All posts filed under: Budget Meals

One from Column ‘A’ – Five Spice Caramel Pork

To be fair, I’ve never seen this on any Chinese take-out menu. I have only been able to get it in Bangkok…. or at my favorite Chinese fare haunt in the city. So, dont hate me there. In fact, if you are going to hate me at all – its because I’ve monkeyed around with the traditional recipe a goodly amount… I’m not using pork belly, Jane is deathly allergic to soy, neither of us like our head blown off with heat….. and (God forbid), I’m not using a wok, it’s a Dutch oven. Five spice pork is an old Cantonese recipe that has cousins and distant relatives across most of Asia. And, unlike most take-out oferings, is more of a stew rather than a quick wok fried dish (hence, the dutch oven.) It is smoky, spicy, slightly sweet and terribly flavor packed. Short of Char Sui, it is my absolute favorite way to enjoy pork. Alrighty then… on with the changes we’ve made. Chinese Five Spice Powder – If you wanted to go through …

Under Pressure ~ Corned Beef & Cabbage

Since Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do the obligatory Corned Beef and Cabbage thing.,, though I’ve already explained why  it really doesn’t belong anywhere near things even remotely Irish. Be that as it may… we  (as in the all-encompassing American “we”) think it’s the pinnacle of Irish cuisine… so there, we’re doing it. Coming up with new and interesting ways to do the corned beef dance is kinda hard. So, this time I’ve decided to put the Microwave Pressure Cooker screws to  that long slow braise, and see if we couldn’t shorten that 3-hour cook time to something more manageable. To do that… we need to talk about beef.  Corned Beef Primarily here in the States, corned beef comes in two distinct cuts of cow. … which is the Eye of Round – or the center, dense, tough, fat-less muscle in the Top Round and  … or full flat –  even though the flat has more fat, it is also tough. This has the added  bonus of being stringy from …

The Sandwich Diaries ~ the Meatloaf Sandwich

There’s one important thing to have when making a great meatloaf sandwich Good meatloaf…. and white bread Okay, two things meatloaf, white bread… and mayo bollocks! … three things and pickle chips Dammit! Meatloaf, in a sense, has been around since the Romans. Although with ingredients like finely chopped lamb, pine nuts, rosemary and cream, you ended up with something more “pate-like” than what we call our beloved food of the masses. It wasn’t until WWII that meatloaf truly became part of the working class American diet. Looking to help families stretch their meat rations, numerous government agencies and appliance manufacturers started a campaign to show housewives how to extend meager protein rations to feed a large family. They championed adding stale bread, leftover biscuits, potatoes and rice into minced meat, adding a healthy dose of ketchup and seasonings, and baking it off “roast-style” to create a meat dish that would be fit to grace any Sunday Dinner table. It caught on. And while they were satisfying and filling, they did something much more important. They created leftovers. Leftovers that …

Getting to Yes – Double Dipped Buttermilk Chicken Nuggets

The airwaves have been inundated with the talk…  10 nuggets for $1.49. How good could they be, really. And that’s the basis of this whole exercise. The thing is, I don’t make very good fried chicken, and Jane knows it. I didn’t get that grandmotherly gene of tempering flavor / heat / coating to make bone-in Southern Fried Chicken work.    So… a dollar forty-nine, a cheap, easy way to get that crispy fried soulful satisfaction – it seemed like a doer. It’s not. Aside from the questionable oil that it’s fried in, it honestly isn’t even chicken. I’m not sure a chicken walked very close to the factory where they were made. They’re stodgy, spongy… kinda rubbery…. with the most notable flavor being an overabundance of soy protein. And to be brutally honest, it’s the same with any mass-produced, faster – than – prudent establishment serving up the little crispy jewels. So, it’s back to the drawing board and finding a way to get maximum flavor out of a relatively tasteless piece of protein where you …

Under Pressure – Braised Back Ribs

This was actually the first thing we did in the micro cooker. Seeing that I really didn’t want to waste a lot of money on something just in case the end product was a hot steaming mess. I’ve opted to take the basic timing and procedures for the Lamb Shank recipe in the provided cookbookerlette and apply that thought process to something about the same quality and texture – Beef Back Ribs. This recipe consists of 1 pound of badly cut beef back ribs – 8 Pieces of Rib – $3.95 total…(on sale at the market today) Considering that to get back ribs.. or shanks… or shoe leather edible should take between 2.5 to 3 hours in a conventional oven… or up to 8 hours in a slow cooker, I’m calling this a win. The ribs are very tender, although some of the rib connective membrane hasn’t softened up as much as I like. And to be totally honest, that probably would have corrected itself if I had removed the chine off the backside of the riblettes. …

Kitchen Fodder – Meatballs Under Pressure

Curry No, I’m not talking about the little red & white can that sits in the pantry growing dust bunnies because you only pull it out once every 6 years to make those curried glazed carrots you’ve read so much about. No. That stuff is for Cretans and Malcontents.  Anywhere else in the world, curry is a dance – a give and take of spices and aromatics – that when blended properly, transforms a dish to such exotic heights, it is the culinary equivalent of Mount Everest…. (sought by many, obtained only by the very adventurous). So… Seeing the Curried Lamb Meatball recipe the the little CooksEssentials Microwave Pressure Cookery Bookerlette… I was intrigued… but very, very cautious. Like most things, I monkeyed around with their recipe. Not because I’m just a bad person, but like finding that curry nirvana, I have my own particular likes and dislikes that play into the picture when creating that perfect spice blend. Granted, if you’re not terribly particular, you could just open up that red/white container and hawk in 2 big spoonfuls …

Dumplings with Jane

Clara, my great grandmother, always kept chickens.  And while the majority of the time chickens were for eggs, old layers, non-layers and overly mean roosters made their way into the stewing pot for one of Clara’s specialties – Chicken & Dumplings. Now, a lot of people make dumplings a lot of different ways; there are those thick, dense almost noodle -like dumplings; there are the globs of biscuit dough plopped on top of the broth; then there is Clara’s way – soft, tender, pillow-y dumplings, barely holding together amongst the rich broth and bits of dark meat. Jane tells a story of a time just after she married my dad. She had been on the Square in Marietta, doing some bit of shopping, and stopped in at Clara’s just about lunch time. Clara had just made a big pot of dumplings and served her up a bowl. Those same soft dumplings, that rich, flavorful broth – Jane kept commenting on how good those dumplings were.. “The best Chicken and Dumplings I’ve ever had”, she told her. My …

Kitchen Fodder Guest Test – Micro Pressure Cooker Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Bah! Humbug! Alright…. I’m not the happiest elf this time of year – and getting my chops in gear to do anything other than just exist, is damned near impossible… (I’m just not your holiday food guy.) Luckily, in talking to my sis today, I found out she was using her Microwave Pressure Cooker to make… of all things… MAC n CHEESE! I roped her into doing a guest post (slash) recipe test on it for Plate Fodder. So… Go grab a bowl of popcorn and get ready to be amazed! (I’m going to go steal the neighbor’s inflatable snowman…. again…) ______________________________________________________________________________ After seeing Toby demo his microwave pressure cooker several times, I had to get one for myself. This seemed like such a marvelous gadget! I have cooked many different things in the pressure cooker… Pot Roast, Chili, Rustic Bolognese Sauce, Lemony Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Olives and Oregano. Everything so far has turned out well. I had a couple of lamb shanks hanging out in the fridge that I thought I would take for …

Baleful Bounty – Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes – that mainstay of Church Homecoming potlucks – the master of family Sunday dinners – the keystone of just about every holiday get together… And, face it… most of them are pretty dreadful. Flaccid potato slices floating in noxious, overly garlicky gravy. But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Let’s break away from the norm and make something a little lighter, a little more flavorful, and a hell of a lot prettier to look at.   Since I was blessed with a handful  (really, out of 5 plants, I got 2 pounds of potatoes) of beauties from the garden this year, I thought I’d do something to go with the Sage Battered Pork Chops I was making. And, smashing them up just seemed a crime… you know, since I only got 8 taters from all my hard work and all. I decided to do Jane’s scalloped potatoes… except, I really didn’t know her exact recipe… just basically how it was done… So, I did what I always do… I punted. ________________________________________________ Plate Fodder’s …

Goofin’ on Grandma

Oddly, I come across a recipe for Grandma Pizza about once a month. I see it… I think, “huh, all those tomatoes and oil… that can’t be good.” And I pass on to the next sexy bit of food porn that inevitably fills my inbox. Given that I’ve been craving a slice of cheesy heaven lately, my curiosity got the better of me and I drug out one of those “best damned pizza in the world” grandma pizza recipes to see what all the fuss was about. I still didn’t like the idea of just tomatoes and oil, and I wasn’t all that keen on a super thin crust. In my head, I could just see a soggy behemoth coming out of the oven… so I took the idea of it all, and made it something else entirely. So… what is a Grandma Pizza? It’s a pie that appears to be widely popular in Queens and Brooklyn. It’s a Sicilian style pizza with a super thin, square crust – Topped with cheese and scattered with seasoned, crushed …