adds sweet and acidic layers of flavor. I've also make curry sauce without these, as well. I get both ingredients from my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

For meat, I sometimes splurge with pricy, pungent lamb. You can substitute with cheap chicken or pork.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I fill out this Lamb Curry with a lot of  cheap veggies that include: onion, bell pepper, carrot and potato.

You can add any fave veggies you like, such as: spinach, cauliflower, squash, and green beans. My local Latin market has great deals on veggies.

After my basic Lamb Curry is done, I add the veggies and cook about another 45 minutes. You can cook the veggies less time if you like them with some crunch.

I don't make this recipe too often as lamb is a bit expensive, but sometimes I gotta have a Lamb Curry with Vegetables -- damn the price!

Best Lamb Curry with Vegetables - Video

Play it here. Video runs 4 minutes, 46 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (about 2-3 servings)
  • 1 to 2 pounds of lamb  - slice to bite sizes. Okay to substitute any meat, including chicken, turkey, beef and pork.) The balance of meat to veggies is up to you.
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder - okay to substitute cumin with a favorite curry powder  (if you use a pre-mix curry powder, then leave out the other spices that follow.)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger - or fresh chopped ginger.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - okay to use a cinnamon stick.
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 13.5 ounces coconut milk or cream - one regular size can.
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce - one small can.
  • 1 onion chopped - white, yellow or red onion.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic - chopped (jar or fresh.) Okay to use garlic powder.
  • 1 bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 carrot - chopped
  • 1 potato - chopped. I used a large russet potato.
  • 1 tablespoon oil - to saute lamb.
  •  1 cup of water or broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Other curry spices - garam masala, chili powder and turmeric. About a teaspoon each. Okay to mix and match what you like to make a curry powder, but always start with a tablespoon of cumin.

Slice lamb into bite-sized pieces. Okay to trim off some fat and remove bone. I like to keep most of the fat and leave bone in for extra flavor.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a medium heated pan. Add lamb and brown one side about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot the pan is.

As meat browns, roughly chop one onion. Once meat is brown on one side then add the chopped onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add curry spices, including: cumin, ginger, cumin, cinnamon and coriander. Okay to use a favorite pre-mixed curry powder.

click on any photo to see larger

Salt and pepper to taste, then add chopped fresh garlic or garlic powder. Mix well and saute dried spices and garlic for a minute or so.

Add one can of coconut milk or cream, a small can of tomato sauce, and a cup of water or broth. Mix well and bring up to a low simmer.

Cover and cook until lamb is tender, about 2 hours. Other types of meat may cook quicker. Chicken takes about an hour. Check from time to time, making sure liquid does not cook out. Add a little water or broth if needed.

The idea is to make a simple Lamb Curry with onion and spices, and cook it until tender. Then you add rest of veggies and cook them just enough to slightly soften.

 If you added all the veggies at once, in the beginning, they would cook until way too mushy for my taste.

While Lamb Curry cooks, chop the rest of veggies. After the lamb is tender, add chopped bell pepper, carrot and potato. You can add any favorite veggies you like including: cauliflower, green beans, squash and spinach.

Bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook veggies until they reach desired tenderness, about half hour to 45 minutes.

I like to serve my Lamb Curry and Veggies over rice.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Jambalaya Shoppe - Swamp Chef Cheap$kate Review

The Swamp Chef was literally born on the bayou. You've heard of a brother from another mother? Well, the 99 Cent Chef and the Swamp Chef are lads from different dad! Now, that's a story Mom will have to tell on another day.

Both chefs know how to eat cheaply, too. While the 99 Cent Chef is a city boy from Los Angeles feasting on street tacos, the Swamp Chef roams the backroads and swamps of the South, digging deep for fried and long simmering Cajun eats.

When I'm in Louisiana visiting Mom, I often run into the Swamp Chef and am only too happy to tag along and shoot him trying out the local cuisine.

Our first video together is done in Gonzales, Louisiana, known as the Jambalaya Capital of the World.

You can get Cajun-style Jambalaya all over town, but for the cheapest and tastiest look no further than The Jambalaya Shoppe.

Click on any photo to see larger.

 It is a small roadside stand with friendly service. Click here to read a nice article about their 26th Anniversary. And since the food is pre-cooked, your order is ready in a couple of minutes. And don't worry, Jambalaya tastes even better when it has been setting a while.

Cajun-style Jambalaya is different than Creole-style. There is no tomato sauce in Cajun-style Jambalaya - just meat, seasonings and rice.  You can go to New Orleans for tomato Creole-style Jambalaya.

Of course, the locals make Jambalaya the way they like it, usually with sauteed onion, garlic and Cajun seasonings. As for meat you can get chicken and smoked sausage, or pork and smoked sausage. For this Cheap$kate Review, the Swamp Chef got Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.

You can get only Jambalaya for $6, or order a plate that comes with Cajun Potato Salad and White Beans with a small white bread Dinner Roll for $7. It's a cheap and hearty plate that will fill you right up!

The White Beans are creamy tender - almost mushy, but in a rich flavorful way. They are mild tasting and not spicy.

And the Potato Salad is Cajun-style, that is, creamy with mayo and mustard, and the potato chunks extra soft. Our Mom has a delish version a click away, here.

As mentioned earlier the Jambalaya is a dry version, kinda like Dirty Rice or a Chinese stirfry rice. The rice soaks up the browning from the meat - that is the trick to making a Cajun-style Jambalaya. You can see how our Mom does hers another click away, here.

Jambalaya meat is either chicken or chunks of tender pork and sausage. Louisiana is known for meaty and pungent Andouille sausage, but this is closer to regular mild smoked sausage, although it's a chunky and rough ground link like Andouille sausage.

The links are on the small size, but you get plenty of slices. Cajun food is spicy, but this Jambalaya is not, so go ahead and feed the kids, and set out Louisiana hot sauce for the grown ups.

You can order large buckets of Jambalaya if you are throwing a party or have visitors. They have a few other menu items that come and go depending on the season, like Gumbo and Pastalaya (just like rice Jambalaya, but made with spaghetti.) I've had it all there and have not been disappointed.

You don't come here for the ambiance, you come here to chow down! Locals get Jambalaya to go, but there's a picnic table if you can't wait. And one word of warning, don't wait until the end of the day to get yours, often they will close early because they run out of Jambalaya.


You can visit their website to see what's happening foodwise and get the exact address and serving hours. There are a dozen Jambalaya Shoppes in the area, now.

It was a hot day in Louisiana when I shot the Swamp Chef, but there is a local favorite way to cool things off...a drive-thru frosty Daiquair stop. Since I was shooting, we got the Happy Hour 2 for 1 special that day. We both like a White Russian, made with coffee and chocolate flavors and milk, plus plenty of Everclear alcohol -- Ooh, Wee.

If you have never had a local drive-thru Daiquiri think of a 7-Eleven convenience store Slurpee, with a boozy kick. Daiquiris come in many fruit flavors too, Mom likes her Strawberry Daiquiri, which you can see us getting ours, here.

After picking up the Daiquiris, I followed the Swamp Chef to Jambalaya Park in Gonzales. We sat ourselves down and shot the Cheap$kate Dining Review for my food blog. And how does a Jambalaya Plate with Cajun Potato Salad and White Beans by The Jambalaya Shoppe rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best?

Well, check out my video below of the Swamp Chef to find out! And be sure to come back soon, I have more Swamp Chef episodes on the way.

Jambalaya Shoppe Cheap$kate Review - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 4 minutes 46 seconds

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

My favorite Jambalaya Shoppe is here:
1503 N. Airline Hwy.
Gonzales, LA 70737
phone: 225-647-6050

Restaurant Hours
Monday-Wednesday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

*They sometimes close early if Jambalaya sells out!

Jambalaya Shoppe website is

Monday, October 1, 2018

National Taco Day - Recipes & Reviews

Today is National Taco Day, the most hallowed of culinary days in my cocina (kitchen.) I can have tacos morning, noon and night. So read on and you'll know what I mean - just click on any taco name, or highlighted text, to see all the tasty details from my blogpost recipe or review.

In the morning it's spicy Mexican chorizo with scrambled eggs and refried beans nestled into a warm corn tortilla.

Breakfast Tacos

And my Chorizo & Egg Taco is about as cheap as you can get. I get Mexican chorizo from the 99c only Store natch, and all kinds too, like beef, pork and even soy (which is a recent favorite.) Eggs still show up at my local Dollar Tree.

The simplest breakfast taco to make is one made of Scrambled Eggs & Refried Beans. You can used canned refried beans or make my Homemade Mexican-style Pinto Beans.

And for Breakfast Tacos, it all about the salsa toppings. I like salsa from a jar, but sometime I just gotta go for it and make my own Homemade Salsa, and it's easy to do.

I'm ready to party on this auspicious day, and when this cheap$kate does it you can bet pennies will be pinched without a sacrifice in flavor. For my backyard soirée it's my favorite taco: a slow-cooked pork Carnitas. Just check out my video below to see what I'm writing about.

I buy a 5 to 6 pound budget pork shoulder, and I can get a couple dozen tacos out of it, too.

 And boy it's the perfect budget recipe that your friends and neighbors will line up for. You let them do most of the work -- they get to build each taco to suit their taste. I like to set out some chopped onion and cilantro. You can make your taco bar any way you like, go ahead and add a bowl of shredded cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato, and a cheap jar of salsa, too.

Chicken is one cheap protein. My Chicken Tinga recipe will have your guest coming back for seconds...and thirds! Chicken Tinga is a stew simmered in tomato sauce with a can of spicy chipotle peppers, but you can make a mild version with a can of enchilada sauce.

 Chicken Tinga

One of my most unique tacos came about one summer while on vacation at our spectacular national parks in Utah. I stopped to eat and had an Indian Frybread Taco. Frybread is flour dough that's rolled out and deep fried. You top the frybread with chili beans, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

Frybread Taco

Carne Asada, or grilled steak, is a favorite taco of mine. Just make my marinade for thin sliced steak, let it set for an hour, then slap it on the grill. After the Carne Asada is done you chop it up and serve on a corn tortilla

Carne Asada Taco

The marinade is a simple mix of lime juice, oil, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper.

Drive anywhere in Los Angeles and you will see taco trucks, sidewalk taco vendors, and taquerias on almost every street. And I've stopped at most of them. What follows are a few of my faves - with a few recipes I cribbed from them, too.

When I moved to Los Angeles over 40 years ago, I discovered the taco truck. Boy, have they evolved over the years. In the beginning it was just hamburgers and tacos made with ground beef. Well, that all changed about 9 years ago when a hotel chef named Roy Choi, who was down but not out, rebounded from couch surfing to start Kogi Taco Truck.

A fellow co-conspirator came up with the idea of a Korean taco, and Roy Choi assembled the taco ingredients of Korean barbecue short ribs with an kimchi-style coleslaw, served on corn tortillas. His truck was an instant hit, and Kogi jump-started the ongoing nouveau taco truck renaissance.

Kogi is still around and I still love them. Check out my video below, where I hang out night and day, for L.A.'s most uniquely mouthwatering taco.

Inspired by Kogi's mashup of Korean BBQ and Mexican Tacos, I came up with the Loxaco, that combines Jewish and Mexican cuisines.

A Loxaco is comprised of homemade lox (cured salmon) in a fast food crunchy taco shell topped with cream cheese and thin sliced red onion. I introduced this preposterous concoction at a book signing in Libros Schmibros, a lending library in East Los Angeles. How did it go over with book lovers? The following video is a twofer, you get a recipe plus a literary happening scene.

After a double feature at my fave art house cinematheque like the Egyptian or New Beverly Theater, on the way home I swing by Leo's Taco for a few al pastor pork tacos. They just cost a $1.25, and the line can be long, now that the word is out.

This is porcine perfection on a paper plate. It's tender and flavorful grilled marinated pork, that's cooked in front of a gas grill called a trompo. A cook manning the grill slices off thin slivers, finishing the taco with flare: a flying slice of pineapple. Check out the yummy action below.

I've followed the Two Hot Tamales from the beginning, when the Border Grill was in a storefront with half a dozen tables on Melrose Avenue. Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are fixtures on the L.A. dining scene who jumped on the taco truck train, bringing their neuvo take on Mexican cuisine to four wheels. They primarily park their taco truck in the environs of Silicon Valley West Coast, Santa Monica.

My Tacos El Primo video review has gone viral. That means this YouTube video gets thousands of views per month - right now it is pushing half a million. Why? I'm not sure. Let's see... in this video I review Buche and Tripas tacos, or tacos made from slow-cooked stomach and intestine. Gross right? One thing I noticed is half my visitors are from Mexico, so maybe half my audience is curious how gringos react to offal.

That doesn't seem interesting enough really, but hey, what do I know, I'll take it. I did the taco review because Tacos El Primo was a midnight munchies stop on my return home from various Hollywood treks.

When you have a neighborhood food stop, you eventually dive deeper and try eats you would not normally taste.

Tripas (intestine) Taco

Well, join the multitudes and check out my Cheap$kate video review of Tacos El Primo.

Deep fried Fish Tacos are one of L.A.'s great culinary contributions. These battered depth charges of crunchy perfection are based on the street food of Baja Mexico and other coastal communities. If you like British Fish & Chips, you will love Fried Fish Tacos.

Fish Taco

The battered fillets of fish are typically served on corn tortillas and topped with a white crema and chopped cabbage. I have my own recipe for Fish Tacos you can see by clicking on the recipe name.

And this is the best taco deal in town: Today (Wednesdays) is $1 Fish Taco day at Tacos Baja! Yeah, that's what you heard - don't believe me? Just watch the video below and see it for yourself.

Celebrate National Taco Day with me today. Hey, celebrate it any day now that I've shown you a slew of taco recipes you can make easily and cheaply.

And I'll end with a queasy taco review, from of all places, Jack In The Box's 2 for 99 cent tacos...ugh, watch it with a barf bag.

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