Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Julia Child Birthday Recipe - Crepes Suzette Video

Food lovers are celebrating Julia Child's birthday today. An in her honor the 99 Cent Chef's new palate-pleasing video, "Julian & Julia," introduces Julia Child's nephew, Julian Child. He's a real chip off the cutting board and a chef worthy of sauteing with Aunt Julia's copper-bottomed pot!

I had the good fortune to run into Julian Child at the Hollywood Farmers Market this last Sunday. We chatted about his "Aunt Julia" and the movie "Julie & Julia."

As we walked through fresh and fragrant stalls of produce Julian stopped at a stack of organic oranges and reminisced about his childhood summers in Paris, France, and how he would tug at Julia Child's apron and beg for his favorite dish: Crepe Suzette in an Orange Butter Sauce.

Aunt Julia eventually grew tired of always preparing it and soon taught it to her nephew, a budding chef. I seized the opportunity to invite Julian to The 99 Cent Chef's kitchen to cook his Aunt Julia's Crepe Suzette for everyone!

A delicious and decadent dessert made with loads of butter, this French classic is easy and of course, cheap to make. Flour, eggs, milk, orange juice, butter and a 99 cent airline bottle of cognac make up the main ingredients. (You can leave out half the butter, but then it would not be a true Julia Child culinary experience. Try it this way at least once!)
Julian & Julia - VIDEO

Play it here. The video runs 6 minutes, 20 seconds.

Click here to view or embed video from youtube.

Ingredients (about 6 crepes)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 to 3 whole eggs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. of vanilla - optional
  • Pinch of salt
Orange Butter Sauce
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice - fresh squeezed or carton pasteurized
  • Zest of 1/2 orange - optional
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter - OK to use less
  • 99 cent airline bottle of cognac (or brandy) - about 1/4 cup 

  Directions for Crepes
In a large bowl mix together flour, milk, water, salt, eggs and 1 tbsp. of melted or soft butter. Whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Heat your medium (about 8 inches) non-stick omelet pan and coat with 1 pat of butter or oil. 

When butter is melted, add 1/4 cup of crepe batter - enough to just cover the bottom of the pan. Hold up pan and swirl to coat pan evenly. It is better to have too much batter than too little - a thin crepe will tear when turning. 

Cook crepe for a minute, then loosen around the edges and continue cooking for another minute. Peek before turning to see if crepe is starting to brown. Carefully turn crepe over and cook for another half minute. As my video shows, the first crepe may stick and be unusable. Instead of throwing it away, you might as well taste it to see how tender the crepe turned out.

Don't worry, it takes a couple of crepes to get it right. Your crepes may not be perfect, but with a sweet Orange Butter Sauce no one will be complaining about the appearance. Set aside your cooked crepes to add to the Orange Butter Sauce.

Directions for Orange Butter Sauce
Use a large enough pan to dip a whole crepe into. Melt butter, then add orange juice, zest and sugar into pan, over a medium/high heat. Cook until sauce is reduced by half and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat and add a crepe. Notice my use of a spoon and fork, in the video, to fold crepe into sauce. Fold in half once, then fold one more time and push crepe to the edge of the pan to make room for more. 

I managed to fit about 3 crepes at a time to my pan. Allow crepes to heat through for a minute.

Now the fun part - cognac flambe! Have a long-handled match ready. This is when you want an audience. Your table should be set and the lights dimmed so you can serve the flaming Crepes Suzettes with a flourish! 

When sauce and crepes are warm, pour in half the cognac and bring to the table. Place before your dazzled guest and strike a match, lighting the sauce. 

Be careful: the cognac will flame up, so you don't want flammable items nearby (overhead curtains, paper, etc.) and your kids should not attempt this! Serve this first batch of crepes with a spoonful of sauce. 

Finish saucing the other crepes, then flambe, and repeat. Bon Appetit!

If you are not familiar with the culinary icon, Julia Child, here is a scene from "Julie & Julia." Meryl Streep "chews" the scenery as larger-than-life Julia Child.

The other half of the movie is about Julie Powell blogging and cooking her way through, in one year, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" co-written by Julia Child. Both stories resonated with this Chef.

And the movie's Paris locale is intoxicating. You will find yourself leaving the theater with the booming voice of Julia Child in your head and your utterances will have her cadence. She is so fun to mimic you cannot help but bellow "Bon Appetit" every chance you get!

And 99 Thanks to Bob McGinness for his creative camerawork!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cherries and Yogurt - Video Recipe

Fresh fruit and yogurt go well together in my latest recipe video, Cherries and Yogurt.

Pre-mixed yogurt with fruit is too sweet for me. It is easy enough to slice and pit cherries to mix into yogurt. I use about 3 to 4 cherries per small yogurt container. The fruit and yogurt mix will keep a few days in the refrigerator -- if you can resist finishing it off on one sitting!

Cherries are notoriously expensive, but for a month or so they come down in price, and I always get a few large bags during the summer season. At first appearance, they are around $2 per pound, but wait a week or two and the price quickly drops.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I like to add them to yogurt or as a mealtime dessert -- I'll also nibble from small bowls throughout the day. They are especially good in yogurt, like almost any seasonal fruit would be. And if cherries are too expensive or hard to get, you can substitute with your own local fruit stand favorites, or even can/jar cherries.

Fresh cherries are a little messy to work with though, so you want to rinse off any surfaces that the cherry juice pools on, and especially clothing or kitchen towels.

It's easiest to slice around the cherry pit and twist cherry halves apart, then dig out the cherry pit. Once you get going it only takes a few minutes to get a cup full. You can go online to get a special device that pits them as well.

Anytime I find fruit on sale at my local 99c only Store, I immediately think of a light breakfast. My most common homemade yogurt with fruit including: strawberries, pineapple, sliced mango, blackberries or blueberries.

As for yogurt I just use plain. Vanilla and other flavors are usually too strong and often have added sugar. But, if you like a certain type on sale then use it.

Sometimes an unusual brand will show up on sale like this creamy French-style yogurt called "oui" made by Yoplait. It was so good I got half a dozen jars. They also had a lemon flavored that held up well with the addition of sliced cherries.

Oui is advertised as "French Style," whatever that means. But it is milder tasting - less sour than typical yogurt, with a slight almond flavor.

As with any new find at a 99c only Store, I will try it in the car parking lot, and if it's good then I will go back and get a whole bunch more. I've learned you gotta be impulsive there or it may be gone an hour later -- snooze you lose!

So do check out my latest stop-motion animated video. There's really nothing to this recipe and anyone can make it. Sometimes less is more, for a perfectly delicious recipe.

Cherries & Yogurt - Video
Play it here. video runs 56 seconds.

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

Monday, August 6, 2018

Summer Burger

Mmmm, it's that time of summer. I like mine with sauteed mushrooms and cheese.

And surprisingly, Sweet Potatoes grill up great!

Just a little animation to brighten up your day or night.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cherry Pancakes - Video Recipe

It's cherry season in California and now is the time to get them cheap. They come on sale at my local 99c Only Store and Latin market for, you guessed it, 99 cents per pound. So watch my video below to get a breakfast recipe I think you will enjoy: Cherry Pancakes.
Cherry Pancakes - Video

Play it here. video runs 1 minute 46 seconds.

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

Cherries are notoriously expensive, but for a month or so they come down in price, and I always get a few large bags during the summer season. At first appearance, they are around $2 per pound, but wait a week or two and the price quickly drops.

I like to add them to yogurt or as a mealtime dessert -- I'll also nibble from small bowls throughout the day. They are especially good in pancakes, like almost any seasonal fruit would be. And if cherries are too expensive or hard to get, you can substitute with your own local fruit stand favorites, or even can/jar cherries.

They are a little messy to work with though, so you want to rinse off any surfaces that the cherry juice pools on, and especially clothing or kitchen towels.

It's much easier to just pop one in your mouth and chew around the cherry pit. But for pancakes it's best to slice around the cherry pit and twist cherry halves apart, then dig out the cherry pit. Once you get going it only takes a few minutes to get a cup full for my Cherry Pancake recipe.

A chopstick or plastic straw can push out a cherry pit, too. You can go online to get a special device that pits them as well.

For the pancake batter I use a commercial brand. If you have a homemade recipe then use it. I can get a large box of dry pancake batter at my local 99c only Store. Regular grocery store sells it cheap enough, too.

Start your day right, with my fruity cheap$kate breakfast of Cherry Pancakes.

Ingredients (2 servings, using a pancake mix)

  • 1 cup pancake mix - use any favorite.
  • 3/4 cup water - okay to use milk for a richer pancake batter.
  • 1 cup of pitted and sliced cherries - roughly sliced or chopped. Use any cherry amount that suits your taste. Okay to substitute with any fresh seasonal fruit like: blueberry, peach, apricot, strawberry, and even sliced banana or canned fruit.
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease skillet. I like coconut oil. Add more when needed, depending how many pancakes you make.
  • Butter and favorite pancake syrup - add as much as you like. I sometimes substitute coconut oil for butter.
  • Okay to use vegan pancake batter.

Prepare pancake batter according to package directions. My pancake mix calls for 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water.

Mix pancake ingredients in a bowl. When mixed it will be like thick country gravy.

Start to heat the pan over a medium/low heat.

Rinse off cherries. Removing the cherry pit is messy, with red juice that will stain clothing or a wood cutting board, so don't wait too long to rinse off any juice that gets onto surfaces or clothing.

I like to slice cherries this way: Cut though to the center of a cherry and rotate slice all the way around and twist cherry apart. One half of the cherry will have the cherry pit. Slice to remove the pit.

You can let the cherry pieces be on the large size.

Mix sliced cherries into pancake batter. Or arrange cherry slices on a hot grill and pour pancake batter over them.

Add oil to pancake pan and pour on the pancake batter. Brown each side of the pancake. Mine took about 2-3 minutes for each side. It really depends how hot your pan gets. The box directions above mentions cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmmm, they must be using a super hot pan!

If you want a dark brown pancake presentation, then just cook one side to get the right amount of brown, then cook the other side for a minute, to finish cooking through the raw batter. Serve browned side up, on the plate.

Serve hot with melted butter or coconut oil, and favorite pancake syrup.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

National Avocado Day - Recipe Videos

God, how I love avocados. My last bite on earth would be a simple slice of creamy Haas avocado.

This is a most delishious blog post you will want to bookmark for future viewing. And click on any recipe name to see all the original recipe photos and text.

July 31 is National Avocado Day and I have a ripe basketful of recipes for you to use this most luscious and rich fruit.

The creamiest and richest Avocado, the Haas, was first grafted from a single tree here in La Habra Heights in Los Angeles County almost 100 years ago. Read about the origin story here or a shorter version here.

The simplest and most tasty Avocado recipe is for Avocado Toast. Just mash a ripe Avocado, season with salt and pepper then spread it on warm toast. You want to use a tasty fresh baked slice of bread if have a local bakery or farmers market. But a nice nutty whole grain grocery store brand is fine.

Here in Los Angeles, Avocado prices are all over the map, from a buck and a half for a large one, to six small ones for 99 cents! If you keep an eye on seasonal sales you might find them for bargain prices too.

I like to start the day with this green bauble of deliciousness sliced and tucked into a cheesy Omelet. This is too much of a good thing but what the heck.

I like a fresh and creamy slice Avocado on my taco, how about you? And all my yummy Taco Recipes are a click away, here.

If you have a local Latin market in the hood then this next recipe is for you. Plus this recipe is a real dollar stretcher. Avocado Crema is a mix of Mexican Crema and mashed Avocado.

Mexican Crema is similar to sour cream (okay to use sour cream instead,) just sweeter. Use this recipe at your next Taco Party and serve it with chips, and top a taco or burrito -- so good.

If you have a favorite cold salad then add a chopped Avocado for a rich addition. I like Macaroni Salad mixed with mayo, krab, and Avocado brings it over the top.

For these immigrant bashing days, I have a Cesar Chavez Salad made with funky anchovies and illegal Mexican-immigrant-picked Romain lettuce with, of course, Avocado from Mexico.

The sushi California Roll was invented here and boy does the rest of the country owe California a big thanks. Even hardcore sushi connoisseurs will pick up a pre-made package in the deli section of a local grocery chain store. Check out my video below and see how easy a California Roll is to make.

You can't do a better sandwich than a BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. Oh, wait, I take that back - you can do better with the addition of Avocado, of course. Okay, now go and make yourself a BLT+A Sammie.

I discovered Cuban cuisine here in Los Angeles. And I like to start my restaurant meal with a Cuban Salad, comprised of Avocado, tomato, sliced onion and radishes, and mixed with vinegar and oil. Very simple but a great contrast to typical heavy and rich Cuban Roast Pork.

For the dog days of summer, nothing is better than a cool Ceviche. There is nothing to cook, just drain a can of beans and mix in shredded krab, chopped onion, jalapeƱo, tomato and of course, Avocado.

Chill it then get out the tortilla chips and park yourself under a cool shady tree with a mug of frosty beer or your fave cold beverage and watch the world go by.

I can eat Avocados morning, noon and night and you can too if you hang out at the 99 Cent Chef's food blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Italian Sausage Lasagna - Deal of the Day Review

Mama mia, is this a tasty Italian Deal of the Day! I haven't tried frozen fare by Devour, but if it's anything like their Italian Sausage Lasagna, I'll be on the lookout for more of their frozen entrees.

This is a simple but loaded Lasagna, and it's a good amount at 12.5 ounces. While the plastic bowl is a small rectangle, this is a thick Lasagna with 3 or 4 sheets of pasta.

The ricotta and mozzarella flavors shine with each hefty forkful. The ingredients list mentions sheep's-milk romano, too.

The pasta is tender but not overcooked, like a lot of frozen Italian pasta meals. And each layer has a thick film of ricotta cheese. Plus, it would be a delish Lasagna even without Italian sausage.

The sausage is in tiny crumbles, but still very pungent with fennel seed flavor you expect in typical Italian sausage. At least you get many sausage pieces, even if they are minuscule. The meat pellet texture is rough ground. It's very tasty and goes well with the mix of cheeses and sauce.

A rich herb infused tomato sauce holds it all together. There is plenty, just the way I like it. The fine print lists red bell pepper and of course garlic. It is a well balanced, rich sauce.

And the ingredient list is a long one, but most of the ingredients are at least recognizable. And it is easy to microwave since everything is swimming in sauce.

Click on any photo to see larger.

So on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best, I give this Deal of the Day, Devour Italian Sausage Lasagna an almost perfect 8!

The cheap$kate Lasagna is highly recommended and is well worth 99.99 cents from my local 99c only Store. I would even pay a buck or two more for such a tasty meal. And almost any Italian Mama would be proud to serve this Lasagna -- which is good to the last bite.

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