Friday, March 27, 2020

My Street Corner Mini-Mall During Convid-19

I am fortunate to have almost everything I need nosh-wise within walking distance of my condo in Los Angeles. I can shop for food and get takeout, too. Keep scrolling and I'll take you on a tour.

 At the intersection of  La Brea Avenue and Obama Boulevard in Balwin Hills is my local Mini-Mall that's taking precautions against the pandemic Convid-19 virus.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Mini-Mall is perfect for shopping in these contagious times. It's easy to keep your distance from each other until you enter a business. When window shopping you can peer in and see how crowded the store may be.

I walk off the sidewalk along the car parking slots. Since there is little traffic it's safe enough.

Of course it sad to see local hair and beauty salons shuttered.

It's not a great time to try on clothing either. 

It's best to have an online presence these days.

Hmmm, haven't needed these services yet...knock on wood.

More customers are wearing face masks.

The mini-mall Market and liquor store has customer limits.  

When I cut through the parking lot behind the Mini-Mall, I spotted this produce van in back unloading veggies. I joked with the delivery guy about his company name. He says alot of others are taking pictures of the van, too.

It turns out that "Corona" is the owner's name, also it means "crown" in Spanish.

I'm doing a series on ordering "To Go" at various local eateries during my walks and short drives around town. My neighborhood Mini-Mall has a few that need our support.

I always order my Subway sandwich to go anyway. My fave is the 6-inch Meatball Sandwich. I get it heated on JalapeƱo Cheese Bread and topped with melty provolone cheese, spinach, red onion, tomato, black olives and believe it or not, crunchy cucumber good.

One of the most popular restaurants in the Mini-Mall is CJ's Cafe. They serve breakfast and lunch only.

When I have stayovers and relatives visiting L.A. we usually end up here for a hearty breakfast or a Mexican lunch.

I can walk to my local Mini-Mall and will continue to support the business there during the Coronavirus. Do be careful out there and keep your distance!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Covid-19 To-Go Cheeseburger at The Win-Dow & Trump Rant

Like ordering on the run, my series, Covid-19 To-Go, is a quick dining snapshot of food shopping and restaurants and fast-food joint reviews that only serve take-out food during these trying times.

There's no denying the seriousness of the global epidemic, Coronavirus. While both political parties were slow to recognize the creeping contagion, one world leader until recently huffed and puffed playing down the dangers of this health crisis.

Some of you may want to skip the next couple of paragraphs as I take President Trump to task for his shortcomings. Hey, it's my food blog and I can rant if I want too, ha!

Now that our conspiracy theory-loving Fake Facts in Chief, I mean, Commander in Chief, has come around to the seriousness of the Coronavirus - that's it's not under control and will not just disappear - the Liar of the Free World is acknowledging the gravity of this pandemic.

As the Gaffe, I mean Gif above shows, I think President Trump is finally listening to the experts, instead of the self-aggrandizing voices in his orange-hued head and his puckered mouthpiece on Fox News, Sean Hannity.

Let's see how long he can act Presidental and make decisions that follow his medical experts, and not go by his (substantial) gut reactions -- but I'm sure more cringeworthy moments are just around the corner.

Update (4/23/20): Whew, that didn't take long, here is the pompous POTUS offering his latest possible cures of Covid-19 with "Very powerful light." and injecting disinfectant to clean the lungs!

The Scatterbrain-in-Chief suffers from an inferiority complex toward ex-President Obama winning a Nobel Peace Prize, I guess Trump is itching for a Nobel Prize in Medicine?

It looks like President Trump is pushing free health screening for all (still on the table,) student loan debt postponement (60 days,) government-mandated paid sick leave and a minimum monthly wage (at least during Covid-19 pandemic)...Wow, we might not need a Democrat in the White House after all ! 

Links for Covid-19 facts:
Just click here for unfake facts and updates issued by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) to keep down the spread of Convid-19,

And be sure to visit here how to deal with a loved one or neighbor who may have the Coronavirus.

A great first-person account of going thru the Coronavirus from start to finish is here on this NPR podcast - truthful and excellent reporting as usual.

This is a tasty series, just a few of my fave dining destinations. It's kinda strange to talk about dining out when everyone should stay home. I only visit them when I have to --  it's best and safest just to stay out of circulation as much as possible.

Basically, it's all about "social distancing," that is, not lingering and mingling so as not to spread this contagious virus. Hey, one's got to eat and I will showcase a few take-out only local eateries in Los Angeles during the time of the pandemic. Gotta help them out every once in a while.

The first joint of my To-Go Series serves burgers from a couple of windows in a mini-mall. I stopped with my girlfriend Linda on the way to her place to move a few things in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. And the burger joint is funny enough called "The Win-Dow."

There were just a couple people milling around waiting for there to-go orders. We kept our distance of course.

The Win-dow is run by the restaurant American Beauty on Rose Avenue, attached to the mini-mall.

We ordered burgers and a fries to split. And when I got my change Linda handed me a small sanitary wipe for my fingers after I put the bills away.

The price is right for a Cheeseburger at $3.95 and French Fries for $3.75.

Click on any photo to see larger.

Just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the night air was cool and it was quiet and peaceful, with most traffic off the streets, waiting for our orders in the parking lot.

They do a quick job and since you are outside there is plenty of elbow room so you can keep your distance. The order was ready in less than five minutes and we grabbed the bag from the second window and headed out to her place to chow down.

Their specialty is a grilled Cheeseburger. It is a compact flavor bomb. And it gives our longtime classic In-N-Out Burger a run for the money. While on the small size, the patty is rough-hewn (by hand? - Yikes make mine well-done!) and smashed, and fried right -- juicy but with plenty of char.

You get some grilled chopped onions and a few thin slices of pickle. There is a mayo-spread, not quite a thousand island dressing. All the ingredients meld and are very satisfying.

It's just American cheese melted on the patty and that is fine by me. Most fast-food joints use a hefty and firm bun, but The Win-Dow's is very soft and quite tasty.

We also ordered fries and boy they are great...McDonald's lookout! They're thin-cut and lightly fried - less greasy than Mickey D's too.

Really, just done perfectly with a crunchy outside and a soft center. And the order has a large amount of fries that Linda and I split.

The Cheeseburger is so good that next time I'm getting the Double Cheeseburger!

Check out the menu below. They also have a Fried Chicken Sandwich with Slaw, Vegan Burger, Shaved Kale Salad and a 7 Grain Bowl.

425 Rose Avenue
Venice, CA, 90291
(310) 412-0075

The Win-Dow is in the mini-mall next door (just East) of American Beauty restaurant.
Take-out only.
Covid-19 hours are from 11am to 9pm.

Stay safe out there!

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Best St. Patrick's Day Recipes

 St. Patrick's Day is the time to dress in green and put on your yarmulke? That's if you're 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, like the loaded deli classic Corned Beef Sandwich pictured below.

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.

Easy Corned Beef Recipe - VIDEO

If you didn't notice, this week is the time of cheap hunks of Corned Beef -- starting at $1.69 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.

Traditional Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage is easy to make. Boil the whole Corned Beef brisket for about 3 to 4 hours until the meat is tender. Next, remove the corned beef and cook chopped cabbage, carrot and potatoes in the salty broth. I like to dump half the brine/broth as it's very salty and replace it with regular water. When the veggies are tender, return the corned beef to the pot to reheat. That's it, just pile on your plate a thick slice of Corned Beef with tender veggies. Check out my video below.
Easy Homemade Corned Beef with Cabbage - VIDEO

You'll 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 known 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.
Canter's 60c Corned Beef Sandwich- VIDEO

Last summer I threw a Pastrami Sandwich Party that featured a Reuben and Rachel Sandwich. What takes these sammies over the top is that they are grilled in butter on rye bread grilled with melty Swiss Cheese...sooo gooood.

Reuben Sandwich is stacked with Pastrami or Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, and Russian Dressing (of course you can substitute with mustard.) Sour to the nth degree, Sauerkraut ignites smoky Pastrami and pungent Swiss Cheese on Rye Bread into an explosive flavor bomb.

Reuben Sandwich- VIDEO

Rachel Sandwich is toasted the same as a Reuben but substitutes Sauerkraut with Coleslaw. Both sandwiches share Russian Dressing, which is easy enough to make - just a mix of mayo and ketchup.

Rachel Sandwich- VIDEO

And if you have any meaty leftovers then add them to a caloric 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 its Japanese origin story.)

Oki Dog with Pastrami - VIDEO

In my  Homemade Pastrami Recipe Video link here, 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 like in the video below.

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.)

Keep an eye out for that yarmulke-wearing leprechaun with a tzitzit under his green jacket. If you catch him to 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. You can be sure that the Blarney Chef is not full of it this time - these are some of my best and favorite recipes.

Easy Homemade Deli Pastrami - VIDEO

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes 42 seconds.

Ingredients for Corned Beef and Cabbage
  • 1 corned beef - I use cheap point-cut corned beef on sale. They usually weigh 3 to 5 pounds. You can follow package directions for cooking corned beef. 
  • 1 whole cabbage - chopped. They have a tough root stem you can remove, but it will tenderize. I only remove if it's discolored brown and extra tough. 
  • 1 carrot chopped - You can add another carrot or two, depending on the size. Sometimes I like more veggies.
  • 2 red potatoes chopped - You can boil red potatoes whole, but they will take an extra half hour to cook. Okay to use white or russet potatoes. Also, add more potato if you like.
  • Water to cover corned beef - When corned beef is cooked, taste broth for saltiness, if too much then replace half the broth with freshwater and taste again.  

Directions for Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned Beef is a thick and tough piece of meat, so you need to low boil it for about 3 to 4 hours until tender. Time will vary depending on the size of the whole Corned Beef. Mine was about 4 pounds. Cheaper cuts of Corned Beef can be fatty, is so it's okay to trim off some of the fat.

You can follow Corned Beef package cooking directions. Usually, you cover Corned Beef with water, about 5 cups worth. Most times you have a small packet of spices and herb included, so open and empty the contents into the water.

In a large pot, bring the Corned Beef in water to a boil, lower to a low simmer or low boil and cover the pot. Cook about 3 to 4 hours. Check on the pot every hour or so to make sure liquid does not cookout, and add more water if needed. It's okay if the liquid cooks out by half, this will make an intense broth for the veggies.

After about 3 hours you can chop the cabbage, carrot, and potatoes.

When the Corned Beef is done, remove it and set it aside. Taste the broth to see how salty it is. More than likely it's too salty, so pour out half the broth and add an equal amount of fresh water. Now taste to see if the broth is milder. Repeat this step if necessary to reach your desired flavor.

Once the broth meets your tastes, then add the chopped veggies. Bring to a low simmer, cover the pot and cook veggies for about 20 minutes.

If you like crunchy cabbage, then cook carrot and potato first, about 15 minutes, then add chopped cabbage. Cook until cabbage reaches desired crunchiness, usually 10 minutes or so.

Finally, return the cooked Corned Beef to the pot with veggies and let it reheat for about 5 minutes.

This is a one-pot meal, so just slice off hunks of Corned Beef and serve with the cooked veggies.

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 ex-NYC neighbor Deb and she raved about how delicious it was. I hope you will like it too!

Directions for Cooking Easy Pastrami Recipe
Remove corned beef from the package and follow the cooking directions.

Typically you 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 a 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 under a pan of wood chips. You could even loosely wrap a large handful of chips in aluminum foil and place over hot coals or a gas flame.

Depending on how large and hot the flame source is, the wood chips should start smoking in a couple of 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 give the Corned Beef great flavor and create 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!

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