Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 99 Cent Chef Meets Pedro Pe - Video

The 99 Cent Chef is pleased as plantains to present a new video featuring the culinary exploits of L.A.'s favorite taco truck impresario Pedro Pe. The 99 Cent Chef tracks down Pedro Pe and goes along for a ride and ends up in the kitchen, where Pedro Pe works his magic.

Pedro has more energy than chile piquin flavored popcorn in a popcorn machine. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Pedro Pe and his delicious lunch truck specialty --
Shrimp Quesadilla.

The 99 Cent Chef Meets Pedro Pe - Video

Play it here. The video runs 5 minutes 12 seconds.

Ingredients (one serving)  
  • 1 flour or wheat tortilla
  • 1 slice spicy cheese
  • 1/2 small avocado sliced
  • 2 tblsp. refried beans
  • 1/2 4-6oz. package cooked salad shrimp (if raw then saute for a couple of minutes until shrimp is pink)
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 2 tblsp. 99 cent salsa
  • Dollop of sour cream

While pan is heating, assemble quesadilla by smearing tortilla with refried beans -- add cheese, shrimp and chopped green onion. Fold in half and heat in pan until "queso is nice and melted and gooey and tortilla is nice and brown," to quote Pedro Pe. Garnish quesadilla with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream and salsa on the side.


Pedro Pe, "Mexico's Rich Little" has been performing onstage since 1995. Actual fans include Milos Forman, Nora Dunn, Will Ferrel and Alex Borstein. Pedro appeared regularly as a company member in L.A.'s Acme Comedy Theatre, at the Austin Comedy Festival and at The Montreal Comedy Festival - where he was featured on a bill with Dave Chapelle and Will Ferrell. To see Pete's other hilarious videos, click here, and The Chef's video teaser with Pedro Pe is here.

To view or embed video from youtube visit here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pork Roasted With Green Chiles

The 99 Cent Chef reads his grocery store mailers every Tuesday. One of the best monthly deals he is alway on the lookout for is 99c lb. pork shoulder country style ribs from Albertsons. Cut into 1/2 lb. strips and carrying little to no bone, all that is needed is to trim the fat. These meaty ribs are the basis to many of the Chef's favorite specialties including a Hawaiian Lau Lau roast pork in banana leaves and a south-of-the-border Mexican styled pork in green chiles. Slow roast until the meat flakes; the green chiles provide a mild heat that compliments sweet caramelized pork.

Make sure to fill your baking dish with the country style ribs as you will use the succulent meat for tacos and burritos the rest of the week. Also, keep a look out for a great Deal of the Day -- wheat tortillas at 99c only Stores.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
  • 2 to 3 pound package of pork shoulder ribs
  • 1 large (28 oz.) can of diced green chiles
  • 1 cup of white wine - okay to use favorite broth, or just plain water
  • 1/2 onion & bell pepper chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
While sauteing onion, bell pepper and garlic trim fat from ribs. Add cup of wine, pork and can of diced green chiles. Liquid should be no more than 3/4 of the way to the top, if too full reserve liquid until later and add to pan as sauce is reduced. Bring to a boil, then move to a 350 degree oven to bake for 3 to 4 hours, uncovered. Meat will easily fall apart when done. The pork will brown nicely when cooked uncovered in the oven. Skim off fat and serve with 99 cent black or pinto beans and rice on the side.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seafood Paella

A Spanish Paella's golden hue comes from the most expensive spice per ounce in the world - saffron. How does the 99 Cent Chef get past this hurdle? A 99 cent box of Yellow Rice by Zatarain's, for sale at the 99c only Store, provides the answer. For being a rustic Spaniard laborer's meal, Paella includes another high priced ingredient, seafood.
The Chef leaps this expensive hurdle by purchasing 99c frozen fish fillets and a 99c seafood package mix of octopus, squid, shrimp and krab. Another main ingredient, Mexican chorizo sausage, is found at 99c only Stores, too -- the texture of Spanish chorizo is quite different than Mexican chorizo: solid rather than crumbly, although the flavor is similar. Enjoy the 99 Cent Chef's Seafood Paella with all ingredients purchased at local 99c only Stores. This European rice and seafood dish is worth its weight in gold!

Ingredients (serves two)
1/2 link of 99c Mexican Chorizo
1 package of 99 cent regular link sausage (optional)
1 7oz. package Seafood MIx thawed (includes shrimp, squid, mussel, octopus and krab)
1 6oz. 99 cent package fish filet: pollock, tilapia - whatever they have is fine.
1 8oz. box Zatarain's Yellow Rice
1/2 cup (extra) rice (optional - reduce wine and water amount by half if you leave out)
1 tablespoon 99 cent chopped garlic
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 bell pepper diced
2 roma tomatoes or 1/2 large tomato
2 cups water
1 cup 99 cent white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas (canned are too mushy)

Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon or lime wedges, for serving

A 99 cent Sofrito

Saute Mexican chorizo until soft and crumbly. Make a sofrito by sauteeing the garlic, onion and tomatoes in chorizo; cook until the tomatoes are soft (5-10 minutes); season with salt and pepper. Add rice, stirring to coat the grains. Pour in the water and wine; simmer for 10 minutes. Do not cover or stir. 

Add package of seafood mix, fish (bury fish as it takes the longest to cook) and link sausage. Mix together gently and just let it simmer without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes. Scatter the frozen peas on top, cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat. Turn off heat and let paella set for a few minutes. Serve with lime or lemon wedges.

The 99 Cent Chef cast his net wide to bring in these 99c items.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hollywood Park Racetrack $1 Night - Video

Is this the end of The 99 Cent Chef? With rising gas prices, food will be more expensive in the foreseeable future. The Chef may be forced to hang up his apron and put away his whisk. Are 99 cent food deals going the way of the vinyl record? As a preview of things to come, The 99 Cent Chef shall be referred to as The $1 Chef for this post only.

Hi, I would like to welcome you to my new blog, The $1 Chef. My epicurean goal is to create and find great $1 meal deals for you. For my first post as The $1 Chef, I would like to take you out for Friday $1 Night at Hollywood Park Racetrack. For a gambling experience, The $1 Chef is more "Ocean's 11" Frank Sinatra than glitzy Celine Dion, and Hollywood Park is Rat Pack cool -- celebrating 70 years this season. The $1 Chef discovered $1 night at this South L.A. racetrack after moving to the Baldwin Hills area several years ago.

Parking is free with a $7 admission, and another $3 for a Club Pass gets you in for live music after the last race -- typically, old "New Wave" groups like the Smithereens, English Beat and last night's season closer, Berlin, led by stripper styled, cougar-in-the-making Terri Nunn.

To reach the racetrack, located near the L.A Airport, exit the 405 freeway and take Century Blvd. east about a mile. Just last night, The $1 Chef cruised in with an open sunroof, enjoying the warm, balmy evening while watching silvery big birds, in formation overhead, drift in for a landing at LAX.

Upon arrival, The Chef recommends getting your $1 beers first, as you will need a couple waiting in long lines for $1 hotdogs. The racetrack vibe helps disguise lukewarm wieners in stale buns, while off to the side, you'll find small packets of relish and large jars of Dijon, ketchup and regular mustard. Go park yourself in the bottom level as close to the action as you can get.

After a few beers, you'll be having a great time watching the jockeyed horses rumble down the fairway every half hour and the hotdogs will taste great! Sadly, tonight's the last night of the season to see horse racing. Be sure to come visit the Hollywood Park racetrack next spring on a Friday night, and look for the The $1 Chef betting a $1 Exacta.

UPDATE: Hot dog and beer deals are no more, but there is a large selection of cheap eats offered by a courtyard full of food trucks. Live music is still happening for $10 before 8:30pm -- so that is still a great deal. Some of the groovy outdoor shows I've seen lately include: Joan Jett, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Devo, English Beat and Michael Franti.

Hollywood Park Racetrack Video
Play it here. Video runs 1 minute 15 seconds.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lighter Than Air Meatballs

The 99 Cent Chef has a way with meatballs - riffing by adding spinach with unique 99 cent meat combinations. Mixing breakfast sausage and ground turkey makes a meatball so light that it almost floats off the plate.

99c only Stores carry prepackaged fresh spinach, so it's a natural progression to blend the side dish into the entree -- combining sauteed spinach and meatballs.

For a simple sauce, chop up those once-fresh tomatoes that are going soft hanging out in the bottom of your vegetable crisper and add them to 99-cent canned tomato sauce.

Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)
1 lb. ground 99 cent ground turkey
1 lb. 99 cent breakfast pork sausage
1 6 oz. package spinach
1 egg
1/2 bell pepper (optional) chopped
1 onion chopped
1 stalk celery (optional) chopped
2 tbsp. crushed garlic
2-3 slices toasted bread
2 tbsp. Italian herbs, fresh or dried, including basil, oregano and parsley
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup half-and-half or any milk
1 cup 99 cent cabernet sauvignon (red wine) for deglazing
1 28 oz. can of crushed or diced, tomato sauce and any tomatoes too old for a salad - for
meatball sauce

In a large pan or pot, saute bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic for 5 - 7 minutes in a tablespoon of oil. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, a couple more minutes. 

In a large bowl mix sauteed veggies, ground turkey, pork sausage, egg, milk, and toasted bread. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1 tbsp. dried herbs. Form the meat mixture into meatballs, any size you like (I've gone with large ones) and add to the heated pan. 

Brown the meatballs for about 5 - 10 minutes on each side; you may need to do it in a couple of batches. Partially covering the pan helps firm up the meatballs by steaming, thus making them easier to turn without breaking apart. 

Deglaze pan with 99 cents red wine and add chopped tomatoes (optional,) tomato sauce, one tbsp. dried Italian herbs and meatballs. 

Cover and low simmer meatballs in sauce for 1-2 hours until sauce is reduced by half. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Pita

Picnic in a cemetery? Heck yeah! Especially when Shampoo, Warren Beatty's quintessential randy satire of L.A. couplings is projected outdoors during a scorching summer night on a mausoleum white wall (interred inside is cinema's original male sex symbol, silent movie star
Rudolph Valentino.) Cinespia's outdoor summer film series in Hollywood Forever Cemetery is off to a steamy start, and for $10 (plus $5 for parking with a carload of friends - locals park off site and hoof it), it is on The 99 Cent Chef's summer must-do list.
Coming this Saturday is Easy Rider - a movie that launched a thousand spliffs and one of the first great rock movie soundtracks in the Chef's high school daze, where the accompanying dance was to turn on the bedroom fan toward an open window, stuff towels under the door, put on headphones and spark up a doobie. The sound system is kickin' for these summer screenings with a smokin' DJ before and after the movie. Now is the time for all good picnickers to come together. So load up the picnic basket, arrive early and get your appetite and buzz on.
For your picnic pleasure, The Chef creates a Chicken Pita delight stuffed with shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado. The chicken is 99c only Store canned; of course, if you want fresh chicken use the Chef's film-themed "Russ Meyer Lemon Chicken" recipe. 99c only Stores are carrying tomato (black cherry), lettuce or spinach (organic baby arugula blend, too), and pita bread; don't forget to bring a few bottles of fine kosher Argentina Malbec red wine from the Hollywood 99c only Store.

Ingredients (serves 2)
6 oz. can chicken meat
99 cent package of pita bread
Sliced tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion and avocado
Mustard and/or mayo - add garlic powder to mayo and honey to mustard for extra flavor.

Drain and break apart canned chicken and store in a container. Slice lettuce and tomato and store in separate containers as well. Slice pita in halves. Open and slice avocado at the cemetery. Bring plenty of wine.

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