Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oscar Party Recipes

And the Best Oscar Entree goes to...YOU! Come and accept your award-winning chow and pass it around to your Oscar party guests.

Starting with my recipe for "The Martian" Shepherd's Pie, it will send your guests taste buds into a delicious orbit with the first spoonful. In the Oscar-nominated movie The Martian, a stranded astronaut survives on spuds (called one the most nutritiously complete foods.) This hearty dish is a baked veggie stew with meat that is topped with creamy mashed potatoes. So get your Best Cook award speech ready, and you can give this Cheap$kate Cuisinier an honorable mention if you want! Just click here to blast off.

The Revenant is a brutal masterpiece of the big screen. The pivotal scene involves actor Leonardo DiCaprio's mauling by a bear. Its graphic flaying of flesh may turn your stomach, but if you can stand the bloodletting then you can watch my "Revenant" BBO Pulled Pork video, that involves a whole raw fleshy pork shoulder.

The time frame of the movie is colonial America, and my "Revenant" BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe will bring out the animal in your invitees. So step up to the BBQ grill and get some vittles. You'll get raucous whoopin' and hollerin' when you set out a platter of my "Revenant" BBQ Pulled Pork. The heck with movie star dieting -- as you watch these anorexics amble to the stage to accept an award, you can kick back with a brewski and indulge a plate of meaty smoked pork sliders, with a side of coleslaw. Just click here to get a gander at all the recipe details.

My video recipe above uses hamburger buns, but get more of a spread with smaller dinner rolls to make BBQ Pork Sliders. The Revenant trailer is here.

Hollywood is known as a den of iniquity, and this live-and-let-live Film Making Chef would not have it any other way.  The Best Picture nominated Carol explores a lesbian love story set in conservative1950's NYC. This is also a great example of classic Hollywood direction by Todd Haynes, made with subtly and good taste. Of all the nominated Best Picture films, I like this one the best. Go ahead and call me old fashioned, just not intolerant. The artful movie trailer is here.

I live on the Left Coast and we were the first to legalize gay marriage in the U.S. in 2008 until a Mormon-backed (and funded) bill eventually overturned it -- then just last year the Supreme Court fully legalized gay marriage in this Land of the Free.

My next Oscar-themed recipe is "Carol" Rainbow Sprinkles Cupcakes, mixed with multi-colored sprinkles and topped with a sweet cherry. So heat up the oven and dust off the cupcake pan for my colorful just desserts.

If your Oscar party revelers are religious fundamentalists,  just skip the recipe video below for now - you wouldn't want them to see that same-sex couples are really just like them. Get all the sweet recipe directions here.

Hey, wealth-extracting Wall Street fat cats, come and get it. If you're like the predatory slime depicted in The Big Short, I have a way you can redeem yourselves at your Oscar Party. Put on the Ritz and serve up some "The Big Short" Portabella Crab Rockefeller. The recipe is so easy even a hedge fund manager can make it! 

I created this recipe using a Tiffany tinned bauble of canned crab, but if your stock dividend just spit and the government bailed you out...again, then get expensive fresh crab from your fave seafood market. For the rest of us in the cheap seats, fake krab is a tasty budget-wise substitution.

I often find expensive portabella mushrooms at my local 99c only Store. The other ingredients of cream, spinach, and cheese are cheap enough. So click here to get the recipe and serve up my Big Short Portabella Crab Rockefeller and watch as your guest swing from the chandelier with delight after a few flutes of champagne and this rich tasting entree. The Big Short trailer is here.

The Best Picture nominee Spotlight exposes clerical child abuse in the Boston Catholic Church Archdiocese. This is heavy stuff but well done. I like activist films that pull no punches and tell truth to power. Just check out the trailer here, for a taste.

As a child, I was a Catholic altar boy. Between service, I would stare up at the sheet of weekly film ratings in the church lobby to check out what I was allowed to see at the local movie house. If it was an Elvis Presley movie, I knew it was would be confession-time for me the next Sunday, as the singer's musical movies were usually rated "B" for bad - man, how I loved Elvis movies as a kid.

Maybe one day the Catholic Church will join the 21 Century, allowing all it's clergy to marry, even same-sex, and put women in positions of power as priests. I have faith that one day the Vatican will see the light.

My Oscar entree of "Spotlight" Clam Chowder is perfect for dipping your communion wafer. A creamy bowl of the Heretic Chef's Boston-style clam chowder is a beatific vision of deliciousness. After tasting one spoonful, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven! And get the recipe here.

"The Hateful Eight" Black-eyed Peas is a knockout dish, just like Jennifer Jason Lee's Oscar-worthy Supporting Actress performance. Director Quentin Tarantino is a sometimes ham-fisted filmmaker you love to hate. While indulgent, over the top, and profane, he can sure deliver a mouthful of spicy dialogue.

The most controversial part of The Hateful Eight belongs to the character of Daisy Domergue played by Jennifer Jason Lee. Throughout the movie, she is literally beat over the head with dialogue (thus my black-eyed recipe.) Not a pretty sight, but eventually the tables are turned. If you can take the heat, then do check out the movie trailer here.

This pot of goodness will have your Oscar party guest scraping the plate for every tender legume. And, man is this entree cheap. By the sweat of your brow, you'll get enough food to feed your captive Oscar audience. My recipe is here.

So try out any of my Oscar Party dishes. You're sure to get a standing O. So have your acceptance speech ready because the golden statuette for Best Entree at an Oscar Party will be yours.

And as a special bonus, here is my Oscar Special video from a few years ago -- just check out the Cheap$kate Thespian hamming it up.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chicken & Basil Stir Fry - Video Recipe

This is a perfect windowsill herb garden recipe. I have always have a small herb garden somewhere nearby, either in a pot, or I'll reserve a small part of my patio garden.

I get small basil plants from the local nursery or hardware store. A basil plant only cost a few dollars and once it grows out, you can get several serving worth - a much cheaper way to go than buying an expensive bag of basil leaves from the grocery store. A farmers market is another less expensive place to find basil plants.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

You can use regular basil or Thai Basil. Both are about the same, although Thai basil has a slight mint undertaste. I see Thai basil at local nurseries too.

My Chicken & Basil Stir Fry is pungent, but not overly so. Like spinach, basil leaves shrink when cooked, and once mixed into a stir fry takes on a milder flavor.

I also add minced garlic and sliced green onion, but you can substitute cheap sliced yellow or white onion if green onion is not available, or too expensive.

This recipe is based on a Thai recipe, so the other flavors are soy and fish sauce with a little honey (or sugar.) If you cannot find fish sauce, then use easier-to-get oyster sauce. But this stir fry will taste fine without fish sauce or oyster sauce.

Usually Basil and Chicken Stir Fry has a whole spicy red chili. For this recipe you can use red pepper flakes or any spicy chili from your local market. Of course, you can leave the heat out.

I find skinless dark meat chicken on sale all the time at my local Latin market, for less than a dollar per pound. If you want to keep it cheap then you have to by it bone-in. It's not that hard to remove the bone, especially for breast meat. You could also use lean ground chicken or turkey, instead.

It's a one pan meal, and all comes together quickly, that's why I like to make a stir fry. It only takes about 10 minutes to do, and it's ready when the chicken is cooked through.

If you like fresh herbs in your entree, then try out the 99 Cent Cheap$kates latest recipe, a fragrant Chicken & Basil Stir Fry.

Chicken & Basil Stir Fry - Video

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 43 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

  • 2 pounds chicken - I used skinless and boneless dark meat, okay to use breast meat. Ground chicken or turkey is good substitute.
  • 1 green onion - okay to use 1/4 yellow or white onion, sliced or chopped. Okay to add as much green onion as you like.
  • 1 cup basil leaves - add as much as you like, to taste. You can use dried basil leaves in a pinch, try a tablespoon.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • 1 teaspoon honey - or any favorite sweetener.
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce - okay to substitute with oyster sauce. Will still be tasty if you cannot find either one. 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce - more or less to suit your taste.
  • 1 tablespoon oil - to saute chicken.
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or flour - optional. This will thicken liquid, if you like it that way. Mix into raw chicken.
  • 1/4 cup water or favorite broth - optional. Add this if you like a lot of sauce in your stir fry.

*For a little spicy heat it okay to add a 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or less if you have a low tolerance.) Traditionally, small red hot chilis are added during sauteing. You could use any spicy chili or jalapeno. You will want to add a little at a time to reach desired spiciness.

If you are serving with rice, then get the rice going, according to package directions. It will take 20 to 30 minutes. When about half way done, you can start the Chicken and Basil Stir Fry. You can make the rice ahead of time - I usually have a cup or two of cooked rice in the freezer, that microwaves to hot in just a few minutes.

For this recipe I used skinless and boneless dark meat (It comes on sale for less than a dollar per pound, so I always have some in the freezer, at the ready.) You can use more lean, but expensive, white breast meat if you can afford it. White meat is easier to remove from the bone than dark meat.

Add oil to a medium/hot pan. For a thick sauce sprinkle in a teaspoon of corn starch or flour over chicken. Add chicken to hot pan.

Stir in garlic and mix well. Add a teaspoon of honey or any favorite sweetener.

Pour in soy sauce and fish sauce (or oyster sauce.)

Add sliced green onion or regular sliced white or yellow onion.

If you like a lot of sauce then add an extra 1/4 cup of water or favorite broth.

Continue to stir and cook chicken until done, about 3-5 minutes. Check for doneness by slicing into thickest piece of chicken to make sure there is no pink color.

When chicken is done add the basil leaves (remove any large stems.) You only need to stir fry less than a minute to soften the leaves.

Serve over rice or noodles. My Chicken and Basil Stir Fry is tasty on it's own, or serve with a fresh salad (my Thai Cucumber Salad is a quick away, here.)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine Day Recipes - Videos & a Photo Story

Please sit down and have a glass of wine, and how about a back massage? Well, you are in the right place for a romantic read. Here, let me hold your hand and guide you through my luscious menu of Valentine Day Recipes. If the following recipes look enticing to you then click on any name and you will be directed to my food blog page.

First up, let me set the scene with a video of the Amorous Epicurean on the prowl for budget aphrodisiac ingredients to create a perfect romantic dinner date. Here, let me adjust your cushion for you -- okay now you can watch it below.

Shopping for a Romantic Recipe - VIDEO

You will want to start your romantic evening meal with an appetizer: a plump and pleasing Steamed Artichoke is the perfect dish to share with each other. Just swipe a steamed artichoke leaf into my creamy Ginger Mayo Dip and feed the tender petal end to your amour. Your appetite will surely build as you get to the delicately delicious artichoke heart. My Steamed Artichoke appetizer is just a tease.

Cooking & Eating an Artichoke - VIDEO

A lovely Pear and Spinach Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing looks good on the plate and will impress your true love with its lightness and fresh flavors. And it's the perfect prelude to the main course.

I think Italian food is the most sexy of cuisines. Tender swirling ropes of pasta sliding through a rich creamy sauce will soften any hardened heart. Just click on any recipe name below to see my luscious photos and read my tender prose.

There is nothing like a creamy warm egg yolk to stoke the fires of desire, and the Flirty Chef's  Spaghetti alla Carbonara is the perfect mood-setter. With the first bite your date will swoon with pleasure. A sprinkling of crumbled bacon over the pasta is gilding the lilly, but sometimes you need to go all the way!

In my Spaghetti alla Carbonara Video below I took a couple of cheap shortcuts. I used bacon bits, but you could substitute real bacon or kick it up a notch with sauteed panchetta. Also, fresh shaved parmesan cheese will be more pleasing than the dried brand I used. And finally, I added a blended raw egg -- for a more romantic presentation, just gently place the egg yolk on a mound of  steaming pasta.

Would you like another glass of wine before you watch my Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe video below? Oh, don't worry about driving - I'll call Uber for you.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe - VIDEO

There, wasn't that edifying? Staying on the creamy theme, I can also recommend my Fettuccine Alfredo.

It's pasta with butter and cream -- simple and direct. You could mix in some fresh steamed veggies like broccoli for color and crunch -- just see how easy it is to do by clicking here on my Veggies in Cream with Pasta.

For something lighter, lose the cream and serve my stripped down pasta recipe of John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Olive Oil and Garlic with Spaghetti. It's a spicy tongue-tingler any tough guy can knock out. Or if you want to channel your inner domestic goddess, then tie on the apron, get out the pot holders, and bring a hot casserole dish of my luscious Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese to the dining room table. Just check out the tempting short animated video below to see how it's done.

Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Cheese - VIDEO

A close second to the most sensuous of nibbling is a tender fish fillet on rice, or Sushi. Raw seafood will quicken a lovers pulse, and if you chase the sushi down with a few warm cups of sake the temptation to stay the night may be overwhelming.

My Sushi recipes are quite easy to do when you follow my directions. I even have a recipe for those averse to raw fish, a California Roll (in the hay,) that's made with cooked fake krab, creamy avocado and sliced cucumber. Seafood Rolls and Sushi are handheld bites meant to be shared with your amour.

California Roll -VIDEO

Hawaii is the destination for romancing. It was a picture perfect sunset, at a beach bungalow in Kauai, as I grilled fresh fish and prepared a meal for my love, Amy. After dinner I got out the engagement ring, got on one knee, and asked her to marry me. It was many years ago, but seems just like yesterday.

Make your own romantic Hawaii-themed date night with my exotic Island classic: Lau Lau. It's a banana leaf-wrapped package of deliciousness. The aroma of slow roasting pork will fill the kitchen and dining room, stoking the appetite of desire. Slowly unwrap the package of tender Lau Lau for your beloved. You won't need a Lei of plumeria flowers to steal a kiss when you serve my savory dish. So click here to see the luscious photos and easy-to-follow recipe text. And aloha to love.

Hawaiian-style Lau Lau

Of course, you can't have a romantic dinner date without the sweets. And I have a simply delicious deconstructed dessert that I call Mini-Banana Puddings. It's the perfect finger food to woe your loved one. All you need is to lay out some vanilla wafers and stack with a spoonful of pudding and banana slices, finally topped with Hersey Chocolate Kisses. You could also drizzle on any sweet topping like: chocolate syrup, caramel, and other favorite candy pieces or sprinkles.

After a ravenous night you will need a replenishing morning meal. And the Don Juan Gourmand's palate-pleasing Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus will satiate any food lover.

It looks good on the plate, but be sure to make plenty, as your sweetheart will ask for seconds!

Another morning after meal is my French-style Omelet. It's a labor of love that you may want to practice making a couple of times to get right. Like lovemaking, the more you do it the better you get! And I have all the right moves a click away here.

Here are a few more romantic entrees you can try (just click on any name): Chef Zakk's Tuscan Primavera - Cajun Style, Chicken Stroganoff, Julia Child's Crepes Suzette, Baked Chicken with Grapes, Shepherd's Pie, Portabella Crab Rockefeller, Coconut Crusted Fish & Mango Salsa, Pork Bourguignon, Vegas Eggs Benedict, French Cassoulet, Stuffed Poblano Chiles, and Roasted Mint Chicken.

So, au revoir, -- and I'll leave you with my most outrageous Valentine Day photo story called:

The 99 Cent Lover

All items cost 99.99 cents (okay, $1)

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. The real partying starts this weekend and culminates on Fat Tuesday, February 25th, where everyone lines streets for the parades and floats with masked bead throwers. This is the time of year when New Orleans lets it's freak flag fly -- all week long!

Click on any photo to see larger.

Mardi Gras is more than plastic beads and Kings Cake. So read on and watch 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.

Alright, let's get this party started! Walking the French Quarter in New Orleans, revelers carry drinks spiked with knee-buckling Everclear spirits. And I always make a stop at the local drive-thru for a  boozy slushy Daiquiri.

Yep, you heard right, that's the way we roll in Cajun country. Now don't worry, you don't drink and drive, just take it home and chill. If you think I'm pulling your leg, then check us out in the video below doing a Daiquiri drive-thru!

If buzzy spirits are too much for you, then settle down within view of the Mississippi River in New Orleans for a chickory-flavored cup of Joe and sugar-powdered beignets at world-famous Cafe du Monde. After the caffeine and sugar rush you will be ready to take in New Orleans and the outrageous French Quarter, just a few steps away.,

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.

Cajun Flea Market Eats - Video

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 and Mardi Gras parade floats, and getting a good buzz (we were underage, so no booze, but we found other natural 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 where the college-aged, tie-dye wearing driver, and cool chicks in tight bell-bottom jeans, on the backbench seat, passing around a doobie, before dropping us off in the city.

Looks like Red State Louisiana has agreed with Blue State California in legalizing marijuana for medical use. I guess we can all get along if there's a peace pipe to share.

I've kept in touch with my high school buddy Marvin and like to look him up when I land in New Orleans. Check out the video below to see how I (dinner) roll these days, when I tour the Crescent City in search of a delicious Po' Boy Sandwich with my high school bud - all the tasty details are in my original blog post here.

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

New Orleans Po'  Boy Tour - Video

This year I met up with my long lost brother from another.....daddy, and he's known as the Swamp Chef! He showed up on Mom's doorstep one day and she welcomed him back into the family, and I must say he's a chip off the cypress tree block. He'd fit into a-rockin' Cajun ZZ Top lineup, but with a wooden stirring spoon instead of a guitar.

99 Cent Chef, Mom and Swamp Chef

When the Swamp Chef shows up there is always a delicious celebration -- and this time it's a BBQ Sausage Po'Boy Party!! Here in Gonzales, Louisiana, it's all about the bread when making a Po'Boy, or as it's also known, a Poor Boy. Just watch the video below to see how the Swamp Chef grills locally made sausages by Ivderstine Farms Butchers and stuff them into a loaf of Reisling's French bread.

The Swamp Chef knows the lay of the land around here and he recommends all you Mardi Gras tourists who need a pitstop, to park here in Gonzales, Lousiana for a big lunch plate of Jambalaya. Just check out the Swamp Chef giving you the lowdown in the video below. And it's dirt cheap of course!

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.

If you hang out in Louisiana for any amount of time you will inevitably eat spicy steamed mudbugs, crayfish, or as the locals call them, Crawfish. They are milder in seafood flavor than shrimp and are about the size of a small bay shrimp. If you've never had them then watch my video below to learn how to eat one.

It quickly becomes a party when I visit Gonzales Louisiana to see my Cajun family. 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.)

Chef Matt's Shrimp & Grits - Video

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 keeps 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.

Ms. Patti's Vegan Red Beans and Rice - Video

 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, Mom's 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.)

 Mom's Jambalaya - Video

 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 - Video

Lately, when Mom makes hot and spicy Gumbo she adds a scoop of cool Cajun Potato Salad. Last time she was here in Los Angeles I got her to make some, and my cute niece Maranda dropped by to help. This recipe is a family affair you can check out below.

Mom's Cajun Potato Salad - Video

Next to Gumbo, a rich and creamy Étouffée made with local crawfish is another decadent stew. Check out local Chef Tony's take on Crawfish Étouffée.

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 attest. He also throws in a mind-blowing side of Sweet Potato Hash, and yes, it's loaded with bacon.

 Zakk's recipe gets everyone in on the action including his Mom and my Mom, whom make a noshing appearance. So do check out his delicious Cajun recipes below and click here for all the written details.

Zakk's Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash - Video

The South's favorite nut, next to peanut, is the pecan. And my chef nephew Matt has the best Pecan Crusted Fish recipe this side of the Mississippi River. And he throws in a vegan Spinach Salad with a creamy Strawberry Vinaigrette. Now that's a mouthful.

Pecan Crusted Fish and Spinach Salad with a Strawberry Vinaigrette

My most outrageous Cajun recipe is an Alligator Po' Boy sandwich made by my nephew Chef Matt. They say alligator tastes like chicken -- to me, it is close to the texture of a pork chop and tastes somewhere between chicken and shrimp. Just check out the recipe video and make sure to watch all the way to the end, where the relatives go hog wild over the Alligator Po' Boy.

Alligator Po' Boy - Video

How low can one recipe go? Well, check out the Swamp Chef and nephew Chef Matt's Deep Fried Frog Legs...not for the faint of palate! This recipe goes from a swamp frog hunt to the deep fryer.

Frog Legs Recipe - Video

If you are not in New Orleans attending the glittery and debauched Mardi Gras festivities, you can still have a tasty good time - if you remember to bookmark this page and come back to make any of my Cajun Mardi Gras meals. So 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

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

Phone: (504) 523-9656

Parasol's Bar and Restaurant - 2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone:(504) 302-1543

For a tasty local Los Angeles Po' Boy try The Gumbo Pot in the Mid-City located Farmer's Market. $11.55 for Shrimp or Oyster, and $11.75 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.

Another local food find for Cajun Cuisine is a restaurant and deli store called Little Jewel, in downtown LA's Chinatown. It's the real deal too. Listen in as you get all the tasty details in my special Restaurant Nocturne arty video below. (BTW, the chef/owner drops an F-bomb at 1:53 minutes.)

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