It was an exciting afternoon, the 20th of this month, that began with a call from Mom in Louisiana. The 99 Cent Chef is on the NBC Nightly News!
On the phone the Chef could hear his incredulous sounding sister Brenda in the background laughing in amazement. Mom was too flabbergasted to remember much and the Chef wanted a description, as the broadcast had not yet reached the West Coast -- so he got his sister on the phone, where she described the fleeting news segment: something about the Chef holding a bag of peaches, roaming the 99c only Store aisles and cooking in the kitchen.
Shot only the week before, the news story was about discount food stores in a struggling economy. They needed a budget "expert" to do a "walk and talk" with a NBC producer, then return home to cook a 99 cent meal. A piece of cake, and here it is.
The Chef makes his entrance one minute 45 seconds into the story; don't blink or you may miss it!
99 thanks to Alexza at NBC for making it happen.
In celebration of granting legal marriage licenses for same-gender couples in California last week; The 99 Cent Chef baked a cake, and not just any cake but cupcakes. A perfect confection on this happy day for all you same-sex romantics is the Chef's celebratory -- Sprinkle Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting.
My wife recommended recording this historic day; so I hit the 99c only Store to get all the cupcake ingredients for 50 cupcakes. The total price for 50 cupcakes, using 99-cent ingredients, was less than 7 bucks.
The impromptu wedding ceremonies were held in West Hollywood Park. Volunteer ministers/justices officiated the weddings under white lace gazebos, with melodic accompaniment from a roving violinist.
My special video includes a cupcake recipe, wedding bells, tears and cheers, wedding vows, and councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.
This Chef is not skilled in the confectioner's art, but the newlyweds were willing and appreciative to taste my wares.
Another purveyor, Mrs. Beasley's, was passing out pairs of white frosting cupcakes cleverly decorated with same-sex symbols. The Chef decided to challenge Mrs. Beasley's to a "Cupcake Throwdown."
In this contest, there are no losers and everyone gets a taste. So check out the Chef's video coverage of weddings in a beautiful park setting and his Sprinkle Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting recipe:
Wedding Day Cupcakes Video
Play it here. Video runs 10 minutes 45 seconds.
Ingredients (makes about 12 small cupcakes)
1 Box of Duncan Hines Confetti Cupcakes - 9 ounces Mix ingredients include:
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup water (I substituted half and half cream for a richer cupcake -- optional.)
Strawberry Frosting Ingredients
2 fresh strawberries
1 cup of confectioners/powdered sugar (double sugar amount for typically thick frosting)
1/4 stick of butter
Small jar of maraschino cherries
For the cupcakes follow box directions, including mixing for 2 minutes and baking for 20 minutes in a 350-degree pre-heated oven.
I filled cupcake paper cups halfway instead of the 3/4 box directions and half-and-half cream is substituted for water -- optional.
Directions for Strawberry Frosting
Blender or mash the strawberries into a puree.
With the butter softened at room temperature; add powdered sugar, strawberry puree, and butter to a large bowl and whisk until well blended, about 5 minutes.
Refrigerate frosting until cupcakes are baked and cooled down.
Add frosting to cupcakes with a cherry on top.
The Chef wishes he could go to Seattle more often. A highlight from his last trip was a mushroom hunt along a mountain trail in the Cascades, east of the city. My wife's college friend Jenny, and Kevin led the way, keeping a lookout along the trail for edible fungi. We returned to their kitchen with a bag full; where they showed us the simplest and most delicious way to prepare them -- wash, dry, lightly salt and pepper then saute in butter, that's it, oh, and serve with chilled white wine. A quick saute gives you the full mushroom flavor - earthy and tender. A great appetizer or side dish.
The 99 Cent Chef has been seeing fresh Shiitake, Oyster and Crimini mushrooms at 99c only Stores the last two weeks. All three varieties saute nicely in 2-4 slices of butter or a couple tablespoons of 99 cent olive oil blend, and it only takes 5-10 minutes until soft; definitely pick up a few 3.5 ounce packages along with a 99 cent bottle of Chardonnay and give it a go. The most delicious Deal of the Day by far.
Catch him if you can! Pedro Pe and his LA lunch truck are always on the move -- it's like trying to catch lightning in a tequila bottle. If you do, your reward is the best Mexican food on wheels. The 99 Cent Chef cajoled Pedro Pe into a cooking demonstration in the Chef's kitchen. Whet your appetite with this video appetizer:
Pedro Pe Meets The 99 Cent Chef!
Play it here. The video runs 1 minute 7 seconds.
Click herefor my neighbor Pete's hilarious videos.
"The 99 Cent Chef Meets Pedro Pe" full length video is here.
To view or embed video from youtube visit here.
For a potato substitute with a tropical Latin flavor try Yuca -- which I first tasted at Versailles, LA's premier Cuban restaurant.
This large waxy root cooks quickly; it looks more like a sweet potato, with a texture halfway between russet and sweet potato when boiled. Yuca is also called Cassava.
At my local Latin market, Yuca is often on sale for around 99 cents a pound. I've even found peeled Yuca in the frozen deli case at my neighborhood 99c only Store.
And the preparation couldn't be easier: yucca is peeled and sliced, boiled for about 20 minutes, then drizzled with a Garlic Mojo Criollo Sauce -- comprised of olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and sliced onion.
The 99c only Stores always carry rice and canned black beans (a Value Added* trick for the canned black beans is to add a little sauteed onion, bell pepper, and garlic.)
Start your meal with a Cuban Salad: thin-sliced onion with thick slices of avocado mixed with olive oil and lime juice. There you have it, a Cuban vegetarian meal.
Ingredients (2 or 3 servings)
1 yucca root
1 teaspoon salt
Peel and chop in large chunks. I use a potato peeler for removing the skin. A raw Yuca root is very tough like a sweet potato so be careful cutting through it.
Place yucca in a pot of boiling salted water until yucca is just covered. Reduce heat, cover and low boil until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
When done Yuca should break apart easily like a boiled potato, but be careful not to overcook, as Yuca will turn to mush. When cooked there are sometimes a few tough strings in the middle of Yuca, but they are easy to remove before serving. You can make Mojo Criollo Sauce as Yuca boils.
Mojo Criollo Sauce with Sliced Onion 1 teaspoon 99 cent chopped garlic 1/4 cup 99 cent lime or lemon juice 1/4 cup of 99 cent olive oil blend 1/2 sliced onion
Add chopped garlic, lemon juice and olive oil to pan, heat until bubbling. Reduce heat and add sliced onion. You are just heating the onion through for a minute or two. Mix well and pour over plated Yuca. Drain Yuca and top with Mojo Criollo Sauce with Sliced Onion. And now for something completely different:
This last weekend NPR radio had a segment profiling The 99 Cent Chef on the show "Marketplace Money." Their website has the audio, photos, video and a tasty recipe called "Marketplace Pork Loin and Spinach with Mushrooms;" so if you missed it don't despair, see it all on their webpage by clicking here. Hit the play button below to watch our NPR shopping spree video.
The 99 Cent Chef's NPR Shopping Spree Video
Also, Current.com, a news website, has a "Budget Recipes" report that features The 99 Cent Chef and the Hillbilly Housewife. What a combination: she is someone I am proud to be paired with. Click the play button below and watch the wacky podcast.
NPR camerawork by Pete.Click herefor Pete's hilarious videos.
To view or embed the Chef's Current TV video from youtube click here.
The mark of a good British Pub is its fish and chips -- bar food at its best, indeed. I would have preferred to shoot this video in a noisy, blurry, soccer cheering, dart throwing environment, but all that Guinness on tap would have been a debilitating distraction, so it's back into The 99 Cent Chef's kitchen.
99c only Stores often carry frozen Alaskan pollock that is perfect for frying. While the fillets are not as thick and meaty as Ye Old Kings Head's fried fish fillets, they hold up quite well and are firm and flaky.
I use fresh russet potatoes instead of the typical frozen packaged french fry, although frozen french fries are sold at 99c only Stores. Of special note in the video is the Chef's "double" frying method for the chips, resulting in an extra crispy skin with a fluffy center.
Allow the Chef to throw his Bowler hat into the ring and give this pub fare classic a go. Give the Chef's video a butcher's hook, as his recipe is the bee's knees and quite easy peasy to prepare.
Play it here. The video runs 6 minutes, 58 seconds.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 - 8 oz. 99 cent packages of Alaskan pollock fish
3 - 4 cups vegetable oil, for deep frying
4 - 6 russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 (12-ounce) can of PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon beer) or bubbly water.
Salt and pepper to taste
Tartar Sauce for Fish
1 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup pickle relish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
Directions for Chips
Heat oil to medium/high (375 degrees). Slice potatoes about finger size. Fry the chips for 2 to 3 minutes in batches if needed (fully submerge fries); they should not be crisp or fully cooked at this point. Remove the chips to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. Kick back with a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) while the fries cool for 5 minutes.
The fries are now ready for fry number two. Make sure oil is hot again, test out one french fry to see that the oil bubbles when a fry is added. Add half of the fries, leaving some room on top for the fish. The fries should cook a couple of minutes before you add the battered fish.
Directions for Fish
Drain and kitchen towel dry defrosted pollock fish pieces. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, a lightly beaten egg and 99 cent Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (or your favorite beer.) Whisk to a smooth pancake-like batter.
Dredge one serving of fish pieces into the batter, letting the excess drip off. Carefully lower the battered fish on top of the frying chips. Fry the fish and chips for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy and brown. Drain and serve on your recently read local newpaper.
To embed or view the Chef's video from youtube, click here.