Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Devilish Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs were served at the Chef's infamous "Bloggers 99 Cent White Wine Tasting" in September. Local blogger Debbi Swanson Patrick of altadenaaboveitall was kind enough to email the Chef her tasty recipe. Some condiments hang around in the refrigerator forever, like capers, mustard and marinated hot peppers (which the Chef used a month and a half ago in a cashew hot pepper stir fry.) With Halloween around the corner, the Chef came up with a clever way to use the rest of his red hot peppers -- deviled eggs with hot pepper devil horns. It's a spicy fun Halloween party food. Debbi's recipe is quick and simple to do and chile peppers provide a hot kick sure to keep you on your toes when handing out sweets to your doorbell - ringing little ghosts and goblins. Be sure to have a cool beverage at the ready! All ingredients are from the 99c only Store.

Ingredients (makes a dozen)  
  • 1 dozen 99.99 cent eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 1 tbsp. yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. celery seed or dried celery leaf
  • 2 tbsp. sweet relish or capers (drain liquid)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar 99.99 cent whole marinated hot peppers - 2 red hot peppers for each deviled egg

Directions
Boil eggs for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool in refrigerator. Shell eggs and slice lengthwise. Add yolks, mayo, mustard, celery seed, relish, salt and pepper and mix with a fork or a food processor until creamy (add more mayo a little at a time if too dry). Spoon egg mixture into egg white shells and refrigerate for an hour. Rinse and pat dry marinated hot peppers then add 2 devil horn red hot peppers per deviled egg. When you want some heat, use coke spoon sized devil horn to scoop out egg mixture.
*When handling hot peppers make sure to wash your hands with soap afterward and do not rub eyes! Your fingers are like hot match sticks!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicken Tacos

A lighter alternate to Taco Bell's namesake ground beef tacos are The 99 Cent Chef's homemade ground chicken tacos. 99c only Stores carry hard corn taco shell 8-packs, one-pound tubes of frozen ground chicken and taco seasoning. Most markets carry ground chicken and turkey at discount prices. The Chef's recipe easily makes 8 tacos.

Once you have the Mexican spiced chicken prepared, don't stop at tacos; try a "99 Cent Mexican Bowl" comprised of rice, pinto or black beans, and Mexican-style ground chicken topped with chopped onion and tomato. Bags of rice and canned beans are always stocked at 99c only Stores; ground chicken and turkey comes and goes, so pick up extra to freeze
whenever you find it.

Ingredients
1 lb. 99.99c ground chicken or turkey
1 pack of taco seasoning
1/2 each chopped onion and bell pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. of chopped garlic
Pepper to taste ( there's plenty of salt in seasoning mix)
1 package of 99.99c taco shells; an alternate is soft corn or flour tortillas (heat soft tortillas on a hot grill 2
minutes before building your taco)

Directions
Add one pack of taco seasoning to ground chicken and saute with chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Assemble tacos and finish with your favorite toppings (the Chef likes lettuce, tomato, cheese and avocado).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spinach in White Wine with Sauteed Mushrooms


Six ounce spinach packs and and five ounce containers of mushrooms are frequent purchases of The 99 Cent Chef. A delicious combination. Sauteed mushrooms go with anything, especially spinach steamed in 99.99 cent white wine. This vegetarian side is quick and easy to assemble. For an extra decadent flavor (vegetarians, stop reading) sautee mushrooms with a couple of slices of bacon and crumble bacon over the finished dish.




















Ingredients

6 oz. package of spinach (or one bunch - remove stems and wash)
5 oz. container of button mushrooms
2 tbsp. 99.99 cent white wine
2 tbsp. 99.99 cent olive oil blend
Salt and pepper mushrooms to taste

Directions
Season and sautee mushrooms in two tbsp. 99.99 cent olive oil blend over medium heat for about five minutes until tender. In a separate pot, add 2 tbsp. 99 cent white wine to 6 oz. spinach leaves, cover and steam for five minutes over medium/low heat. When both are done, drain excess liquid from spinach, combine mushrooms and serve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canter's Corned Beef On Rye for 60 Cents - Video

Lately, two L.A. eatery landmarks had anniversaries: Philippe's downtown diner served 10 cent French dip sandwiches for its 100th year last Monday, and yesterday, Canter's Delicatessen sold corned beef on rye for 60 cents, celebrating 60 years in the same location. The Chef missed Philippe's 10 cent French dip but would not be denied 60 cent corned beef on rye. Today the Chef has a delightful deli sandwich hangover. Along with the sandwich was served a small serving of potato salad, pickle and a cookie. After calling his Film Noir, Screwball Comedy, Grindhouse, movie-going buddy, Drew, the Chef headed to the Jewish Fairfax District to rendezvous. Most surprising was snagging a parking spot at Canter's; also, the "to go" line was short, and there were some empty dining room tables - at least at three in the afternoon. The Chef brought along his camera to record this momentous culinary budget happening.

Once we were seated, our cheerful punctual waiter greeted us knowing what we were there for (he suggested the anniversary special). The corned beef arrived before we could get more than a swallow of Heineken (on the way to our table, the Chef noticed a dozen sandwiches prepared in advance at the serving station). The exceptional potato salad amounted to only two bites; the pickle spear was palate cleansing; the corned beef was lean and satisfying, the rye pungent with a hard crust, and the small chocolate rugula cookie a pleasurable denouement. Perfection. The only problem was a limit of one sandwich per customer - will this stop the Chef? Watch the video to find out!

Canter's Corned Beef on Rye for 60c - Video

Play it here. The video runs 1 minute 45 seconds.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Canter's Deli !

Go here to embed or view video at youtube.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

White Asparagus - Deal of the Day

Fancy schmancy. The Chef picked up a few 99.99c bundles of white asparagus at this 99c only Store Friday. I hope they are still selling it today. White asparagus is delicate in flavor, a more subtle asparagus -- the taste equivalent difference of light Pabst Blue Ribbon to regular Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Looking for a special way to prepare this high-end side, The Chef Googled and found a Wolfgang Puck recipe listed on The Food Network's website: Austrian White Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce. The one-pound bundles of asparagus are peeled, steamed and added to brioche bread crumbs sauteed in brown butter. It is quite simple to make and all ingredients are from local 99c only Stores (while said store does not carry brioche crumbs, they do carry cardboard tubes of Italian or plain breadcrumbs - a fine substitute). Wolfgang's recipe is heavy with butter and bread crumbs. The Chef has the audacity to cut amounts in half -- he sometimes makes an attempt to lighten his calorie intake. An appropre combination would be to serve it over last month's Deal of the Day, Orecchiette with Broccoli, also found at 99c only Stores. The Chef has a few frozen bags at the ready to heat up and top with White Asparagus in Brown Butter Sauce.

Ingredients
1 bundle of 99.99c white asparagus, about 1 lb. (12 or so spears)
1/2 small stick of butter (2 oz.)
1/2 cup of 99.99c bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Trim about 1 to 2 inches off ends of asparagus spears. Peel and low boil for 5 minutes in a pot with enough water to cover asparagus, then remove and set aside. In a frying pan, melt and brown butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add bread crumbs.
Cook another 5 minutes. Combine asparagus with sauteed bread crumbs, heating through a few minutes. Serve over pasta or as a side.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Homemade Canned Fish Steaks in Oil

The Chef pulls recipes from many sources, a tasty Pollo en Mente (mint roast chicken) from Los Feliz's Mexico City Restaurant; Pear Crumble from the Food Networks website; and many recipes ideas from the Los Angeles Times daily newspaper's Wednesday Food Section. The Chef looks forward to his weekly foodie fix from The Times. The writing clearly describe recipes and cooking techniques, very helpful to The Chef, and S. Irene Virbila's restaurant reviews showcase local real world cooking trends. It can be a real puzzle converting a recipe that uses top notch ingredients into a palatable 99 cent entree. The 99 Cent Chef does his best; some recipes translate better than others. One recent Food Section recipe stands out: Conserved Tuna or Homemade Canned Fish Steaks in Oil by Times staff writer, Russ Parsons. Why? Because the 99c only Stores often carry frozen 4 oz. fish fillet steaks of salmon, perch, tilapia, pollock, mahi mahi, and shark.

Slow cooked in a warm garlic/dried herb/olive oil bath, these fillets in oil meld, crumbled into your favorite cooked pasta, and the oil is a flavorful sauce. The Chef likes canned tuna, but fish slow cooked in flavored oil is less crumbly, with bigger flakes, and the flavors are more varied and intense. Any firm fish works well; the trick, as always with fish, is to not overcook it. Albertsons grocery has been selling a medley of 4 oz. frozen fish fillet packages for a dollar each. Grab a couple fillets and try out this newspaper-inspired dish.

Ingredients
2-4 4 oz. packaged 99.99 cent fish fillets - salmon, mahi-mahi, shark, halibut or any firm fish
1-2 cups 99.99 cent olive oil blend
1 tbsp. minced garlic (fresh or jar)
Dried herbs including 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. each of oregano and basil or your favorite herbs

Directions
In a small pot add enough defrosted fish fillets to cover the bottom. Fill with enough olive oil to just cover; add garlic and dried herbs. Cook at lowest temperature until fish color changes to tan (or light pink for salmon), about 10 minutes (for less oil: fill pot half way to top of fish, and after 5 minutes turn fish over). Turn off heat and allow to cool for a few minutes; the fish will finish cooking. You can store in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days. The fillets in oil will top your favorite pasta for the rest of the week. An extra trick is to reheat fish by sauteing with a seasonal farmer's market vegetable, like asparagus or string beans, in the "fish oil" and mix with pasta.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jean - Luc Godard With Japanese Pork Cutlet

The Nuart movie theatre, in West LA, provides The Chef his fix of Jean-Luc Godard reissues. This week "Vivre Sa Vie" from 1962 is playing through Thursday; shot in black and white and starring La Nouvelle Vague siren Anna Karina. The Chef loves 1960's French New Wave films, especially early Godard -- like The 99 Cent Chef, he tosses all rules out the window. Story, acting, shooting, editing, graphics and music are refreshingly scrambled, stretched and chopped up - unpredictable. Godard on the big screen is a rare treat The Chef will not miss.

Directly across the street from the Nuart, in a strip mall next to a 7/ll, is the Japanese restaurant New Japan. After ordering, The Chef cradles a brimming sake cup by a window seat and watches in puzzlement as Nuart moviegoers queue up on a chilly Fall night, waiting in line for the movie to start; don't they know just across the street awaits hot sake? The Nuart seldom sells out, so if you are in line for the 7:30 PM showing tonight, please join The Chef across the street instead; where he will be dining on a favorite dish: fried pork cutlet. The panko breadcrumb crust is fried to perfection and the cutlet is presented sliced, served simply with white rice and a green salad. Don't forget to grab the squeeze bottle of Tonkatsu sauce for the cutlet.


The Chef tried his hand at this dish. The verdict: his 99 cent version is a
Palme d'Or winner, if Cannes awarded entrees. The 99c only Store is selling plain bread crumbs; while not panko it works fine. At my local Latin market, pork sirloin end-cut chops were on sale for 89 cents a pound. Roll film, and action!



Ingredients

  • 2 pork loin chops
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup 99.99c bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Tonkatsu Sauce for Pork Cutlet

  • 1/4 cup of steak sauce (A1 or your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Directions
Whisk one egg in a bowl. Salt and pepper then coat pork loin chops in flour, dip into egg
mixture and finally coat well with bread crumbs. Refrigerate one hour, time permitting
(this makes for an extra crispy cutlet.) Heat oil for frying (hot!) Depending on cutlet's
thickness fry about 5 minutes each side until bread coating is golden brown. Check for doneness with a fork - clear juices. Serve with rice and a simple green salad.

Movie clip from "Vivre Sa Vie" - Nana's Dance
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