Escargot in a Pesto Beurre Blanc

Another Night of, “What’s On The Shelf?”

Hand nothing planned for dinner, so I was forced to take inventory. Inventory of the shelves, cabinets and freezer. I did not search the back of the refrigerator as I figured anything that was hidden back there would be good for another 6 month.

The inventory process serves multiple functions. First you figure out what you’re going to eat, it forces you to be creative and it clears the shelf of stuff you’ll actually use before the expiration date.

PestoIn the freezer were 3 half-pints ball jars if of pesto that I put up in early September. I think this was one of the best batches I’ve made. We have sometimes made a dinner of Pesto on gluten free crackers along with 2 tins of smoked oysters. Wash it down with a nice Prosecco.

This night I knew I would use the pesto. I had some corn and quinoa elbow pasta that had been opened and needed to be used. Although pasta with pesto is pleasing is pedestrian, it’s short of a meal.

Then I saw them, peaking out from behind a large bag of non GMO blue corn chips, 2 cans of escargot. Quick, check the date. Had 7 months to go. Hey, if you are squeamish about eating snails, the recipe that follows will work great with chicken or shrimp.

I’ll try to recreate what I did in this post but I can’t be 100% sure. No cameras were rolling as wasn’t planning anything.

Put a pot of water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil go ahead and cook whatever pasta you’re going to use according to the package directions. Strain the pasta but reserve the pasta liquid. This is when it’s nice to have one of those pasta cookers, tall pot with a colander that fits into the pot. Pull the pasta out and the liquid is left in tact.

While waiting for the water to boil start preparing your sauce.

I finely chopped a medium onion and sautéed them until sweet and golden brown in a sauté pan. With the burner now on high add a ½ cup of dry white wine. I used vermouth. It boiled away and was absorbed quickly. Turning the burner down to medium low I threw in a pad of butter mixing that into the onions. When it was gone I added another Tablespoon. It was taking on the consistency of a beurre blanc. Of course with a beurre blanc you would use shallots. Alas, there was none on the shelf.

EscargotEscargot cry out for garlic butter but there wasn’t an un-sprouted garlic clove in the house. This use to be major faux pas, one does not run out of onions or garlic. But now I’ve discovered garlic powder. Not garlic salt or granulated garlic, this is a fine powder that floats into your sauces and dissolves into any warm liquid or fat. The best I’ve found is the 365 Brand from Whole Foods. Ingredients: organic garlic.

As the butter is slowly being absorbed I sprinkle on of the garlic powder and stir the pan. Then another pad of butter and two cans of escargot. You could easily use one depending on how many snails you want per person.   Cook everything on a medium low heat for about 10 minutes. During this time you can add a ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan stirring that in. Then add some more butter and a little more pasta water. I did this as I played with the consistency. I had me a pretty nice emulsified sauce going here and it smelled divine.

Careful not to add too much I sprinkled in a small amount of salt. It should taste like, “It needs a little more salt.” But before adding any more salt, I added two heaping tablespoons of the pesto and folded it in with all the ingredients. The aroma was immense. Now you can taste and adjust if it still, “needs a little salt.” I added the pesto last as the parmesan cheese in the pesto will burn on the bottom of the pan.

Now fold in the cooked drained pasta coating it with the sauce. If you have any freshly grated parmesan put it in a ramekin and pass it at the table.

That’s it a gourmet meal from stuff I found laying around.


National Cognac Day – June 4

Humorous Motivational Speaker Vinny Verelli

celebrates National Cognac Day. June 4th is also National Applesauce Cake Day, National Cheese Day and National Frozen Yogurt Day. Vinny combines 2 foods with amazing results.

In addition to the cognac mentioned in this video Remy Martin also makes some extremely high end bottles of cognac that can cost up to $26,000 for a bottle. This limited edition cognac is individually numbered from 1 to 786 in Baccarat dark crystal decanters.The Rare Black Pearl sold out in 3 months and the only place to get it in NYC was at the Rose Bar in the Plaza Hotel. You would pay $250 for a shot, before tip. That bottle would net $80,000!!  They’re also producing a Louis XIII in a 3 liter Jeroboam, the photo on the right.Rare-Louis-XIII-Black-Pearl-CognacRemy-Martin-Louis-XIII-jeroboam










Posted by Humorous Motivational Speaker Vinny Verelli

It’s National Cheese Ball Day!

I can’t believe I almost missed National Cheese Ball Day. It’s too late to make something so I’m sharing a 30 second video I made a couple of years ago for pimento cheese. I mean if you held back a little mayo and squeezed the pimento cheese together you could make a ball.

Enjoy the video.

This is a really good recipe which you can read on my blog by clicking PIMENTO CHEESE RECIPE.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs

Not Your Grandmother’s Deviled Eggs

It’s Spring time in the mountains of north Georgia and everyone is starting to have pot-luck dinners. And if there are 20 people going to dinner 10 people will bring deviled eggs. People in the South love their deviled eggs. Your standard deviled eggs are hard boiled eggs with the yolks removed and mixed with mayonnaise, relish and other spices and condiments and then put back into the egg whites. Today I’m going to do a variation of the Southern Deviled Eggs.  This is my Lower Eastside Deviled Eggs with smoked salmon, dill, chives, shallots and cornichons.  Cornichons are gherkins, a tiny relative to the cucumber, and are pickled with dill and other spices, usually with a hint of tarragon. These are NOT your grandmother’s deviled Eggs.

This is not a blog post on how to hard boil an egg, except to say you never want to “Hard” boil an egg.  There are hundreds of recipes and YouTube videos on how to cook an egg. Let me just say that there is no one way to do it and no “perfect” way to do it. You cook a dozen eggs, 2 will give you a hard time. So If I were to give you advice it would be; if you’re going to need 10 eggs, cook 12.

The Recipe

  • 8     Large Eggs (remember cook 10)
  • 1/2  Cup or 2 ounces of smoked salmon
  • 1/2  Cup of Cooking Creme – If you can’t find cooking creme you can use mayonnaise
  • 2-3  Cornichons chopped fine
  • 1     Tablespoon pickling liquid from the cornichons
  • 1.5   Tablespoon  finely chopped chive
  • 1.5   Tablespoon finely chopped dill
  • 1     Tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1     Teaspoon ground white pepper

In a large pot cover the eggs with water (at least an inch above) and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and put them in an ice bath for a minute. Remove, crack the shells slightly and return to the ice bath for an additional 5 minutes.  Peel eggs under running water.

Cut the eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks. Transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or wooden spoon. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Do not add salt at this time.  The salmon, the cornichons are quite salty. Cover the mixture and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Before you fill the egg whites taste the mixture and adjust seasoning. If it needs salt add a little at a time. A little salt will go a long way.

You can spoon the mixture into the eggs or use a pastry bag. However this mixture is very corse and you won’t be able to force it through the average decorative pastry tip.  What I’ve done in this video is place the mixture into a ziplock bag, cut off a small corner of the bag and then use the ziplock as a pasty bag to fill the egg whites.  Garnish with thinly slices cornichons or chopped chives.

Gluten-Free Breadsticks

Funny speaker makes breadsticksAfter making the Mezzetta Muffuletta Pizza there was some dough leftover.  It was a simple process to make some breadsticks. I brushed the sticks with Mezzetta Homemade Style Basil Pesto and popped them into the 350 oven until the were a nice medium brown color, about 10-15 minutes.  Let the breadsticks cool and dip them into the pesto. Wow, hard to believe it was a gluten-free bread mix. The Mezzetta Pesto was a coarse mixture and reminded me of pesto chopped instead of put through a food processor.

Funny Speaker and Celebrity Chef makes breadsticksAs with any bread or dough you can make it from scratch or use a mix. For both the Mezzetta Muffuletta Pizza and the breadsticks in this post I used a gluten-free, all-purpose bread mix.  There are a lot of different brands out there but I like the Chebe.  The package size seems perfect for one large pizza or a medium pizza with extra dough leftover for the breadsticks. Plus it’s easy to make.  Just add egg, milk and oil. Adding some grated aged parmesan cheese is a nice touch as well. The amounts are on the back of the package.

Posted by Funny Motivational Speaker and Celebrity Chef Vinny Verelli

The Mezzetta Muffuletta Pizza

Today we’re going to talk about Muffuletta.  Not the nickname they gave to my cousin in 10th grade. This is the sandwich that originated at the Central Grocery in New Orleans. If you like history you can find additional information about this sandwich on Wikkipedia.

The Muffuletta gets its name from the round loaf of bread on which the sandwich is made. It is huge and is often sold as 1/2 or 1/4 size. Here’s a photo of a 1/4 Muffuletta that I got at the The Beignet Connection in Atlanta.

Funny Speaker Vinny talks muffuletta.

1/4 of a Muffuletta

But we’re not going to make a sandwich, we’re going to make a pizza. Like the the sandwich the pizza can be made with many different types of cold cuts or cheeses but in order be be called a Muffuletta it must contain some variety of chopped olive salad or spread.  For my Muffuletta Pizza I used a Mezzetta Olive spread as it contained sun dried tomatoes. I love sun dried tomatoes and the tomatoes helped to make this pie more pizza-like.

The Finished Product Was Delicious – Bread Stick Video to Follow

Gluten Free Turkey Meatloaf

I discovered a new filler to use in this gluten free recipe.  I used Rice Works chips for the last recipe but this time I used Grilled Cheese Puffs. They add an incredible flavor but aren’t as good as the rice crackers for holding the meatloaf together.

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Turkey Meatloaf
4 large servings or 6 normal size.

1 pound ground Turkey **
1 cup cheese substitute if dairy free
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk substitute if dairy free
3/4  cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4  cup dry vermouth
1/4  tsp of salt
1/4  tsp ground pepper
4 oz bag grilled cheddar cheese puffs **
OR… 1 cup of rice crackers.  I like Rice Works Brand
6 slices of bacon

3 Tbls ketchup
3 Tbls  brown sugar
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350. Chop onion, carrot and celery fine and sauté in some olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/4cup vermouth and cook until evaporated. Remove from heat. Combine the turkey, cheese substitute, eggs, milk substitute in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the onion, carrot and celery. Turn onto a baking sheet lined with foil and form into a mold.

Lay strips of bacon along the top and the sides. Place in the 350 degree oven. While the loaf is cooking prepare the glaze by combining the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard.

Cook loaf for 40 to 45 minutes until the bacon looks almost done. Remove from oven and spread the glaze over the top. Return to the oven for an additional 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes to make sure the glaze is not burning. Allow to cool and set for about 5 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.

NOTES: Don’t get the leanest turkey available. You’ll need some fat to hold the loaf together, especially if you’re using the cheese puffs. They’re very tasty but don’t have a lot of holding power.

There is a lot of filler in this recipe (cheese puffs, onion, carrot, celery) and not much fat, so it is not easy to cut. The serrated knife helps.

The recipe doesn’t call for a lot of salt as the puffs or crackers I use have seasoning on them. Better to under salt as this is something that can be added to taste.

After shooting this video I realized I should have been drinking Wild Turkey.
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