So here is a photo roundup capturing some of my fresh organic finds this year.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
So here is a photo roundup capturing some of my fresh organic finds this year.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Let's start with appetizers. Nothing gets a gathering off to the right start like creative finger food.
Ever cook in a wig? This may be your last chance in 2009 to don one for a sure-fire flammable party hit - Crepes Suzette. OK, you may be too shy, and your Julia Child accent weak -- well, then just gather your friends around the computer screen and bathe in the warm glow of my Julia Child Crepes Suzette Video - where this bejeweled and coiffed Chef channels the original Top Chef, Julia Child. Another festive holiday favorite of note is my Egg Nog Recipe & Tipsy Tree Trimming Video. I take you step-by-step through the making of a homemade egg nog; then join in as I attempt to trim the tree after one egg nog too many! Another party beverage is my revolutionary rum drink video for a 99 Cent Mojito.
Play it here. The video runs 5 minutes 12 seconds.
Let's get substantial.
The 99 Cent Chef wishes all his visitors a great holiday & New Year!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Ingredients (about 3-4 dozen)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries - OK to substitute raisins
1 cup of sweetened coconut flake
1 cup of soften butter or margarine
1 tbsp. grated orange zest - the grated peel of one large orange.
Juice of one large orange
2 tsps vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
In a large bowl add softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix well with a mixer or potato masher and spoon. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to bowl, including flour, baking powder and salt. This will form a typical soft cookie dough when mixed for 5 - 10 minutes by hand or with a mixer. Add juice squeezed from the orange for additional flavor, and to moisten the dough so it 'makes.' Finally, fold in cranberries (or raisins) and coconut flake.
(For a plumper cranberry or raisin, soak the dried fruit in hot water for 1/2 hour prior to starting recipe).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease cookie sheet. Form cookie dough into 1 inch balls and arrange on the cookie sheet - leave an inch or two separation between each cookie. Bake for 6 minutes for a soft cookie or about 10 minutes for a crunchy one. (These cookies don't turn brown except along the outside edges). Allow to cool for a few minutes; you can also serve them warm.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I find coconut cream or milk on sale all the time and rice is just plain cheap anywhere. Coconut juice or water is more subtle and may not be enough to flavor the rice, so stay with cream or milk. One can is enough for cooking with 2 cups of rice.
This recipe makes a lot, but you can freeze cooked rice for later. I also found some shredded coconut on sale and mixed in a cup (reserving a couple of tablespoons to sprinkle on the plate) - this is optional.
So get out your favorite stir-fry recipe, or use one of mine, or serve my festive Coconut Rice with your holiday roasted bird - it will please your guests and family.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 2 cup of rice - OK to cut all ingredients in half for a smaller recipe.
- 1 can of coconut milk or cream (about 13 ounces)
- 1 cup of shredded coconut - optional and reserve 2 tbsp. for garnishing.
- 1 cup of water
- Fresh cilantro or parsley - optional, it's just for a colorful serving.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook another 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to set for about 5 minutes.
Brown rice takes longer, about a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes total, again follow rice bag directions. Instant rice is the quickest and coconut cream blends in well. Optional to garnish with shredded coconut and fresh cilantro.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Over the next 5 days the videos will include: "Breakfast in Seattle", "Dining in Ballard at King's," "Throwing Salmon at Pike Place Fish Market," "Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition," and "KCTS Cooking Show."
The internal monologue from Queens' Bohemian Rhapsody becomes a comedic, angst-ridden song delivered by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition.
The Chef, his wife, and hosts Jenny and Kevin mingled with carolers competing on Pine Street in downtown Seattle. The real winners are the 10,000 or so scarfed revelers wearing floppy-horned reindeer and Santa hats who get to hear multiple caroling groups on every corner singing and performing Christmas classics - some performed straight, others tongue-in-cheek. The Chef had his camera to record this once-a-year festive street party and is happy to share it with you.
Located on Elliot Bay, Pike Place Public Markets' colorful food stalls hold bins stacked with every variety of Washington apple: from Aurora and Jazz, to Pink Ladies and Honeycrisp. This is the place to get locally grown, gold-hued Chanterelle mushrooms, black truffles and of course, all manner of seafood, especially salmon. My wife wisely selected a tasty variety of Washington apples for our holidays -- all I got was this video! I hope you enjoy it.
Play it here -- 2 minutes, 12 seconds.
Play it here -- 6 minutes, 12 seconds.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Slice one large cucumber and a quarter of an onion, then marinate in rice vinegar and sugar - that's it. Sometimes simple is best. If you want more heft to your salad add a few wedges of tomato. You can use a sugar substitute, honey, or whisk in any organic sweetener into the rice vinegar dressing. These ingredients fit well into this cheap Chef's budget profile, so there is no excuse not eat your veggies.
- 1 large cucumber - sliced and half-peeled. I like to leave some skin on for color. Any bitterness is reduced by the sweet dressing.
- 1/4 onion - thinly sliced; minimizes strong onion taste some people find unpleasant.
- 1 medium tomato - optional, cut into wedges
- Cilantro - optional, a handful, chopped.
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar - any vinegar will do.
- 1 tsp. of sugar or any sweet substitute - add a little at a time and taste dressing for desired sweetness.
- 1 pinch of salt
Mix vinegar and sugar in a medium salad bowl. Adjust sugar amout to desired sweetness. Partially peel and slice and cucumber. Thinly slice onion. Cut tomato into wedges. Mix veggies into bowl with dressing and serve.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Play it here.
More thanks to all my fellow bloggers and journalists for getting the word out, including: Brad Tuttle at Time.com, Kevin Roderick at LA Observed, Pat at Eating L.A., Frazgo at Metroblogs, Elina Shatkin of the L.A. Times' Daily Dish, Julia the Bargain Babe, Alexza at NBC Nightly News, Karen Datko and Donna Freedman at MSN Money, Nicolas Bérubé at LePresse, Jenny Cunningham at Sunset Magazine, Brendan Newnam at NPR Radio, and "Anne & Burl Live" of BlogTalkRadio.
99 thanks to all of the 99 Cent Players, in front of and behind the video camera. These include: neighbor Pete, Bob McGinness, Nuno Pinheira, Dan & Diana Kohne, Jay Cotton, Bob "the ump", Drew Redford, my sisters Brenda and Denise, and her husband Dale, my Mom, and especially, the number one taste-tester, my wife Amy. This food blog would be undercooked without their creative contributions.
This year alone I've come up with 23 videos often marinated in comedy: for example, I donned a wig and pearls to play Julian Child, nephew of Julia Child, while I whipped up buttery Crepes Suzettes; and created an out-there video series on "moveable feasting" in some of the tastiest food trucks on the L.A. scene - videoing day and night along back streets from Manhattan Beach to Koreatown, and Venice Beach to East L.A.
Since last November 30th, I've written about 50 budget recipes. Who would think my Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Recipe would be pushing 20,000 viewer hits on YouTube! Living in L.A., I'm exposed to a mixed stew of international neighborhoods, all of which inspire my recipes: eatables like Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches, French Onion Soup, Indian Almost Tandoori Chicken, and south-of-the-border Pollo en Mente (mint chicken).
Keep checking back, this chintzy chef has a lot more cheap recipes, restaurant reviews, yummy photos, and out-there videos in store for you. And now it's time to recharge the camera batteries and clean up the kitchen for another blogging year!
Click here to view or embed 2nd. Anniversary Video on youtube.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
All my ingredients come cheap this time of year. Bags of stuffing, cranberry sauce and breakfast sausage are on sale. Your kids may balk at a Stuffing Cupcake, but the adults will like it. Hey, pile on enough cranberry frosting and the kids may come around. Pull this recipe out for Christmas, too!
This Bonus Video is by Seattle Public TV's KCTS. Producer Jenny Cunningham put my recipe on video for you, and here it is! (Although, the addition of cooked sausage links are left out?!!)
Also go here to embed or view from the KCTS website.
Ingredients (about 6 cupcakes)
- 3 cups of stuffing from package (about 6 oz.) - cornbread or your favorite.
- 1/4 cup of flour - white or wheat
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 4 breakfast sausage links, or 1/4 pound ground sausage - optional
- 1/4 bell pepper chopped
- 1/4 onion chopped
- 1/4 celery stalk chopped
- 1 tsp. dried or fresh chopped herbs - parsley, sage oregano; your favorites
- 8 oz. of cranberry sauce, from the can, for frosting. Whole cranberry sauce works well.
Directions for Frosting
Heat cranberry sauce in a pot for 5-10 minutes. Break it apart as it heats - it will become like soft jelly. Remove from heat, allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Directions for Stuffing Cupcakes
Prepare 3 cups of stuffing according to package directions. Usually add one cup of hot water to stuffing in a large bowl. Mix until stuffing is spongy and soft. Saute 4 sausage links and break them into small slices or chunks. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes. Add meat, vegggies, and a 1/4 cup of flour to stuffing. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of milk and one egg. Add it to stuffing and mix well.
Grease your cupcake pan with butter or oil spray. Scoup in enough dressing to fill each one. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes. When cupcakes are done, you may need a knife to cut around the top edge of each cupcake, to keep them from tearing when removing.
While cupcakes cook, make your favorite chicken or turkey gravy (it's okay to use packaged or from jar). I have a few gravy recipes, including a delicious mushroom gravy recipe, just click here.
Top cupcakes with cranberry frosting, and warm gravy underneath (or, gravy on the side as a dipping sauce.)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Yams are often on sale at most markets, and especially ethnic ones like my local Latin market -- anywhere from 4 to 2 lbs. per dollar. I've fried them in oil like regular russet potatoes, but they usually come out somewhat soggy and limp. A surfire method that is lighter is to simply slice, season, sprinkle with olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet. Yams have a lower sugar content than Sweet Potatoes so they are less likey to burn. Of course you can use sweet potatoes, but watch carefully, and you may need to reduce cooking time by a few minutes.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
- 1 large yam or sweet potato
- 1 teaspoon of cumin (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel yam and slice into 1/2 inch wide and an 2 inch long spears. Yam are sometimes difficult to slice, so don't worry if "fries" are uneven and broken. Spread out yam fries on a metal cookie sheet, ok if they touch, the heat will shrink them. Sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper. Lastly drizzle with oil and cook for about 45 minutes. Turn once about half way through to brown fries on both sides. Sweet potatoes have more sugar so cooking time may be shorter; watch them carefully to prevent from burning black.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Play it here. The video runs 6 minutes.
L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina was at the East L.A. Civic Center for a ribbon cutting, and right up the hill in the same park was the East L.A. Farmers Market in full swing, alongside a row of white tented food stalls with maddening aromas, and tempting free samples including: fresh roasted peanuts and skewers of Korean BBQ chicken and beef.
After a few samples, the Chef and his wife were ready for a real meal, and we headed to Mariachi Plaza Station on East 1st Street -- it's a Latin restaurant row. We passed bandstands teeming with horn, violin and guitar players belting out passionate Mexican ballads, stalls ladling sweet cups of horchata, and local artisans selling Mexican skull and beer cap boxes along with life-sized skeletons. Quite an eye and earful.
1908 3/4 E. 1st St.
Boyle Heights, CA.
Squash Blossom Quesadilla: $3
Sheep Taco: $1.75
Al & Bea's Mexican Food is nearby serving cheap old school burritos:
2025 East 1st Street
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This Lean Cuisine entree is still a good Deal of the Day: the serving is substantial, compared to the usual minuscule portions, and I like the substitution of pasta for typical boiled red potatoes. You do get five filling small meatballs, the pasta is tender, and the cream gravy is rich tasting. It's just a little bland for 'Swedish' meatballs -- if you are going to call it that, then try to get the flavor right.
I am a fan of Lean Cuisine because this Chef has to watch his figure, when he makes his appearances on the small computer screen. This frozen entree microwaves more evenly than normal, and there is enough gravy to coat all of the pasta. Plus, this dish is bland enough to appeal to the pickiest meatball-loving kid.
On The 99 Cent Chef's scale of 0 to 9, 9 being best, I give Lean Cuisine's Swedish Meatballs With Pasta a 5. I picked some up at this 99c only Store and tweeted about it Monday. I have the feeling they may linger in the frozen deli case until their expiration date.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Crostini is Italian for "little toast" made with olive oil, salt and pepper. The Chef's latest recipe is sophisticated and simple, like a black evening dress -- a perfect party starter.
Black Olive Tapenade is a quick budget appetizer that you can make your own. There are many variations that the Mediterranean region has adapted -- so feel free to do the same. If you have sun-dried tomatoes in oil, add it; don't like anchovies, leave them out; capers too expensive, add a little chopped garlic instead; got some window-box herbs, add a few sprigs.
This versatile appetizer can be served on your favorite cracker or cut pita triangle as a canape. It even goes well as an extra topping on The 99 Cent Chef's Pita Pizzas.
Black olives are a favorite budget item this black-tie-avoiding Chef never tires of.
1 15oz. can of pitted black olives - drained
1/3 cup of olive oil*
Pepper to taste
All the following ingredients are optional -- use any or all.
3 large sun dried tomato halves with oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic - jar or fresh
1 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs - including parsley, sage or oregano
1 tbsp. capers - drained
1 whole anchovy from can
1 tbsp. of Dijon mustard
2 French rolls - 6 inch size or just 1/2 loaf - sliced.
2 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle bread slices with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toast in oven or toaster oven for about 7 minutes at 350 degrees until lightly browned.
Directions for Tapenade
Simple, just combine all the ingredients you have on hand and blender, or food process, until finely chopped. Ready to serve on Crostini toast, crackers or pita triangles. You can prepare way ahead and store in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
*Ok to use less olive oil, too.