Friday, June 18, 2021

Father's Day Recipes

I know what guys like to eat, I know what guys want. So get out your notebook, or bookmark this page for a slew of recipes that Fathers everywhere will enjoy.

My own dad would make us kids a breakfast of Biscuits & Country Gravy with Sausage. Here is a simple version where I substitute homemade Buttermilk Biscuits with plain old canned Biscuits, and all the ingredients come from my local Dollar TreeBut I sometimes find Homemade-style Buttermilk Biscuits at a Ralphs chain grocery bakery department, 4 biscuits for 99 cents!

Hey, if you're feeling ambitious then look up a recipe and make your own Buttermilk Biscuits, or go the easy route and watch my video below.

For a quick breakfast Dad would often have a glass of buttermilk with crumbled leftover cornbread...hmmm I couldn't get behind that as a kid.

My dad, Billy Robinson

My Dad was from Texas and there it's all about smoked meat. I have an easy recipe that uses a quick gas grill smoking technique. No Southern Dad would refuse Easy Pulled Pork on a Bun with sliced onion, pickle, and a lot of BBQ sauce. Check out below how I do it the cheap$kate way with inexpensive pork shoulder.

I use the same quick gas grill smoking method for a rack of tender Smoked BBQ Ribs. Again I cook with cheap pork, but this recipe can be done with more expensive meaty beef ribs, too.

I've had my father-in-law, Bob, over for lunch and dinner. He's a real meat and potatoes type of guy. So what's on the menu for his Father's Day? First off, I would make him an Old World Anglo-Saxon, hearty Shepherd's Pie (recipe here.)

This most British of dishes is literally made with meat and potatoes. It's a one-pot meal and simplicity defined. Just make your favorite mashed potatoes (or follow my recipe) and spread it over a beefy, tomato paste, and Worcestershire-flavored stew, which also includes: ground meat (I used cheap ground turkey,) onion, carrots, and peas. And you finish it off in the oven until piping hot. In my video recipe above a cheap beef shank is used.

After that meal your Dad may be put in a food coma, so make sure he has his favorite spot on the couch ready, including a foot cushion and TV remote controller.

If Dad is hogging the TV remote today for his fave baseball game then set out all the Hot Dog condiment extras. How does he like his Hot Dog? Plain with Mustard and RelishChili, Sauerkraut, and even Coleslaw are some of the toppings I would serve. Click on any name above to see how I do it. Here's a tip, try steaming hot dog buns for a minute after the weiners are done -- super yummy!

I bet your Dad would love my favorite sandwiches of late, a Rachel and a Reuben, both made with Corned Beef or Pastrami. Both also have Russian Dressing (mayo + ketchup), Swiss Cheese, and Rye Bread. The difference is a  Rachel has Coleslaw, and Reuben has Sauerkraut. Included in my recipe links is an easy Corned Beef and Pastrami recipe, so dig in!

Rachel Sandwich

Reuben Sandwich

Is your guy a meat and potatoes type? I like to broil a Ribeye Steak & Potatoes. Nothing to it just watch them brown and remove them from the oven when done to your liking. I like BBQ sauce on my broiled steak.

For more meaty meals to serve your Dad (or Husband) just click on any of the following recipes: Chicken Satay with Peanut SauceSausage and Sauerkraut with BeerPulled PorkChicken Fried Steak & GravyHomemade Deli PastramiChicken StroganoffRoast Cuban PorkMeatloafCarnitas (Mexican-style pork,) Baked Lasagna with Ground ChickenSweet, and Sour PorkMint Roasted ChickenSteak Carne AsadaPork Bourguignon, and BBQ Chicken.

My Louisiana niece, Candyse, is a mother to Ava. You've seen Candyse in a couple of my Mom's cooking videos. Ava's dad is Chef Tony. He's the face (creating a bunch of cooking videos) and the main chef for BBQ Guys. When I asked him what Cajun dish he wanted to cook for this blog, he chose a classic Cajun dish, Crawfish Etouffee (written recipe here.) Check out the talented Chef Tony in action in my video below.

Dad's definitely like seafood, so give Chef Tony's rich flavorful stew a try for one of the main men in your life. Other seafood entrees I would recommend are (click on any name to see): Fish and ChipsScallop RollsFish Tacos, Fish Veracruz, a rich Portabella Crab RockefellerCoconut Crusted Fish & Mango SalsaScallops and Snow Peas Stir Fryand Salmon Olympia.

My sister Brenda is married to Rich and he is the Dad to 2 of my nephews, who've put many hours at the grill in various Louisiana restaurants. I always have a good time making cooking videos with them whenever I visit Cajun country, like Chef Zakk's Blackened Fish and Sweet Potato Hash right here.

My oldest nephew, Chef Matt, has a nickname for me.

Click on the following recipe names if you would like to cook a Cajun-inspired meal for Father's Day, including Zakk's Cajun Style Pasta Primavera and Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato HashMom's Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo and JambalayaMatt's Alligator Po'Boy Sandwich, and Shrimp and Grits.

If your Dad (or Husband) likes it raw then I have the perfect recipes for you, my Sushi Video Series, which includes a Spicy Tuna Handroll and Nigiri Tuna Sushi (but if he's squeamish of raw fish, I have a colorful California Roll made with cooked krab, here.)

I break it all down for you with easy-to-follow sushi rolling GIF illustrations and a Sushi Rice recipe as well. Click here to get started or click on any recipe name above.

I worked with a vegan Dad. We're Facebook friends so I am enjoying his latest posts featuring his high school daughter who just graduated. She even once posted about making a Mushroom Risotto for his birthday. Well, I don't know her recipe, but if it's good enough for her Pops then is good enough for all my Dad blog readers - click here to see my own Mushroom Risotto recipe.

I like to cook with mushrooms as you can see by all the following recipes - go ahead and click on one: Mushroom Nigiri SushiMushroom Soup, a Portabella Mushroom & Bell Pepper Burger, and my Portabella Mushroom Fries video below.

Here are some other vegetarian dishes your noshing Husband, Dad or Grandad will enjoy, so click on any following recipe name: Denise's Eggplant BurgerBorschtBlack Bean, and Corn SaladBaba GanoushCarrot Nigiri SushiPasta SaladStuffed TomatoesSaag Paneer (creamy India-style spinach,) FalafelSteamed ArtichokeMs Patti's Red Beans and Rice, Eggplant Parmesan,  Braised Romaine Lettuce HeartsPasta with Cashews & GarlicVeggies in Cream with PastaTomato and Basil BruschettaEggplant HummusSnow Peas with Tofu and Ramen Stir FryVeggie Curry with LentilsBaked Pasta with Califlower and CheeseVeggie TempuraFrench Onion Soup, and Pear & Spinach Salad with a Creamy Herb Dressing.

If your Dad has a sweet tooth and his fave dessert is a pie, then watch my Mom's Homemade Cherry Pie recipe video below and give it a go.

And finally, if you are an LA local (or just visiting,) and looking for a restaurant to take your Father to, then check out my ongoing nighttime restaurant video series. You'll get menu highlights of a dozen or so restaurants in each of my unique Restaurant Nocturnes videos. I go out at night to bring you a culinary cross-section of dining, both high-end and low. So just play the video below to see my latest compilation, Restaurant Nocturnes XIII. And click here, then scroll down to the end of the post to activate links to all the other ones (thirteen videos so far.)

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Cherry Season - Recipes & Reviews

 Cherries start to show up for 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market right about now! They are my fave fruit and I like them plain or .... well, just read on to see what I do with a bag of Cherries.

My love affair with Cherries really heated up when I began to visit relatives in Central California and remember getting fresh Cherries from an orchard tree. While Washington produces the most Cherries, California is in a tight race with Oregon for second place. 

You can read the health benefits of fresh Cherries here. I find they are less perishable than strawberries and last longer like grapes.

The only hindrance to consuming a Cherry is the easily discarded stem and stubbornly buried center seed. Cherries are large enough to slice around the seed, twist and separate, then pry out the seed.

If you have a metal straw then push it through the opposite end of the stem and out pops the seed. (You can use a plastic straw as shown in my GIF below, but it will start to buckle after a few cherries. 

The easiest and quickest Cherry Recipe is to just add a few slices to your favorite plain (or mildly flavored) yummy yogurt. 

It's an early morning light breakfast or on a warm afternoon a cool snack for relaxing in the patio. My video below shows how I do it:

Cherries & Yogurt Recipe

I like pancakes in the morning, especially on weekends. I use a generic pancake mix from my 99c only Store and Dollar Tree, and always add a little fresh fruit, especially cherries. 

You can mix the sliced cherries in the pancake batter or sprinkle on a hot pan first then pour on the batter.

Cherry Pancake Recipe

My Mom has a Cherry Pie to die for. She used to bake 'em up when we were kids, and she makes a mean one even now.

There's nothing better than the smell of a baking fruit pie in the oven and watching the crust brown through the oven window.

And my brother from another daddy, the Swamp Chef, crawled out of the bayou to get Mom to show us how she does it!

This is a 2 crust pie and she uses cherries from the can, that's the old school way. Of course, I know where to find canned Cherries the cheapest!

So pull up an extra chair and invite the whole family to watch Mom and the Swamp Chef show you a homemade Cherry Pie Recipe video..oh, boy!

I crave Cherry flavor for sweet Craisins from my local Dollar Tree

Craisins are dried cranberries, and they're very similar to grape raisins. And real Cherry juice is used, plus cane sugar for a bit too much sweetness. I can eat them by the handful or just add to breakfast cereal or hot oatmeal.

And finally, I'm still a fan of sickly-sweet Chocolate Covered Cherries. There is something so pleasing, almost magical, combining a Maraschino Cherry and creme in a shell of chocolate.

And I can still find 5-count boxes for the right price at my local  99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

So if you are wondering how they rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? Just check out my video review right here.

Enjoy Cherry Season the 99 Cent Chef way!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

🍩 National Doughnut Day - Videos

I've died and gone to Donut Heaven this week because June 7th is National Doughnut Day! Check out your local Donut purveyors for any deals and specials -- hurrah!!

From the Donut Man at the edge of L.A. County in Glendora to my local donut shop Krispy Kreme right down the road, or a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean is DK's in Santa Monica -- let's check out the donut scene here around Los Angeles.

For a couple of summer months, my fave donut is from Donut Man, and my considerate neighbor drives out to Glendora once a year to bring back a few boxes for our condo complex. I always get at least three Peach Donuts.

And each donut is huge, loaded with freshly peeled and sliced peaches. At $4.50 per donut, these are not cheap, but each one weighs 3/4 of a pound, and last time I counted there were 10 peach slices per donut. And the pastry donut part is humongous as well.

The pastry is a yeast-style, so it's light, airy and has a sweet sugar glaze. 

For a neighborhood dunker, I've been going to DK's Donuts in Santa Monica lately. It's on the way to one of my favorite movie theaters, the Aero, where I've been known to make a homebound late-night stop. 

They are located in a mini-mall of course, and in the alley behind the store is an angel wings/donut halo mural pictured at top of this blog post. So go there for your own Instagram donut halo selfie.

And they have the most picture-perfect donuts around. Exhibit A is their Original Ube Purple Yam Donut. It looks unusual but tastes like any regular donut. 

It's a heavy cake sweet donut. The purple color is from a Japanese yam, but the donut doesn't taste like a yam. Most of DK's donuts are $3 each.

Their next standout donut is worthy of a pot of gold, the most colorful Rainbow Donut.

But the prettiest donut in town is right there as well, an Edible Flower Donut, made with a mild-tasting orchid flower.

My go-to local pastry is a Krispy Kreme Doughnut. They're so good I had to learn how to make my own, and just watch the next video below and you will learn too.

What is it about a Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut? Crusted with sugar, Krispy Kreme doughnuts are so soft, slight and featherweight you are left wanting more -- all for about a buck apiece.
When I first had them, I was reminded of powdered beignets from Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Both are made with a yeast-risen dough; and, in fact, the original recipe for Krispy Kreme was purchased from a New Orleans French pastry chef over 70 years ago.

The ingredients for this East Coast confection are simple and inexpensive: yeast, flour, sugar, milk, one egg, and vanilla flavoring. Krispy Kreme's recipe is secreted away, so I am approximating it.

You can experiment with doughnut dough flavors, using different flours (wheat) and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, chocolate powder (or chocolate syrup), and fruit juice (or pureed fruit) instead of water. Watch the video -- it's easy to make a baker's dozen.
Krispy Kreme Donut - VIDEO
Play it here. The video runs 7 minutes, 5 seconds.

To make your own Krispy Kreme on National Doughnut Day just follow my simple directions below:

Doughnut Ingredients (Baker's dozen - about 13)
  • 1/2 package yeast (video shows 1 package) - about 1 tablespoon of dried yeast.
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water (100 degrees)
  • 2 cups flour - cheap, white all-purpose. Okay to try out different types for extra flavor and texture.
  • 3/4 cup of warm milk (100 degrees) or milk substitute
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 stick (28 grams) of butter or shortening - softened to room temperature.
  • Vegetable oil for frying donuts
*Wide skillet or pot with vegetable oil one inch deep -- the doughnuts will float (in the video I used 3 cups of oil - oil is reusable.)

Sugar Glaze Ingredients and Directions
  • 1/4 stick of butter (28 grams) 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. water (clear glaze) or milk (white glaze)

Directions for Glaze
Melt butter and add to powdered sugar, vanilla, and water. Mix well for a couple of minutes. Pour into a shallow dish for dipping/coating warm doughnuts. For harder glaze leave out butter.

*Here is a great website that converts my ingredients into grams (for all my international cook visitors), just click here.

Directions for Doughnuts 
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water, then add warm milk, egg, sugar, butter, and flour. Mix well for a few minutes (electric mixer for 2, or 5 minutes by hand). Cover dough for at least an hour, or overnight for breakfast doughnuts.  

On a lightly floured surface, roll out doughnut dough with a rolling pin about 1/2 an inch thick. 

The dough is much softer and sticker than typical bread dough. To make it easier to work with sprinkle on flour as needed -- or just plop the dough on a floured board and pad it down out with your hands.

Cut doughnuts with a cutter (I used a coffee cup), then a smaller cutter (bottle top) for the centers. You can set aside the doughnut holes with the doughnuts or re-roll them for another doughnut or two. Let cut doughnuts set another half an hour to rise one last time before frying.

When doughnuts have risen, heat oil in a wide shallow pan to about 350 degrees (medium heat). Test one of the doughnut holes in the oil - it should bubble and quickly brown the doughnut hole. 

Fry one doughnut at a time until you get the hang of it - I burned a couple. Watch carefully, as doughnuts will begin to brown along the edge in a few seconds. Flip the doughnut over to brown the other side.

 It may take a few tries - a light to medium brown doughnut is done enough. Set cooked doughnuts on a rack or on paper towels to drain. 

Finally, dip one side of the doughnut in a shallow bowl of sugar glaze -- then enjoy! 

99 thanks to the Baldwin Hills Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store, their employees and customers for allowing me to shoot the video.

Location: 4034 Crenshaw Blvd.
L0s Angeles, CA. 90008
Phone: 323) 291-4133
Drive-thru is open 24 hours.

 And if you like a good time, be sure to check out my Judging the Donut Summit 2 video below.  It is chock full of crullers, dunkers, bear claws, chocolate glazes, and lemon filling. I recorded the outdoor park event while selecting the best of show donuts, including Best Vegan, Filling, Chocolate, Raised (Yeast), Fritter, Unconventional, and Visually Appealing.

It was fun judging such a prestigious event. Highlights included an Awards Ceremony with donut medallions, Donut Croquet, and a Donut Poetry Slam -- be sure to listen to the hilarious limerick, "The Babysitter." To see photos and read more about it, click here.
Judging the Donut Summit 2 Video
Play it here. The video runs 5 minutes, 34 seconds.

Another local donut fave is Randy's Donuts is on the way to LAX Airport, so if you are on the 405 freeway, exit for a donut or two.

For Super Bowl LIII our local team, Los Angeles Rams, was in the NFL Playoffs. While we were not victorious Randy's left a sweet taste in our mouths with a couple special edition pastries they served during that exciting time, and I made a video about them right here:

Let's leave for New Orleans and enter Cafe Du Monde for beignets, fried puffs of dough covered in a blizzard of powdered sugar.

Cafe Du Monde is a must-stop when you are touring the French Quarter in New Orleans. Open 24 hours, every local has had coffee au lait with beignets here. The coffee is flavored with chicory, and the beignets look like they've been hit by a powdered sugar avalanche!

The original Cafe Du Monde was just a stand started in the 1860s at the French Market. Now it has a huge green and white striped awning that covers the patio and a smaller indoor dining area -- all barely cooled with ceiling fans. Want a behind-the-scenes tour of the place?  The 99 Cent Chef has it. You'll see the waitstaff busting coffee cups and beignets amid snow drifts of powdered sugar. And it's cheap -- 3 beignets and coffee for about $5 total.

The coffee beans are dark roast. To tone down coffee's bitterness, it's brewed with chicory. You can order your coffee "black" or light brown "au lait" -- au lait means half milk and half coffee.

The beignets are deep-fried squares of pillowy dough covered in powdered sugar. Yeast is used, so the doughnuts are light and airy like a sponge. You will get dusted with white powdered sugar, so make sure to lay out napkins on your lap, especially if you are wearing black. I usually shake off the powdered sugar -- enough is left on to sweeten the beignets.

If you want to make your own homemade beignets, Cafe Du Monde has a mix to sell you on its website, here. Or you can just use my Krispy Kreme Doughnut recipe, that's posted here. The only thing you need to change about my recipe is to cut the doughnuts into squares, and, of course, don't punch out a donut hole.

Cafe Du Monde is a great way to start or end your French Quarter tour in New Orleans.
Cafe Du Monde - Video
Play it here. The video runs about 1 minute and 32 seconds.

Cafe Du Monde - for various Louisiana locations, click here.
Main location: 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, La. 70116
Phone: (504) 525-4544

Speaking of the end, let's return to the beginning...of the waking walk to your coffee machine to jumpstart the early morning when you are foggy and don't always think your actions through. Well, watch my video below and let me know if you have ever gone to the extremes I have for a desperate jolt of caffeine -- with a side of Krispy Kreme!

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