Saturday, June 25, 2022

National Catfish Day

When I visit my Cajun Family in Louisiana I have Fried Fish as often as possible. And the preferred fish to fry is Catfish. The recipe below is how my Mom does it and most Southern cooks, too. On National Catfish Day give it a down-home spin.

There is not a lot to this recipe, just coat raw fish with cornmeal then fry it in hot oil. The extras are Cajun Seasoning and Garlic Powder. You could make my Southern Fried Fish with simply seasoned Cornmeal using salt and pepper.

I lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas and everyone fried seafood coated with cornmeal. When we moved to Louisiana when I started High School they did the same.

Go to any restaurant, gas station, or grocery with a kitchen in the back and you will often find Fried Catfish on the menu. The crispy crunchy fried fish comes as part of a plate lunch with slow-cooked veggies.

The second best way to have Fried Catfish is in a Louisiana sandwich called a Po-Boy. The sandwich is simply dressed in mayo, lettuce, and tomato and served on French bread (or any crunchy crust and soft interior bread roll.) You definitely want to try one if you are driving through Louisiana. Of course, use my Fried Catfish recipe for this Po-Boy.

Freshwater Catfish are plentiful in Louisiana rivers and bayous. They are fierce fighters and thick-skinned, so they are not easy to prepare for cooking, so locals just buy them at seafood markets and grocers.

The catfish fillets are deboned and skinless and come ready to fry. The pieces are anywhere from three to six inches long, and an inch or so thick.  They are usually farm-raised and mild in taste. When cooked the flesh is firm but flaky, and very moist. 

Catfish is generally a cheaper fish. I don't see it at 99c per pound lately, but regular sales hover around three to four dollars per pound.

My recipe is the way my Mom orders it on Fish Fridays from her fave local eatery, Cajun Catch. It's piping hot out of the deep fryer with Tartar and Cocktail Sauce on the side and served with Green Beans, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, and a Dinner Roll. By the way, Tartar Sauce is just mayo mixed with pickle relish, and Cocktail Sauce is ketchup, horseradish, Worchestershire sauce, and lemon juice.

The Swamp Chef casting for catfish.

While Southern Fried Chicken is coated with flour, most Southern Fried Fish is coated with cornmeal. 

You'll want to spice up the coating by mixing in salt, pepper, a favorite Cajun Seasonings or Old Bay, and pungent Garlic Powder. If you can't get these season mixes, then make your own with a bit of garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika or red chili powder.

Typically dried spices for cornmeal or flour when frying.

I've made a simple mix with just salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cornmeal - that's enough for a lot of flavorful fried fish.

I've met some who do not like cornmeal because it's a bit crumbly and the flavor's just not for them. Try a half mix of flour and cornmeal if that is the case, you might get away with it. 

You do need an inch or so of oil to fry the coated fish in. I use generic vegetable oil, but you can use any favorite oil. Just make sure the oil is hot when you add the fish so there is less oil absorption --  it's easy enough to drain the fish once it's fried. I place mine on a wire rack, or you can pat dry with paper napkins.

Just fry until the cornmeal coating is slightly browned. It may be hard to tell as cornmeal is usually yellow, so it doesn't brown as much as white flour. It's easy enough to break off a piece of frying catfish to test - the flesh should be firm and flakey when done.

With a medium/hot oil it should take about 5 minutes of frying cornmeal-coated fish, depending on the size of the fillets. 

Here are some of the best types of seafood to fry: Catfish, Tilapia, Alaskan Cod, Halibut, Striped Bass, Trout, Perch, Shrimp, and Oysters. Try out any local fish you prefer.

My easy Southern Fried Fish recipe is quick to do and so good you will want to invite the neighbors over for a Fish Fry patio party. Best to serve with a simple Coleslaw or Potato Salad (click on names for my recipes) and a cold brew.

Fried Fish - Video            Play it here, video runs 3 minutes, 29 seconds.

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

Ingredients

  • 10 to 16 ounces Catfish fillets - skin removed and deboned. The fillets are cut into about 3 to 6 inch pieces.
  • 1 cup Cornmeal - okay to make the mix half cornmeal and half flour.
  • 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning - Old Bay seasoning is easy to find as well. A homemade seasoning is a tablespoon each of garlic powder and paprika or red chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Black Pepper to taste - about a teaspoon.  Salt is optional.
  • Vegetable Oil - enough to fill the frying pan to an inch deep. About a cup.

Directions

Catfish fillets should be thawed and ready to cook. Add oil to a frying pan over medium/high heat.

To prepare coating add cornmeal on a wide plate. Mix in garlic powder and Creole Seasoning. I like a teaspoon of black pepper, too. Salt is optional as Cajun Seasoning usually has plenty.

When the oil is hot it's time to coat the fish in a Cornmeal Mixture. Add a few pieces of catfish and coat all sides with the Cornmeal Mix. The Cornmeal Mix should stick to the fish fillets. Press fillets into the mixture if necessary.

Add cornmeal-coated fish fillets to the hot oil. Be careful as the oil may splatter at first. The typical temperature of the oil is around 350 degrees hot. I just go by looks, if the fish bubbles when it hits the oil then that's hot enough. 

Allow fish to brown on one side for two to three minutes before turning to cook the other side. Don't move the fish when first added to hot oil or the coating will pull off. If you use a deep fryer this is not a problem.

Total frying time should not be much more than 5 minutes if the oil is hot enough. It's okay to pull out a piece of fish to check for doneness. The Fried Fish should be firm and flakey when pulled apart. It should still be moist as well. 

You might not be able to fry all the fish at once so don't overcrowd the frying pan. As a batch of fish finishes frying remove and place on a paper towel or a wire rack to drain excess oil.

That's it. Allow cooling for a minute then dig in. I make a simple Tarter Sauce to go with Fried Fish. Just mix a quarter cup of mayo with a tablespoon of pickle relish.

I like to serve it with Coleslaw or Potato Salad, just click on the names to be directed to my recipes. 

For National Catfish Day try it fried, just the way this Cheap$kate Internet Chef likes it.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

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 Relish, Chili, 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!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Rachel Sandwich - Video Recipe

Coleslaw between 2 slices of rye bread? But when you add melty Swiss Cheese, tender Corned Beef, and Russian Dressing, now that's a great sandwich. My Rachel Deli Sandwich is stacked with deliciousness.

I was unaware of such a wild sandwich until I first ordered a Rachel at Los Angeles's premier Jewish Deli, Canter's Restaurant. They are expensive, in the $20 range now, and I would get them just every once in a while. 

The Rachel is a riff on a Ruben Sandwich, which is made with Sauerkraut instead of Coleslaw. And the Ruben is an American creation from the early 1900s (click here to read all about it.)

What makes a Rachel Sandwich so tasty is the combination of cool Coleslaw with thick slices of Corned Beef and Swiss Cheese on toasty Rye Bread. It's a heady, hardy sandwich.

Now you would think it too difficult to make in your kitchen but I have a simple Corned Beef Recipe that uses a package of uncooked Corned Beef

And all you have to do is boil the Corned Beef until tender. Check out my  Easy Corned Beef recipe below.

I always have a few packages of uncooked Corned Beef in the freezer that I get for half price during St. Patrick's Day week sales. 

For my Coleslaw, I use a 14-ounce bag of sliced cabbage and carrot and a few dollops of mayonnaise that I get from my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.

Coleslaw made with a pre-shredded bag of cabbage is the way to go and I have an Easy Coleslaw recipe below to prove it!

A Russian Dressing is ketchup plus mayo. Mix it together for a sweet sandwich filling.

You're supposed to use Swiss Cheese, but I've made mine with any favorite cheese I have on hand - it's all good.

A Rachel Sandwich can go other meaty ways, one is using sliced cooked turkey and the other way is made with Pastrami. I've not tried turkey, but I know Pastrami makes a great Rachel. Of course, I have an Easy Homemade Pastrami recipe video for your viewing pleasure.


As for Rye Bread, I get mine from the "clearance shelves" at my local Ralph's Grocers for one to two bucks a loaf. 

Once you toast week-old slices of rye, they taste as good as new. I've also made a Rachael with regular bread. (I guess you can't really call it a Rachel, but it's delicious regardless.)

Do try out my version of a Rachel Sandwich -- so go for it, and make your own Corned Beef or Pastrami  -- that's the 99 Cent Chef cheap$kate way.

                                            Rachel Sandwich - Video                Play it here. The video runs for 2 minutes and 26 seconds. 

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

Ingredients

  • Sliced Corned Beef or Pastrami - My recipe for Easy Corned Beef is here. My Easy Pastrami recipe is here.
  • Coleslaw - add as much as you like, usually a couple tablespoons per sandwich. My Easy Coleslaw recipe is here.
  • Swiss Cheese - One slice is enough, but add as much as you like. 
  • Russian Dressing - mix one teaspoon of ketchup plus one tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  • 2 Slices Rye Bread - I've made the sandwich with regular white and wheat bread.
  • Butter - a thick slice for toasting the sandwich. 

Directions

For a simple Corned Beef Recipe just simmer a raw Corned Beef covered in water for about 3 to 4 hours until it is tender. 

Check the water level every hour or so and add more if needed. A package of Corned Beef will have directions as well.

Slice the cooked Corned Beef. You can make your sandwich with as much as you like.

What makes this sandwich is toasting the bread and melting the Swiss Cheese. Here's how I stack it.

Add a slice of butter to melt and spread it out enough to cover a slice of bread.

I add a slice of bread and then the Swiss Cheese, so the cheese is closest to the heat and will melt nicely. 

From here out you can stack it anyway. Pile on the Coleslaw and sliced Corned Beef.

Finally, smear on the Russian Dressing and top with a slice of Rye Bread.

When the cheese starts to melt it's ready to turn and brown the other side of the sandwich. Again it's good to peak under the sandwich to make sure you don't burn the bread.

You can add more butter when you flip the sandwich if you like a more buttery flavor. I find it's buttery enough even if one side has most of the butter flavor and browning.

It usually takes 2 or 3 minutes per side to brown the Rye Bread and melt the Swiss Cheese, depending on how hot the pan or grill surface is.

Hindsight

Stack the sandwich any way you like. Start with Swiss Cheese, Corned Beef, Russian Dressing, and top with Coleslaw. Mix it up the way you like it.

I've made the Rachel with Pastrami, too. I've never tried a California Rachel (made with sliced cooked Turkey) but it sounds delicious.

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