Oct 14, 2014

Frugal Cooks Go To Heaven!

No matter where you live, there's something very satisfying about being deliciously frugal, you know, feeding your family for very little money. But it's even more satisfying if what you cook gets compliments from your family or friends, and they ask for seconds, and maybe the recipe. In my opinion, "frugal cooks go to heaven!"

Deliciously Frugal Recipes:

Opo Squash Soup
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Opo Squash Soup  (Tabungao)
This delicious Filipino recipe is the most common recipe for Opo here on Moloka'i. Other nationalities also enjoy soups with opo, adding fish, or shrimp instead of pork or chicken, and the addition of lemon grass, sesame oil, and local spices for seasoning.

canola oil for frying
2 pounds fresh pork chops, sliced thin (pork ribs, ground pork, or chicken dark meat is my favorite)
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 whole bay leaf, ripped in half
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
4 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed, peeled, and minced fine
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam or patis)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1- 2 pound small long squash, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise, then cut into 1/4" slices (4 cups of cut squash)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat a 6 quart pot or wok with cover. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until almost smoking. Add pork or chicken and stir fry. Brown and cook until medium well done, about 10 minutes on high heat. Season with pepper and bay leaf while frying. Add onions, tomato, and garlic. Continue to stir fry until vegetables are translucent and wilted. Add additional oil if needed. Add 4 cups of water to pot, cover and bring meat to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Simmer until meat is tender, about 20 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and white vinegar to soup. Add squash to pot and cover. Simmer until squash is soft, about 20 minutes more. Add more pepper and fish sauce to adjust to your taste. Serve with white rice on the side or in the soup. Makes 6 servings.

Note: I usually use chicken, dark meat, 2 wings, 2 drum bones, and 2 thighs. Leave the bones in the wok until stock is cooked, then remove the meat and bones, cut the meat into bite sized pieces and discard the bones, then return chicken meat to stock, add the squash, fish sauce, soy sauce and cook for 20 minutes and serve with rice. The bones add flavor.

Portuguese Sausage Scramble
The Portuguese settled here in Hawaii many years ago to work in the sugarcane fields. They brought with them their culinary expertise, including the use of linguica or Portuguese Sausage. The spicy and rustic flavor of this sausage, mixed with farm fresh eggs, potatoes, onions, roasted red peppers, and cheese creates the Portuguese sausage scramble.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound Portuguese sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 pound yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
7 large eggs
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick, or cast iron, over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl. Turn the heat to medium-low and drop the onions and potatoes into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the onions and potatoes and garlic, along with the peppers, to the bowl with the sausage. Set the skillet aside off the heat.

Heat the broiler. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until fluffy and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour the eggs over the sausage-potato mixture in the bowl and gently combine.

Wipe out the skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and warm it over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, quickly stir to cook the eggs briefly, then jiggle the skillet to settle its contents. Run the spatula around the sides of the skillet to prevent the scramble from sticking. Crank up the heat to medium-high and cook until the edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes. Slide the skillet under the broiler and cook until the top is nicely browned and no puddles remain, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide the scramble onto a large platter and sprinkle with the parsley, or slice it and serve it right from the pan. Serve with fresh Hawaiian fruit. Makes 4 servings.

Coconut Fish Chowder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 pound skinless red snapper fillets (opakapaka or ehu)
3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion, 1/4 tablespoon red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt; cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 11/2 cups water and 1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until corn is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer 11/2 cups corn and onions to a blender. Add 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk; blend until smooth.

To pan, add 1 pound skinless red snapper fillets. Simmer until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Return corn puree to pan. Break up fish with a spoon; heat until just warmed through (do not boil).

Remove from heat; stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges, if desired. Makes 2-4 servings.

Portuguese Chili
2 pound ground beef
1 pound Portuguese sausage, sliced
1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
1 29-ounce can kidney beans, with liquid
1 29-ounce can pinto beans, with liquid
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green chili
1/4 cup diced celery
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cup water

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain off the fat. Using a fork, crumble the cooked beef into pea-size pieces. In a large pot, combine the beef plus all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours. Note: Top with some chopped green onions and cheddar cheese, serve with white rice. Makes 8 servings.

Green Papaya Chicken Soup
This is one of my favorite Filipino recipes. It is important to find rock hard, dark green papayas for this dish, with no sign of any yellow-orange on them.

2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2-3 pound whole chicken or parts cut into bite sized portions, remove skin
2 tablespoons fish sauce (patis)
3-4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups peeled and cubed unripened (green) papaya
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and saute another 5 minutes to partially cook and lightly brown. Add the fish sauce and stir well. Add water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, stirring and skimming off fat and scum occasionally. Add cubed papaya and simmer another 5-10 minutes until papaya is tender. Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste and stir in the chopped spinach. This dish will be soupy when done. Serve with hot white rice on the side with Tamari sauce. Makes 6 servings.

Egg-Lemon Soup with Chicken and Avocado
6 chicken thighs
1 cup of celery roughly chopped
1 cup of carrots roughly chopped
1- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 cup Jasmine rice, or other long grain white rice
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 beaten eggs (yolk only)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 avocados sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 whole lemon sliced thin for garnish

In a large soup pot, boil chicken thighs with celery, carrots and ginger in 8 1/2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 hour, uncovered. While chicken and stock is cooking, pour rice into a bowl and soak with water for about 15 minutes. Stir the milk and cornstarch together in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat the eggs. The mixture should become a yellowish color. After the chicken has cooked, remove from stock and shred, discarding the bones. Remove celery, carrots and ginger from stock and discard. Drain the rice and add it to the 8 cups of chicken stock. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the rice is puffy and tender (about 15 minutes). Remove the lid on the soup and reduce the temperature to low. Add the milk, egg mixture. Stir carefully and continue to cook until it thickens for about 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and shredded chicken. Remove from the heat and ladle into bowls. Add avocado, parsley and fresh lemon slices for garnish. Makes 6 servings.

Slow Cooked Pork Butt
Pork shoulder or pork butt are very similar because they come from the same area of the pig. However the butt, sometimes called the "Boston butt" cut, is more common in supermarkets and is very popular here on Moloka'i because it's reasonably priced and will feed a large hungry family. There are many ways to cook pork butt, slow-roasted, braised, stuffed, smoked, barbecued, etc., but it's usually cooked low and slow because it's a tough cut of meat full of connective tissue. When you cook it low and slow, the connective tissue essentially melts down and bastes the meat. I have never met a tough cut of meat that can't be made into a delicious, tender meal. The problem is that pork butt is a large piece of meat which is great for large families, but if it's just you and your meaningful other, in this case my wife, what do you do with leftovers? So here are several recipes made out of one S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D tropical pork butt... VERY Frugal!

3 tablespoons canola oil
4 pound boneless, or 5 pound bone-in pork butt, cut into several large pieces including the bone if using
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 chipotle chiles canned in adobo sauce, drained and chopped
3 cups chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt, then arrange the pork in the Dutch oven. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the black pepper, onion, garlic, orange and lime juice, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and chopped chipotle chiles. Pour in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until pork is very tender, about 3 1/2 hours, or you can put the covered Dutch oven in a 300˚F oven for the same length of time.

Transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board after it has cooled slightly. Meanwhile skim fat from the cooking liquid. Using two forks, shred the pork in a casserole dish, then pour 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid over the meat. Taste and season with salt if needed. Makes 12 servings.

You can serve the pork as is with rice on the side, or on top of hamburger buns with a wonderful pineapple cole slaw and your favorite barbecue sauce, or inside Arepa flatbread, (see recipe below),  You can use the pulled pork (Pork Carnitas) in corn tortillas with chopped Chinese cabbage and pico de gallo or mango salsa. Also you can make pork burritos with pulled pork, flour tortillas, rice, black beans, Chinese cabbage and sour cream. Another use is to make a pork wonton soup with the broth left in the pot. If there's still leftovers, put a little pulled pork in lettuce to make a wrap for a little lunch nibble, or check out this website for more great pork butt recipes.

Arepas Venezuelan Flatbread
Arepas are a very common, and simple to make Venezuelan flatbread made from pre-cooked white or yellow corn meal (masa arepa). They've got a crispy shelled exterior with a soft, creamy corn cake center. They make the perfect naturally gluten-free flatbread for soaking up the flavors of whatever you're topping or filling them with - your favorite salsa, guacamole, stewed black beans with cheese and lime, savory meat like pulled pork or chicken, cheese, or whatever your heart desires.

1 1/2 cups arepa flour (precooked cornmeal), see "Note" below
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups hot water
1/3 cup Fiesta cheese blend, (optional)
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Combine Masa and salt in medium bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes to absorb the water fully. Dough should be smooth and moist but not sticky, the consistency of leftover mashed potatoes, very pliable and soft, without sticking to your hands. Add cheese and butter. Knead until dough is consistency of smooth mashed potatoes.

Lightly grease or spray heavy skillet or griddle; heat over medium heat. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces; flatten and pat dough into 4 " discs 1/2 inch thick. If dough cracks or is too dry, return to bowl and add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Immediately place dough in a hot skillet. Cook 3-5 minutes per side or until browned in spots. Remove baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes on a baking sheet at 350˚F, until arepas sound hollow when tapped.

Serve warm. Makes 6 corn cakes.

Note: Arepa flour is precooked corn flour, not to be confused with masa haring. Sometimes sold as masarepa or haring precocida, it can be found in Latin markets. Harina P.a.n. white corn meal can also be purchased online, or Goya brand yellow cornmeal online. You can sweeten your Arepas by adding 2-6 tablespoons of sugar per cup of arepa flour. You also can add 1 cup of pureed fresh sweet corn per cup of arepa flour.

Spicy Pineapple-Apricot Chicken Wings
Summer is here and what could be better than "Hawaii-Style" chicken wings. This is a very simple recipe, sweet with a little spiciness that you can whip up in no time.

Ingredients for sauce:
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) Smucker's brand apricot-pineapple preserves (Misaki's Market)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce

5 pounds ("Georges" brand) "disjointed" jumbo chicken wings (Friendly Market)
sesame seeds for garnish

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In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients for the sauce/marinade, set aside (this can be done the day before). Rinse chicken wings under running water and pat dry with a paper towel (if you buy chicken wings not disjointed, then cut them apart, discarding the tip section of the wings). Put wing pieces into a large zip-loc freezer bag and add 2/3 cup of the prepared sauce to the wings. Close bag and massage sauce into the wings. Put the bag of wings in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Save the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator for cooking the wings.

When ready to cook the wings, place the marinated wings on a greased, foil-lined baking pan, and discard any sauce that is in the zip-loc bag. Lightly salt the wings, then bake them at 400˚F for 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove the wings into a bowl and discard any juice in the pan. Return the wings to the pan and baste with half of the remaining sauce. Move the shelf in the oven so that it is 6 or 7 inches from the broiler. Place the pan on the shelf and turn the broiler on to high. Keeping an eye on the wings, in about 5 minutes, after the wings have a nice little burn on them, turn them over and baste with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cooked wings with toasted sesame seeds and serve with corn on the cob and "Pineapple Cabbage Salad" on the side (see recipe). Makes about 30, one piece servings, enough for 6 to 8 people eating 3 to 5 each.

Note: If you want to grill the wings, first bake them in the oven for 25 minutes and then finish them off on the grill for another 10 minutes over medium heat basting with the remaining sauce.

Baked Stuffed Papaya
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 (12 ounce) papayas
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook and stir beef, onion and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until beef is light brown; drain. Stir in tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper; break up tomatoes with fork. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered or without a lid until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Cut papayas lengthwise into halves; remove seeds. Slice a thin piece off the back of each papaya half so it sits flat. Place about 1/3 cup of the beef mixture in each papaya half; sprinkle each with cheese. Arrange in shallow roasting pan. Pour very hot water into pan to within 1 in. of tops of papaya halves. Bake uncovered or without a lid at 350˚F until papayas are very tender and hot, about 1/2 an hour. Makes 8 servings.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies
Peanut butter and jelly are as popular here in Hawaii as it is on the mainland. This recipe will not only please the kids, but the adults as well. This is one my favorite cookies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies
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1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling the dough
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup extra chunky peanut butter (I use Jiffy brand)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
1 large jar of the jelly of your choice (I use Smucker's seedless raspberry)
Parchment paper

In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, shortening and sugars, then mix in peanut butter, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and flour. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter mixture. Beat until thoroughly combined.

Next place a long sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter and place half of the cookie mixture into a long row in the middle of the plastic wrap. Fold the wrap tightly over the cookie dough. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough, then put the two dough logs into your refrigerator for 2 hours. This process will make handling the dough while forming the cookies much easier.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 350˚F. Now line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into a plate. Unwrap the chilled dough and make balls using about 1 tablespoon of dough per ball. Roll the balls completely in the sugar. Place each ball on the parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between the balls, as they will spread while cooking. Take a fork and gently press lines into the top of the cookie balls, first horizontal then vertical, creating a patern on top of each cookie.

Place the cookie sheets into the heated oven on two different shelves toward the top of your oven. Cook for 5 minutes, then open the oven and switch around the cookie sheets so the bottom is now on the top. This will ensure even browning on the bottom of the cookies. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove cookies to cool for about 30 minutes. Decorate the top of each cookie with a dab of your favorite jelly. Makes about 60 cookies.

Note: You can freeze the dough to cook the cookies at a later date. Just put the logs into a zip-loc freezer bag.

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