Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Rosemary Marinara


So, thanks to a bought of major pharyngitis which managed to have me both afraid to swallow and afraid to be more than 10ft from a bathroom for almost two weeks, I have dropped about 5 to 7 pounds. If there is any side benefit to a stomach and throat bug it is an involuntary yet appreciated Mary Kate moment.

But you all know that I love food, so not being able to enjoy my food and having no appetite are also cruel and unusual punishment where I am concerned.

So in my quest to keep off the weight I lost, yet wanting to eat something healthy and delicious, and I am desperately trying to teach myself portion control while also continuing to cook efficiently by making sure I cook enough food at one go for at least two meals.

I also had several odds and ends in the kitchen that I wanted to finish up. There was a bottle of red wine that was 2/3rds empty, two frozen chicken breasts in the freezer that were in danger of some serious freezer burn, and a bunch of fresh rosemary that I purchased yesterday for use in my dinner. All of these things combined with some delicious crushed tomatoes is how I came up with this week's recipe.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Rosemary Marinara

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts cut in half
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup diced fresh basil
1 large sprig of rosemary cut in half
1/2 package of fresh button mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup red wine
2 cloves fresh garlic or 1 tsp garlic salt
1lb of your favorite pasta
1 tbs olive oil
Salt
Crushed Red Pepper

First, in a large frying pan, over high heat, heat your olive oil. Once the oil is hot add the red onions and garlic. Cook the garlic and onions until the garlic and onions soften and the garlic starts to brown, but do not let it brown completely. Next, reduce the heat to medium and add the chicken breasts.

Brown the chicken breasts lightly. Make sure the surfaces of both sides are cooked. This helps to make sure that the chicken locks in some of the flavors and also that it cooks thoroughly. Next, add the red wine. Allow the red wine, chicken, garlic, and onions to simmer for a minute or two.

Next add the crushed tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and mushrooms. You don't have to slice the mushrooms, as they will shrink to edible size through the stewing process. Add a pinch or two of salt. Also add red peppers to your particular spice tolerance and taste. Then stir the sauce to make sure the breasts are thoroughly covered. Reduce the heat to low.

Allow the breasts to simmer in the sauce for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the chicken and sauce over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

This recipe should run you somewhere between $8 and $12, and it will feed four people comfortably.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Perfect Turkey


Twice a year, I wind my way to the grocery store and lug home a bird that weighs somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds. Inevitably, I forget to grab a turkey roasting pan, and someone gets sent back to the store to fetch one.

I cooked my first turkey about five or six years ago, but I grew up watching the turkey prepared each year. My first turkey surprised everyone, including me. It was so ridiculously juicy and flavorful. I'd combined a technique I'd heard on some show or another (probably the Frugal Gourmet), and then I added my own experimentation.

I promise you if you follow these steps, your turkey will be a brilliant golden brown and the meat will be so moist and good that it will fall off of the bone. For the last two years, by the end of the night, pretty much only the carcass was left. And that is the best compliment you can give to a cook...even an amateur one such as myself.

The Perfect Turkey

1 Turkey
8 cloves of garlic diced
1 cup olive oil
1 stick of butter cut into 1 tbsp squares
1/4 cup seasoning salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried parsley
salt
pepper
1 large turkey roasting pan (the tinfoil ones at the grocery store are fine)
tin foil

First of all, make sure that your turkey is thoroughly thawed out. If you purchased it frozen, leave it in a sink full of tepid water for at least 8-10 hours.

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. This is important. You MUST cook your turkey at a lower heat. This keeps the turkey from drying out and ensures a slow roast that will bring out the other flavors. Towards the end of the cooking process you will increase the heat slightly.

Next, place the turkey in the roasting pan. With a large knife, slide the blade between the skin of the turkey and the breast loosing the skin, but DO NOT TEAR IT. Next, take your pats of butter, and slide them underneath the skin, distributing them as evenly as possible, including sliding pieces down towards the wings and drunk sticks. Next take your diced garlic and also slide that between the skin and the flesh of the turkey.

Next sprinkle the salt, pepper, seasoning salt, curry powder, and parsley across the skin of the turkey. Next pour the olive oil evenly over the turkey. Now it's time to get messy. Using your hands, rub the oil and the seasonings into the skin. Basically, give the turkey a massage.

Next cover the turkey with tin foil and make sure the edges of the foil are tightly closed.

Now comes the time for patience. The turkey takes roughly 15 minutes per pound to cook. About half way into the total cooking time, you will want to start basting the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes. Gently pull back the tin foil and scoop the juices from the turkey and drizzle them back over the back and sides of the bird. Make sure you put the foil back on tightly.

Finally, for the last 30 minutes of cooking time, raise the oven temperature to 375, which will help the skin crisp. When it is done the turkey should be a dark rich brown.

PS A great way to keep your turkey warm while you finish the rest of your dinner prep, is to keep it covered with tin foil, and then wet two hand towels, microwave the towels for 1 minute, and then lay the towels across the tin foil on top of the turkey. This will keep the turkey warm and moist for several hours.

Depending on the price of turkey in your area and the time of year, this turkey should run you anywhere $15 and above. The 22 pound turkey I made at Thanksgiving fed 12 people with leftovers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seafood Marinara with Capellini

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of making dinner for some of my favorite people: David, Urooj, and Nea. I quite literally started this recipe journey by going into the produce market up the street from my house and throwing vegetables into my cart that I enjoy. I had scanned some recipes online earlier in the day, and I knew that I was going to make a red sauce, but other than that it was anyone's guess as to what I was going to make.

The result was an amazing marinara that is delicious over jasmine rice or capellini. I served it with rice last night, but David mixed the sauce with leftover capellini that was in the fridge, and it was even better that way. This dish has an Italian base with some South Asian spicing and a whole lot of fun dashed into it.

Here, then, is my Seafood Marinara recipe...spaghetti ain't never been so good.

Seafood Marinara with Capellini

2 fillets tilapia cubed
1 lb shrimp deveined and de-shelled
2 red potatoes cubed
1 fennel cubed
1 large carrot sliced
2 jalapenos diced
4 cloves garlic diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup cilantro diced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches green onions diced
1 large can of mashed or pureed tomatoes
1 lb capellini pasta aka angel hair pasta
salt to taste

First in a large pot heat the olive oil. Add to the olive oil the onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno. Let them cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft. Then add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne, oregano, and basil. Stir and let cook for another minute or two.

Then add the potatoes, fennel, and carrot. Stir and make sure that the vegetables are coated with the herb mixture. Then add just enough water to the pot to cover the vegetables. You want your end sauce to be thick, so do not put to much water into it. Let the vegetables simmer in the pot until the water is about half gone. Then add the fish, shrimp, bay leaves and tomato sauce to the pot.

Cover the pot and let the sauce simmer over a medium heat for 45 minutes (as with almost any sauce, the longer you let the sauce slowly simmer, the better it is going to taste). Stir occasionally to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan and all of the flavors have a chance to mix together.

Prepare your pasta and serve with a heaping helping of the seafood marinara. This dish will easily stuff 4-6 people and will leave leftovers. The entire she-bang will run you about $15-$20 depending on the price of the shrimp and fish in your area.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cashew Curry

A few years ago, I was at a t-shirt release party for my friend Chamindika Wanduragala (www.chamindika.com). Chamun is an amazing visual artist, a stellar clothing designer, and a wonderful cook. She has also saved my ass financially on a couple of occasions.

I walked into her party and asked her what was on the menu for eats. She said cashew curry, and I did my best not to turn up my nose too far. I mean...really....for real....for real for real? Cashew curry...I was doubtful.

But, my Mama taught me to never turned my nose up at food unless I try it first. So I scooped a bit of basmati rice on my plate and then planted some cashews on top of it. I took a bite...and I didn't move from that damn spot for about an hour. I have a problem with portion control, and Lord have mercy I overate that night yes I did.

It's been a couple of years since I've had the curry, and I moved away from Minneapolis, so I figured that if I wanted it, I would have to figure out how to cook it myself. I tried to summon Chamun's recipe, but she has had a baby and is not so much the Facebook addict that I am. So I scanned various cashew curry recipes and settled on one that seemed closest to the Sri Lankan delight that Chamun whipped up for us.

I changed very little to this recipe, so this is not an original creation of mine, but it is damn good.

Cashew Curry Sri Lankan Style As Interpreted by a Negro From the Midwest

16 oz roasted Cashews
3 Cups thin Coconut milk (or water)
1 medium Onion, sliced
2 fresh green Chilies, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
5 cm Cinnamon stick
3 tbs Vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbs Raw Curry powder (see recipe for raw curry powder)
1 tbs crushed red pepper
1 Cup thick Coconut milk or fresh milk

METHOD :
- Place the cashews in a bowl, add boiling water, close with lid and
soak for about 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the water from cashews and add salt, turmeric, raw curry
powder, goraka and mix well until cashews are well coated.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan then add onions, green chilies,
crushed garlic, cinnamon and fry until onions are soft and golden
brown.
- Add the cashews and keep stirring until well coated with oil and
onions.
- Add thin coconut milk (or water), close with lid and cook on slow
heat until cashews are soft and cooked.
- Add the thick coconut milk (or fresh milk) and bring to a boil on
slow heat.
- Turn off heat. Adjust salt to taste.

Here is my interpretation of the above, which is from the original recipe that I found at http://paradisaya.tripod.com/recipes/cashewc.txt.

First of all, do soak the cashews overnight.

Second of all use the coconut milk at the end along with two cups more water, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down low, and simmer covered for FOUR HOURS at minimum.

Then turn off heat, serve with brown rice, and enjoy.

Let me tell you....David LOVED LOVED LOVED this recipe.

This recipe will easily feed a crew of 6-8 for about $15. Also, it is a completely vegan recipe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

10th Avenue Tilapia Stew

I love soups of all stripes whether they come with tripe or beef, seafood or pork, soups are delicious. I have met very few soups that I do not like, and those that I have not liked are usually French. Go figure.

So, today I scanned the web for some inspiration, and I took note of what flavors folks suggested should go together, and I decided, in honor of Halloween, to conjure up a creation of my own.

And the result has been a fantastic fish stew that I will be making on a regular basis. This is a lighter soup that will bring a smile to your lips and a warm feelin' in your belly.

10th Avenue Tilapia Stew

3 Tilapia Fillets cubed
1/2 pound squid sliced
1 quart fish stock
1 red onion diced
1 jalapeno
4 cloves garlic
2 bunches green onions diced
1 turnip
1 parsnip
1 carrot
3 red potatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 corn on the cob halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper diced
1/2 cup diced basil
1 cup white wine

To begin, in a large skillet saute the garlic, red onion, jalapeno, and basil in the olive oil over high heat for five minutes, stirring frequently.

In a large soup pot, combine the remaining ingredients except for the fish and squid. Once the saute is finished add that to the pot as well. Add enough water to the pot to make sure that all of the vegetables are covered. With the soup stock you shouldn't need too much water.

Simmer the soup over medium high heat for 20-30 minutes to allow time for the vegetables to soften. Then, add the shrimp and fish. Cover and simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until the fish is flaky to the touch.

Salt, eat, and enjoy.

This delicious and healthy soup will easily feed two people for days and six to eight people until they are stuffed to the gills. The price of the soup should run you about $15-$18 depending on the price of the tilapia. Squid is amazingly cheap.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Basil Jasmine Rice with Garlic/Pepper Tofu

Last night David and I had our 2nd (his 3rd) annual pumpkin carving party. It was good times and great fun with amazing people. As usual, we fed our guests good food that was good for them (except, perhaps, for the pumpkin chocolate bread....it was DELICIOUS but perhaps not the best for you).

This recipe takes a little more prep time, but it is worth it.

Here's the dish that I served up for the kiddies:

Basil Jasmine Rice with Garlic/Pepper Tofu

2 Cups Jasmine Rice
4 Garlic Cloves minced
3 bunches Green Onion diced
3 cups Fresh Basil minced
2 Jalapenos minced
1 Red Bell Pepper diced
2 cups fresh Green Beans
4 cups Snow Peas
1/2 cup Cilantro minced
1/2 cup Red Onion minced
1/4 Soy Sauce
2 packages Garlic/Pepper Tofu (or plain tofu if you can't find the flavored version)
1/4 cup Peanut Oil

First of all you want to prepare your rice a couple hours a ahead of time. Cook the jasmine rice using the directions on the bag. I use about 1/2 cup less water than recommended. The rice will be fully cooked but it will also be a little more firm, which is better for later on in the recipe. Once the rice is cooked put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or until it is cooled.

Next prepare your tofu. Use the directions for preparing your tofu here.

In a large wok heat your peanut oil. You can use olive oil, but peanut oil is better for high heat cooking. Once the oil is hot add to it the garlic, green onions, basil, cilantro, red onions and soy sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables to the wok. Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently to mix the flavors together.

Then add to the tofu to the mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Lastly add the jasmine rice. Cook for ten minutes stirring frequently to make sure the rice is mixed well with the rest of the ingredients.

Remove from dish from heat and serve it up!

This dish will comfortably serve four to six people and have them stuffed to the gills. The entire cost of this meal is roughly $10-$15 depending on the season and the cost of the vegetables and tofu in your area.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Down Home Chicken Soup

I have spent the last week basically unconscious or on the toilet. I had a fight with the flu and for most of the last seven days, the flu was kicking my ass.

The worst part of the ordeal was that everything tasted like the rancid mucus flavor that seemed to ooze from the back of my throat. G-R-O-S-S.

But, I am happy to report that after making my magic chicken soup last night, my taste buds are back, and I am feeling tip top.
So, i thought I would share the recipe here with you. Please note, I do not like noodles in my chicken soup. But, if you do, you can easily add in egg noodles to this recipe once the soup is done.

Down Home Chicken Soup

1 Whole Chicken
6 Red Potatoes diced
5 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cup celery
1 cup basil
1 cup cilantro
1 cup red onion
1/2 cup scallions
1 package button mushrooms chopped or whole as you like
6 cups fresh spinach
3-4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 jalapeno
2 tsp seasoning salt

First, add the garlic, basil, and cilantro to a large stock pot of water along with the entire chicken. Boil the chicken for two to three hours until the meat starts to fall off of the bone. Continuously add water to the pot to keep the chicken covered.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place in a strainer. Keep the soup stock and set aside. Run the chicken in the strainer under cold water. While the chicken is cooling add the remaining ingredients to the stock pot.

Once the chicken is cool enough to manipulate, remove the skin and tear the meat from the bones, shredding it with your fingers and add it to the stock pot. Throw out the skin and bones. Return to the soup to the heat and let simmer for another 45 minutes.

Serve this up and enjoy! This meal will run you between $9 to $18 dollars depending on the price of chicken. The soup will easily feed a family of four for two or three meals. This soup is easy to freeze as well and can be kept in the freezer, if well sealed, for six months.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spicy Tofu with Snow Peas

Let the joyous news be spread! After years of fighting with the Lords of the Tofu, I have finally defeated them. Good grief, for the life of me I could by extra firm tofu, extra extra firm tofu or a frickin' cement block, and if I put it in my wok the damn thing would break apart and become tofu dust.

But today, by merging wisdom found on the Internet with wisdom found in the head of my friend Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, I finally succeeded in making tofu, that kept its shape, and was so damn good that David and I cleaned out the wok, and there wasn't a bit of roasted garlic or a fleck of tofu essence left in the pot.

I had to summon massive self control to not lick the wok before cleaning it. It was just that damn good.

So here is this weeks HIGHLY nutritious and HIGHLY delicious from The Fairy Chef, who shall also be known as Emperor of Tofu, Defender of the Bean Curd, Lord of Soy.

Spicy Tofu with Snow Peas

1 package of extra firm tofu (I bought the package with garlic and black pepper in it already)
2 tbsp peanut oil
Non-Stick Veggie Spray
1/4 lb Snow Peas
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp Brandon's Shut Your Mouth Sauce (optional--recipe can be found on this blog)
Seasoning Salt

First of all, open the tofu package and drain out all of the liquid. On a cutting board, first cut the tofu into thin strips, then slice those strips into squares that are roughly 1/2 and inch on each side.

Next, lay out the pieces of tofu, closely together side by side, on a clean dish towel. Next cover the tofu with the other the other half of the dish towel. Place a heavy glass baking dish on top of the towel containing the tofu. This will soak up extra moisture from the tofu. Believe me...this made all the difference in the world. Leave it covered and pressed for about 10 minutes.

While all that business is going on, pre-heat your oven to about 450 degrees. You can also mince the garlic and wash your snow peas and set aside.

After about 10 minutes, uncover the tofu. Spray a large baking pan with your non-stick vegetable cooking spray. If you don't have the spray, you can grease the pan using butter or olive oil that you dab on a paper towel. But, you will cut down on fat and calories by using the spray.

Lay the tofu in the pan. Next sprinkle the tofu with seasoning salt. Then, sprinkle the tofu lightly with Brandon's Shut Your Mouth Sauce.

Place the tofu in the oven, uncovered for five minutes. Flip the tofu and let bake for another five to seven minutes.

After you've turned the tofu, place your walk or large skillet on the stove. Heat the peanut oil in the wok until it is piping hot. Add the garlic and let it caramelize (don't add anything else to the wok until you see the garlic start to brown around the edges). Then, to the oil and garlic add your tofu. With a spatula flip the tofu as it fries in the oil. Do this for about three minutes and then add the snow peas. Continue to flip the mixture (DO NOT STIR...FLIP LIKE PANCAKES!) for about five minutes. I like my snow peas still kind of crunchy, if you like yours less crunchy, then fry for about eight minutes.

Remove the stir fry from the heat and serve with brown rice. If you want to take up the heat a notch, set out a bottle of Sri Racha sauce, or, as I recently learned that some people call it, "Rooster" Sauce because of the rooster on the bottle.

It is damn good, and you can make this entire dish, that fed two voracious people or non-gluttons for $5-$7.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Announcing the Fairy Chef Cooking Lesson Series

So, in the last few weeks I have been asked to both go into a persons home and prepare a meal for a dinner party and also to provide cooking lessons.

While I am not yet ready to launch my private chef services (hehe)...I am going to offer a once a month cooking class.

The first class will be offered on Saturday, October 10th from 3pm-5pm.

Space is limited to four people.

We will prepare two main courses, a vegetarian and a meat dish.

All recipes used will be taken from the Fairy Chef blog and will cost less than $20 to make to feed a family of four.

The cost for the class will be $40 and will include dinner!

So, bring your notebooks and your aprons. We will start each recipe from the beginning and eat what we cook. This class is perfect for folks that want to learn how to make quick, tasty, nutritious meals. I am not a trained chef...I am a boy that likes to cook, and I am going to show you my secrets.

Sign up for the class today by responding to this message or by sending an email to brandonlacycampos@yahoo.com. Please place Fairy Chef Cooking Class in the subject line.

Currently the class is open only to folks in New York, but I hope to start a webcast of the lessons in the future for folks that can't be present and at a lesser cost (since you don't get to eat dinner with us).

Xoxo,
Brandon
The Fairy Chef

Vegetarian Saffron Fried Rice

Last night, I finally perfected my vegetarian fried rice. I threw a surprise birthday party for David. David doesn't eat anything that flies or crawls on land, so I was limited to fish and vegetarian cuisine. I cooked up a whole mess of mussels (recipe to come), and my vegetarian fried rice. The food was delicious, the people were delicious, and I was asked if I would be willing to do cooking lessons.

Watch for the announcement for the new Fairy Chef Cooking Series coming your way next month.

Until then, here is the recipe for the Saffron Fried Rice.

Vegetarian Saffron Fried Rice

3 cups White or Brown Jasmine Rice
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1/2 lb snow peas
1 large red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
1 bunch of scallions
1/4 cup Brandon's Shut Your Mouth Hot Sauce (optional)
1 package button mushrooms
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 packets Sazon Goya con Azafran (Goya Seasoning with Saffron)


This recipe is a two step process. The first step is to cook the jasmine rice according to the instructions on the packet. My trick to ensuring that the rice is cooked perfectly is to use 1/2 cup LESS water than the cooking instructions recommend.

Cook your rice and then stick it in a tupperware container and put in the fridge for two hours. This cools the rice and ensures the rice will have a stronger texture when cooking (it keeps the rice firm instead of getting mushy).

Next dice your bell pepper into bite size pieces. Slice the button mushrooms length wise. Wash the snow peas. Set aside.

Mince the garlic, jalapeno, and scallions. Set aside.

Once the rice is chilled, heat the peanut oil in a large skillet or a wok. Peanut oil has a higher heat threshold before burning than regular vegetable oil and olive oil, and since we want the food to cook quickly at high heat using other types of oil is not recommended.

Throw the garlic, jalapeno, and scallions into the woke. Let them fry up (stirring them) for about five minutes. We want the strong flavor of the oil to be mellowed by the garlic, etc. Next, add the bell peppers, mushrooms and snow peas. Add the soy sauce at this point. Cook the vegetables until the mushrooms are almost wholly cooked. Add the Shut Your Mouth Sauce to the mix and stir for another minute.

Then add the jasmine rice. Stir the rice into the vegetables. Add the Goya seasoning. The rice will turn bright yellow at this point, make sure the entire mixture is thoroughly mixed together and the rice is heated to sizzling hot.

Shut down the heat and pull out a bowl and your appetite, cuz it's ready to eat. Salt to taste.

This fried rice was so good, I almost didn't get to eat any last night. And it was gone before anyone could get seconds. Though they sure did ask for some. This whole she-bang will set you back a grand total of about $6-$8. It feeds four people to bursting...it fed 10 people just enough to tease 'em.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Basil and Garlic Turkey Burger

So tonight, I was in the mood for a burger. Since I have been paying homage at the altar of the Gym Bunny Gods, I have been trying to stay far far away from red meat. I found, long ago, that turkey burgers are just as satisfying when the Burger Craving comes over me.

On our way home from our barber Marcello aka Butterfly Kisses tonight, we swung by Westerly's where David picked up some mac and cheese, and then we headed to Gristede's where I grabbed some turkey burger and locally grown fresh green beans.

Lemme tell ya...once we got home...it was already 8, and I was starving. I had eaten my lunch right around 1pm, and I was ready to snatch off one of David's legs, throw some salt on it, and call it a Jeffrey Damer Cook Out.

Instead, I made this:

Basil and Garlic Turkey Burger

1 lb Ground Lean Turkey
4 Cloves Garlic Minced
8 Fresh Basil leaves minced
1 Jalapeno diced
2 tbsp Sri Racha Sauce or Tabasco Sauce
1 tbsp butter

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the butter. Make three or four patties from the mixture and set aside.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the burgers to the pan. Cook thoroughly...this is turkey and not beef...do NOT eat it undercooked.

Serve on a bun with a side of steamed vegetables or, as I prefer it, serve it without a bun with a side of steamed veggies and jasmine rice.

This is a great, lean meal that is very filling and damn delicious. I spent a grand total (with the green beans) of $6 at the store tonight. You can easily feed a family of four, with this recipe, for $5-$8.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brandon's Shut Yo Mouth Hot Sauce


WARNING THIS HOT SAUCE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!

I am not responsible for what happens during preperation, at the moment of consumption, or the moment of excretion when your booty hole swells up and starts singing.

But damn this shit is good.

I love spicy food. I mean I LOVE spicy food. I like my tongue to be on that razor sharp edge between love and pain, hurt and heaven. When it comes to spicy food, I am way into S/M. Now, I have, a couple of times, surpassed my comfort zone and had to use my safety word. I will never again try to be bold enough to eat West Indian or Sri Lankan food like a native. Those two cuisines had me callin' on foreign gods and sprouting sweat fountains out of the back of my head. But short of those types of fires...I like it HOT HOT HOOOOOOTTTTTTT!

When I was a kid, I remember visitng my Pinoy relatives in Texas. My step-Grandmother had a hot sauce she made by soaking hot peppers in vinegar. Then, she would sprinkle the vinegar over rice and meat at the table...like a Pillipino version of tabasco sauce. But waaayyyyy better.

I took it up a notch. This is my version of that recipe. BTW, this sauce is completely vegan, so there is equal opportunity for both carnivores and herbivores to thoroughly cleanse out the lining of their colons.

Brandon's Shut Yo Mouth Hot Sauce

6 Habanero Peppers
25 Serrano Chiles
20 Finger Peppers
40oz white vinegar
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp raw sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tbsp garlic salt
1 large mason jar or jar with a sealable lid

First things first, if you are not used to working with peppers this hot you should think about wearing gloves when handling the peppers. Once you start cutting into the peppers, if you are not wearing gloves, do NOT rub your eyes or scratch any sensitive parts of your anatomy. I barely scratched my upper lip while making this last batch and it tingled uncomfortably for an hour. In the past, I have made the mistakes of scratching the family jewels...and let's just say I thought about becoming a eunuch.

First of all, pour the salts and sugar into the bottom of your jar.

Then, begin slicing your peppers. Start at the tip of each pepper and cut small circular pieces from the tip to the stem. Once your peppers are all sliced, alternate the various types of peppers and put them into the jar. Once all the peppers are in and you have admired the bright red, orange, yellow, and green of the quasi deadly concoction, add to the jar the white vinegar.

Finally, peel your garlic cloves, smash the garlic with the flat of your knife and cut into large pieces. Add the garlic to the jar.

Then, with a large wooden spoon, stir the contents of the jar together until thoroughly mixed.

Seal the jar and sit on a shelf for a week. You can let it sit for a longer or shorter amount of time at your discretion. The longer you allow the hot sauce to sit, the hotter it will be.

After a week, leaving the peppers in the jar, scoop out some of the vinegar mixture to use to spice your food when cooking it or afterwards to give it that final spicy edge.

This will make quit a bit of hot sauce. You can easily pour the larger bottle into smaller bottles for ease of use or for gifts. To make a ginormous jar of the hot sauce (which should last you a good six months to a year)...the total cost is $10-$11.

PS Here is a great article from the Smithsonian Magazine that I received from my college alum Lee Dunham Sessions...thanks Lee.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stir Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce Boricua Style


So this is the poor man's version of a quick stir fry with a "black bean" sauce. It's real good like. Now, if you are allergic to MSG or just don't like it...you can axe the GOYA Seasoning I include in the recipe. But let me tell you, we called this stuff "yum sauce," when I studied abroad at the UPR. It was also at the UPR that I discovered my love of Puerto Rican/Asian fusion style cooking. This is a rather quick recipe...I got home at 7:15 tonight, and I was eating by 7:50. To make the recipe go faster, before you start prepping the stir fry, start your rice cooking. By the time your rice is done (I used medium grain white rice tonight), your food should be done. If you are using brown rice, then start your brown rice, and wait about 15 minutes before starting to cook the stir fry...otherwise the stir fry will be done way before the rice is.

Stir Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce Boricua Style

1 package pork chops
1/4 red onion
4 cloves garlic
1 can GOYA black beans
2 cups fresh green beans
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
3 jalapeno peppers
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 package GOYA Sazon con Azafran (Saffron)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


First slice your pork into strips and set aside.

Break the tips off the green beans, then snap beans in half. Set aside.

Then dice your onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapenos. Heat the olive oil, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, and peppers and stir fry for about two minutes.

Add the pork to the mixture. Stir fry for about one minute.


Add the soy sauce, red pepper, and Sazon packet to the mixture. Stir fry for about 10 minutes. Open the can of black beans and dump the contents into the wok. Cook for another five minutes.

Add the green beans to the concoction, and let cook another five minutes.

Slap that deliciousness over some rice, and serve it up!

Depending on the cut of the pork chops you get (I got thick center cut tonight, which was a little more expensive), this whole gourmet explosion should run you about $6-$9 and feed two to four people.

Sweet and Spicy Party Wings

Growing up I lived for my Mama's chicken. Fried chicken, smothered chicken, baked chicken, roasted chicken, if it had chicken in it, I knew it was fixin' to be fierce. Hell, my Mom's chicken was so good, chickens would stop by the house and asked to be cooked up by her.

Now, pale as my Mother is...she cooks soul food better than most black folks that grew up in the South. Her fried chicken was out of control, and her fried chicken wings made you see visions of the Virgin Mary. She also made a baked chicken that she covered in soy sauce and honey, and it would come out sweet, moist, and hot...how many of my lesbian friends like their women.

Seeing as I have tried to stay away from Crisco and its accompanying health problems as an adult, but recognizing that I love me some chicken wings, I decided one day to use my Mom's honey/soy sauce glaze on some wings.

The result was soo good that I had a roommate that would just come home from work with a package of wings and a hopeful smile.

Over the years I have added a bit of this and that to the recipe. For my birthday party this last weekend, I marinated and baked 8lbs of chicken wings for the party. At only $1.99 a pound, I got away with enough chicken for thirty people for less than $20, and there wasn't nary a piece of chicken left up in the house when it was over.

Here's the secret recipe.

Sweet and Spicy Party Wings


1 to 2lbs fresh or frozen chicken wings/drummies
1 Cup Honey
2 Cups Soy Sauce
1 tsp garlic salt
5 or 6 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper

For cheapness sake...buy a couple bags of the frozen wings at Cub or Rainbow and make sure they are thawed out.

Spread them out in a large cake baking dish. Something that has some depth to it.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size microwave safe mixing bowl, pour about a cup to two cups of honey...depending on how many wings you want to make.

Nuke that for about 20-30 seconds so the honey melts.

On standby have about two to three cups of soy sauce. Mixed in with the soy sauce you should have some minced garlic...if you mince it yourself mince five or six cloves. If you buy the preminced stuff...buy the stuff in water and not olive oil and use about three heaping table spoons.

Once the honey comes out of the microwave add the soy sauce and garlic to the bowl.

Then evenly pour the honey/soy sauce mixture over the wings in the cooking pan/pans.

Sprinkle the crushed red pepper, pepper, garlic salt, and seasoning salt over the wings.

Then add about a half cup water to the bottom of each pan. This will keep the soy sauce from scorching.

Make sure the wings are thoroughly covered with the sauce....and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes. Check them from time to time to make sure that the soy sauce isn't burning on the bottom of the pan, and add more water to the bottom of the pan if it looks as if it is going to dry up.

Turn the wings about 10 minutes into the deal and then turn them again after 10 minutes.

Pull 'em out and serve 'em up.

This recipe will easily feed six to eight people if eaten as an appetizer. Serve them with brown rice and vegetables for a meal and you can feed four to six people. Either way, the entire cost of this meal should run you about $6-$8.

PS For every pound of wings you add...add another 1/2 up of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of honey. The rest of the ingredients are really to taste.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Raise the Roof Tilapia


Last night I decided I wanted to try my hand at some west African cooking. I happen to love a dish from Senegal called ceebu jen. My ceebu jen turned out delicious but not quite the way it was supposed to turn out. Practice will make perfect with this dish. Although the total cost of the dish was more than is allowable for recipes on the Fairy Chef, I realized that the preparation for the fish not only was delicious but also very affordable and will add a zing to your fish repertoire.

So break out your food processor/blender and let's make some fish.

Raise the Roof Tilapia

2 pieces fresh tilapia
1 can tomato paste
2 medium sized red onions
1 bunch parsley
4 garlic cloves
1 serrano chili pepper
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 habanero pepper
4-6 red potatoes
2 cups medium grain rice
6 cups cabbage chopped
3 tbs olive or peanut oil
garlic/pepper sauce
salt

Please note you can use any type of hardy fish for this dish...halibut, catfish, tilapia, shark, swordfish, tuna, whatevs.


So, first you need to prepare the roof. Please note, I did not "invent" this. I created a variation of this Senegalese seasoning mixture based on what was available at my local super market.

Mince one of your red onions, the parsley, garlic, bell pepper, and serrano chili. Put in food process and puree. Set this aside.

Cut three grooves the length of each piece of tilapia without slicing all the way through the fish. Then, with a tablespoon, using the edge, pry apart the grooves...fill each groove with the roof. Set this aside.

Mince your second red onion.

In a large pot...heat peanut oil if you have it, otherwise use olive oil. Add the second red onion and sizzle for about 3 minutes. Add to this the fish. Cook for roughly 2 minutes on each side. Then remove from heat and set aside.

To the pot with the oil and onions, add the tomato paste and two tomato paste cans full of water. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes to the mixture. Take a fork and poke holes in the habanero pepper. Remove the stem from the pepper, and add the pepper to the potatoes. Cover about half way with water. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, measure out your rice into a large bowl and soak in water for about 2 minutes. Drain the water. Reach into the bowl and mash the rice with your hands. You want to break up most of the grains. Then, just before the potatoes are finished, take another pot, and cook your rice. For 2 cups of rice, you should use four cups of water. Follow the directions on the rice bag for making the rice.

After thirty minutes, add the cabbage to the top of the pot and lay the fish on top of the cabbage. Add a cup more water and simmer for another 20 minutes or until the cabbage and fish are cooked.

Remove the habanero pepper from the pot. Serve the fish, potatoes, cabbage, and tomato base over the rice! If you have some of the garlic pepper sauce handy that I mentioned in previous recipes, serve on the side to spice up the dish. Salt to taste. Enjoy...traditional ceebu jen is served nuclear spicy..this recipe kept the heat low enough that David didn't make the crazy sucking sounds with his lips that drives me completely nutty.

Depending on the price of fish where you happen to be, this dish should run you roughly $9-$12 and will feed 6 people easily.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pollo con Salsa de Vino Blanco (Chicken with White Wine Sauce)


So, the best thing to go with good food is good friends and family. Last night, I was in charge of making the main meat dish, as my dear David is a pescatarian. If it walked on land...he ain't eatin' it.

So, since Karlo was bringing Puerto Rican beans for dinner, I decided, with his consultation, to make chicken.

It was friggin' divine. This chicken was so moist, so flavorful, and so easy to make it was rather sinful. I had the leftovers for lunch today, and it was still moist...and so good it made me a little moist. This one takes a little bit longer to make, as the chicken needs to marinate for a spell, but it is worth the wait.

Please note, in the recipe I advocate buying chicken breasts with the skin on. It takes moments to pull the skin off, and it literally saves $2 a pound in unit price if you buy it with the skin and pull the skin yourself.

Pollo con Salsa de Vino Blanco
2 Large Split Chicken Breasts with Skin On
1/2 cup butter/margarine/butter substitute
3 cups white wine
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/3 cup scallions diced
1 large red bell pepper diced
2 tbs olive oil

First, de-skin your chicken breasts. Lay them in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, heat your butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds...just until it melts. Pour the butter over the chicken breasts. Then, add the white wine to the bowl. Sprinkle the garlic salt on top of the breasts. Swirl the marinade around in the bowl until the chicken has been covered with a layer of marinade. Cover the bowl with tin foil and leave to sit out on the counter for 1.5 to 2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add to it the diced scallions. Mix the scallions around in the olive oil and allow to sizzle for about 2 minutes. To that add your chicken breasts including the marinade. Add the chicken to the pan and pour the marinade over top. Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes uncovered, then, place a cover over the pan keeping the heat at medium. Every 5 to 7 minutes, remove the cover from the pan, and turn the chicken. You want to cook the chicken slowly so that it retains its moisture. About 15 minutes in, cut each chicken breast in half. This will allow the chicken to cook faster and ensures that the chicken cooks all the way through. Turn again after 5 to 7 minutes. Keep covered. After about 35 minutes, add the sweet red bell pepper to the pan. Keep the chicken uncovered and cook for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and serve! Salt to taste.

Let me tell you, if you get you a bottle of 3 buck chuck from Trader Joe's this recipe is going to be cheap as hell. Chicken breasts are pricey but the benefit to your health is better than doing this with dark meat, though you most certainly could. The price, depending on the type of wine you use, should run you $11-$16 and will easily feed four people.

PS The picture here is also credited to Karlo Colon!

David's Pico de Gallo


David and I are blessed with some very wonderful friends. Last night, we had three of them over for dinner: Yuval Sheer, Adi Marom, and Karlo Colon.

Yuval and Adi are our favorite couple...two Israeli's with big hearts. Yuval is a politically aware and plugged in Israeli lawyer. He fights for justice at here, and has dreams of going back to Israel and becoming engaged in politics back home. Both he and Adi understand the deeply complex relationship between Israel and Palestine, and they both abhor the violence and hurt that the colonization of Palestine has created. Adi is a tremendous artist. A graduate student at NYU, her work combines the very real and the whimsical. I particularly am a fan of her kinetic sculptures that combine art and robotics.

Karlo Colon is an extremely talented "painter of faces," aka a make up artist. He has worked with some of the top celebs and top fashion houses on the planet, yet he is so down to earth and sweet and real and wonderful. He is David's and my first friend that we made together. I met Karlo one evening at the Hispanic AIDS Forum's Sol Awards, and it was the greatest gift I received that evening.

So, last night, we decided to have these three fantastic individuals over for dinner. David'd made veggie tacos for the non-meat eaters. Karlo brought veggie Puerto Rican beans, which we served with brown rice. We had freshly made pico de gallo and tortilla chips for appetizer, and I also made a delicious chicken to go with the rice and beans for Karlo and I. And for a green, we had fresh green beans sauteed with butter and garlic.

This week, I am going to post the recipes for the pico de gallo, as an easy cheap appetizer that is full of fresh goodness, and I will also include the chicken recipe...which will have you lickin' your fingers and drunk on the flavors.

Here, first, is the Pico de Gallo recipe.

David's Pico de Gallo

8-10 ripe plum tomatoes diced
5-6 cloves of garlic minced
3-4 large jalapenos minced
1/2 cup cilantro minced
1/2 medium sized red onion minced
1 lime
salt to taste

Pico de Gallo is quick, delicious, and highly healthy. In a large bowl add the diced tomatoes along with the garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, and onion. Cut the lime in half, and squeeze each half over the pico, with a large spoon gently stir the pico de gallo together...be careful not to mash the tomatoes over much...this is not a pureed salsa. After mixing, salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or, if you like Yuval, grab a bowl, a fork, and eat it as a side salad.

The pico makes a delicious fresh and light appetizer that is way low in calories, and you control the saltiness of it. The whole shebang, minus the cost of the chips, will run you about $3-$4, and it heartily fed five people to their fill.

PS The great picture on this recipe page is courtesy of the incomparable Karlo Colon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things Every Cook Should Have In the Kitchen

Hey friends, so there are so very indispensable, cheap items, that every cook should have lurking about in the kitchen. These are the flavors and savory items that you can use to spice up, mellow out, or livin' up the plainest of fare. Here are a few things that I am almost never ever without in my kitchen, and these are often basic ingredients that I include in my recipes.

Soy Sauce (if you have issues with high blood pressure, grab the low sodium bottle)

Red Onions (my favorite)

Potatoes (Russett or Red)

Garlic/Pepper Paste (with the rooster on it in the asian food aisle in your grocery store)

Lemons/Limes

Fish Sauce

Cilantro (the fresh stuff)

Garlic (never can have enough cloves of garlic)

Olive Oil and/or Canola Oil

Salt

Pepper

Crush Red Pepper

Pasta (I happen to like cappellini but keep a package of the kind of noodles you like about the house)

Brown Jasmine Rice

Brown Rice

White Jasmine Rice (only for those evenings when you want to eat and don't want to wait 45 minutes for brown rice to cook)

Flour

Cornmeal

Curry Powder

Goya Sazon Packets con Azafran (saffron)

Raw Sugar

Chicken Broth or boullion


If you have these things on hand...a quick trip to the grocery store for some fresh greens or a cheap piece of meat will be all that you need to throw together most recipes you find in this blog.

Stay tuned for your new recipe from the Fairy Chef...it should be up in the next day or so.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Main Course: Tilapia with Mango/Mushroom/Jalapeno Chutney

So for the main course at the dinner party, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the concoction I had in my head would taste good on a plate. In general, when I experiment in the kitchen it works out, but now and again, every once in a while, something goes terribly terribly terribly wrong. What sounds good in theory tastes like horse ass sweat once it is served up. I usually save those types of experiments for when I am alone and can hide my shame, but this time I was going to serve the product to people I care about...and I was dearly hoping that the entire party didn't end up in the bathroom taking turns projectile into whatever available porcelain object was available.

It turned out my fears were unfounded.

The foodies loved my sauce and even said they were willing to bear witness to their adoration of it. So here, for your taste bud's pleasure, is the recipe.

Tilapia with Mango Mushroom Chutney

2 large pieces of tilapia
½ container button mushrooms
4 cloves garlic minced
1/8 cup red onion
¼ cup cilantro
1 large jalapeno diced
1 large mango
¼ cup olive oil

To begin, you will need to make your chutney. First, slice the button mushrooms thinly. In a small saucepan, saute the mushrooms, onions, and garlic until the mushrooms are cooked. Set aside.

Next add the sauteed mushrooms, mango (sliced into pieces), jalapeno and cilantro into a blender or food processer. Puree the heck out of it, and set aside.

Slice the tilapia pieces in half length wise. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add to it the tilapia. Pour the chutney over the fish. Make sure each piece is covered thoroughly. Cook the fish for seven or eight minutes and then flip over. Cook for another 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from heat.

Lemme tell you...the combination of the sweetness of the mango with the mellow woody flavor of the mushrooms and the minor kick of the jalapenos will do your body good.

Serve the fish with brown jasmine rice and enjoy. This recipe will comfortably feed four people. You can find very affordable and cheap frozen tilapia at Trader Joe's....this delicious dish will run you about $8.

Tostones with Guacamole and Salmon


This week I had my first Fairy Chef dinner party. Sounds fancy don't it? Actually, it was just me, David, Tasha, and Nat drinking some vino while I plied them with my new creations. Now, Tasha and Nat are real foodies. When they talk about food, they sound like that crazy opera singer judge from the original Iron Chef that was obviously dubbed over by a cheerleader using her best porn voice, but she knows a thing or two about how food should be experienced.

So I started off the evening with an appetizer. Tostones (fried green plantains) served with fresh guacamole, and diced salmon. Now, here is what you are going to get from the Fairy Chef....honesty. At first, I wasn't particularly wowed by the combination. The flavors worked together but something wasn't quite right, but thanks to Nat I figured it out. I hadn't cooked most of the tostones long enough. The minute I had a toston that was crispy (I usually fry them twice but only fried them once this time), the combination of the texture of the tostone with the fresh guac and the salmon was D-I-V-I-N-E.

PS Eating guacamole with homemade tostones is WAY healthier than guac and chips!

Then we moved on to the main course. The main course was a pan fried tilapia, which I sauteed in a delicious mango/jalapeno/mushroom chutney. The chutney on the fish was so good that I thought we all might break out into a Bollywood moment and starting dancing and singing Tilapia to the tune of Jai Ho.

In the end, the dinner was a success. As I experiment further with the appetizer, I will update the recipe. But, here are this weeks recipes. I am breaking the recipes into two posts for easy searching.


Tostones con Guacamole y Salmon

3-4 green plantains
2 small salmon fillets
4-6 avocados
½ small red onion
1 jalapeno
2 limes
1/3 cup cilantro
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 plum tomatoes
1 cup canola oil
½ cup soy sauce
2 brown paper bags
¼ cup garlic salt

This is is a three part recipe...it is actually three recipes in one. I am magic. Ta-da! So, begin by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Place the two salmon fillets on a deep baking sheet (I use a small glass square baking pan), pour the soy sauce over the salmon, and then cover the baking pan with tin foil. Place the pan into the oven. It is going to take about 30-40 minutes for the salmon to bake. Check after 20 minutes and make sure it is cooking evenly. You don't need to flip the salmon over unless they are very thick fillets, if so, flip them at the 20 minute mark.

Now, while the salmon is baking away, you can begin preparing your guacamole.

Guacamole

Now it's been said that my guac may be the best guacamole in the world. Perhaps even the entire Milky Way. I hear that the Mexicans of the Andromeda Galaxy may have a better recipe, but I doubt it.

First mince your garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, and tomatoes. Put them all in a large mixing bowl. Take your avocados and halve them. Remove the giant pit. Now here is the fun part. Take each half and squeeze the ripe avocado out of its skin into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Next, grab the two limes and cut those in half. Squeeze the lime into the bowl. Make sure to dig your fingers into the meat of the lime to make sure you get the most juice out of each half. And next, the messy part......if you really want your guac to be well mixed...wash your hands...and then dig into the bowl. Squeeze the avocado and mix the ingredients by hand...squashing and squishing as you go. Once the guac is well mixed, add about a full teaspoon of salt, and then set aside.

If the salmon is finished cooking, remove from the oven, and set on a cutting board. Most salmon fillets come with a piece of skin on the underside of the fillet. After baking, this should be easy to peel off. Remove the skin and discard. Then, mince the salmon until it is in pieces that resemble canned salmon (yuck!). Place the salmon into a small serving bowl and set aside.

Now, making tostones is an art form. If you have had good tostones, you know what I am talking about. First lay out one brown paper bag on the counter. Set the second aside, nearby. Next peel your plantains. The skin on a plantain is much thicker than a banana, and it is attached tightly to the fruit. You will need to use a large knife to make a slit down the length of the plantain. Once they are peeled, you want to cut it into pieces about the size and thickness of a quarter, more or less. Next, in a large skillet heat your canola oil. Once it is sizzling hot, add the plantains to the oil. Fry the plantains until they start to brown, flip them over and brown the other side. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Remove the plantains from the skillet and lay them out on the brown paper bag. While they are still hot, lay the second brown paper bag on top of them. If you have a rolling pin, roll over the plantains to squish them flat. If you don't have a rolling pin (lord knows I don't) a spaghetti sauce jar or a thermos will work just as well. Once you have squished the plantains flat, put them back into the skillet and fry them up for another two minutes on each`side. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Here is the tasty part. To serve, lay a heap of tostones on small plates, cover with scoops of guacamole, and then sprinkle the top with the baked salmon. Sprinkle each plate with a little salt and serve.

This recipe will happily serve four people, and it costs about $10. If you choose to make the recipe without the salmon, the entire cost of the appetizer is about $4.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Pasta

So, this evening, I decided I wanted to make something light and tasty for dinner. I still had some leftover fresh veggies, it was too hot to have soup for dinner, and I thought a break from brown rice would do us good.

So here is what I concocted in the kitchen. Note, I was in the store and I found some new egg noodles that I hadn't encountered before. They are egg noodles made with just egg whites. While they are much lower in cholesterol and also are 99% fat free, they are also 102% less tasty than regular egg noodles. Since I believe in eating foods in moderation and certain foods, such as pasta, no more than once a week, I think you will be fine with regular egg noodles (which are also three times cheaper). If, though, you have to watch your cholesterol or your fat intake, the egg white only egg noodles will probably have a better taste than the blended whole wheat egg noodles that I also saw on the shelf today.

PS I made this dish with and without chicken. For a veggie version simply leave the chicken out.

Summer Pasta

1 lb egg noodles
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil minced
1 shallot minced
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 lb button mushrooms
1/3 cup cilantro
1 jalapeno
1/3 cup olive oil
7-8 plum tomatoes
4-6 cups fresh spinach minced
2 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Parmesan cheese

First boil your noodles until they are al dente. Drain the noodles and run cold water over them to keep them from sticking. Set aside.

Make sure that all of your veggies are minced, chopped, etc, and set aside.

If you are making this dish with chicken, slice the breasts into medium size chunks. In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the jalapeno, garlic, and shallots. Add the chicken and cook for 7-8 minutes over high heat until they are mostly but not fully cooked. Reduce the heat to medium. Add to the pan all remaining ingredients save the parmesan cheese. Also, at this time, add the noodles. Stir the pasta, chicken and veggies together for another seven or eight minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve and enjoy.

If you are making the meatless version...heat the oil and add all of the ingredients to the pot at once. Cook until the mushrooms are ready to eat, and then serve it up.

This dish is light and refreshing, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. It also, without the chicken, will cost roughly $4-$6 and will easily feed four people a couple of helpings. With the chicken, the price is $10-$12, and, again, will easily feed four people.

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If you enjoy the recipes that you find here, and you want to keep up with once a week notification to changes on the blog, upcoming dinner parties---where you can sample the Fairy Chef's fare, or you just want to let the world know you are a groupie of good, healthy, low cost, and delicious food for workin' folks...then click this link and sign up here:

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I look forward to providing you with great recipes to feed your mind, body and spirit. I also love getting suggestions for new foods, requests for specific recipes, or feedback on the recipes that I have posted. Please note, I have made and enjoyed all of these dishes right here in my own kitchen, but though I am the Fairy Chef, I am not REALLY a chef...just a queer in the kitchen playin' with everyday products and produce trying to make sure the people I love have good lovin' in their bellies. All that is to say...I am MOST interested in providing great tasting recipes as opposed to doing a Wolfgang Puck type of recipe integrity...take the recipes...make them your own...and if you discover adding a bit of this or taking away a bit of that makes the dish even more delish...please please please make a comment here or send me an email to brandonlacycampos@yahoo.com.

You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brandonlacycamp

Much love to you all!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Caribbean/Asian Fusion Shrimp Stir Fry with Fried Mushroom Appetizers

So, last night, David and I stayed in and had a movie night. We finally have the apartment to ourselves as the "roommate" finally moved out a couple of days ago (for more on the "roommate" check out my post the Ex Files at My Feet Only Walk Forward). And I decided to do a little fusion experiment in the kitchen.

Our friend Karlo Karlo was a gem super star and stopped by last week with a whole mess of freshly made sofrito, I had some shrimp thawed out, and I had purchased a beautiful finger pepper from the Amish Market near our apartment. I decided to build a recipe around these three items. I also had a package of button mushrooms, and since we were having a special night in, and both David and I were starving after having just come from the gym and gongyo, I thought appetizers were in order. Here is the menu from last night.

I will be uploading photos of the cooking process in a bit.

Lightly Fried Mushrooms

1 package button mushrooms
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespooon seasoning salt
1 tsp black pepper
two cups vegetable oil


In a medium size mixing bowl, mix flour, seasoning salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a separate small bowl, crack the egg, and mix it together so that the yolk and egg whites mix up.

Over a medium-high heat in a medium size sauce pan, heat your vegetable oil. After cleaning the mushrooms to make sure that all the dirty is off of them, roll each mushroom in the egg and then roll in the flour so that the mushroom is covered in a light layer of batter. Then drop the mushrooms into the oil. Fry the mushrooms for about seven or eight minutes. The crust should turn a golden brown and be very light and flaky. Make sure to move the mushrooms around while they sizzle.

Remove from the pan and lay on a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up some of the extra oil. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.

This tasty little treat feeds two people with about four to six mushrooms each and will cost you $2 to $3.

And now on to the main event.

Fusion Shrimp Stir Fry

1 lb frozen or fresh uncooked shrimp
1 finger pepper
1/8 cup shredded fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sofrito
1 tbs garlic pepper sauce (optional)
1/2 soy sauce
20-30 pieces of okra chopped up
1 large sweet red bell pepper
6 scallions
1/4 cup Goya olives with capers
1 cup white wine (cooking wine or Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 cup olive oil

So, first things first, make sure that you thaw out the shrimp (once again, Trader Joe's has GREAT large frozen shrimp, pre cleaned with only the tails on). Remove the tails from the shrimp. They should just pull right off. Set the shrimp aside.

Mince your garlic and the finger pepper. If you have a cheese shredder, use that to shred the ginger. And then chop up your scallions. Make sure you chop up a part of the darker green leafy section of the scallions as well.

Also, make sure your okra and sweet red bell pepper are chopped into bite sized pieces and set aside.


In a large wok, heat up your olive oil. Once the oil is nice and toasty, add in the ginger, garlic,scallions and finger pepper. Let these sizzle and pop for about four or five minutes. This allows the flavors to mix with the oil. It also allows the garlic to carmelize, which brings out a fuller flavor.

Add to the wok your shrimp, soy sauce, garlic pepper sauce, and olives with capers. You can find the garlic pepper sauce in most grocery stores these days in the Asian section. It's a clear bottle with a rooster on it and a green cap. It's great stuff. Also, in that same section, you can find the Goya Olives with Capers. Be careful, the olives still have pits, but they have a great flavor. Then add your sofrito. You can buy sofrito from the store, but I do not recommend it. It isn't difficult to make, and you can freeze it. There are many good recipes for making sofrito on the web. Make sure it is Puerto Rican sofrito with recao.

Keep the shrimp and the mixture moving in the pan to ensure that all the flavors are mixing and the shrimp are coated. After about a minute add the okra, sweet red bell pepper and the white wine. Keep stirring the food for about five to six minutes. Once the shrimp have turned pinkish/orange, cook for another minute or two, and then remove from the heat. You don't want to overcook the shrimp or they will be dry.

This stir fry makes a rich sauce that is a little thicker than other stir fries. Serve the stir fry over brown rice and enjoy. The mixture of Caribbean and Asian flavors in this dish are pretty damn stupefying. So good.

This dish will comfortable serve three to four people and will run you $9-$16. The price range spread is based on your access to large uncooked shrimp. Again, Trader Joe's is your friend.

Steamed Roughy with Ginger and Garlic

So, this week I made a couple of new dishes that I am super excited to share with all ya'll.

The other night, David and I went to gongyo at the SGI Cultural Center in New York along with my little brother Oshen and Oshen's new girlfriend (who was such a cutie patootie I just wanted to slap her on a grill and eat her right up). Afterwords, we swung by the Trader Joe's just off Union Square and stocked up on cheap fish. In general, whenever we are down that way, we pick up some frozen salmon, frozen uncooked shrimp, some scarlet snapper, and, this time, we grabbed some frozen Orange Roughy.

I have never worked with roughy before, nor had I ever steamed fish before. Whilst playing a game of Scrabble on Facebook with my Scrabble buddy Fred Chuang of Los Angeles, Fred sent me a message of a tasty way to prepare Catfish. So, I decided to apply some of what he said about the catfish to the orange roughy. And here's what I did:

Steamed Roughy with Ginger and Garlic

2 Large Pieaces Orange Roughy (frozen or fresh)
4 scallions diced
1/4 cup diced ginger root (FRESH!!!!)
1/4 soy sauce
3 cloves garlic minced


Make sure that your roughy is thawed out if you purchased it frozen. Take a large kitchen knife and make an incision down the center of each fillet. Take your ginger and garlic and fill the incisions in each piece of fish with the garlic and ginger. Lay the fish on one of those niffy vegetable steamers that fold up and look sort of like a flying saucer. Place that inside a large frying pan. Fill the bottom of the frying pan with water but not enough water that the water will cover the fish or even touch the fish. You want the fish to steam not boil. Cover the top of the fish with the scallions. Also add some of the scallions to the water in the bottom of the pan. Then pour the soy sauce over the top of the fish fillets. Place a lid over the top of the pan and turn the heat up to med high.

Let the fish steam for about 12 minutes.

Remove from the heat, the fish should be moist and flaky. Orange roughy is a very light fish, and it doesn't take long to cook.

I served the roughy with brown rice and some pan sauteed, with a little butter and garlic, fresh string beans that had been julienned by David. Super delicious!

The total cost for this dish, with the green beans, is roughly $7-$9 and comfortably feeds two. If you get large fillets you could feed four from this recipe.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garlic Pork Soup

So, yesterday, I decided to experiment with pork, again. And I ended up with a lip smacking soup that will fill you up and leave you wishing you had an extra stomach.

Garlic/Ginger Pork Soup

3-4 pork chops with bone
1 large red bell pepper
1 large carrot
4 large red potatoes
4-6 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup cilantro diced
1 jalapeno
2-3 chicken boullion cubes (or if you want to get really fun...used 2 tsb Better than Boullion....though one jar will cost you $9)
1 tsp seasoning salt
4-5 diced scallions
1/2 tsp salt
20-30 pieces of fresh okra
1 tsb minced ginger root
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 large shallot minced (optional)


Begin by taking a medium to large sized sauce pot, place the pork chops into the pot and sprinkle the pork chops with the seasoning salt and salt. Fill with water and slowly simmer the pork chops over medium high heat for two hours. Make sure to check the pork chops regularly and continue to add water to the point to make sure that the chops remain covered with liquid. This will create a rich, clear broth. Once the pork chops have been cooked thoroughly and allowed to simmer, remove the chops from the pot, remove the meat from the bones, and discard the bones. With a large kitchen knife, dice the pork meat into munchable pieces, and return to the pot. Add to the pot the remaining ingredients (potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces; cilantro; diced jalapeno; garlic; bouillon cubes; carrot, also cut into bite sized pieces, okra cut into little circles and red pepper). Allow the soup to simmer for an hour. Remove from heat, and serve it up.

This soup is fantastic, and will easily feed a family of four for a couple of meals. The total cost for this meal, depending on where you are, will be roughly $10.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hell's Kitchen Collard Greens

Last night, I served up a mess of collard greens at my pal Norman's Easter dinner. It was a great crowd...including a Jew, a half Lebanese girl, a Russian gal straight from the gulag and shit, a Malaysian, a me, and a Southerner. It was all diverse and stuff.

Most of the folks in the room had never had greens before (let alone hamhocks). By the end of the night all that remained in the bowl was the skin of one of the hamhocks and there were calls for my recipe. Here it is.

This recipe will cook roughly a half stock pot full once full cooked and boiled down. It will comfortably feed four to six.

Brandon's Hell's Kitchen Collards

4 to 6 bunches of collard greens
1 red onion
1 to 2 jalapenos
Crushed red pepper
3 to 5 garlic cloves
4 smoked hamhocks or smoked turkey necks
salt
black pepper
oregano (dried)

Cooking instructions:

Wash the collard greens and make sure there is no dirt and grit on them. Then, peel the leaf off the stock and away from the center stem. Discard the stalk and stem and set the leafy greens in your stock pot.

Once you have cleaned the greens and placed them in the pot, get your hands way down in there and tear the leaves into smaller pieces.

Add the hamhocks to the pot.

Dice the onion and garlic and jalapenos and place those in the pot as well.

Fill the pot with water leaving about an inch of room at the top of the pot. Then sprinkle in the salt, pepper, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper. If you like your greens hot...use more pepper...if not...use less. Same goes for the jalapeno.

Turn the greens on medium high heat and bring to a low boil. Cover them bad boys up and then let 'em percolate for the next four to six hours. The longer you let them cook, the better the flavor...when you taste the greens...and they melt like butter on your tongue...they are done man. If you are in a hurry, you can eat 'em after about four hours cooking time.

You can do all of this in a crock pot as well.

Also, from time to time add water to the pot--make sure the greens are always covered...and stir occassionally to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot.

For good luck, make you some black eyed peas and rice and serve 'em up with the greens.

And there you have...when folks smack their lips together and are rubbin' their bellies...tell 'em Brandon sent ya.

(PS Using smoked turkey necks will take away none of the flavor--though the flavor will be slightly different--but it will cut down on the amount of fat in the dish. Both items are comparably priced.)


The cost of this meal is roughly $10-$12. If you use organic collard greens, the cost of the meal rises to about $20. I say....use conventionally grown collards and make sure you wash them well. It cuts the cost by a half to a third.

Hot Suki Suki Shrimp Kabobs


Since posting my collard greens recipe many moons ago, I have had many more requests for recipes. So here is one that I made when David and I were in Bristol. Let me tell you...this won over David's Dad completely.

Brandon's Suki Suki Now Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

Ingredients

One pound fresh shrimp
Two red bell peppers
One package mushrooms
One red onion
Two large green peppers
Two cups soy sauce
Half cup honey
One table spoon crushed red pepper flakes
One teaspoon garlic powder
One orange
Six to Ten metal skewers
Olive oil

First you want to pour the honey into a microwave safe bowl. Add the soy sauce. Microwave the soy sauce and honey for 30 seconds on high. Pull out the mixture and stir thoroughly. Microwaving the honey makes it liquid and easy to mix. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic powder. Cut orange in half and squeeze both halves into the honey and soy sauce marinade. Stir again. Then add the shrimp to the mixture, cover, and let sit for four hours. You can marinate the shrimp for a shorter period of time, but the longer you let them soak the better they will taste.

Chop your bell peppers, mushrooms and onions into roastable sizes. Then, create your skewers by adding a shrimp followed by one of each vegetable including the onion, followed by shrimp and repeat until skewer is full. Brush each kabab with a light layer of olive oil.

Roast the skewers over a charcoal grill until the shrimp turn bright orange. Salt. Serve. Enjoy.

I am telling you...these grilled skewers will make your loved one take off their panties and win the hearts of your inlaws.

Remember to always always always use uncooked shrimp. If you live near a Trader Joe's, they have great large uncooked shrimp, frozen, for around $7.99. The total price for this meal will run you $15 and will make six to ten skewers depending on how you put them together and the size of your skewers.

Yellowfin Tuna Steaks


Hello chilluns:

So, I have had another recipe request, and I thought I would post it here for your consumption.

Ingredients:

2 Eight oz Yellowfin Tuna Steaks
1 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 garlic cloves
1 small piece of fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon of fresh rosemary


In a flat pan or large bowl mix the soy sauce, oregano, chili powder, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder together. Dip your steaks in the sauce on both sides. Marinate the steaks for 30 minutes to two hours. If you are going to marinate the steaks for more than 30 minutes, cover and sit in the refrigerator. If for 30 minutes, then leave them out at room temperature.

In a large frying pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil over a high flame. Mince your ginger and fresh garlic and add to the hot oil. Stir the oil, ginger, and garlic together until the garlic begins to brown. This is to infuse the ginger and garlic into the oil. Remove the steaks from the marinade. Add the steaks to the skillet, and then pour the remaining marinade on top of the steaks. Sear the steaks on each side for approximately two and a half minutes. Add fresh rosemary to the steaks, and then remove from heat. This will cook the steaks roughly half way through and leave a rare center.

Take my advice...while you can cook the steaks the entire way through, tuna is an exceedingly dry fish...and the flavor will be so much better if you leave a rare core to the steaks.

Serve the steaks over brown rice with steamed broccoli and enjoy!

Please note...Trader Joe's, if you happen to live near one, has an excellent assortment of vacuum sealed and frozen fish. You can get quality tuna, snapper, salmon, shrimp (always buy uncooked!) and others in their freezer section, and they are at VERY affordable prices. The total cost for this meal $8-$10 if you are able to get frozen tuna steaks. Fresh tuna steaks will raise the price significantly to $15-$20.

Tilapia a la Prima Anitra with Grilled Asparagus

So, today my cousin, Miss Anitra Brown, emailed me to ask me if I had any recipes for tilapia...and if I posted my recipes any place. I was SUPER flattered that she would come to me for some recipes...as I am just an amateur cook up in the kitchen. So, I sent her a tilapia recipe...it was actually my ocean perch recipe, but it is just as good with tilapia.

Check it out:


Hey Cuz:

I sometimes post my recipes to my blog, but I haven't pooled them all into one place. I thought about starting a second recipe blog...maybe I will do that.

This is how I love to cook me some tilapia.

Tilapia a la Parilla (Grilled Tilapia) con Grilled Asparagus

Tilapia Fillets
3 cloves garlic minced
1 to 3 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup diced scallions
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon cut into halves
Tin foil
Salt
Pepper
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves minced

Get your grill going real nice like...if it is a charcoal grill (which is the best)...get your coals nice and toasty. If you are using a gas grill, turn the heat to medium.

Lay your tilapia on a sheet of tin foil. Sprinkle on top of the fillets your salt and pepper, lay on each piece of fish a pat of butter. Sprinkle on top of the tilapia the scallions, red pepper flakes and basil leaves. Then, squeeze your lemon all over the fish.

Place another piece of tinfoil on top of the tilapia and seal the edges by curling them up.

Place the fish in the foil on the grill and cover.

Cook on the grill for about 5-8 minutes, then open the foil, flip the fish, reseal the foil, and then grill for another 5-8 minutes until the fish is done, is flaky, but don't overcook it or it will dry out.

Grilled Asparagus Recipe

This great served with roast corn on the grill or asparagus.

If you get some of those wooden skewers, you can line up your aspargus side by side...about six to eight pieces, then, near the tip of the asparagus, insert one stick through all six to eight pieces and then insert another stick through the asparagus down near the bottom. Brush some olive oil in a thin layer over the asparagus, and lay them bad boys on the grill. Let 'em cook for a good 5-10 minutes...and then eat 'em up.


You can do the same thing with the tilapia in the oven, if you don't feel like grilling. But the charcoal is fabulous. Also, poke a few holes with a fork into the top and bottom of the foil...not too many...but enough to let the grill taste get up in there.

Love,
Bill Jr.

Again, if you live near a Trader Joe's or a decent fishmonger for folks on the coast (or, in Minneapolis, Coastal Seafoods near the Target on Lake Street), you should be able to get tilapia very affordably. Asparagus is seasonally priced and is best in the mid to late summer. This dish should run you about $9-$12.

Brandon's Pork Chop Ramen Fabulous


Any of y'all that grew up broke or went to college or went broke in college or went to college broke or broke down while broke in college cuz you had to grow up...will know of the great and powerful $.25 meal called ramen.

Now when I was a kid...all I knew about was Top Ramen and Smack Ramen and Cup-o-Noodle Ramen. By adulthood, I had discovered an entire world of imported ramen from China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. I once believed that ramen came only in pork, chicken, beef, oriental, and shrimp flavors. Only to discover, thanks to many an Asian grocer, that there is roast duck flavor, hard boiled egg flavored, and some flavors that don't even have a translation in English.

Now that I am officially too old to actually eat a package of ramen as a meal. And, considering I personally made several ramen manufacturers extremely wealthy as I packed away two packages of ramen AS A SNACK through most of my teen years, I thought I would combine my love of ramen with my love of half-way good for you food.

So, I created this recipe, and let me tell you...it is so good that I am going to ask the Ramen Gods to include it on the backs of all my favorite brand's packages.

Brandon's Pork Chop Ramen Fabulous

3 Packages Chicken Flavored Ramen
3-4 small to medium sized pork chops, lean cut, with some marbling
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1 tsp salt
1 bunch of scallions
1 large sweet red bell pepper
1 large jalapeno
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil

First, lay the pork chops in an oven safe cooking pan. Sprinkle the seasoning salt and salt on the pork chops, then pour the soy sauce over the pork chops. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. Turn once about half way through cooking.

Once the pork chops are done, remove the pork chops from the pan but SAVE THE JUICES in the pan. Slice the pork chops off of the bone and then dice into strips or bite size pieces. Set the bones aside.

In a sauce pan, bring six cups of water to a boil. When you put the water on to boil add the pork chop bones to the water. Once the water begins to boil throw the ramen noodles into the water and let them boil up for two minutes or until al dente. Drain the noodles into a strainer, and then remove the bones from the noodles in the strainer.

In a large wok, heat olive oil, then add garlic (minced), jalapenos, and onions, allow to sizzle and snap and fry up for a good three to four minutes. This allows the onions and garlic to caramelize and sweeten. Then add the noodles. To this add TWO of the three chicken flavoring packages from the ramen....DO NOT use all three or it will be tooooo salty. Stir the noodles, onions, jalapenos, and garlic together. Then pour the juice from the baking pan into the mixture. To that add the sweet bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces, and the chopped pork chop meat to the mix. Keep the dish stirring for about 3 minutes, just enough time to let the bell pepper soften up a bit...and then get you a bowl, put some of the food in it, and eat it up. Lemme tell you...you ain't NEVER had ramen like this before.

With pork prices at an all time low (thanks H1N1 virus!), this dish is mega cheapy. You can put the whole thing together for $6-$7.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome to the Fairy Chef!

Food is something that is and has always been important to me. As a child, I would stand around in the kitchen, watching my Mom fry, chop, broil, and bake. The smells of homemade bread often filled our small apartment, and, though I grew up dead damn broke and on welfare, my Mom made low cost sumptuous fare...and she was so adept at it that she fooled us into thinking common dishes, like buttered egg noodles, were expensive delicacies to only be eaten on occassion.

From my Mother's kitchen to my Grandmother's kitchen, from watching my Step-Father cook to learning to avoid my Birth Father's cooking at all costs, I learned how to experiment, recreate, and create anew old time recipes and create new recipes of my own.

Please note, I am not in anyway a trained chef. As a matter of fact, I am a writer. My recipes usually come with stories. I cook at home for my partner, and it is the greatest honor I can think of bestowing on a loved one to cook for them. Knowing that I have created a palate pleasing recipe that sustains the amazing people in my life, gives me a deep glowing satisfaction that is spiritual in nature.

I also post these recipes on my established blog, My Feet Only Walk Forward, which is a funny and silly and serious and ranting journey through life, love, politics, poetry, art, sex, and queerness.

While I now live a comfortable life, I am in no way a wealthy person. And so it is important that I am able to make good food, with fresh ingredients, cheaply. I understand how difficult that can be in a fast food world in a fast pace life when individuals, let alone families, juggle a million responsibilities on ever shrinking budgets. The recipes you will find here should all run you no more than $10 to $20 in ingredients, and, since I grew up in a large family, all of the recipes you will find here will make more than enough to feed two to four people (depending on your appetites).

I will post a number of recipes I have posted on my other blog, and, starting this week, I will post one new recipe a week. Some will be oldies but goodies and others will be new experiments I've whipped up and force fed to my beloved partner David. He didn't know he was signing up for guinea pig duty when he signed up for the life time gig with me.

So, grab your oven mitts and strap on your favorite cooking gear...cuz it's time to cook it up with the Fairy Chef.