Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Best 4th of July Recipes

🇺🇸 This holiday is smokin' at the Cheapskate Chateau for the 4th of July, and that means getting out the BBQ grill for a backyard blowout. So read on as I light up the sky with recipes, selected especially for Independence Day dining. Just click on any recipe name below and you'll be directed to my original blog post recipe page of eats illustrated with yummy photos.

Smoking Pastrami

Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Chef cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.

And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10 pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound.

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional red, white and blue backyard poultry cookout. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!

Next to chicken, pork is one cheap protein and I like to smoke it. Smoking thick meaty Country-style Pork Ribs are my favorite. I boil the ribs until tender (you can also wrap them in foil and oven roast) then throw them on the grill for an hour of smoke. This is a tasty shortcut to traditional all-day smoking. My blogpost shows you how to smoke pork ribs 2 ways.

What makes America great is our mosaic of cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And the Japanese like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with pieces of regular chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.

Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.

Los Angeles has a bustling Koreatown and I have had the pleasure to try a few Korean BBQ joints. Enter and you are enveloped in smoke from the tabletop grills, loaded down with marinated beef and chicken. I have my own cheap$kate version of Korean BBQ you can make for your next backyard gathering.

It's all about the marinade that mainly consists of garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. It's a potent combination you should try out sometime. Just click here for my Korean-style BBQ Chicken recipe. The photo below shows grilled boneless and skinless dark meat leg quarters.

 You can't go wrong with grilled hot dogs, and I have a couple of unusual recipes I think you will enjoy (it's easy enough to substitute hot dogs with your favorite specialty sausages - if you're the artisanal type).

Here in Los Angeles we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by sidewalk purveyors called the L.A. Street Dog. It's a crazy combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeño!

You've never had a hot dog like this - it's the roman candle of finger foods. In my video below I grill the bacon wrapped wiener on the stove top, but it's even better sizzling on your BBQ grill.

Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's so easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.


Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now that's a combination I can get behind! Again, I cooked this dish on a stove top but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor.

I like plain hot dogs with just relish and mustard. To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get dayglow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the punchline.

Hamburger is a backyard grill favorite and I have a South of the Border spin with my Mexi-Turkey Burger. It packs a lot of flavor with the main ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.

Attention all you lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder when I throw a patio BBQ party.

If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on photos to see larger.

Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.

Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos. While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe anyway. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you sit back and let your friends build each taco their way. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to serve with any tacos you like to make.

Carnitas Taco

And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.

I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive, but when I splurge it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Sometimes I'll finish it with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice and a little ground cumin. When done, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.

Carne Asada Marinade

If you are smoking meat, then throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are on sale for less than 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day.

My Smoked Homemade Pastrami recipe is tasty as any Jewish Deli version - so says everyone I've served it too. I think it's because the smoky flavor it more intense fresh off the grill, than from a deli where the pastrami has been setting in the cold case for a few days. Hey, don't take my word for it, give it a shot and get ready for the all the high fives sure to come your way!

Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. You have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it's done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.

Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash

My nephew Zakk has put in his time as a line cook, and he gave me a Top Chef performance in his recipe video for Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash. While he does his sauteing in the kitchen, you can grill the fish over an open flame, instead of the stove top.

I have a deep fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.

A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.

Seafood Ceviche

For my vegetarian friends the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fav veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).

 Eggplant Burger

Portabella Mushroom Burger

A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute). Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.

It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party, and boy do I have the recipe cherry (tomato) flavor bombs to prove it. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fav summer veggie to grill over the fire.

 Braised Romain Heart

Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for: Russet and Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Bell Peppers, Zucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).

You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Deli Coleslaw it good enough for me.

Deli-style Coleslaw

My Mom dropped by the cheap$kate kitchen and set off a flavor bomb: Cajun Potato Salad. It was so good I had make a video to share her recipe with you.

While your guests await the main event, get them started with light salads such as: refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinach; hearty Black Bean & Corn ; an exotic, but simple, Korean-style Cucumber Salad; a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.

Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad

If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.

I like a pot of beans on the stove simmering while I'm grilling. Cook them the day before and they taste even better the next. Be sure to set out a stack of bowls so your guest can help themselves. I like to have some grated cheese and minced onion on the side. My New Orleans friend, Miss Patty, has a delish Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili. And it's "Viva Revolution!" with my Cuban Black Beans recipe.

There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of seasoned legumes slow cooking on the stove top.

And great grocery deals are happening this week, too. Steak, hamburger, chicken, corn, watermelon and hamburger buns are all on sale right now. Be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.

Independence Day is fast approaching, so create your own 4th of July menu using any of the Patriotic Chef's recipes above. I guarantee your guest will need to chase down the flavorful culinary fireworks you serve with iced tea and a lemon slice, a glass of chilled Chardonnay, and a frosty bottle of beer. Bring it on!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oyster Mushrooms in Butter - Video Recipe

Simplicity is sometimes best as my latest cheap$kate recipe video will show. Oyster Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter - that's all the ingredients you need.

I chose oyster mushrooms because they showed up at my local 99c only Stores. I could have added them to a hot soup of 25 cent per package ramen with veggies and topped with a boiled egg; or added them to a medley of button mushrooms for an earthy Mushroom Soup (like I did in this recipe, here.) But they don't show up cheaply very often so I just wanted to enjoy them sauteed in butter.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

I used salted butter so seasoning was reduced to just black pepper - and even that is optional. But do use plenty of butter, I used a fat slice of about a tablespoon to saute 5.5 ounces of mushrooms. You can keep the recipe vegan and use your favorite tasty vegetable, seed, or nut oils like virgin olive, avocado, coconut, peanut, grapeseed, walnut, etc.

I used to find regular packages of real butter at my local 99c only Store, but now I get single sticks of butter from my local Dollar Tree.

The oyster mushrooms I got came in a sealed package and in one large root segment. I split the mushrooms into smaller segments for easier sauteing. You only need to cook them until soft and tender - just a couple of minutes on each side.

 Most types of mushrooms can be sauteed in butter. I've done it with brown crimini, white button, and portabella mushrooms. And they are all on sale at my local
99c only Store and Latin grocery.

These Oyster Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter can be served right out of the frying pan, or add them warm to a fresh green salad. They can also go into your favorite pasta dish.

When you find mushrooms on sale then give them a quick saute in butter for a decadent dish, and you don't have to wait for that special occasion lobster to get out the butter!

Oyster Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter - Video

Play it here. Video runs 43 seconds.

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

Ingredients (1 to 2 servings)
  • Fresh mushrooms - about 5.5 ounces. I cooked with oyster mushrooms, but okay to use regular button mushrooms or any favorite you find.
  • Butter - about 1 tablespoon. I used salted butter. Okay to add more or less to taste. For a vegetarian recipe use any tasty veggie oil or vegan butter you like.
  • Salt and pepper - optional. I did not season this recipe because of the salted butter.
Prepare mushrooms. If there is dirt then brush or scrape it off. Discard dried or old stems from any mushroom.

Slice or break apart mushrooms into bite sizes. You can leave whole, smaller button mushrooms.

Add butter to a medium-heated pan. When butter is melted then add mushrooms and stir to coat them.

Depending on the size of the mushrooms you can saute each side for a couple minutes each, until soft and slightly browned. Saute about 3-5 minutes total.

Saute time will depend on the temperature of the frying pan and the thickness of the mushrooms. A quick saute is what you want - best not to overcook mushrooms.

Serve warm is best.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mom's Best Cajun Potato Salad

Mom is back in the Chintzy kitchen with her delish Cajun Potato Salad recipe video - I say mashed potatoes, she says not....hmmm, there could be potato peels flying and a rumble in the scullery because of a few choice words.

This is one delish side dish however you describe it. My Mom recently visited the cheap$kate kitchen in Los Angeles and whipped up a luscious Cajun Potato Salad for your viewing pleasure.

And boy is Mom as feisty as ever. Just watch our repartee as I tease her about the recipe. Will there be trouble brewing? Well, I won't spill the beans here, you'll have to watch the video to see if I get my just desserts!

And my niece, Maranda, makes an appearance halfway through the recipe video to mash things up. Maranda is a recent arrival to Los Angeles and is a welcome addition to my cheap$kate cooking staff (plus, she's some delish eye candy, to boot). When Mom is in the kitchen, everyone is welcome to come and taste her recipes - the more the merrier, I say.

Mom & Maranda in the Cheap$kate Château

So what is a Cajun Potato Salad? Just Google the name (Cajun or Creole Potato Salad) and you will see different versions - most are made using cooked, but chunky, potatoes. My Mom cooks up a "mashed potatoes" version.

Mom uses red potatoes for her recipe, but you can use white or regular russet potatoes, too. Any potato you use is tasty and cheap, so go for it.

The other ingredients are standard for typical potato salads, mainly: mayo, mustard, pickle relish, and some seasonings - for a Cajun Potato Salad you want to add a sprinkle of Creole Seasoning. I bet you have seen these containers in your grocery store spice rack, too. It's okay to use any cheap brand you find.

 I get my condiments for pocket change from my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

You can mix in lite, vegan, or regular mayo - use regular mustard or Dijon. Pickle relish is cheap enough. Adjust any ingredient amount to suit yourself, or your fellow diners' taste buds.

Click on any photo to see larger.

This recipe travels well for a picnic. Refrigerate like any potato salad. I like to sprinkle Creole Seasoning on the top for a colorful party presentation.

Packed for a BBQ patio party.

Mom's Cajun Potato Salad goes with any of my Cajun family recipes (click on the name,) including Gumbo, Shrimp & Grits, Muffaletta Sandwich, Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Blackened Fish, Crawfish Etouffee, Black-eyed Peas, Pecan-crusted Fish & Spinach Salad, and an Alligator Po'Boy.

 Cajun Potato Salad & Seafood Gumbo

Mom's Cajun Potato Salad goes with any backyard BBQ menu. And if you have a potluck party to attend then bring a chilled bowl of it.

So check out my latest recipe video below. When Mom is in the house, get ready to be well-fed!
Mom's Cajun Potato Salad - VIDEO

Play it here, video runs 6 minutes, 27 seconds.

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

  • 4-5 Red Potatoes - peeled and roughly chopped. Okay to use white or russet potatoes.
  • 2 tablespoons of Mayonnaise - or a vegan substitute. Add more mayo or less to meet your taste.
  • 1 tablespoon Mustard - any type, including Dijon. Again adjust the amount to your taste.
  • 1 tablespoon Pickle Relish - okay to add a couple chopped slices of pickle.
  • Water to boil potatoes - reserve some liquid for mashing of potatoes - if necessary.
  • Cajun or Creole Seasonings - optional. Just a dash or 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - okay to leave out salt as Creole Seasonings have plenty.

            This recipe is similar to regular potato salad, just cook the potatoes until soft enough for mashing. 

            And adjust ingredient amounts to suit your taste. If you like a lot of mayo in your potato salad then add extra. Add more mustard, or even leave it out.

            Start by getting a pot of water to boil. Wash potatoes and peel. Roughly chop peeled potatoes.

            Click on any photo to see larger.

            Add to boiling water. Low boil for about 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Since potatoes are mashed, you can't overcook them.

            You can boil unpeeled potatoes whole or just halved, and pull off skin after they are soft and cooled down. There is less potato waste when you peel potatoes after they are boiled.

             Peeling a Boiled Potato

            Drain potatoes when done, but be sure to reserve a cup or two of liquid. You can add some of the liquid, a tablespoon at a time, once the potatoes are mashed until the desired creaminess is reached.

            Next, add drained potatoes to a bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Add a tablespoon or two of reserved liquid if necessary.

            Now mix in all the other ingredients. Mom added 2 heaping tablespoons of mayo, a tablespoon of regular mustard, and pickle relish.

            Add more or less of the wet ingredients to suit your flavor profile.

            Season Mom's Cajun Potato Salad with salt, pepper, and Cajun (or Creole) Seasoning.

            Stir ingredients until smooth.  That's it. Store Mom's Cajun Potato Salad covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.

            This recipe travels well for a picnic and goes with any of my Cajun family recipes (click on any name,) including Gumbo, Shrimp & Grits, Muffaletta Sandwich, Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Blackened Fish, Crawfish Etouffee, Black-eyed Peas, Pecan-crusted Fish & Spinach Salad, and an Alligator Po'Boy. If you have a backyard BBQ planned, or a potluck party to attend, then bring a bowl of Mom's Cajun Potato Salad.

            Mom's Cajun Potato Salad is mashed, but you can do a "chunky" version sometime. Just don't boil the potatoes to mush - leave them a little firm by shortening the boiling time. The potato chunks only need to be fork-tender - roughly chopped potatoes. It's okay to leave some potato skin on.

            For "mashed" Potato Salad you should peel the potatoes. And adjust the wet ingredients to suit your, or any guests, tastes. If you don't have Creole Seasoning, then leave it out.

            If you want a little crunchy veggie texture, then add a half cup each of finely chopped onion and/or celery.
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