Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween - Creepy Cool Meat Videos

Gory Halloween warning! Time to get squeamish with my animated stop-motion videos of raw meat. This Creepy Chef gets ghoulish like a scene from a Stephen King story.  If you're a vegetarian, then stay away! Or peak through hand-covered eyes to read this queasy entry. I'm sure to be on strident vegan Morrissey's (vocalist of the band The Smiths) *hit list after this blog post.

I like my steaks and burgers medium rare. Oozing is fine by me - E. coli be damned!

Raw bloody meat has been depicted in gruesome fine art. Rembrandt van Rijn is primarily known as a Dutch painter of moody portraits during the 17th Century, and I am especially influenced by his "Carcass of Beef" (flayed ox) study - just check out the audacious composition with gory details.

And here's the artist Francis Bacon's 20th Century version, below.

I've been shooting veggies, fruit, and meat against dark backgrounds lately (mainly on a blackened cookie sheet) - usually lit from a single direction, with deep shadows, very much inspired by Rembrandt.

It can get messy cooking with meat. You have to have an iron stomach. Try breaking down a pork shoulder sometimes, like I do below for my Carnitas recipe. It's probably the most artistically nauseating footage I've ever shot - but, boy does it taste so good when all's said and done.

Ground chicken or turkey is mushy and wet, more so than ground beef or pork. But I use it a lot as it's cheaper than beef. Just check out my Patty Melt video to see what I mean -- yuk!

Next to ground chicken, pork is the cheapest. It's delicious for breakfast or added to stir fry like my Green Beans and Ground Pork recipe below. It may sound perverse but it's actually fun to animate with ground meat, it's like playing with Play-Doh, just greasier.

Check out my video below to see the messiness.

Are you still with me? Man, are you hardcore! I'm getting extra creeped out just assembling this blog post.

Sushi is typically made with raw fish. It's so artfully presented that you might miss the gore. Ever gut a fish? Whoa, that is one freaky task! Slice the belly open, yank out the internal organs then chop off the head -- oh, I'm feeling faint just remembering the viscera and the smell - barf!

 However, I like nothing better than cleaned and filleted fish. Well here's one from my Sushi Video Series, the simply shot and presented Tuna Nigiri Sushi.

Well, I'll leave you with the squishy butchering of a couple of chicken pieces. It's the cheapest meat you can get and I have all kinds of recipes that use it. Just type "chicken" in the search window towards the top right side of my food blog to peruse them.

So get out there and have an entertaining Halloween holiday. It's not all blood and guts!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Movies & Jambalaya Animating Weekend

I went to Jerry Beck's October Spooktacular animation festival Saturday afternoon at the Cinefamily theater - great as usual. Mainly, comically scary black and white cartoons from the Silent movie days, through the Technicolor 1950's. Here's the trailer:

SPECTREFEST: Jerry Beck's Animated Spooktacular (trailer) from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

These are cartoons made way before the computer generated style came into favor. Jerry Beck, who put together the show, is the most knowledgeable cartoon scholar around (yeah, imagine that - what a talent, huh?) Here's his website called Cartoon Research, and click here to read a bit about him. He's asked to put together cartoon screenings all the time around LA and I try to see them all.

I worked with animators a lot and have picked up a few tricks, as you can see by my stop motion animated recipe videos. Even some big name film directors have come from animation, like Frank Tashlin, who directed some early Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin films, and Tashlin even mentored Jerry Lewis on how to direct movies during their multi-film collaboration.(Presently, there's Pixar's Brad Bird with Ratatouille and The Incredibles under his belt, who directed Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol.)

As you can see I like the offbeat movie experience. I don't see many new ones, but fortunately Los Angeles has a handful of movie screens that show my type of film. If there is a Film Noir double bill, I'm there. I like a 1920's creepy flick with Lon Chaney, or even the original Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr. I could go on and on listing my type of flick - just click on the following theater names to see their film listings: The Bing Theater at LACMA, Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, American Cinematheque at the Aero and the Egyptian, and perhaps my favorite and certainly the most eclectically programmed, Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater.

On Sunday I started a stop motion version of my Mom's Jambalaya recipe. I got most of it shot and am now making all the video clips for final assembly. You can click here to see the original video that features my Mom. She's turning 80 in a couple of weeks - and she's still cooking!

Right after I finished animating the food, I went to the New Beverly theater (schedule here) in Hollywood. It was taken over a few years ago by always controversial movie Director Quentin Tarantino. The theater runs older films, everything from 1940's Screwball comedies by Preston Sturges to Stanley Kubrick films, and classic French New Wave to Grindhouse exploitation.

While Tarantino ownes the theater, he hasn't programmed the film schedule, until this month. I wanted to see what he would come up with so I've gone a couple of times so far. And I haven't been disappointed.

Quentin is quite the film scholar who's taste runs the gamut. And because he worked in a video rental store, his taste is high to lowbrow, from Kung Fu flicks to old school cowboy Westerns, and to the most obscure Italian crime drama.

I've always enjoyed the New Beverly theater (here is an interesting historical timeline.) But a bit of controversy is surrounding the rechristening of the place since Quentin has taken over the programming. First he got rid of a new digital projector - only film will be show now. And there have been unfortunate personnel changes, read about some of it here.

But it should be an interesting next few months of film programs. Next up for me is the weekly Tuesday night Grindhouse with a Kung Fu double bill featuring a very young Jackie Chan: Snake in Monkey's Shadow and Snake in Eagle's Shadow.

Oh, and Mom's Jambalaya turned out great, and the stop motion animated footage I shot looks delicious.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fried Chicken Sandwich - Video Recipe

For the best tasting Fried Chicken, it's about the crust. The bar is set high by fast food purveyors like KFC's pressure cooked chicken or Popeye's deep fried chicken. Well, I throw my whisk into the mix, with The 99 Cent Chef's Fried Chicken Sandwich recipe video.

If you don't season the flour coating enough, then you get bland tasting fried chicken, like I got from the Ludo Truck by Ludo Lefebvre of The Taste cooking competition network TV show. (And click here to see my Cheap$kate Dining Review video to see what I'm talking about.)

Well, you won't get bland from this Cajun and Texan Cheap$kate Cuisiner. While I now reside on the West Coast, I still go back to the South and indulge in it's spicy eats.

This recipe uses skinless and boneless chicken meat, and you can use my recipe to fry up whole pieces of chicken. It's delicious any way you cut it.

If you follow my food blog, then you know I get my chicken cheaply from local Latin markets. All cuts of poultry are always on sale there. It may only be legs one week, then the next it's bone-in chicken breast for 99 cents per pound. I've even run across boneless and skinless chicken leg quarter meat (that's thigh plus leg as one piece) for 88 cents per pound! And for this recipe I used the on sale leg quarters.

But don't worry, I know other areas of the country don't have the kind of sales we have out here, so I show you how to debone breast and leg quarters. It's a little messy, but you save a lot of dinero. Breast meat is the simplest to do, so you can start with that if you are new to the butchery game.

My Fried Chicken flour coating packs a lot of flavor from easy to get spices I purchase from my local 99c only Store. I use a packaged Cajun/Creole spice mix, paprika, black pepper and garlic powder (or granulated). If you have a local favorite salty spice blend then use that.

And just for the heck of it I have a Homemade Buttermilk recipe for you. (I went shopping for it and it's hard to find, plus it's dang expensive.) All you do is add cheap white vinegar to regular milk. It curdles and turns sour like buttermilk. Anyway, the buttermilk is used to dampen the chicken before rolling it in seasoned flour - it adds just a little extra flavor. (You could even leave it out, as the seasoned flour holds most of the flavor anyway.)

Believe it or not, but this is the first time I've made fried chicken, and it turned out delicious. I'm going it be making it again next time chicken comes on sale. This is a good, basic Fried Chicken recipe for bone-in whole pieces like leg, thigh, breast and wing.

 And be sure to keep checking back here, as I have a whole lot more poultry recipes on the block for you to try, including Chicken Caccaitore and a Roasted Chicken with Peaches & Herbs.

Fried Chicken Sandwich - Video

Play it here, video runs 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

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

Ingredients (2-3 sandwiches)
2 to 3 fillets of chicken - boneless. Thigh, leg or breast. For my video recipe I halved a skinless and boneless leg quarter. Okay to leave the skin on. A half breast makes 2-3 fillets.
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup buttermilk - For homemade buttermilk add a 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice, to half cup of milk. Stir and let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes.
1 tablespoon seasoned salt - use favorite seasoning like Cajun or any spicy mix. This seems like a lot, but seasonings goes into the flour. Okay to substitute with a tablespoon of regular salt. 
1 teaspoon garlic powder - or granulated garlic 
1 teaspoon paprika - optional, okay to substitute with chili powder.
1 teaspoon pepper - add more or less to taste. 
Oil for frying chicken - at least half an inch deep in a pan or pot. I used regular cheap vegetable oil.
Buns, rolls or bread - for sandwich
Toppings for sandwich - lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.
*Extra ingredient is a teaspoon of favorite dried herbs like: sage, rosemary, basil or oregano.

Remove bone from chicken pieces. Depending how large the chicken piece is, slice it to fit the size of your hamburger bun or roll. The chicken piece doesn't have to be exactly the same size. You could even use a couple pieces per bun if that's the way the chicken is sliced.

I went the easy route and bought skinless and boneless leg quarters on sale for my video recipe. The pieces are quite large, so I sliced one leg quarter in half to get 2 pieces. White meat is easy to work with, as it slices cleanly from the bone.

In my video above I went ahead and show a leg quarter and a half breast being deboned. Doing it yourself is the cheapest way.

Thigh and leg meat takes a little more work to debone. Just slice to expose the bone. To remove the meat in one piece, hold the exposed bone and cut around the bone and cartilage ends. It takes a little practice, but one you've done it a few times, it gets easier. Of course, use a sharp knife and be careful with it. And if the meat comes apart in smaller pieces, you can still fry it up and add a few pieces at a time to fit the bun or bread roll.

Use a large skillet or pot. Put enough oil to reach 1/2 inch deep. Get the oil hot over a medium heat, to about 300 degrees. I don't use a thermometer, as my gas stove setting is close enough.

Lay out one plate for flour and a wide shallow bowl for buttermilk. (For Homemade Buttermilk mix half cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.)

Add all the spices to flour and mix well. My spice amounts are just suggestions, you can adjust any of them to suit your own taste. Too much black pepper? Okay then add half the amount. Want more spice? Then add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. If you are on a salt restricted diet, then just omit it.

And leave me a comment if you have a great seasoned flour recipe, I'm sure other visitors would be curious, too!

Take a chicken piece and dip it in the buttermilk, moisten all sides.

Return buttermilk coated chicken to seasoned flour. Coat the chicken pieces on all sides, pressing the flour into any crevices.

For a less messy method you could put the seasoned flour in a gallon ziploc bag, then add the buttermilk coated chicken, one piece at a time, and shake the bag to coat chicken.

Now time to fry it up.

When the oil is hot, carefully add coated chicken pieces. Fry each side about 3-5 minutes each until brown.

Allow chicken to fry a couple of minutes without moving it around. The coated chicken may stick to the pan, but don't move it. It will release itself.

While chicken cooks you can lay out the burger toppings with condiments.

Chicken is done when internal temp is  165 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to just slice into thickest piece and check that there is no pink or red juices.

When chicken is done let it drain for a minute or two on a rack or paper towel - I prefer a metal rack as paper towels get damp with juices and may make the crust slightly mushy. Although you can blot off excess grease from the fried chicken with a paper towel. (Letting the fried chicken set for a couple of minutes allows it to cool down just a little, so you can bite into it without burning yourself.)

If you're not sure the Fried Chicken is cooked all the way through, then make a small slice into the thickest part of the fried chicken to see that the juices run clear, not red or pink - return it for frying if chicken is not cooked through, and give it another minute or so to cook through.

Assemble the Fried Chicken Sandwich and chow down!

For a lighter crust, leave out the buttermilk wash step - just coat the chicken in flour only.

It's important that oil is hot when you add the chicken (be careful working with hot oil.) And remember to let fresh fried chicken cool down for a minute or two, or you will get burned.

It's can be messy frying chicken. First, flour can get all over your counter and there will be grease splatter. For my video I fried the chicken in a regular frying pan. If you have a deeper pot, then that will keep most of the hot grease splatter off your stove top. You can half-cover the pot when frying - but keep a lookout on the frying chicken to make sure it doesn't burn.

If you have a deep fryer, or use a pot with enough oil to submerge chicken pieces, then total cooking time is about 3 to 5 minutes, depending how thick the chicken pieces are. (Just slice into a cooked thick one to check for doneness.)

My Fried Chicken is well seasoned. Once you've done my recipe, fell free to adjust the seasoning amounts - more or less to your taste. Lately I've been adding dried herbs to the flour, try a teaspoon of your favorite.

White meat, while more expensive is easier to work with. I prefer dark meat for the flavor, but it does have more fat and some chewy tendons - hey, I like me some chewy bits and extra texture.

I removed the skin for this video recipe, but you can leave it on.

My chicken coating is perfect for whole bone-in pieces like breast, thigh, leg and wing. Cooking time is a little longer - closer to 5 minutes each side (or 5 minutes total if chicken is completely submerged in hot oil.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Peach - Digital Still Life

This a new series I'm doing that's just still lifes, or inanimate objects, kinda what I did as exercises in drawing and painting classes. But the big difference is I'm animating the still lifes with stop motion, that is, I take an object like a peach and move it around while taking  photographs. Finally I string it all together into a short video and add some sound effects. To see what I mean just click on the play button below - it only last a few seconds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Trader Joe's Curried White Chicken Deli Salad Recipe

My wife loves Trader Joe's Curried White Deli Chicken Salad, and so do I. She will often chastise me after I finish off the small tub of leftovers she leaves in the refrigerator - hey, it's her own dang fault for not hiding it better!

If you don't know Trader Joe's, it has a fanatical following (like In-n-Out Burger) here in Los Angeles, and it's even spread to New York City, after a store opened there a few years ago. (Click here for the website.)

They carry specialized frozen and fresh packaged foods, locally baked bread, organic veggies and fruit, hormone-free meat, chicken and fish, along with a huge selection of exotic beer, wine and spirits.

They my be best know for introducing the tasty 2 Buck Chuck line of wine (no longer 2 bucks, but still cheap) that is the favorite beverage of starving artist and actors, served at parties, dorm rooms, and gallery openings. There is even a popular cookbook series devoted to Trader Joe grocery store ingredients (see them here.) Check out  below a few stocked items.

Wall of Cheese

Well, I picked Trader Joe's recipe lock for my latest cheap$kate treasured bite. What makes Trader Joe's Curried White Chicken Deli Salad so good is the disparate flavorful contents. You have green onions and raisins, cashew nuts, garlic powder, lime juice and shredded carrots, with chicken, all in a mayo, mustard, honey and curry sauce. Whew, it shouldn't all work together, but boy does it ever.

This chicken salad will quickly move up the ladder on you favorites list. It's crunchy with cashews, creamy with mayo, and so flavorful with cumin or curry spice, plus an added sweet touch of honey. Especially when I can make almost twice as much, for less than the price of Trader Joe's eleven ounces at $3.99!

And luckily I can get almost all the package listed ingredients from my local 99c only Store. I bought a chicken breast on sale for 99 cent per pound at my local Latin market and poached it in water. Or, you can use any leftover chicken from a roast you buy in the deli section of your local grocery. (Using dark meat is the cheapest, but still tasty, way to go.)

I always find small packages of nuts. This recipe calls for cashews, but regular cooked peanuts are a cheap substitution. If you buy salted nuts, I recommend rinsing off the salt, then allowing them to dry. Too much salt will overwhelm the chicken salad.

Chicken and nuts are the most expensive ingredients, while raisins, green onions, shredded carrots, mayo and mustard are cheap enough. You need curry and garlic powder, but I find ground cumin has all the curry flavor you need. (I also find prepared curry powder cheaply at my local India or Middle Eastern mom and pop groceries.)

My Curried White Chicken Deli Salad is not as yellow as Trader Joe's version because turmeric powder is used. While this spice adds another level of flavor, it also adds a yellow tint. But I find the overall taste is close enough to Trader Joe's chicken salad, even without it. If you have turmeric in your spice rack then go ahead and add a teaspoon. I'm not replicating their recipe exactly, I'm more concerned about the overall flavor and using ingredients any of my visitors can find for the right price.

I make this as I would a regular mayo-based chicken or tuna salad, just adding the extra ingredients listed above. The ingredient amounts are the main mystery. Hmmm, I'm just guessing the balance, but I think it's close enough. And you can always adjust any ingredient amount to suit your own taste buds.

This recipe is wife approved, so I know everyone will like it. And don't let Trader Joe's know that I ripped off their Curried White Chicken Deli Salad recipe and made it for almost half the price, I don't want to get banned from getting their 2 Buck Chuck Chardonnay!

Ingredients (3-4 servings. Yeah right, like it will last that long!)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast - I poached a large half-breast. Okay to use roasted chicken from your favorite grocery store. Poaching dark meat chicken is a tasty and cheaper way to go.
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts - if salted, then rinse them off and allow the nuts to dry. Okay to substitute with cheaper roasted and shelled peanuts.
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of shredded carrot - I used packaged. You can thin "matchstick" slice a carrot, or hand-shred it with a veggie shredder.
  • 2 green onions - chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mayo - okay to add more or less for desired creamyness.
  • 1 teaspoon mustard - any type. I used coarse ground mustard.
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin or curry powder - I find ground cumin is the cheap and easy way to go, as it is close enough to regular powdered curry (which can be hard to get.) If you have turmeric then add a teaspoon for color and extra flavor.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder - or granulated garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice - fresh or from a bottle.
  • 1 teaspoon honey - or any favorite sweetener.


Roughly chop or shred cooked chicken breast. Total amount should be about 2 cups. You can use deli store bought roasted chicken, or follow my chicken poaching method below.

I bought a large half-breast of raw chicken. I filled a pot of water halfway covering the chicken breast. Season it with salt and pepper (or any favorite spices and aromatic veggies like onion and garlic.) Put a lid on the pot and low boil the breast about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, depending how large the breast is. You can slice into the thickest part of the chicken breast to make sure it cooks all the way through.

When chicken is fully cooked remove and allow it to cool so you can handle it. (And save the homemade chicken broth for a tasty soup, like my veggie loaded Mexican Calabasitas, a click away here.)

While chicken is cooking you can prepare the other ingredients. Chop 2 green onions and shred a carrot, unless you buy shredded carrot in a bag.

If roasted cashew nuts are salted, then rinse them off under water then allow them to dry out.

When chicken is cooled down after cooking, then remove the meat from the breastbone. Pull off the skin and any fatty pieces and discard. Finally, slice or shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. (Do the same if you use dark meat.)

Now time to bring it all together.

Add into a large bowl the sliced and cubed chicken, along with chopped green onion, raisins and cashews.

Add a teaspoon of mustard. Spoon on 1/2 cup of mayo. (After everything is mixed together, taste it as see if you want more mayo - if so, then add a teaspoon at a time to desired creamyness.)

Sprinkle on the cumin (or curry powder) and garlic powder. Finally drizzle on a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice, and a teaspoon of honey, or a favorite sweetener.

Mix well. That's it.

Best to refrigerate the Curried White Chicken Deli Salad for a couple of hours, so the spices and other flavors intensify. Store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I like this chicken salad served with crackers. You can put it on sandwich bread or in pita bread. Also, try adding a couple scoops to a favorite leafy salad.

Again adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. If you want a lighter curry taste then take away some ground cumin, curry, or turmeric powder.

Same goes for honey, mayo and mustard. Add a little at a time, then taste. Using less, or no honey, is okay as raisins add a good amount of sweetness.

Also stretch it out with more carrot, raisins and green onions - you could even add some celery or apple. If you like a lot of protein then add more chicken.

Substitute regular roasted peanuts instead of more expensive cashew nuts. You can taste the difference when fresh made, but after a day, or so, the curry flavor takes over and any nuts will taste the same.

I've made Trader Joe's Curried White Chicken Deli Salad with dark meat. There recently was a great sale at my Latin grocery store for skinless and boneless leg quarters (thigh and leg combined) for 88 cents per pound! While white meat is more common in chicken salads, I like dark meat, as it's more moist than white meat. You can poach a leg quarter and chop it for this salad. Dark meat has more fat that you can easily remove if necessary.

This recipe is easy to double the ingredient amounts. Although, you may not want to exactly double the mayo, mustard and cumin (curry powder,) just add a little more at a time and taste.
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