Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grilled Fish - Video Recipe

Summertime at the grill with a whole fish is quite easy to do. A whole fish does not fall apart like a delicate fillet of fish. You do have those tiny bones to deal with, but if you take your time you will be rewarded with crunchy fish skin and tender flaky flesh. So check out my video recipe below for Grilled Fish, to bone up on how I do it.
Grilled Fish - Video

Play it here. Video runs 1 minute, 26 seconds.

I usually get whole cleaned Tilapia fish from my local Latin grocery store for around 99 cents per pound. Of course you can use any fresh fish you catch.

Most fish is sold with the fish scales removed. If you are not sure just take a spoon and rub the fish skin, in all directions, to see if any scales pop off. They are tough like fingernails so you want to give your fresh fish a quick check to make sure they are all removed.

Be careful when handling a whole fish as their fins may have sharp bones that can easily pierce your fingertips.

And if you are feeding the family, make sure to give the kids pieces of cooked fish that have been carefully checked for those pesky tiny fish bones.

Before cooking whole fish give it a quick rinse before coating it with any seasonings or marinade.

I keep it simple, just rub on a little olive oil, salt and pepper. If you have any favorite herbs then feel free to sprinkle them on, or add a few sprigs into the fish stomach cavity.

I grill with cheap Tilapia fish, but you can use any locally caught fish, or fish from a farmers market. Any defrosted fish you buy should be cooked within a day or two, at most. Fresh fish is extremely perishable so get to cooking it soon.

Fish on a grill cooks fast, so don't walk away for too long to refill your glass of wine or retrieve another can of beer. I use a gas grill and the heat is controllable, but if you are using a charcoal grill you can cook the fish off to the side - it's easier to monitor that way. You can oven-broil a whole fish too, just keep an eye on it.

Fish is done when it's flaky and firm, but still a little moist. It's always okay to break off a piece of fish to taste for doneness.

I like to cook fish with skin on. Some Japanese restaurants even serve grilled fish skin as a special appetizer. For thick and meaty fish cutting a few slices into the thickest part will make a more even doneness. It's makes it easier to test a small piece of cooked fish, too.

If a whole fish is thin then just oil and season it, and start grilling. My recipe is delish however you slice it!

If you buy fish fillets on sale they need to be handled carefully over an open flame. Make sure to oil the grill or the fillet, so the fish will not stick and fall apart when you turn it.

I like whole Grilled Fish because it's quick to do, but oh so tasty. Just remember to watch out for those tiny bones, it's well worth picking around to get to all that smoky grilled seafood goodness.

Ingredients (one serving)
1 whole fish - I used a cleaned tilapia fish. Okay to use any local caught fish or fish fillet.
1 tablespoon oil - I lightly coated the fish. Okay to just add oil on the grill.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Check fish for freshness. It should not smell off - just a clean fish smell. Fish skin is shiny and not over-slimy. Fish eyes are mostly clear, not too cloudy. Go by look, smell and feel - hey, it's a fish so there will be some smell and sliminess, just not too much.

Also check that the fish belly is cleaned out. Sometimes there are small bits of stomach or intestines left, just pull out any leftover pieces.

I also rake a spoon edge over the fish skin - sometimes a few fish scales are still attached. They will come loose when you rub the spoon over skin, but you need to make sure to rub skin from tail-to-head direction. Scales will fly off, so place fish on large plate or a sheet of newspaper, or on a bag.

Okay, now time to get the fish on the grill.

If the whole fish is a big one, then make a few slices into the thickest part of fish, this makes it easier to check for doneness. Also the fish will cook more evenly. Some fish has a thick side and a thin side; you only need to slice into the thick side. Some fish is thick on both sides so slice away. Once you've grilled fish a few times, you can grill it without the slices, just go by touch - fish is done when it is firm to the touch.

I prepare my whole fish simply, just a little olive oil, salt and pepper - that's it. You can brush on a little of your favorite oil or just drizzle and rub it all over the fish. When fish is oiled, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. For a lighter version leave off the oil and just add some to the grill where the fish is cooked. Adding oil to the fish keeps the flesh from sticking to the hot grill grating.

You can also sprinkle on any favorite herb, or add a few sprigs into the belly cavity. If you have a favorite marinade you can use it.

Heat up the grill and when it's hot add the oiled and seasoned whole fish.

Cooking time will vary, depending on the thickness of the fish and how hot the grill gets. My whole tilapia took about 3 minutes for each side.

It's easy to overcook fish, so you want to check on it often, at least every minute or two. When fish goes from semi-transparent to a solid color, then it is done. You can always break off a piece of fish to test by tasting.

Since fish cooks quicker than chicken or steak, it's best to have all your side dishes set out and ready to serve when you (wo)man the grill.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Milk - Deal of the Day

There is no real expiration date for my latest Deal of the Day, Gossner's U.H.T. Shelf Stable Milk, that I retrieved not from a refrigerated cold case, but from a regular room-temperature grocery shelf. I have seen this type of milk for a while now, but I never picked up a carton - until this year when I started seeing these cardboard packages in my local Dollar Tree.

Milk is extremely perishable so I stayed away from it. But at a buck for a quart of milk I thought, why not try it now?

Hey, it's just regular milk that is heated to 282 degrees and held for several seconds, then cooled to 70 degrees in a continuous pressurized system.  Basically the milk is overheated for extra shelf life, and can be stored at room temperature until you open the box. Once opened, the milk carton should be kept in the refrigerator, like regular cold milk from a cold deli case.

Click on any photo to see larger.

This milk has no preservatives or artificial hormones, it's just plain milk. You can read all about their treatment process by clicking here. And the dairy producers Gossner, have been around since the 1940's and specialize in Swiss cheese. Upon developing their special heating and room temperature storage process, they now supply the military with milk. As you can imagine, this type of milk travels well on family vacations. And living in Los Angeles, I would add this milk to my emergency earthquake kit, too.

But the main question is, how does this milk taste? Once the milk is chilled there is no discernible difference. I have tried Gossner's 2% and whole milk, and they taste fine and rich enough. I mainly just add it to coffee and hot oatmeal.

I like that you can get a couple of cartons at a time, one to use and one to store, so you never run out during caffeinated mornings.

So how does Gossner's U.H.T. Shelf Stable Milk rate on my Cheap$kate Dining Scale of 1 to 9, 9 being best? It tastes as good as regular milk so I have to give it a perfect 9!

Go ahead and make the plunge next time you see this type of milk on your regular grocery shelves -- you can't beat the dollar price tag.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tomato Season Recipes

Here are my first tomatoes of the season - right off the vine. I like to serve them uncooked, when the tomatoes are at maximum freshness and most juicy. This is when you taste all the flavor a tomato has to offer.

This cheap$kate gardener seldom has a bumper crop, but the ones I pick will be put to delicious use. If you don't have a garden, maybe you have a generous neighbor, a local fave farmers market, or if you are on the road and just pull over into a roadside veggie and fruit stand with a hand painted tomato sign.

So read on for the freshest tomato recipes that are just a slice away. And click on any recipe name to be directed to my blog post for the complete recipe text with photo illustrations.

For a fresh garden tomato just simply slice it and add a couple more ingredients. My favorite recipe is for a Caprese Salad that's composed of fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, salt, olive oil and of course, thick slices of fresh tomato.

Arrange the parts on a plate and serve at room temperature. Set out a plate for your guests, and be sure to have a couple bottles of wine ready to pour.

An Italian version of salsa on tortilla chips, are lightly marinated chopped tomatoes served on wedges of toast, that's called Bruschetta. Serve it as a crunchy appetizer.

Salads and large chunks of sliced homegrown tomatoes belong together. Go light on the salad dressing though, because you want that fresh tomato flavor to come through clearly.

A Warm Corn, Tomato & Cilantro Salad is a simple side dish to make. It's okay to use always cheap, fresh, frozen or even canned corn.

I have a 2 Minute Salad made with easy-to-get ingredients, including canned chicken (okay to substitute canned tuna,) spinach, canned beets and tomato.

 Click on any photo to see larger.

This cheap$kate salad travels well and can be quickly put together for lunch at your workplace.

My most unusual salad uses canned hearts of palm. I came up with Hearts of Palm Salad - Brazilian Style, because I keep seeing the mild tasting main ingredients on sale at my local 99c only Stores. If you have never tried heart of palm, then break yourself in with this fresh salad idea.

Another salad takes the crown for Best Classic Salad, my version of a Crab Louis Salad. While expensive ingredients are called for, I have found asparagus frequently on sale, and I use cheap fake crab, or krab.

Of course, if you are cooking to impress then use real lump crab meat.

Sauteed sliced steak, or feta cheese, on a salad needs a strong flavored tomato, and a garden tomato is up for the job in my Warm Steak and Armenian-Style salads, that feature pungent feta cheese.

Italian pasta sauces will not be much improved upon with a fresh garden tomato. However the exception is my Rustic Tomato Sauce with Pasta. The fresh tomato is added at the last minute and only cooked until it starts to collapse, but still at peak flavor.

A big fat tomato slice is what every sandwich requires, at least in my recipe book. I like tomato on my Breakfast Egg Sandwich, and even a wedge of tomato nestled in my Chicago-style Hot Dog.

For a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich, you gotta have a good tomato. I kick my BLT up a notch with the addition of avocado.

For my vegetarian visitors add tomato to my delish grilled Portabella Mushroom Burger, or a Veggie Wrap with Hummus.

 Veggie Wrap with Hummus - ingredients

Mexican cuisine loves the tomato. And the freshest way to use it is chopped into a chunky Pico de Gallo salsa. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips, or add this salsa to most any Mexican entree like: burritos comprised of Carnitas (pork,) Carne Asada (steak,) Eggs & Refried BeansPastrami & Coleslaw (?!!) -- and tacos made with: Fish, Carne Asada, Carnitas, Poultry, Breakfast, Tinga (spicy chicken stew,) Chicken Green Chile Verde, and Chorizo & Egg,  

Pico de Gallo - chunky salsa

A Summer Ceviche made with krab, drained black beans, cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro and creamy avocado is my go-to patio party starter. Set out a big bowl of chips to scoop up my cool Krab Ceviche. And be sure to have some picante hot sauce at the ready.

I'll leave you with a bit of cheap$kate comedy about my video visit to a local garden nursery for free noshing on fruit picked fresh from the vine, including a beefsteak tomato. Bon appetit !

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

4th of July Recipes

This holiday is smokin' at the Cheapskate Chateau for the 4th of July, and that means getting out the BBQ grill for a backyard blowout. So read on as I light up the sky with recipes, selected especially for Independence Day dining. Just click on any recipe name below and you'll be directed to my original blog post recipe page of eats illustrated with yummy photos.

Smoking Pastrami

Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Chef cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.

And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10 pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound. Even white breast meat comes on sale for 99 cents per pound.

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional red, white and blue backyard poultry cookout. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!

What makes America great is our mosaic of cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And the Japanese like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with pieces of regular chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.

Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.

You can't go wrong with grilled hot dogs, and I have a couple of unusual recipes I think you will enjoy (it's easy enough to substitute hot dogs with your favorite specialty sausages - if you're the artisanal type).

Here in Los Angeles we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by sidewalk purveyors called the L.A. Street Dog. It's a crazy combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeƱo!

You've never had a hot dog like this - it's the roman candle of finger foods. In my video below I grill the bacon wrapped wiener on the stove top, but it's even better sizzling on your BBQ grill.

Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's so easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.


Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now that's a combination I can get behind! Again, I cooked this dish on a stove top but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor.

I like plain hot dogs with just relish and mustard. To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get dayglow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the punchline.

Hamburger is a backyard grill favorite and I have a South of the Border spin with my Mexi-Turkey Burger. It packs a lot of flavor with the main ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.

Attention all you lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder when I throw a patio BBQ party.

If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on photos to see larger.

Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.

Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos. While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe anyway. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you sit back and let your friends build each taco their way. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to serve with any tacos you like to make.

Carnitas Taco

And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.

I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive, but when I splurge it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Sometimes I'll finish it with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice and a little ground cumin. When done, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.

Carne Asada Marinade

If you are smoking meat, then throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are on sale for less than 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day.

My Smoked Homemade Pastrami recipe is tasty as any Jewish Deli version - so says everyone I've served it too. I think it's because the smoky flavor it more intense fresh off the grill, than from a deli where the pastrami has been setting in the cold case for a few days. Hey, don't take my word for it, give it a shot and get ready for the all the high fives sure to come your way!

Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. You have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it's done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.

Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash

My nephew Zakk has put in his time as a line cook, and he gave me a Top Chef performance in his recipe video for Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash. While he does his sauteing in the kitchen, you can grill the fish over an open flame, instead of the stove top.

I have a deep fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.

A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.

Seafood Ceviche

For my vegetarian friends the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fav veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).

 Eggplant Burger

Portabella Mushroom Burger

A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute). Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.

It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party, and boy do I have the recipe cherry (tomato) flavor bombs to prove it. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fav summer veggie to grill over the fire.

 Braised Romain Heart

Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for: Russet and Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Bell Peppers, Zucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).

You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Deli Coleslaw it good enough for me.

Deli-style Coleslaw

My Mom dropped by the cheap$kate kitchen and set off a flavor bomb: Cajun Potato Salad. It was so good I had make a video to share her recipe with you.

While your guests await the main event, get them started with light salads such as: refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinach; hearty Black Bean & Corn; a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.

Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad

If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.

I like a pot of beans on the stove simmering while I'm grilling. Cook them the day before and they taste even better the next. Be sure to set out a stack of bowls so your guest can help themselves. I like to have some grated cheese and minced onion on the side. My New Orleans friend, Miss Patty, has a delish Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili. And it's "Viva Revolution!" with my Cuban Black Beans recipe.

There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of seasoned legumes slow cooking on the stove top.

And great grocery deals are happening this week, too. Steak, hamburger, chicken, corn, watermelon and hamburger buns are all on sale right now. Be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.

Independence Day is fast approaching, so create your own 4th of July menu using any of the Patriotic Chef's recipes above. I guarantee your guest will need to chase down the flavorful culinary fireworks you serve with iced tea and a lemon slice, a glass of chilled Chardonnay, and a frosty bottle of beer. Bring it on!

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