Friday, July 31, 2020

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 delicious 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, And if you need a reminder on how to tell when an avocado is ripe, just click 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. 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 frosty mug of 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.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Tomato Season Recipes

Here are my first tomatoes of the season - right off the vine. I like to serve them uncooked when the tomatoes are at the maximum freshness and most juicy. This is when you taste all the flavor a tomato has to offer.


This cheap$kate gardener seldom has a bumper crop, but the ones I pick will be put to delicious use. If you don't have a garden, maybe you have a generous neighbor, a local fave farmers market, or if you are on the road and just pull over into a roadside veggie and fruit stand with a hand-painted tomato sign.

So read on for the freshest tomato recipes that are just a slice away. And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blog post for the complete recipe text with photo illustrations.


For a fresh garden tomato just simply slice it and add a couple more ingredients. My favorite recipe is for a Caprese Salad that's composed of fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, salt, olive oil, and of course, thick slices of fresh tomato.


Arrange the parts on a plate and serve at room temperature. Set out a plate for your guests, and be sure to have a couple bottles of wine ready to pour.

I find heirloom tomatoes at my local 99c only Stores from time to time and they are usually the real thing, too.


And summertime is the right time for a chilly tomato soup by way of Spain called Gazspacho. It is a great way to start a patio party, just set out a bowl and let your guest serve themselves while you man the grill.


Gazsphacho is a tasty medley of fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, onion, and cucumber. It gets a rich hit of olive oil to finish in the blender. No cooking needed for this recipe and you can see how easy to pull off below.



An Italian version of salsa on tortilla chips, are lightly marinated chopped tomatoes served on wedges of toast, that's called Bruschetta. Serve it as a crunchy appetizer.



Salads and large chunks of sliced homegrown tomatoes belong together. Go light on the salad dressing though, because you want that fresh tomato flavor to come through clearly.

Warm Corn, Tomato & Cilantro Salad is a simple side dish to make. It's okay to use always cheap, fresh, frozen, or even canned corn.


I have a 2 Minute Salad made with easy-to-get ingredients, including canned chicken (okay to substitute canned tuna,) spinach, canned beets, and tomato.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

This cheap$kate salad travels well and can be quickly put together for lunch at your workplace.



My most unusual salad uses canned hearts of palm. I came up with Hearts of Palm Salad - Brazilian Style because I keep seeing the mild-tasting main ingredients on sale at my local 99c only Stores. If you have never tried heart of palm, then break yourself in with this fresh salad idea.



Another salad takes the crown for Best Classic Salad, my version of a Crab Louis Salad. While expensive ingredients are called for, I have found asparagus frequently on sale, and I use cheap fake crab, or krab.



Of course, if you are cooking to impress then use real lump crab meat.


Sauteed sliced steak, or feta cheese, on a salad needs a strong flavored tomato, and a garden tomato is up for the job in my Warm Steak and Armenian-Style salads, that features pungent feta cheese.



Italian pasta sauces will not be much improved upon with a fresh garden tomato. However, the exception is my Rustic Tomato Sauce with Pasta. The fresh tomato is added at the last minute and only cooked until it starts to collapse, but still at peak flavor.


A big fat tomato slice is what every sandwich requires, at least in my recipe book. I like tomato on my Breakfast Egg Sandwich, and even a wedge of tomato nestled in my Chicago-style Hot Dog.



For a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich, you gotta have a good tomato. I kick my BLT up a notch with the addition of avocado.


For my vegetarian visitors add tomato to my delish grilled Portabella Mushroom Burger, or a Veggie Wrap with Hummus.



 Veggie Wrap with Hummus - ingredients

Mexican cuisine loves the tomato. And the freshest way to use it is chopped into a chunky Pico de Gallo salsa. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips, or add this salsa to most any Mexican entree like: burritos comprised of Carnitas (pork,) Carne Asada (steak,) Eggs & Refried BeansPastrami & Coleslaw (?!!) -- and tacos made with: FishCarne AsadaCarnitasPoultryBreakfastTinga (spicy chicken stew,) Chicken Green Chile Verde, and Chorizo & Egg,  

Pico de Gallo - chunky salsa

Summer Ceviche made with krab, drained black beans, cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, and creamy avocado is my go-to patio party starter. Set out a big bowl of chips to scoop up my cool Krab Ceviche. And be sure to have some Picante hot sauce at the ready.
Summer Ceviche - Video


I'll leave you with a bit of cheap$kate comedy about my video visit to a local garden nursery for free noshing on fruit picked fresh from the vine, including a beefsteak tomato. Bon appetit !



Saturday, July 18, 2020

National Hot Dog Day - Recipes & Reviews

šŸŒ­ July 18th is National Hot Dog Day, so let's begin with a recipe that is literally a hot mess, the L.A. Street Dog. The wiener is bacon-wrapped and topped with mayo, ketchup, mustard, and a grilled fajita mix of bell pepper, onion, and finally a spicy jalapeno. Whew, that's a mouthful. Check it out below. And click on any restaurant name or recipe name to see the original blogpost with all the yummy photos and tasty prose.



The premier tube steak purveyor in town may be Fab's Hot Dogs. Chef-owner Joe Fabrocini has brought virtually all of America to the San Fernando Valley, offering a menu of beautifully crafted dogs from every region worth it's mustard. The selection of hot dogs is head spinning, but go ahead and dive into my video, where I show you a few favorites.



Summertime is Hot Dog Season and nothing beats making your own. I always have mustard and pickle relish in the fridge, and tube steaks and hot dog buns in the freezer. I make 'em this way more than any other - sweet pickle relish, sour mustard and a meaty weenie on a bun, so good, and below is my simple recipe for a Relish Dog.



Pink's, L.A.'s most popular hot dog stand (the place can't put up all its celebrity headshots), was started in 1939 with just a pushcart and has the longest lines of any fast-food stand, and deservedly so. It has been filmed and reviewed by every media outlet in L.A. so I won't repeat it all here. However, I did notice one special hot dog that has not been covered, and that is the "Dude," named after the conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel. It's the most extravagant of hot dogs - get an eyeful of it in my video below.



I like a Chili Dog anytime. Where does this cheap$kate and lazy Chef get his chili? From the can of course! Just watch my Chili Dog recipe and make your own, the 99 Cent Chef way.



Let's Be Frank, serves up wieners with compassion. No factory farm beef, pork, or turkey is used in their franks. All the animals are 100% grass-fed and humanely raised locally in California. Hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, and nitrites are not added in the production of the meat.



I often gild the lily, that is I lay it on thick, like my next Hot Dog recipe, a Chili & Sauerkraut Dog. I find sauerkraut from the can or jar and chili from a can is tasty enough -- no need to complicate things.



Carney's dining train car hosts the cheapest Hot Dog Happy Hour on L.A.'s notorious, and famed Sunset Strip, serving a trifecta of beer, hot dog, and fries for $4.75! This is one of the best deals in town too!



If chili and sauerkraut are not your cup of tea then leave out the heaviness of chili and go with a simply delicious Kraut Dog. I've left a jar of sauerkraut in the fridge for weeks at a time and it keeps on giving these intensely flavored hot dogs.



Come on down to Crenshaw Boulevard in South L.A. for soulful hot dogz served by Earlez Grill. These wieners are split and grilled on a flattop for max flavor. Check out my video below to hang with the boyz and girlz in the 'hood.



I like a Chili Dog with sweet relish. Hot, meaty chili cut through with sweet relish is satisfying on so many levers. Just watch my Chili & Relish Dog recipe...be still my heart!



A culinary car crash of cultures, the Oki Dog is a true representative of diverse Los Angeles. Combining the all-American fast food standbys of hot dogs, chile and American cheese, with the Jewish deli classic pastrami, and wrapped in a Latin street food Mexican blanket of a flour tortilla. I dare you to try and finish one. Well, if you want to see what I'm talking about look no further than the video below.



You don't have to go far these days to bring Coney Island to your town. 


I get a famous East Coast Nathan's Hot Dog from the frozen deli case of my local Dollar Tree, when I want an easy, microwavable, quickie lunch. They do the job and I even wrote a Cheap$kate Deal of the Day you can read here.


They come naked so I dress the dogs with just mustard and sweet pickle relish, how about you?


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Bastille Day - French Cuisine Recipes

This Chef is a Francophile. I like movies by Jean-Luc Godard, ye-ye pop music by Serge Gainsbourg, and pommes frites, yes French Fries.

There is more to French cuisine than French Fries of course and this Chef de Cuisine of the internet has picked up a few recipes for this Bastille Day on July 14th -- the cheap$kate way, of course. So read on to see scrumptious videos and food photography, that I hope inspires you to try a recipe or two. And click on any recipe name to go to my blog post with all the yummy photos and delish recipe instructions.

This French holiday is celebrated as the turning point of the French Revolution on July 14, 1790. Hey, this sounds like a fine excuse to celebrate French cuisine, to me! So I'll start with one of my favorite ones, a hearty Cassoulet casserole.


One of my early L.A. jobs in the Biz was as a videotape editor. Lunch was often in a neighborhood restaurant run by a charming French couple. My favorite dish was a comforting plate of Cassoulet. It reminded me of a rustic home-cooked all-in-one dish: a bean casserole version of Mom's Cajun rice dish, Jambalaya.

A classic Cassoulet is made with confit duck legs, sausage, and white beans. I've yet to find duck for 99c or less a pound but chicken quarters from a local Latin market do fine; as for sausage, 99c only Stores always carry it.



A French mirepoix of veggies include onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, and celery. They will sweeten this stew with slow cooking on the stovetop and in the oven.


In fall and winter months I make a Cassoulet almost every few weeks, and always have leftovers to enjoy and share.

My next Francophile recipe really does use the cheapest veggie, onions. French Onion Soup uses half a dozen roughly sliced onions, that are cooked down until caramelized to a sweet brown hue.

 I get them from my local Latin market anywhere from 4 pounds for a dollar. Go ahead and use the least expensive white or yellow onions.

French Onion Soup comes together with red wine (cheap is okay,) a fave broth, butter, and a little flour to thicken it. A pretty simple recipe, but oh so delish, especially when it's finished off topped with cheese and a slice of crusty bread.

My favorite fries are double-fried French Fries, and that's a tasty mouthful. Soggy fries were the norm until McDonald's came on the scene and changed forever the way Americans look at French Fries.

It became all about the crunchy outside and fluffy inside. And anyone can do it if you follow my method in the video below. But you have to go to the end of the video for my French Fry tutorial, as the first part is all about British-style beer-battered fried fish.



You would think a world-famous French chef would do French Fries right? Wrong -- I reviewed Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Fried Chicken Truck.


You can get French Fries with his fried chicken. Maybe it was an off day, but the fries were limp and soggy. I'm willing to try again when I run across the truck. Maybe they are great, just not when I was there. So check out my Cheap$kate Dining Review for French Chef Ludo's Fried Chicken and French Fries Truck to see for yourself.



But Chef Ludo  Lefebvre did turn my head around for his French Cheese Omelet. Man, is it tender and so good. The French method is to whip eggs first, then lightly scramble them with butter until almost done, but eggs still slightly moist. You finish by adding cheese and gently folding the egg into an omelet shape.

My omelet experience is with middle American diner-style where the eggs are solid and a bit dry. Now I make my omelets the French way, and you can too if you follow my recipe video below.



I grew up watching Julia Child cooking French food on her Public TV cooking show. And she literally wrote the book on French cooking called "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

Her personality was larger than life, and I had to do a video in her honor, after she passed away. My recipe homage is a bit silly, but it is done with heart. Check out my version of Julia Child's Crepes Suzette -- done by her nephew, Julian Child!



Beef Bourguignon is a classic French stew, at least until the Cheap$kate Cuisinier gets ahold of the recipe. Beef is too expensive, but pork is the right price, so I turned the recipe into a Pork Bourguignon.



All the other classic ingredients are included like: mushrooms, onions, tomato paste and of course, cheap red wine. To get that rich beefy flavor I include beef stock.


I didn't know there was a French-style Yogurt, so when I saw Oui by Yoplait at my local 99c only Store, I had to try it. Boy, is it creamy and flavorful Yoplait is the brand and some buy this brand just for the cool jar.

I like to add fresh fruit to plain yogurt. I find that pre-mixed yogurt with fruit is loaded with sugar and way too sweet for me. Below is how I do it.



So do click on any recipe name to see my original blog post recipe, and dig in!

Viva la France and bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Hot Dogs of Summer - Chili Dog

It's summertime the time is right for Hot Dogs. My Hot Dog Series covers all the greatest hits including Kraut DogMustard & Relish DogChili Dog, plus the killer combos of Kraut & Chili Dog, Slaw & Chili Dog, and Relish & Chili Dog. Now that's a mouthful and they are all cheap of course. So keep checking back here for all the yummy recipes served with tasty text and scrumptious photos!


Okay let's be frank, anyone can make these, and maybe this Series is just a celebration of  America's favorite frankfurter or a reminder of the joys of dining simply.

Click on any photo to see larger.

 My last Hot Dog of summer was a Kraut Dog, well move over there's a new dog in town and it's a meaty Chili Dog!



I've made Hot Dogs with all kinds of canned chili, from name-brand Hormel to brands I've never heard of like Hartford House...and they are all just fine by me. In the South, my Mom tops her Chili-Cheese Enchiladas with Wolf Brand Chili.


Canned chilis should mainly be flavored with chili powder. These days it's usually a mix of meats like pork and chicken, but mainly beef. I've grown used to canned chili and actually like the flavor.


The main problem is the texture which is often crumbly from ground meat, not stringy like a saucy pulled pork which I prefer - hey, you get what you pay for!


The last couple of years I started making my own Homemade Beef Chili and you can click on the recipe name to see it, but a warning, this recipe has beans, although it's easy enough to leave them out. Check back in a  few and I'll have a Homemade Beef Chili (no beans) video on my YouTube Channel.


I use the cheapest cut of beef called shank. It's one tough steak but after 2 or 3 hours of simmering in spices and tomato sauce, it becomes fall-apart tender and extra flavorful. Try slow-cooking with beef shank sometime, as it's even cheaper than hamburger these days.


Can you top your Hot Dog with a can of Chili with Beans? Sure, I have in desperate times.


I build my Chili Dog with mustard. I also add pickle relish if I have it in the fridge. A jolt of sour keeps the taste buds dancing and provides a delicious yin and yang contrast.

Here is the whole shebang, from bun to weenie to toppings. Just watch my Chili Dog video below.
Chili Dog - Video

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 6 seconds.

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

These days it easy to make vegan versions using tofu dogs and vegan chili, so everyone can join in summertime patio Hot Dog partying.

 And the main ingredients of a Hot Dog are cheap of course, but that's not the only reason to like them. They are just a satisfying combination of flavors that you can build any way you like.

A package of Hot Dog Buns for about a buck? Check. I prefer regular white flour buns, but I often find whole wheat bun on sale too -- it's all good.


Meaty tube steak for a buck? If you know where to look and don't mind if they are a mix of beef, chicken, and pork. I always find them on sale at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.



I mean, there is a texture taste difference - I find the typically mixed meat wieners a bit softer when you bite into them and with a milder meaty taste, while an all-beef wiener has more snap and thicker texture and an intense beef flavor. Depending on how my pocketbook is feeling I can work with any type of Hot Dog wieners.


Do you like your weenies steamed, sauteed, or grilled? I find it easiest to just steam mine in a pot with a basket and covered until they are hot and plump. This way you can walk away and get all the fixing ready while they cook - when you steam them you don't have to worry about burnt weenies.


How about the Hot Dog Buns? Well, at the last minute I will throw in a couple of buns on top of my steaming wieners, cover and give them a minute to soften. This works especially well if the buns are old and hard.


You do have to watch steaming buns as they can become soggy, although you can always let a soggy bun dry out for a couple of minutes if necessary.

 If I am barbequing then I will grill the wieners and add the buns at the finish line - same with sauteing in a frying pan on a stovetop.

I like Hot Dogs dress simply with mustard and sweet or sour pickle relish. I always can find jars for a buck.



So, how do you like to make yours? Leave a comment and let's compare wiener...recipes. Ha, ha, I couldn't resist. And check back for more simply delicious and cheap Hot Dogs. So load up the steamer basket or fire up the grill and get to cooking one of my yummy Hot Dog recipes.

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