Saint Patricks Day Favorites

On St. Patricks Day everybody is a leprechaun for the day.  We wear green.  We drink green beer.  We eat corned beef and cabbage. 

Come to think of it, about the only things there that are genuinely Irish are corned beef and cabbage and, from reading a bit about it, the corned beef part came from Irish immigrants in New York City rather than Ireland.

But corned beef and cabbage is a tradition.  Just like watching “A Quiet Man” or listening to James Galway flute music or going to a pub for an evening’s revelry celebrating all things Irish.

Corned Beef Cabbage and Soda Bread I’d much rather go into a Jewish deli on Saint Patrick’s day and order a really good “corned beef on rye” with potato salad than boiled to death corned beef and cabbage.  But Cheap Bastid has come up with a different way of cooking both corned beef and cabbage along with an authentic version of classic soda bread. 

First of all, treat your corned beef like a tri-tip and grill it.  And treat the cabbage like a vegetable.  Cook it quick, keep the color in it and a bit of “tooth” or crunch, then season it.  And, make some real soda bread—it’s easy and tasty and just a bit dense.

But, you’ll put out a meal that’s tasty and inexpensive rather than soggy and bland.  Here are 3 links to recipes that CB has written about before.  Click on ‘em.  Check ‘em out.  Give ‘em a try.  Then tune into “The Quiet Man”—the memorable fight scene ¾ of the way through is the best part.

Grilled Corned Beef:  http://www.cheap-bastid-cooks.com/grilled-corned-beef/

grilled corned beef

This is a really easy way to cook a corned beef which keeps the texture and flavor of the beef.  It only takes about a half hour to 45 minutes rather than letting it bubble away all day in a pot. 

Stir Fried Cabbage:  http://www.cheap-bastid-cooks.com/st-patricks-day-fried-cabbage/

Stir fried cabbage

The easiest way to do this is in a wok.  If you don’t have a wok, get out your biggest skillet and if necessary do it in a couple of batches.  This has color and crunch because you only cook it for about 5 minutes or so over high heat with just a bit of oil, some onion, a little salt, pepper, garlic and some vinegar.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread:   http://www.cheap-bastid-cooks.com/traditional-irish-soda-bread-recipe/

4loaf of soda bread

The focus here is on “traditional”.  “True” Irish soda bread only has 4 ingredients according to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.  And I figure that any bread that inspires an “official society” for its preservation has to know what it’s talking about.  Anyway, this makes a fragrant, dense, flavorful bread that is a perfect companion to grilled corn beef and fried cabbage. 

I’ll be cooking this dinner on Saint Patrick’s Day.  We’ll enjoy it and then a couple of days later we’ll make Reuben sandwiches with the leftovers which will be another absolute taste treat. 

The Cheap Bastid Test:  OK looking back at these 3 posts, I spent about $5 on the corned beef, about $1.75 on the fried cabbage and about $.75 on the soda bread.  If my arithmetic is right, that comes to $7.50 and this will easily feed 4 adults with some leftovers.  That’s a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day feast on the cheap.

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

Posted in baking, Beef Recipes, Comfort Food, family meals, frying/sauteeing, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jambalaya

Before I sat down to write this today, I pulled up a You Tube video of Hank Williams and his original version of “Jambalaya”.  You know, the one that starts out: “Goodbye Joe, we gotta go oh, me, oh my-o…Son of a gun, we’ll have great fun on the Bayou…”

Yep, Lent just started so for Mardi Gras I just had to make up a big old batch of Jambalaya.  Oh man, this stuff is rich and meaty and tasty with just a teeny little hint of heat to finish waking up your tastebuds.

And, I didn’t even have to go to the store to pick up any “specialty” Cajun ingredients.  I rummaged around and in true Cheap Bastid style “made do” with what I have on hand.  No Cajun worth his heritage would think of making this without real andouille sausage but 1) I didn’t have any and 2) outside of Louisiana andouille is pretty expensive.  But I had some Hillshire smoked beef sausage.  Hey!  To quote Gunny Highway, “improvise, adapt, overcome”.  And way back in the recesses of my freezer, I came across a half pound of shrimp.  Those went into Jambalaya too along with a boneless, skinless chicken breast. 

It’s actually pretty easy to make and takes less than an hour start to finish.  You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make it and this is great “comfort food” anytime you want something to stick to your ribs and warm you through and through.

Bowl of Jambalaya And, just to remind you that “my recipes are guidelines not prescriptions”, I didn’t have any canned tomatoes in the pantry so I used a couple of fresh romas.  And I didn’t have chicken broth so I used beef.  I don’t have andouille but I’ve got some kielbasa.  And I don’t have any Old Bay seasoning so I made do with some stuff from the spice cupboard.  Bottom line…”it’s all good”. Continue reading

Posted in Comfort Food, family meals, party and entertaining food, Slow Cooker/Crock Pot, soup and stew, Southern Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feta

At least two days a week I don’t get home from work until at least 9:30 at night.  On those days I’ll usually get a text from Mrs. CB asking me if I want a “Mega” when I get home.

A “Mega” is short for “Mega-Salad”.  This is what used to be billed by many restaurants as a “Chef’s Salad”—a concoction of lettuce and tomato with a bit of ham usually smothered in Thousand Island dressing and it came with a couple of cellophane wrapped packets of “Club Crackers”.

But Mrs. CB really does it up right—there’s leaf lettuce along with tomato and cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, zucchini, hard-boiled egg, red grapes, sun flower seeds and Feta.  It’s a great late night dinner after a long day of work when you don’t want something heavy but need something to eat.  And, it’s pretty healthy; guaranteeing that your internal plumbing will be working right the next morning.

Feta wrappedBut, let’s talk about Feta.  We like Feta cheese.  It’s aromatic (OK, it’s pungent).  It’s tasty.  And a little bit goes a long way crumbled on top of a salad.  You can buy it in plastic tubs at the grocery store usually at $3-$4 for a 4-6 ounce container.  If you do the math, that’s anywhere from about $8 to $12 or more per pound.  Definitely not Cheap Bastid food.

A year or so ago we came across a great solution.  Frazier Farms, our local equivalent of Whole Foods, has it’s own Feta that comes in a block.  It’s $3.99 a pound which in the world of cheese is pretty reasonable.  Continue reading

Posted in Comfort Food, Uncategorized, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Chinese Steak

Sometimes you just have to “change it up” just a bit.  I love cooking Salisbury Steak and I love cooking Swiss Steak.  Both are Midwestern comfort food classics.  OK, actually what I love is eating Salisbury Steak and Swiss Steak.  And a lot of people have commented in my posts that they love these dishes too.

I’ve always loved cooking in the wok.  Wok cooking is simple.  Typically the hardest part is the prep and having everything ready to go before cooking.  But that’s simply a matter of “slicing and dicing”.  Chinese-style cooking is also something that goes well with Cheap Bastid’s love for simple, inexpensive, fresh ingredients.  And, proteins like meat especially go further Chinese style making it even better for diet and budget conscious folks.

Here’s one of my all-time favorite Chinese recipes to cook and especially to eat.  This dish is pungent and tasty.  It combines beef with my favorites of tomatoes and onions along with an aromatic sauce that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.  It’s a different twist on Comfort Food.

Cheap Bastids Chinese Steak

It’s served over rice, or with rice on the side, whichever you prefer.  So first, I’m going to provide my basic rice recipe which I got 30 years ago from “Madame Wong’s Long-Life Chinese Cookbook” which came with my first wok.  This is as close to “foolproof” rice as you can get without investing in a rice cooker.  Continue reading

Posted in Beef Recipes, Comfort Food, family meals, frying/sauteeing, Oriental | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Cherry Pie

President’s Day is coming up on February 17 this year.  As a kid in elementary school I recall how we were taught all about George Washington.  Father of our country.  “First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen.”

And, then there was the story about how he was so honest that as a child he confessed to having cut down a cherry tree with an axe.  Whoopdee-doo.  He was a normal kid who got into mischief but was enough of a nerd to confess.  He probably got his butt whupped anyway.

But I guess that’s how George Washington came to be connected to cherry trees and cherries and cherry pies.  So, in celebration of President’s Day (which now combines a celebration of both Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday along with homage to all the other Presidents) let’s make a simple, tasty, inexpensive Cherry Pie.

Homemade Cherry Pie

When I asked Mrs. CB what she wanted for dessert for Christmas dinner, without hesitation she said “Cherry Pie”.  What?  No pumpkin, or mincemeat or pecan?  Nope.  That’s what she wanted and here is the pie she got. Continue reading

Posted in baking, dessert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments