Friday, March 16, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Recipes - Deli Style

St. Patrick's Day is the time to dress in green and put on your yarmulke? That's if your combining the cuisines of the Emerald Isle and the Promised Land. And you'll feel like you've found that leprechaun pot o' gold at the end of the Western Wall when you try my luscious Jewish recipes using Irish corned beef, that's now on sale this week.

I like traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage and it's easy enough to make, but for the money I like my corned beef between 2 slices of rye and topped with a cabbage coleslaw, Jewish deli-style. So just keep on reading to see my tasty recipes below for Deli Corned Beef and Homemade Pastrami.

If you didn't notice, this week is the time of cheap hunks of corned beef -- starting at $1.99 per pound! I usually clear out my freezer for this St. Patrick's Day beef celebration and stock up on a few corned beef briskets. They freeze well and I like to smoke them during my patio summer cookouts.

Corned Beef is easy to make. To a pot of water just add the package of herbs (that come in the corned beef package) and toss in a few chopped veggies. You can boil the corned beef on the stove top or bake it in the oven. I prefer the oven method, so you get a slight browned crust, but the inside will still be moist.

You'll also want a batch of coleslaw to go along with my Homemade Deli-Style Corned Beef Sandwich. Especially when cabbage is selling for pennies a pound this week. Just click here to get a cheap$kate Deli Coleslaw recipe.

Our most famous deli in Los Angeles is Canter's Deli on Fairfax Boulevard. They are especially know for Pastrami and Corned Beef Sandwiches.

For their 60th Anniversary at this location, they served Corned Beef on Rye Sandwiches for 60 cents! If you don't believe me, then just watch the video below as proof positive.

And if you have any meaty leftovers then add them to a breakfast scramble of Eggs and Pastrami or Corned Beef (my recipe is a click away here.)

Now, if you really want the wildest use of leftover Pastrami then go no further than the next video, on the making of an Oki Dog.

It is basically a burrito with hot dogs, cheese, chili and pastrami. Yes, it's a cholesterolic artery clogging tortilla-wrapped depth charge that will literally take your breath away. Just watch the video below to see it being assembled (and click here to read all about it.)

In my Pastrami Recipe Video below, I show you how to brine a beef brisket in the refrigerator for a week. But if you buy a package of corned beef, you can skip that stage and go right to cooking it.

A package of herbs is included with corned beef. I like to grind up the herbs, add some pepper, and that becomes the dry rub for a pastrami. And the final stage is to smoke the pastrami for about an hour. So keep scrolling down to see my Corned Beef and Pastrami recipes (you can also click here to see more Pastrami Recipe photos and text.)

So keep an eye out for that yarmulke wearing leprechaun with a tzitzit under his green jacket. If you catch him make sure one of your 3 wishes is one of my delish dishes.

This St. Patty's Day post is all about the beef. So stock up on corned beef and get to cooking. And you can be sure that the Blarney Chef is not full of it this time - these are some of my best recipes.

Easy Homemade Deli Pastrami - VIDEO

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes 42 seconds.

Corned Beef Recipe Ingredients
  • 1 whole corned beef
  • Water - enough to cover brisket.
  • 1 whole chopped carrot - optional
  • 1 whole chopped onion - optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • packet of herbs that come with corned beef

Add enough fresh water to cover the corned beef by an inch. Add the chopped veggies and bay leaf. Bring up the water to a boil, then lower the heat for a low simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 4 hours.

Check every hour or so to make sure the broth does not cook out. Add a 1/4 cup of water at a time, if needed. That's it -- just remove the corned beef and let it cool down enough to slice and serve.

For an oven version, add the veggies and corned beef, then cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. Finally, remove the cover and finish baking another hour -- this will give a nice dark brown color to the outside of the meat.

When slicing the corned beef for sandwiches make sure to cut across the grain of the meat. Of course, you'll want to try out a slice to see how yummy it is. Notice the lean meat and its rosy color inside.

For a Deli-style Corned Beef Sandwich just add mustard to rye bread. Layer on your favorite cheese, corned beef and coleslaw. From a 2.67 pound of corned beef brisket, I made 3 sandwiches. I served them to my wife, mother-in-law and our neighbor Deb -- they all raved how delicious it was. I hope you will like it too!

Directions for Cooking Pastrami - using corned beef
Remove corned beef from the package. Add corned beef to a large pot with a cover and fill it with water to just above the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and simmer for at least 3 hours. Check on it from time to time to make sure the water doesn't cook out (the water can cook out by a third, that's okay, as the meat will continue to steam.)

When finished boiling, remove the meat and set it to drain. Make the dry rub to coat the meat for smoking. Mix the pepper and coriander and coat all sides of the brisket.

Dry Rub Ingredients for Smoking
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander - they are the tan brown seeds in the herb package that normally comes with corned beef. You can sometimes find ground coriander in grocery spice racks, too.
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper - okay to use less. Sometimes black pepper can overpower everything, but I like my pastrami that way.
  • Wood chips for smoking the pastrami in a BBQ grill -- about 4 cups.

Now time to smoke it. You mainly need an outdoor grill with a cover. I have a 2-burner gas grill. The object is to smoke the meat with indirect heat. That is, place the meat as far away from the flame as possible. The meat is already cooked, so you just want to smoke it at this stage. If you have a simple outdoor charcoal bbq grill then build a fire way off to one side.

The flame is for a pan of wood chips. You could even loosely wrap a large handful of chips in aluminum foil and place over hot coals or the gas flame.

Depending how hot the flame is, the wood chips should start smoking in about 5 minutes. When the smoke starts, place the boiled brisket as far away from the flame as possible and cover the grill tightly.

Check every 10 minutes or so and replace the wood chips with fresh ones as they cook away, if needed. I smoked my pastrami for an hour. Even a half hour of smoking will still give great flavor and a crunchy crusted pastrami.

In the hour of smoking I had to replace the blackened wood chips a couple of times. The meat will still heat up and brown, even away from the heat.

If you are using a coal burning grill your smoking time may be shorter, as they often burn hotter than a more controllable gas grill (about half an hour of smoking?) The length of time it takes for the wood chips to stop smoking is all the time you really need.

After the pastrami is smoked, place it on a cutting board, slice across the grain, and make a big fat Pastrami Sandwich - your way!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Chocolate Covered Cherry - Video Cheap$kate Review

My latest Deal of the Day is  sweet with a cherry on top, that is, of the chocolate covered variety. The candy confectioner Queen Anne have supplied my local 99c only Store with milk chocolate, and dark chocolate, cover cherries for quite some time now. I've seen them there forever, and finally I could resist no more!

Click on any photo to see larger.

Queen Anne is one of the most popular makers of Chocolate Covered Cherries Their basic recipe has been around since 1948. You can read about them by clicking here

And just because they show up at my local 99c only Store doesn't mean there is a problem with the brand. Queen Anne also makes Chocolate Covered Blueberries and Peanut Clusters with Dried Cherries, so I think they know what they're doing. The candy is gluten free.

A few weeks before Valentine's Day I noticed them again and figured I might get a romantic holiday blog post out of these Cordial Cherries for a cheap$kate review. Well, read on to see if they made a passing  grade.

Chocolate Covered Cherries, or Cordial Cherries, are made with preserved maraschino cherries. You've seen the bright red cherries  in small  jars on the grocery shelf, or floating in a boozy cocktail called a Manhattan. Even the lowly canned fruit salad will sometimes have a few included.

They are over-the-top sweet, but somehow retain the flavor of cherry. I have the feeling that there is a lot of artificial flavors and color involved, so best to not indulge in these bonbons very often.

But for a romance inducing  aphrodisiac, they are a lascivious  way to start a fire. Of course, as a gift to my true love I would first buy Cordial Cherries from a better confection purveyer than a local dollar store. But if you need a sugar fix, these will satiate any sweet tooth.

For candy I prefer chocolate covered fruit like Raisinets. Once, I even got my hands on fresh strawberries covered in white chocolate - wow, what decadent bites.

This 99.99 cent box of Cordial Cherries holds 5 bonbons. I bought a couple boxes to review, milk and dark chocolate covered cherries.

The hard chocolate shells are standard flavored, nothing special, but nothing objectionable. Milk chocolate is mild and sweet, while the dark chocolate is more intense with a slight bitter bite. I liked both types. And they will melt if you hold them for any lenght of time, like it did while I animated with them.

The chocolate shell is thin but holds up for a couple of bites. That's half the story. The inside is filled with  milky sweet sugar. The syrup is a mix of white and clear.  Both are pure sugar sweet with a slight cherry fruit flavor. Some people prefer clear sugary liquid centers, but I bet there is little difference in taste from milky white syrup.

The preserved maraschino cherry is firm,  plump and whole, no cherry stem of course. The cherry is bright red and loaded with cherry flavor (probably enhanced by chemicals.)

Queen Anne's Cordial Cherries are a flavor bomb. I'm sure there are finer made brands out there like Godiva (about $10 for 6 pieces,) but these pass my chintzy test for tastiness.

So how do Chocolate Covered Cherries by Queen Anne rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? Well just watch the video below to get all the tasty details and rating.

Chocolate Covered Cherry - Video

Play it here. video runs 1 minute 24 seconds.

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Oscar Party Recipes

And the Best Oscar Entree goes to...YOU! Come and accept your award winning chow and pass it around to your Oscar party guests.

And click on any Oscar Entree Nominee name to be directed to the original blogpost for all the award winning recipe prose and cinematic culinary imagery.

Lets start things off with a bang, it's the Oscar Entree nominated, "Dunkirk" Beanie Weenies!
Dunkirk - Movie Trailer

This rousing flick, directed by genre hopping Christoper Nolan, is about WWII British soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk as the Nazis close in for the kill.

But don't worry. The British love their whistle-berries, so It's Baked Beans with Wieners to the rescue!
"Dunkirk" Beanie Weenies - Recipe

Rising from the murky depths, my next Oscar Entree Nominee, "The Shape of Water"Alligator Po'boy Sandwich, may give you the creeps.  

 After one crunchy bite, you head will swim with pungent Cajun spices and exotic reptile tastes. Alligator is very similar in texture and flavor to a pork chop, but with an extra seafood tang. An Alligator Po'boy Sandwich is typically dressed with lettuce and tomato on a slice of French bread slathered with mayo.

The Shape of Water - Movie Trailer

Is the main creature character, in this imaginative movie creation by Director Guillermo del Toro, fish or reptile - maybe a combination of both? 

While the alligator flavor may leave you scratching your head, this recipe is ready for it's close-up taste test. So after viewing the recipe below, go ahead and give my Best Oscar Entree a big webbed green thumbs up!

"The Shape of Water"Alligator Po'boy Sandwich - VIDEO

My next Oscar Nominated Entree is "Phantom Thread" Shepherd's Pie. Film director Paul Thomas Anderson weaves a quixotic yarn of a story, that is part art house movie and British costume drama.

And the director teams with actor Daniel Day-Lewis once again, who plays a proper gown couturier, set in 1950's London, England. His character falls for a young waitress, and soon enough the sequins fly. 

The most English of entrees is a Shepherd's Pie, that commoners and royalty enjoy. It's simple pub food composed of ground beef or lamb, peas and carrots cooked in a beef and tomato sauce, finally crowned with mashed potatoes. Click here to see how this Scrooge Yoeman does it.

Phantom Thread - Movie Trailer

My Oscar Entree, "Lady Bird" Curried White Chicken Deli Salad, is based on a Trader Joe's deli favorite that struggling students, like the movies main character Lady Bird, would surely dine on. 

This chick flick is one that guys can get into. I saw it and totally got it. The mom and daughter dynamic starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, directed by Greta Gerwig, is indeed Oscar-worthy.

Lady Bird - Movie Trailer

If you don't know about our local Trader Joe's markets, they stock food that is cheap, but high quality. 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.

My cheapSkate version of Curried White Chicken Deli Salad is so yummy even Academy voters, used to glitzy dining, would  cast their vote for this Best Oscar Entree

Twilight Zone influenced, Oscar nominated Get Out is a black man's paranoiac nightmare come true when he visits his white girlfriend's family. This is not your "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" kinda movie, where everyone becomes enlightened about race relations.
Get Out - Movie Trailer

I can't give away too much about this flick - no spoilers here. But I can give you all the details for my Oscar Entree: "Get Out" Black Beans with White Rice

My recipe's combination of the sweet and sour Cuban-style  Black Beans, with boring White Rice, is a miscegenation of flavors. 

So let's all get along and agree that this Best Oscar Entree is horrifically delicious.

"Get Out" Black Beans with White Rice - VIDEO

To misquote Sir  Winston Churchhill: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, sweat and cheap$kate ingredients."

And the Oscar Nominated Entree, "Darkest Hour" Fish and Chips," delivers on all the above.

This stirring biopic of Sir Winston Churchill's leadership as Hitler swept through Europe is a rousing viewing experience. And lead actor Gary Oldman is the Best Actor to beat.
Darkest Hour - Movie Trailer

For the fish I use cheap pollack fish that is beer batter coated and deep fried. For proper chips, or fries, I use a double frying method on russet potatoes, to get extra crunchy fries.

So belly up to the bar and order Churchill's favorite drink, Scotch whiskey, along with the pub grub favorite Fish and Chips. Watch my recipe video below to see how this Cheap$kate Corker does it. My entree will lighten any dark day.

"Darkest Hour" Fish & Chips - Video

Do try out any of my Oscar Party Entrees - you're sure to get a Standing O. So have your acceptance speech ready because the golden statuette for Best Entree at an Oscar Party belongs to you, the host with the most.

And I'll leave you with a video I made awhile ago, where the Academy of Motion Pictures had an Oscar exhibit, along with a podium with a real Oscar. All you had to do was stand in line and take a picture with it -- well you can be sure I showed up for that! Just check out the video below:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Avocado Toast - Recipe Video

Here's one way to start your day: Avocado Toast. Check out my recipe video below to see how quick and easy it is to make.

Avocado Toast - Video

Play it here. Video runs 58 seconds.

You can also have Avocado Toast for a light lunch or as a snack anytime of day. If you eat out in LA it's de rigueur, and fast becoming cliché in menus all over town. But good is good, and it's the right price for this Cheap$kate Gourmand.

I make my creamy and crunchy Avocado Toast simply, just mash ripe avocado and add salt and pepper. When a couple slices of bread are toasted and warm, I slather on the avocado - that's it.

Sometimes I don't even mash them in a bowl, I just scoop out some ripe avocado and smear it right on the toast, without salt or pepper.

You can dress it up with smokey crumbled bacon, a runny fried egg, chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, fruit, sauteed veggies -- the additions go on and on, just Google Avocado Toast sometime.

I am lucky to live in the Avocado Capital City of America. We get them year around. Well, I'm sure some other California cities would make the same claim. One extra source in Los Angeles are a plethora of Latin grocery stores that stock avocados from Mexico..

And we get them cheap here is Los Angeles. I like to use smaller ones, just because I hate waste, and a small size is perfect for a serving or two.

And 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.

I've been burned many times picking out avocados. Smooth skin types are not as rich and creamy as the bumpy skin Haas Avocado, but I will take any type rather than go without.

An avocado is ripe when slightly soft to the touch. Mushy brown spots are a warning. You never know if the flesh will be stringy and bland, or soft and rich.  But most times it all works out. Click here for a few tips on when an avocado is ready to eat.

I like to use bread with flavor for my Avocado Toast. Since avocados are expensive for most of us, you might as well splurge on the bread, too. If you have a favorite baker, give them a visit. Or stroll through the bread section of your local grocery and try a pungent sourdough, nutty multi-grain, or local specialty.

One small avocado, when mashed, is enough for two slices of Avocado Toast. To spread the joy at a party, set out a bowl of mashed avocado with your fave crackers or toasted bread pieces and let your guest help themselves. Avocado removed from the skin will begin to turn brown quickly, but I bet your guest won't let that happen - just stand back and watch it quickly disappear.

You might as well get in line with  hipster diners who have made Avocado Toast the most popular of appetizers in Los Angeles eateries.  Go ahead, join us, this is one foodie trend that deserves to keep on, keepin' on.

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 1 small ripe avocado - I find that a small avocado will be enough for a couple of servings
  • 2-4 slices of bread - toasted. I used sourdough. Okay to use any favorite bread including wheat and multigrain. How much bread you use depends how much avocado you spread on each slice.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple as can be. Start toasting a couple slices of bread.

Just slice avocado in half and remove seed.

Scoop out ripe avocado flesh into a bowl and mash. You can mash until creamy or keep it chunky.

Salt and pepper to taste.

For a single serving I use half an avocado. I leave the seed in the unused avocado half, cover it with the leftover avocado peel and store it in the refrigerator. Refrigerated, it  will last a few days.

Sometimes I just scoop out avocado flesh and smear it right on the toast.

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Breakfast Tacos - Leftovers Series

I threw a taco party for the Football's Superbowl and what do I have to show for it? A bunch of leftovers including Pinto Beans, Mexican Rice and some Homemade Salsas.

In my game day menu was: Carnitas with Frijoles and Mexican Rice. If you are looking for your own party food make sure to click on any highlighted recipe name to see all the yummy photos, Gifs, videos and tasty recipe text.

Mexican-style Carnitas - slow cooked pork marinated in Mexican Coke & citrus

My friends and neighbors were glued to their seats during the game, but managed to get up for munchie breaks, so much so that by the 4th inning my Carnitas were wiped out. The only thing left was some salsa, beans and rice.

The food was a hit. Setting up a taco bar is the way to go if you want to mingle with your party guests. What's great is they do all the work, once you set out the goodies.

It is easy to keep the Mexican-style Pinto Beans at a low temperature on the stove top. During the game I would add a little water from time to time as the bean broth thickened.

Once the Mexican Rice was ready I just left it covered. Room temp is fine for the rice, since the beans were kept hot on the stove, so my guest could make their own steaming bowls of Beans and Rice to go with tacos and homemade salsas.

I kept my Carnitas in a covered pan and would heat it up in the stove every once in a while. I kept the stove on at 250 degrees so it would only take a few minutes to heat the Carnitas through. (I could have microwaved the meat as well.) I always keep some meat broth to moisten the meat, spooning on some each time I before heating.

There was plenty of time before kickoff to make some Homemade Salsa. In terms of food preparation, I had made the Carnitas the day before and the pinto beans soaked overnight, so all I had to do was make Mexican Rice and Salsas on game day.

Pico de Gallo and Mango Salsa takes some chopping, but it's not too bad. I made sure to do them first thing, as they are tastiest with a couple of hours chilling in the refrigerator, so all the flavors blend well.

The Salsa Verde is made with roasted  tomtillo and some onion - easy enough, just throw it in the oven about half an hour or so while the Carnitas are heating up. When the tomatillos were soft and onions slightly charred, I let them cool off, then simply blend together.

 My Red Chile Salsa is made with dried chiles (remove seeds)  that are soaked in hot water for half an hour. You just blend them with some of the chile water, and add some onion and tomato for a Salsa Roja, and that's it.

Well this blog post is really about the leftovers. All I had the next day was some beans, rice, tortillas, and salsa. So I started the next couple of days with Breakfast Tacos.

I microwaved some Pinto Beans and Mexcian Rice, while I scrambled one egg and heated up 2 or 3 corn tortillas.

Once the main ingredients were heated through I assembled the Breakfast Tacos, topping them with some shredded cheese and salsa. Boy is this a great way to get the day going.

After your own Taco Party take advantage of my Leftover Breakfast Tacos recipe - table scraps were never so deliciously put to use.

Ingredients (2 tacos)
  • 1 egg - scrambled your favorite way. One medium egg is enough for a couple of small tacos.
  • 2 to 3 corn tortillas - amount depends on egg size. Okay to make a Breakfast Burrito with flour or wheat tortilla.
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican rice - add as much Mexican Rice as you like. 
  • 1 tablespoon pinto beans - add as much pinto beans as you like. Okay to use canned pinto beans.
  • 1 tablespoon cheese - optional. Any type of cheese, I used shredded cheddar and Jack. Again add as much as you like.
  • 1 tablespoon salsa - fresh made or from jar. I made my breakfast tacos with Mango, Pico de Gallo, Salsa Verde (tomatillo) and Red Chile.
  • 1 teaspoon oil or butter - for scrambling an egg.

First take out the salsa and cheese  from the refrigerator, to reach room temperature.

I microwaved the beans and rice together in a bowl.

I started heating the corn tortillas while scrambling an egg. I used a pat of butter for my eggs but you can make your scrambled eggs with oil, or any way you like.

Once the eggs are done and other ingredients heated up, or reach room temperature, assemble the Breakfast Tacos.

Make the tacos as stuffed as you like - just pile on the tasty ingredients. And get out the hot sauce, too!

It's up to you how to make Breakfast Tacos. Don't like pinto beans? - then leave them out. If cheesy tacos are for you then add extra cheese. It's okay to use your favorite grocery  jar of salsa or canned pinto beans. Make this recipe your own.

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