Thursday, August 23, 2018

Donuts Lately

I've died and gone to Donut Heaven this summer. From the Donut Man to my local donut shop, DK's, in Santa Monica, I've been indulging a lot lately.


For a couple of summer months my fave donut is from Donut Man, and my kind neighbor drives out to Glendora once a year to bring back a few boxes. I always get 3 Peach Donuts.



And each donut is huge, loaded with fresh peeled and sliced peaches. At $4.50 per donut, these are not cheap, but each one weights 3/4 of a pound and last time I counted there were 10 peach slices per donut. And the pastry donut part is humongous as well.


The pastry is a yeast-style, so it's light, airy and has a sweet sugar glaze. 


For a neighborhood dunker I've been going to DK's Donuts in Santa Monica lately. It's on the way to my favorite movie house, the Aero, so I've been known to make a late night stop. 

They are located in a mini-mall of course, and in the alley behind the store is an angel wings/donut halo mural pictured at top of this blog post. So go there for your own halo selfie.


And they have the most unique donut around, the Original Ube Purple Yam Donut. It looks unusual, but really tastes like any regular donut. 


It's a heavy cake donut and sweet. The purple color is from a Japanese yam, but the donut doesn't taste like a yam, really. Most of DK's donuts are about $3 each.


But the prettiest donut in town is right there as well, a flower donut. And the flower is edible, too.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Liver Cheese - Cheap$kate Dining Video Review

Sometimes I like it funky. I mean funky organ meat like liver, that is. I sometimes get it on sale at my local 99c only Stores. This Deal of the Day video is not for the faint of palate, you gotta have a strong stomach to make it through my latest Cheap$kate Dining video.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Usually, I get tubes of Liverwurst or Braunschweiger from the cold deli case. I just spread some of the pate-like meat on a fave cracker for a snack.



 I add a little mustard and a slice of gherkin, too.


I also like to cook chicken livers when I bake a whole chicken. It only takes a few minutes of sauteing, and is something to snack on while the chicken roasts.

So when I saw Oscar Mayer Liver Cheese on sale, well, I had to try it. First off there is no cheese in the package.


 Liver-cheese is a translation of the German word " Leberk√§se," where this type of porcine meat/cheese mixture was popularized in the 1700's.

I like the short ingredient list, mainly ground pork liver, with the addition of other cuts of pork, salt and onion flavor.



The flavor is typical liver - minerally and gamey at the same time with intense meat flavor. It is an acquired taste, unlike any other cut of (organ) meat. Even the smell is overpowering.  It's like comparing cooked cauliflower to carrots, both veggies are on opposites ends of the flavor scale.

Oscar Mayer Liver Cheese is fine ground like a pate and formed into thin slices. It remains moist this way, whereas whole liver can be very dry if over-sauteed.


I've grown to like liver. I don't eat it every month, but when a craving hits me I get a nice loaf of freshly baked bread or favorite crackers. I add a smear of mustard and a pickle slice, when making an appetizer.




What is unusual in this Oscar Mayer version is the thin fat rind that encompasses each slice. It is a peculiar addition, that takes getting used to. I kinda got used to it, though.

The fat rind has a slight chew and is similar in texture to fat that is attached to slices of ham, although without the smokey flavor. I'm sure it's reconstituted for a uniform shape and firmness. The rind is a nice texture contrast to creamy pork liver.


So how does Oscar Mayer's Liver Cheese rate on the 99 Cent Chef's Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? I thought it taste just like ground liver should, pungent and meaty. So I give this Deal of the Day a....well, just watch the video below to see how I rate it!
Liver Cheese - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 1 minute 31 seconds

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

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)
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 to 3 whole eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. of vanilla - optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice - fresh squeezed or carton pasteurize.
  • 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!

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

Country Gravy with Sausage - Video Recipe

Breakfast is heavy. I grew up in the South where calories are king, and Country Gravy with Sausage was often the first meal of the day.


During my childhood weekend mornings, my Dad would get us kids started with this Southern staple for breakfast. There was nothing better than tearing up hot biscuits and drenching them in Country Gravy with Sausage.

And it is easy to make, if you use ready-to-bake biscuits. Now this is an extreme shortcut for biscuit purists, but some mornings I'm just too lazy to make homemade ones.


If you have a biscuit recipe then pair it with my Country Gravy with Sausage recipe. But if you are drowsy and cheap, then this recipe with store bought biscuits will do just fine.


Click on any photo to see larger

I use cheap ground breakfast sausage that tends to be quite fatty, but all that rendered grease will be put to tasty use when mixed with flour and whole milk. Of course, it's okay to pour out some of the grease, but do leave a little, as it adds so much lush flavor to country-style gravy.


You can even use any lean sausage meat substitute as well, but be sure to drizzle in some tasty oil for a richer gravy.


I use whole milk and regular white flour as the gravy base. Again it's okay to lighten things up with low fat milk, or even a milk substitute. You can use healthier whole wheat flour instead of traditional bland white flour.


Okay to use milk substitute like Almond Milk. 

All the ingredients are cheap enough as I get it all from my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree. Breakfast sausage comes in 8 to 12 ounce packages. You can use as much sausage in the gravy as you like. And milk and flour are cheap enough.




The recipe comes together quickly, in the time it takes to bake biscuits for about 15 minutes. Just brown the sausage as the biscuits bake.

Once the sausage is cooked through, then sprinkle in flour and cook for a few minutes. Finish up by stirring in milk. Along with a little salt, I like a lot of black pepper in my Sausage Gravy, so don't be skimpy with it.

You don't want to serve this calorie bomb too often, but, boy does Country Gravy with Sausage hit all your flavor buttons.

Country Gravy with Sausage - Video

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 27 seconds.

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

Ingredients (about 2-3 servings)
5 biscuits - I used ready-to-bake. Okay to use your favorite biscuit recipe.
Breakfast pork sausage - about 8 to 12 ounces.
2 cups milk - whole or low fat. Okay to use milk substitute like Almond Milk.
1/4 cup of flour - white or wheat.
Salt and plenty of pepper to taste.


Directions
It takes about 15 minutes to prepare the gravy - about the same time it takes to bake biscuits. So you can start both at the same time. If the biscuits take longer to bake, you can keep the gravy at low heat, until ready to eat (stir in a tablespoon of milk at a time if gravy thickens too much.)

 Typical store bought biscuits cook in about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

While biscuits bake, in a large pan or pot, over medium heat, add raw pork breakfast sausage. As sausage browns, break it apart into smaller pieces. It's okay to use formed sausage patties or links, just break them up as they cook.


It's best to get the sausage nice and brown, at least on one side. The caramelizing adds a lot of flavor to the gravy. Cook the sausage all the way through for about 5 minutes (depending on the size of sausage pieces.)

 Breakfast sausage tends to have a lot of fat, so it's up to you how much rendered grease you want to keep in the pan. It's okay to pour out some grease to lower calories, but do leave a tablespoon for extra richness and flavor.

Next sprinkle on a quarter cup of flour. Stir into the cooked sausage and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.


Slowly pour in the milk and stir to mix well. Keep stirring so any flour lumps break down. Once the gravy is brought up to a low simmer, it should begin to thicken in a couple of minutes. Once the gravy is thick and hot it is ready to pour over biscuits.

Almond milk version


My gravy recipe is for a thick one. You can add a tablespoon of milk at a time to thin it out some, if that's the way you like it.

Biscuit cooking time may vary, depending on the type you buy or make, so time the baking so both gravy and biscuits are done about the same time. You can get the gravy started first, as it is easy enough to keep warm, or just heat up at the last minute.

Serve hot biscuits covered in my delicious Homemade Sausage Gravy. Some like to tear their biscuits apart first, then spoon on the gravy. I just lay out a couple of them and cover it all with Sausage Gravy.



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