Monday, July 31, 2023

National Avocado Day - Recipe Videos

 God, how I love avocados. My last bite on earth would be a simple slice of creamy Haas avocado.

This is a most delicious blog post you will want to bookmark for future viewing. And click on any recipe name to see all the original recipe photos and text.

July 31 is National Avocado Day and I have a ripe basketful of recipes for you to use this most luscious and rich fruit.

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, And if you need a reminder on how to tell when an avocado is ripe, just click here.

The simplest and most tasty Avocado recipe is for Avocado Toast. Just mash a ripe Avocado, season with salt and pepper then spread it on warm toast. Use a tasty fresh-baked slice of bread if have a local bakery or farmers market. But a nice nutty whole-grain grocery store brand is fine.

Here in Los Angeles, Avocado prices are all over the map, from a buck and a half for a large one, to six small ones for 99 cents! If you keep an eye on seasonal sales you might find them for bargain prices, too.

I like to start the day with this green bauble of deliciousness sliced and tucked into a cheesy Omelet. This is too much of a good thing but what the heck.

I like a fresh and creamy slice of Avocado on my taco, how about you? And all my yummy Taco Recipes are a click away, here.

If you have a local Latin market in the hood then this next recipe is for you. Plus this recipe is a real dollar stretcher. Avocado Crema is a mix of Mexican Crema and mashed Avocado.

Mexican Crema is similar to sour cream (okay to use sour cream instead,) just sweeter. Use this recipe at your next Taco Party and serve it with chips, and top a taco or burrito -- so good.

Not all Avocados are created equal, just check out my Cheap$kate Dining Review of Del Monte Fresh Guac, here. Does it rate a perfect 9 or a lowly.... hmm, all I can say is looks can be deceiving.

If you have a favorite cold salad then add a chopped Avocado for a rich addition. I like Macaroni Salad mixed with mayo, krab, and Avocado brings it over the top.

For these immigrant-bashing days, I have a Cesar Chavez Salad made with funky anchovies and illegal Mexican-immigrant-picked Romain lettuce with, of course, Avocado from Mexico.

The sushi California Roll was invented here and boy does the rest of the country owe California a big thanks. Even hardcore sushi connoisseurs will pick up a pre-made package in the deli section of a local grocery chain store. Check out my video below and see how easy a California Roll is to make.

You can't do a better sandwich than a BLT, or Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. Oh, wait, I take that back - you can do better with the addition of Avocado, of course. Okay, now go and make yourself a BLT+A Sammie.

For my vegetarian friends and visitors, my Hummus Veggie Wrap includes a Homemade Hummus recipe. Sliced Avocado rounds out the ingredients list. 

I discovered Cuban cuisine here in Los Angeles. And I like to start my restaurant meal with a Cuban Salad, comprised of Avocado, tomato, sliced onion, and radishes, and mixed with vinegar and oil. Very simple but a great contrast to typical heavy and rich Cuban Roast Pork.

For the dog days of summer, nothing is better than a cool Ceviche. There is nothing to cook, just drain a can of beans and mix in shredded krab, chopped onion, jalapeƱo, tomato, and of course, Avocado.

Chill it then get out the tortilla chips and park yourself under a cool shady tree with a frosty mug of beer or your fave cold beverage and watch the world go by.

I can eat Avocados morning, noon, and night and you can too if you hang out at the 99 Cent Chef's food blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Persimmon Pancakes - Video Recipe

I didn't really know about persimmons until I lived next to Little Armenia in Hollywood, California. I would walk to the local mini-mall market to see what produce was on sale. You don't see persimmons very often in regular grocery stores.

Like avocados, you have to wait until they are soft to take advantage of the sweet and pudding-like interior. They have papery skin and large seeds that are easy to discard.

If you see the bright red/orange fruit in your grocery or ethnic market give them a try sometime. And they are a nice way to add fruity flavor to your typical pancake recipe.  

No special tricks to this recipe, I just add freshly sliced persimmon to a lightly oiled heating pan and pour on pancake batter. 

For the pancake batter, I use a commercial brand. If you have a homemade recipe then use it. I can get a large box of dry pancake batter at my local 99c only Store or Dollar Tree. Regular grocery stores sell it cheap enough, too.

My recipe is the easiest and quickest thing to make and starting the day with fresh fruit is a big tasty plus.

Check out how I make a cheap$kate breakfast of Persimmon Pancakes.

Persimmon Pancakes - Video
Play it here, the video runs 2 minutes, 17 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.
  • Persimmon - ripe and soft to the touch. When soft just slice the persimmon in two and scoop out the flesh, leaving the seed behind. If semi-soft you can slice the whole persimmon into wedges, again leaving the seed and tougher seed shell out. 
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease skillet. Add more when needed, depending on how many pancakes you make.
  • Butter and Pancake Syrup - add as much as you like.

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. Start to heat the pan over medium/low heat.

Use a persimmon that is ripe and soft to the touch. When soft just slice the persimmon in two and scoop out the flesh, leaving the seed behind. If semi-soft you can slice the whole persimmon into wedges, again leaving the seed and tougher seed shell out.

I like to place fruit down on the pan first so it is in direct contact with the skillet for a little caramelization. You want to pour batter against the persimmon so they stick to the pancake when you flip it.

Follow typical Pancake mixing and cooking directions. The box directions below mention the cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmm, they must be using a super hot pan!

If you want a dark brown pancake presentation, then just cook one side to get the right amount 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 my favorite pancake syrup.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

National Mango Day

 When ripe, a mango is easy to peel so on National Mango Day you can get right down to choosing what cheap$kate recipe of mine below to celebrate with today.

I peel a Mango by just slicing into the skin, top to bottom about 4 slices per Mango. That is usually enough to then peel each segment of skin to reveal the orange flesh underneath. Then you just slice off the flesh until you hit the large flat/oval seed.

Mangos are ripe when soft to the touch, kinda like an avocado. Although, in a Thai Mango Salad green sour Mangos are used. Mangos come in all sizes, from small Manila Mangos to large Mexican and Central American Mangos

I visited Hawaii many times with my late wife Amy, and Mango, coconut, and other fruit trees are everywhere, as our vacation blog post describes, here

And they are cheap here in Los Angeles, especially when on sale at my local Latin grocery store. 

The simplest way I use a sliced Mango is to add some to my breakfast cereal or in a bowl of plain yogurt. My Mango and Yogurt recipe is a delicious start to your day or a cool anytime snack.

I can still find yogurt cheaply at my local 99c only Store, even large tubs for a buck sometimes!

I have a fruity pancake series I've been doing for a few years now that features fresh fruit and Mango is at the top of my Pancake recipes. Nothing to my Mango Pancakes recipe as I use a cheap pancake mix. All you do is add water to the mix and stir until a batter is formed. 

I then add Mango slices to a hot grill then pour on the pancake batter. Just check out my recipe video below to see how easy it is to use fresh fruit to a typically boring stack of pancakes.

If you want to Wow a party, bring a bowl of my delicious Mango Salsa. Every time I bring it the compliments fly! Of course, don't forget a bag of tortilla chips. 

What makes my Mango Salsa off the hook is the push and pull of sweet mango flesh and spicy pieces of jalapeno. The other ingredients are cheap and easy to get including chopped onion, cilantro, and lime or lemon juice. The only hard part is chopping the veggies and peeling the mango - that's no big deal, really.

Mango Salsa Recipe - Video

My simplest recipe on National Mango Day is a Spicy MangoI always have Red Chili Pepper Flakes in my spice rack. If you like a sprinkle of Red Chili Pepper on your pizza and pasta then give them a try on fresh sliced Mango. The yin and yang of hot and sweet will thrill your taste buds.

I'll end National Mango Day with a refreshing Mango, Watermelon, and Spinach Salad. It's perfect on a summer day. It's light and sweet with a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil. Do add a Mango to your shopping list on this special day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

National Hot Dog Day - Recipes & Reviews

šŸŒ­ July 18th is National Hot Dog Day, so let's begin with a recipe that is literally a hot mess, the L.A. Street Dog. The wiener is bacon-wrapped and topped with mayo, ketchup, mustard, and a grilled fajita mix of bell pepper, onion, and finally a spicy jalapeno. Whew, that's a mouthful. Check out my version below. And click on any restaurant name or recipe name to see the original blog post with all the yummy photos and tasty prose.

The premier tube steak purveyor in town may be Fab's Hot Dogs. Chef-owner Joe Fabrocini has brought virtually all of America to the San Fernando Valley offering a menu of beautifully crafted dogs from every region worth its mustard. The selection of hot dogs is head-spinning, but go ahead and dive into my video, where I show you a few favorites.

Summertime is Hot Dog Season and nothing beats making your own. I always have mustard and pickle relish in the fridge, and tube steaks and hot dog buns in the freezer. I make 'em this way more than any other - sweet pickle relish, sour mustard, and a meaty weenie on a bun, so good, and below is my simple recipe for a Relish Dog.

Pink's, L.A.'s most popular hot dog stand (the place can't put up all its celebrity headshots), was started in 1939 with just a pushcart and has the longest lines of any fast-food stand, and deservedly so. It has been filmed and reviewed by every media outlet in L.A. so I won't repeat it all here. However, I did notice one special hot dog that has not been covered, and that is the "Dude," named after the conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel. It's the most extravagant of hot dogs - get an eyeful of it in my video below.

I like a Chili Dog anytime. Where does this cheap$kate and lazy Chef get his chili? From the can of course! Just watch my Chili Dog recipe and make your own, the 99 Cent Chef way.

Let's Be Frank, serves up wieners with compassion. No factory farm beef, pork, or turkey is used in their franks. All the animals are 100% grass-fed and humanely raised locally in California. Hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, and nitrites are not added to the production of meat.

I often gild the lily, that is I lay it on thick, like my next Hot Dog recipe, a Chili & Sauerkraut Dog. I find sauerkraut from the can or jar and chili from a can is tasty enough -- no need to complicate things.

Carney's dining train car once hosted the cheapest Hot Dog Happy Hour on L.A.'s notorious, and famed Sunset Strip, serving a trifecta of beer, hot dog, and fries for $4.75! Alas, no more since Covid changed the price structure of most restaurants in L.A. But their Hot Dogs are just as delicious now, Happy Hour or not. Below is a flashback video of dining at Carney's Happy Hour of Dogs, Fries, and Beer...oh boy, were those the days. 

If chili and sauerkraut are not your cup of tea then leave out the heaviness of chili and go with a simply delicious Kraut Dog. I've left a jar of sauerkraut in the fridge for weeks at a time and it keeps on giving these intensely flavored hot dogs.

Come on down to Crenshaw Boulevard in South L.A. for soulful hot dogz served by Earlez Grill. These wieners are split and grilled on a flattop for max flavor. Check out my video below to hang with the boyz and girlz in the hood.

I like a Chili Dog with a sweet relish. Hot, meaty chili cut through with sweet relish is satisfying on so many levers. Just watch my Chili & Relish Dog still my heart!

A culinary car crash of cultures, the Oki Dog is a true representative of diverse Los Angeles. Combining the all-American fast food standbys of hot dogs, chile, and American cheese with the Jewish deli classic pastrami, all wrapped in a Latin street food Mexican blanket of a flour tortilla. I dare you to try and finish one. Well, if you want to see what I'm talking about look no further than the video below.

You don't have to go far these days to bring Coney Island to your town. 

I used to get a famous East Coast Nathan's Hot Dog from the frozen deli case of my local Dollar Tree, when I want an easy, microwavable, quickie lunch. They do the job and I even wrote a Cheap$kate Deal of the Day you can read here.

They come naked so I dress the dogs with just mustard and sweet pickle relish. So, what are your fave toppings?

Friday, July 14, 2023

Bastille Day - French Cuisine Recipes

This Chef is a Francophile. I like movies by Jean-Luc Godard, ye-ye pop music by Serge Gainsbourg, and pommes frites, yes French Fries. So man the barricades and I'll wave my freak flag of cheapSkate revolutionary recipes on Bastille Day.

There is more to French cuisine than French Fries of course and this Chef de Cuisine of the internet has picked up a few recipes for this Bastille Day on July 14th. So read on to see scrumptious videos and food photography, that I hope inspires you to try a recipe or two. And click on any recipe name to go to my blog post with all the delish recipe instructions.

This French holiday is celebrated as the turning point of the French Revolution on July 14, 1789. Hey, this sounds like a fine excuse to celebrate French cuisine to me! So I'll start with one of my favorite ones, a hearty Cassoulet casserole.

One of my early L.A. jobs in the Biz was as a videotape editor. Lunch was often in a neighborhood restaurant run by a charming French couple. My favorite dish was a comforting plate of Cassoulet. It reminded me of a rustic home-cooked all-in-one dish: a bean casserole version of Mom's Cajun rice dish, Jambalaya.

A classic Cassoulet is made with confit duck legs, sausage, and white beans. I've yet to find duck for 99c or less a pound but chicken quarters from a local Latin market do fine; as for sausage, 99c only Stores always carry it.

A French mirepoix of veggies includes onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, and celery. They will sweeten this stew with slow cooking on the stovetop and in the oven.

In the fall and winter months, I make a Cassoulet almost every few weeks, and always have leftovers to enjoy and share.

My next Francophile recipe really does use the cheapest veggie, onions. French Onion Soup uses half a dozen roughly sliced onions, that are cooked down until caramelized to a sweet brown hue.

 I get them from my local Latin market anywhere from 4 pounds for a dollar. Go ahead and use the least expensive white or yellow onions.

French Onion Soup comes together with red wine (cheap is okay,) a fave broth, butter, and a little flour to thicken it. A pretty simple recipe, but oh so delish, especially when it's finished off and topped with cheese and a slice of crusty bread.

My favorite fries are double-fried French Fries, and that's a tasty mouthful. Soggy fries were the norm until McDonald's came on the scene and changed forever the way Americans look at French Fries.

It became all about the crunchy outside and fluffy inside. And anyone can do it if you follow my method in the video below. But you have to go to the end of the video for my French Fry tutorial, as the first part is all about British-style beer-battered fried fish.

You would think a world-famous French chef would do French Fries right? Wrong -- I reviewed Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Fried Chicken Truck.

You can get French Fries with his fried chicken. Maybe it was an off day, but the fries were limp and soggy. I'm willing to try again when I run across the truck. Maybe they are great, just not when I was there. So check out my Cheap$kate Dining Review for French Chef Ludo's Fried Chicken and French Fries Truck to see for yourself.

But Chef Ludo  Lefebvre did turn my head around for his French Cheese Omelet. Man, is it tender and so goood. The French method is to whip eggs first, then lightly and continuously scramble them with a little butter until almost done, with the eggs still slightly moist. You finish by adding cheese and gently fold the egg into an omelet shape. 

My omelet experience is with middle American diner-style where the eggs are solid and a bit dry. Now I make my omelets the French way, and you can too if you follow my recipe video below.

I grew up watching Julia Child cooking French food on her Public TV cooking show. And she literally wrote the book on French cooking called "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

Her personality was larger than life, and I had to do a video in her honor after she passed away. My recipe homage is a bit silly, but it is done with heart. Check out my version of Julia Child's Crepes Suzette -- done by her nephew, Julian Child!

Beef Bourguignon is a classic French stew, at least until the Cheap$kate Cuisinier gets ahold of the recipe. Beef is too expensive, but pork is the right price, so I turned the recipe into a Pork Bourguignon.

All the other classic ingredients are included like: mushrooms, onions, tomato paste and of course, cheap red wine. To get that rich beefy flavor I include beef stock.

I didn't know there was a French-style Yogurt, so when I saw Oui by Yoplait at my local 99c only Store (the photo below is from a couple of years ago,)  I had to try it. Boy, is it creamy and flavorful. Some this brand just for the cool jar.

I like to add fresh fruit to plain yogurt. I find that pre-mixed yogurt with fruit is loaded with sugar and way too sweet for me. Below is how I do it.

So do click on any recipe name to see my original blog post recipe, and dig in!

Viva la France and Bon AppĆ©tit!

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