Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cherry Pancakes

It's cherry season in California and now is the time to get them cheap. They come on sale at my local 99c Only Store and Latin market for, you guessed it, 99 cents per pound. So read on to get a breakfast recipe I think you will enjoy: Cherry Pancakes.


Cherries are notoriously expensive, but for a month or so they come down in price, and I always get a few large bags during the summer season. At first appearance they are around $2 per pound, but wait a week or two and the price quickly drops.


I like to add them to yogurt or as a mealtime dessert -- I'll also nibble from small bowls throughout the day. They are especially good in pancakes, like almost any seasonal fruit would be. And if cherries are too expense or hard to get, you can substitute with your own local fruit stand favorites.

They are a little messy to work with though, so you want to rinse off any surfaces that the cherry juice pools on, and especially clothing or kitchen towels.


It's much easier to just pop one in your mouth and chew around the cherry pit. But for pancakes it's best to slice around cherry pit. Once you get going it only takes a few minutes to get a cup full for my Cherry Pancake recipe. You can go online to get a special device that pits them as well.


For the pancake batter I use 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. Regular grocery store sell it cheap enough, too.

Start your day right, with my fruity cheap$kate breakfast of Cherry Pancakes.


Ingredients (2 servings, using a pancake mix)

  • 3/4 cup water - okay to use milk for a richer pancake batter.
  • 1 cup of pitted and sliced cherries - roughly sliced or chopped. Use any cherry amount that suits your taste. Okay to substitute with any fresh seasonal fruit like: blueberry, peach, apricot, strawberry, and even sliced banana or canned fruit.
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease skillet. Add more when needed, depending how may pancakes you make.
  • Butter and 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.


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

Rinse off cherries. Removing the cherry pit is messy, with red juice that will stain clothing or a wood cutting board, so don't wait too long to rinse off any juice that get onto surfaces or clothing.


I like to slice cherries this way: Cut though to the center of a cherry and rotate slice all the way around and twist cherry apart. One half of the cherry will have the cherry pit. Slice to remove the pit.

You can let the cherry pieces be on the large size.

Mix sliced cherries into pancake batter.


Add oil to pancake pan and pour on the pancake batter. Brown each side of the pancake. Mine took about 2-3 minutes for each side. It really depends how hot your pan gets. The box directions above mentions cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmmm, 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.


Serve hot with melted butter and favorite pancake syrup.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

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.

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 a good old Anglo-Saxon, Old World, hearty Sherperd'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 Worchestershire-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 pipping hot.

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.

For more meaty meals to serve your Dad (or Husband) just click on any of the following recipes: Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Sausage and Sauerkraut with Beer, Pulled Pork, Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy, Homemade Deli Pastrami, Chicken Stroganoff, Roast Cuban Pork, Meatloaf, Carnitas (Mexican-style pork,) Baked Lasagna with Ground Chicen, Sweet and Sour Pork, Mint Roasted Chicen, Steak Carne Asada, Pork Bourguignon, and BBQ Chicken.





My Louisiana neice, Candyse, is a new mother. You've seen her in a couple of my Mom's cooking videos. I even made one with her husband, and proud papa to newborn Ava, Chef Tony. He's the face (creating a bunch of cooking videos) and 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 Chips, Scallop Rolls, Fish Tacos, Fish Veracruz, a rich Portabella Crab Rockefeller, Coconut Crusted Fish & Mango Salsa, Scallops and Snow Peas Stir Fry and Salmon Olympia.

My Louisiana sister Brenda is married to Rich and he is the Dad to 2 of my nephews, who are have put many hours at the grill in various restaurnats. 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.


He also has a cute boy named Miles and he's a handful. If you are thinking of having a boy then you want to check out my video below of Miles First Bite to see what's in store!



Click on the follow 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 Hash, Mom's Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo and Jambalaya, Matt'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, that 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 work with a vegetarian 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 cooking with mushrooms as you can see by all the following recipes - go ahead and click on one: Mushroom Nigiri Sushi, Mushroom 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 Burger, Borscht, Black Bean and Corn Salad, Baba Ganoush, Carrot Nigiri Sushi, Pasta Salad, Stuffed Tomatoes, Saag Paneer (creamy India-style spinach,) Falafel, Steamed Artichoke, Ms Patti's Red Beans and Rice, Eggplant ParmesanBraised Romaine Lettuce Hearts, Pasta with Cashews & Garlic, Veggies in Cream with Pasta, Tomato and Basil Bruschetta, Eggplant Hummus, Snow Peas with Tofu and Ramen Stir Fry, Veggie Curry with Lentils, Baked Pasta with Califlower and Cheese, Veggie Tempura, French Onion Soup, and Pear & Spinach Salad with a Creamy Herb Dressing.




And finally, if you are an LA local (or just visiting,) and looking for a restaurant to take your Father too, 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 10, 2016

NBA Playoffs - Shooting Produce Video


Welcome to the NBA playoffs, 99 Cent Chef-style, that is. This is basketball played by the rulebook of The Cheap$kate Dribblier.

We are in the middle of a match between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. While not quite nail biters so far, hopefully things will heat up with a few close scoring finishes.

Great NBA All-Star match-ups have included Magic and Bird, Kobe and LeBron...and now: Pete vs. The 99 Cent Chef! It's a triple-double of a basketball video event. One-on-one has never been so much fun.

Like in my baseball video from years before, playing with food is taken to surreal and fanciful extremes. What starts out as a simple 5 basket pickup game turns into a food free-for-all, and you can be sure things go splat when there is a drive to the hoop.

As you enjoy and cheer on your team, see if you can see some of classic basketball moves I've adapted into the video at the end of this post.

 First up is the Bell Pepper Bank Shot: a shot that hits the backboard before hitting the rim or going through the net.



Banana Cut: a wide, curving cut, as opposed to a cut that is a straight line. Also known as a 'C' cut.


Onion Over the Back: a foul committed by a player who tries to rebound the onion by pushing, moving or climbing on a player's back who is already in position to rebound the ball.


Apple Advance Step: a step in which the defender's lead foot steps toward their man and the back foot slides forward. 


Cucumber Chucker: a player who takes frequent, and often imprudent, shot attempts. The term was popularized by the television series Seinfeld.


Toilet Bowl Tomato: when the ball hits the rim at a certain angle and then circles around it, can go in or out.


During this week of the NBA playoffs, be a sport and join me for his outlandish halftime entertainment event.

Shooting Produce - Video 
  Play it here. The video runs 4 minutes, 47 seconds.

99 thanks to neighbor Pete for a slam-dunkin' performance! 

And extra thanks to my fellow Culver City art gallery hopping buddy Bob McGinness for additional creative camerawork.

Click here to embed or view video on YouTube.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cereal, Mimosas & Cartoons at Cinefamily Jr.

Wake up and smell the mimosas and cereal at the monthly Saturday Morning Cartoon screenings from Cinefamily Jr. that's compiled and presented by Simon Oré and James Fino. Just check out my video below to see all the delicious details, that include a Cereal and Mimosa Bar in the patio out back - and yes, you can bring your full bowl of cereal into the movie theater and watch cartoons!
Cereal & Cartoons at Cinefamily Jr. - Video

 Play it here. Video runs 4 minutes, 56 seconds.

Located in Los Angeles right across from the Fairfax High School parking lot, the refurbished Silent Movie Theater presents the most prolific and varied cinema experience in town (click here to check out the movie schedule for this month.) And you can get your fill of cereal goodness and cartoons the first Saturday of every month at 11am.


But be sure to get to their back patio early to satiate your sweet tooth. Just passing the one year mark, this cartoon fest has been slowly building their audience by selecting primo cartoons -- from roaring 1920's flapper Betty Boop, to the present day surreal Adventure Time cartoon characters. There's never a dull moment on the big screen. The next show this Saturday is themed Space and Science, so expect Dexter's Lab and hopefully Looney Tune spaceman Marvin the Martian.

I go for the cartoons, but a mid-morning Mimosa from the back patio bar sets the mood perfectly. And for the kids (or the young at heart) you can get your fill of sugary cereal from the Cereal Bar table, that features a special cartoon themed Mix of the Day.


Cereal Bar

In April the cartoon theme was Rabbit Season in keeping with the Easter Holiday. Called The Cotton Tail, the Cinefamily Jr. Cerealogoist creation consisted of "a deliciously hippitty hoppitty blend of Fruity Flavored Trix Cereal playfully tossed with golden, bunny tail-esque, corn Pops." Whew, that's a mouthful!


It's an indulgence I know, and not for the faint of palate, but I try to stick to a buttery croissant or two, or a bland cereal with plain soy or almond milk...yea, right, a chocolate donut has been known to end up on my paper plate. Did I mention the Cereal Bar is gratis? You do have to purchase a movie ticket and the Mimosa Bar accepts donations. But the price is still right for this Cheap$kate Cinefile.


Under the banner of Animation Breakdown, the cartoon programmers Simon Oré and James Fino are animation veterans, co-founding Starburns Industries. Just click here to see their bios, that include the stop motion feature Anomalisa. Their animation programming runs the gamut and I have not had a disappointing Saturday matinee yet (click here to see all the fun times you've missed.)

Simon Oré and James Fino

My own animation background is mainly in stop motion. Just check out many of my recipe videos on YouTube to see what I'm up to. And like any red-blooded Baby Boomer, I grew up pinned to the boob tube during the Golden Era of Saturday morning cartoons. Favorites included: Bugs Bunny, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Mr. Magoo, Felix the Cat, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Johnny Quest, and on and on.  

So if you're a local, rub the sleep from your eyes this Saturday morning and don't even change out of your PJ's. Just grab a blankie or your fav stuffed animal and head right to Cinefamily Jr's. cartoon fest to fill up on vitamins C and M, that is, Cereal, Cartoons and Mimosas!


Cinefamily (The Silent Movie Theater)
611 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca. 90036
611 N Fairfax Avenue // Los Angeles // 90036
611 N Fairfax Avenue // Los Angeles // 90036
Events calendar: www.cinefamily.org

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

Hindsight
A couple of notes on my video above. The audio clips under the patio footage are from old television cereal commercials, mainly from the 1960's.

Since the Saturday Morning Cartoon show happens once a month, my footage of  Simon Oré and James Fino is culled from several of their intros, so their pj's may change from shot to shot. I tried to get an overall feeling, so footage appears mismatched, but what they have to say is more important than shot continuity.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Homemade Chili with Beef & Beans

The heck with canned chili, my Homemade Chili with Beef & Beans is the best way to go. Slow cooking cheap pinto beans with beef is a perfect combination. And when pinto beans are flavored with dried chilies, tomato sauce, cumin, oregano, brown sugar and a little vinegar, that's a whole lotta flavor.


Beef and Bean Chili is a Southern staple, especially in Texas. Pull into any truck stop or BBQ joint and you'll find it. Sometimes it's fiery spicy, so make sure to get a tall glass of iced tea. You can get plain Chile Beans without meat, but in cattle country, why bother?

Toppings for your steaming bowl of meaty chili vary. My wife doesn't like raw chopped onion on hers, but I do. We both like cheese though, especially sharp cheddar cheese. A Tex-Mex version has a scoop of Fritos Corn Chips out of the bag. I know it sound weird, but the extra salty fried corn chip crunch kicks this lowdown cowboy cuisine into high gear. Go ahead and get a small bag of Fritos (I like lightly salted) and see what I'm talking about.


The most unusual ingredient for this recipe is a package of dried chile. I get mine from the 99c only Store and from my local Latin market. You only need about 6 dried chilies.


Click on photo to see larger.

Packages of dried red chilies come in a variety of types: California, Ancho, New Mexico and Guajillo. The colors go from deep red to black. Ancho chili has the strongest flavor, while the others are mild. And you soak them in hot water for a few minutes to soften, but make sure to remove the stem and too spicy hot seeds first. You may still have a little bit of heat though.


If you can't find dried chilies, it's okay to substitute with two cans of red enchilada sauce or red chile sauce. You can use whole red chilies (like chipotle) from the can - just make sure to taste any canned sauce you add, for spiciness. Another easy substitution is dried chili powder (about 4 tablespoons.)




I've been cooking with dried chilies lately. They make an intense salsa, and are the base flavor for rich Pozole, a Mexican hominy, chili and meat stew (my video recipe, here.)

All the other veggies and spices are easy to get cheaply. And pinto beans are about the least expensive legume you can find - often for way less than a dollar per pound. They take at least 3-4 hours of simmering to make tender and thicken the broth like Ranch Style Beans from a can. And they will be even tastier the next day, when you heat them up again.


(For a simple instant version, brown ground meat and mix with canned Ranch Style Beans; or add cooked beef to pinto beans along with a tablespoon of chili powder.)

As for meat, I've been cooking with beef shank lately. I first tried this cut of beef in an Italian classic pasta dish called Pasta alla Genovese (just click here to see that recipe.) It is quite lean, but in need of braising for a couple hours to break it down into tender bites.


My local Latin market stocks whole sliced shanks for less that two dollars per pound - now that's even cheaper than ground beef these days. The large packages of beef shank are in the 5-7 pound range. For my recipe you will need 2-4 pounds of meat. Of course, add as much beef as you like to suit your budget. Any leftover meat freezes well.

You can use any cheap cuts of beef for this recipe, even ground beef. Any beef will tenderize using my cheap$kate recipe cooking technique.


The aroma of my slow cooking Homemade Chili with Beef & Beans will draw a crowd. So keep the doors and window closed if you don't want unwanted visitors! Hey, this recipe will feed a crowd, so don't be stingy  -- go ahead and throw a Chili Party and invite the neighbors. And don't forget to get a large bag of Frito Corn Chips.


Ingredients (about 6 servings)
  • 2-4 pounds beef - any favorite cut. I used cheap beef shank. Okay to use ground beef. Add as much beef as your budget will allow.
  • 1 pound pinto beans - rinse and remove debris, if any.
  • 1 whole onion - white or yellow, chopped. I used a yellow onion.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from jar. Okay to use dried or granulated garlic.
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce - okay to use any canned tomato, in pieces or whole. Just break up the tomatoes in a large bowl before adding. (They will soften and form a sauce after a few hours of simmering.) 
  • 6 dried chilis - remove stem and seeds. I used California Chilies. Okay to use any type of dried red chilies, except for the very small fiery ones. Other dried red chilies are Ancho, New Mexico and Guajillo. For an easy substitution, use two 15ounce cans of red chile, enchilada sauce, or 4 tablespoons of red chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar - white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste - if you use cured pork then reduce the salt amount, as the pork is salty.
  • 2 cups of water - to rehydrate dried chilies.
  • 5 cups of water - for boiling the beans. 




 Directions
Get the dried chilies rehydrating. First remove the stems and seeds from dried chilies. Add them to 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow the chilies to soak for about 10 minutes to soften.



Add 5 cups of water to a large pot and turn up the heat.

Rinse the pinto beans and pick out any discolored bit of debris. Add beans to the pot of heating water. For quicker cooking you can soak the pinto bean overnight, or a couple hours.


Add one chopped onion and a tablespoon of minced garlic. Some cooks like to saute onion and garlic first.


Next add the spices: ground cumin, dried oregano, brown sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper.



Dried chilies should be soft and the chili broth cool enough to blend. Add chilies to a blender or food processor, and enough chili broth to cover the soft chilies. Blend for a 30 seconds to a minute until smooth. Some chili pieces will still be left, but that's okay, as they  will dissolve after a few hours of simmering with the beans.

(The lazy way to work with whole dried chilies is to remove the stem and seeds, then add them to the cooking beans. After an hour, fish out the chiles with a half cup of liquid. Allow to cool and blend them. Add back to chili and continue cooking.)


Add chili sauce to pot with beans. Pour in a can of tomato sauce. If using whole tomatoes then break them into smaller pieces.


Slice beef into bite-sized pieces. You can remove excess fat, but do leave just a little for some richness. Also add any bone attached to meat - that's extra flavor! If using ground beef break it into chunks - as ground beef cooks, it will crumble apart every time you check on chili to give it a stir.


Mix all the ingredients in the pot.


Now bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook about 3-4 hours. Check beans every half hour to stir, so beans don't stick to bottom of pot and burn.


Uncover the pot and cook another hour reduce and thicken the liquid, if necessary. Taste Beef and Bean Chili before serving to make sure the beans are tender.

If you use beef shanks there is a soft marrow in the bone. I call this the "chef's reward." Carefully remove the bone and scoop out the marrow. Spread it on half a slice of toast with a pinch of salt, or just eat it right out of the bone - it's so creamy and rich!


Hindsight
Texas-style Beef and Bean Chili, served in a BBQ joint, has been slow cooking all day. If the liquid cooks down too much then add a little water, as needed. Stir occasionally so beans do not stick to bottom of pot.

If you don't have access to whole dried chilies or enchilada sauce, an easy substitution is 4 tablespoons of chili powder from a spice jar.

For more chili flavor add a couple more dried chilies, or add a tablespoon of chili powder or paprika. Just taste the broth after a couple of hours to see if it needs more chili spice flavor.

Soaking pinto beans overnight will reduce cooking time by an hour.

For a simple instant version of Beef and Bean Chili: fry up some ground beef, add a tablespoon of chili powder and a can or two of cooked pinto beans. Finally mix and heat it all up!
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