Thursday, September 29, 2022

National Coffee Day ☕️ & šŸ©

Wake up and smell the coffee, it's National Coffee Day on September 29. Google this day and see what specials your local coffee houses are offering.


At my first job out of high school, I drank my coffee black. Now I like milk and real sugar in my morning coffee.


And I went through a Coffee Creamers phase trying various flavors. They were loaded with sugar and gave you extra energy burst out the door. I've left those sugar bombs behind.


I used to drink coffee at night when first I moved to Los Angeles, mainly to stay awake during my night classes in film and television, after my 9 to 5 job. Now I can't drink it at night as it interferes with my beauty sleep.

In my 20s I added boiling water to a cup of freeze-dried coffee from the jar, but now I go for ground coffee in a vacuum-sealed can from Ralph's grocery store. Sometimes I spring for fresh ground from whole beans carried at our local Trader Joe's grocery market. 


When I worked in film and TV our crew was furnished with Cappuccinos, Macchiatos, and Frappuccinos along with regular coffee. In my European travels with my late wife, Amy, I've had Americanos, CafĆ© au Lait, Irish Coffee, and Expressos. Click here to see the different types of coffee drinks explained.

My wife, Linda, prefers coffee from whole beans so I go with her selections these days -- as you can see I can handle any type of coffee, from 7-Eleven crusty pot-flavored to a Starbucks frothy cappuccino!

For those who're lactose intolerant, there are many milk substitutes and I've tried a lot of them. I still haven't decided which one goes best with coffee. If you have a favorite then leave a comment and let us know!


One of my favorite song lyrics is from Carly Simons's top 40 hit "You're So Vain" and it goes: "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee..."


And this Budget Barista likes coffee as much today as ever, especially when a free donut is offered on this auspicious day by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. And they are introducing a coffee-glazed donut. and donut-flavored coffee -- too much of a good thing is right up my alley.


I like their plain glazed donuts the best. Other donut stores carry fancier and more extravagant ones, but for the price, Krispy Kreme is my go-to donut.

Orchid Donut by DK's Donuts in Santa Monica, California.

So on National Coffee Day, whether it's cloudy or sunny, get a steaming cup -- however, you like it!

Click on the above image to play my Coffee for Breakfast video.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

National Pancake Day - Fruity Recipes!

How I loved pancakes as a kid. And on this delicious National Pancake Day, I have it covered with my cheap$kate spin on the traditional pancake, with the addition of fresh fruit. Just check out my video below to see how easy it is to do.

Strawberry Pancake Recipe - Video

Fluffy browned flour pancakes would jumpstart my day with a sugar blast of maple-flavored syrup. Hey, I grew up in the South in a small town so we didn't have access to real New England maple syrup, but what we had was fine. 

Of course, now I buy real maple syrup. I don't have pancakes as often as I used to, but when I do I make it a special occasion with the addition of fresh fruit that I add to the frying pan and then pour on the pancake batter. 


That way I don't need as much syrup since fresh and in-season fruit adds a layer of natural sweetness. And you'll never get bored with plain pancakes again if you try my versions of Fruity Pancakes, and I bet the kids will eat them up, too!

What fruit can you add? Just about any type you can find, really. Start with an easy-to-get sliced banana, then move on to peach, and more exotic ripe slices of mango. 

It's easiest to use small whole fruit that is ready to add, like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Scroll on to see the fruity variations I've tried and pick a favorite to try yourself.


My recipe is basic, I use premixed pancakes from the box. Nothing special really. The average mix is usually just enriched flour, sugar, dried egg, and milk. Normally you just add water. You can use your own favorite mix or even a homemade mix. If price is no object then get organic from Whole Foods or from your fave health food market.

I do like to finish my pancake with a pat of real butter. It's up to you if you want to go that far. 

Here is my basic Pancake Recipe using a box of mix and fresh blueberries. I like to make one large pancake, but you can make them any size you and your family or friends like including small or dollar-sized. 

Blueberries are ready-to-go, just a quick rinse and put them right on a lightly oiled hot griddle or pan -- no peeling or seeds to remove. Next, pour on the pancake batter and cook until browned on both sides.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe - Video
Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 32 seconds.

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


Ingredients (2 servings, using a pancake mix)
  • 1 cup pancake mix - any favorite
  • 3/4 cup water - okay to use milk for a richer pancake batter.
  • 1/4 cup blueberries - add as many blueberries as you like per pancake, about a dozen or so.
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease the skillet. Add more when needed, depending on how many pancakes you make.
  • Butter and your favorite pancake syrup - add as much as you like.
Directions
Prepare pancake batter according to package directions. My pancake mix calls for 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water.


Mix pancake ingredients in a bowl. When mixed it will be like thick country gravy.
(If you are using frozen blueberries it's okay to add them right to the batter. Defrosted or not, as they will warm up during pancake cooking.)

Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or griddle. Heat the pan over medium heat.
Rinse fresh blueberries and arrange on a hot pan or griddle. Add as many as you like, depending on the size of each pancake.


Brown pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on pan heat. When you see air pockets then check the bottom of the pancake to see how it's browning.

The instant box of pancake directions mentions cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmm, they must be using a super hot pan! Best to just check the pancake for color as you go.


If you want a dark brown pancake presentation, then cook one side to get the right hue of brown, then cook the other side for a minute, to finish. Serve browned side up, on the plate.


I serve hot with melted butter and a favorite pancake syrup. 
Cherry Pancakes are at the top of my fave fruit-filled breakfast. 


You do need to remove cherry seeds, but it's worth the effort and since the cherry season only lasts a couple of months, you won't be making these too many times anyway, so give my Cherry Pancake recipe a try.


Fig Pancakes are another favorite. I have a fig tree a few blocks away so I can get them for free when the tree starts bearing sweet fruit.


When store-bought they are on the expensive side, but I've found packages of cheaper dried figs that work just fine.

Blackberries often show up at my local 99c Only Store, so they will end up in my Blackberry Pancakes. They are often quite large so I slice them in half before pouring on the pancake batter. 

Mango Pancakes may be the sweetest fruit pancakes. You do have to wait for them to reach ripeness until they are soft to the touch like a peach. 


And they are well worth the wait. Check out your local ethnic market to get a good deal on them.
 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Ceviche (Avocado, Tomato, Black Beans & Krab) - Video Recipe

A cool dish for a hot day is the 99 Cent Chef's Krab Ceviche with black beans, Krab, cucumber, avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro. Check out my recipe video further down and see how easy and quick it is to make -- and there is no cooking involved!

There are a hundred variations of Ceviche (my own version is here) and I've tried quite a few - from bland American "Acapulco" chain restaurant style with semi-frozen shrimp; or L.A. San Fernando Valley taco truck "lime-cooked" minced fish and chopped onion on a crispy tostada round; to a just-across-the-border scary Tijuana fresh clam ceviche from a local street vendor using "cleaned" clams with juice, chopped onion, lime, and plain ketchup with Salsa Picante - it's actually quite delicious when chased with a cold Corona.

Local Latin markets will carry most Ceviche ingredients. I get onion, cucumber, and cilantro for less than a buck each.

Seafood is expensive so I keep a lookout for sales on imitation crab, or Krab, often for about $1.99 per pound when on sale.

I find small 8-ounce packages of Krab at my local 99c only Store every once in a while. I pick up a few as they freeze well. 

This Budget Chef is a fan of imitation crab or Krab, also known as Surimi (first developed in Japan.) It is firm and shreds easily. Krab is made from fish that is cooked, reformed, and flavored to taste and look like boiled King Crab leg meat. When I shred the Krab I like to leave some bigger pieces in the mix. 

I know that some will not eat Krab because it is cheap and man-made. I've noticed Krab as an ingredient in most supermarket sushi cold cases that carry a California Roll. I have my own California Roll recipe a click away, here.

Other Latin market ingredients all cost well under 99 cents a pound or 99 cents each.  99c only Stores and the Dollar Tree stock canned black beans and tortilla chips.

I bulk up my Krab Ceviche adding black beans and cucumber. The cucumber brings an extra cool crunch and black beans add extra protein and texture (for a vegetarian version leave out the Krab.) You can use any drained canned bean you like including pinto beans. And canned beans are cheap, of course.

Classic Ceviches use lime-cooked shrimp or fish. You drench the seafood in lime juice and let it set in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours, depending on how "cooked" you like your seafood. Lime juice will firm up the fish and turn the soft shrimp and fish from clear pink to a firm white.

It is important to add lime or lemon juice to a Ceviche with avocado so it stays green. Chopped avocado will eventually turn brown on the edges so it is best to eat the Ceviche in a day or two. I've also made the Ceviche without avocado. 

Also, make sure to drain and rinse the canned beans as the juice will make the Ceviche mushy in appearance and have an overwhelming bean flavor.

So sharpen your knife and chop up a cool Krab Ceviche. It's great for a patio party and travels well to serve as an appetizer...if your friends can handle the Krab.

I often add more Krab than 8 ounces as I list below. You may not like onion, cucumber, tomato, or cilantro, so it's okay to reduce the amounts to suit your taste. 

Krab Ceviche - Video

Play it here, video runs 3 minutes, 58 seconds.

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

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

  • 8 ounces to 1 pound of Krab - It's up to you how much to add. Sometimes I add a lot of imitation crab and other times not so much.
  • 1 chopped onion - any color. I like a red onion when I'm out to impress.
  • 2 cups chopped tomato - About 2 large tomatoes.
  • 1 cucumber - scoop out seeds and chop. Sometimes I will peel half of the cucumber as the skin can be too bitter.
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro  - chopped. Add as much or as little as you like. 
  • 15 oz. can of black beans - rinse & drain.
  • Juice of 1 Lime or Lemon.
  • Large avocado or 2 to 3 small - chopped.
  • 1/2 jalapeno chopped (raw or pickled) - optional. Add a little at a time to reach the desired hotness.
  • Tortilla Chips - when I want to impress, my local Latin market carries bags of freshly made chips and they are the best!
  • Tostadas -  for an autentic taco truck-style Seafood Tostada.

Directions

First, rinse black beans and drain away any liquid (if the juice from the can remains, it will dull the bright colors and make the ceviche mushy.) 

Shred Krab into bite sizes. I like a few larger pieces so you know what's in the Ceviche.

I hope your knife is sharp -- this recipe involves a lot of chopping. 

Chop tomato and onion. Roughly chop cilantro. 

For a jalapeƱo remove the seeds and white membrane. Chop 1/4 of jalapeƱo into small pieces. Be careful handling it and don't touch your face as it can burn your eyes easily - wash hands with soap after handling a jalapeƱo.

I like to remove seeds from cucumber. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. I usually peel half the cucumber as the skin can be bitter.

In a large bowl combine Krab, beans, cilantro, chopped veggies, and avocado.

Add lime or lemon juice. Mix it all together. 

Chill Ceviche for a couple of hours, if you can resist dipping in. This is a great patio party dish on a hot day. Serve with tortilla chips, hot sauce, and ice-cold Cerveza. If you have access to tostada rounds then pile on the Ceviche and make a taco truck-style Seafood Tostada.

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