National Guacamole Day

This delectable dish is so good it’s got 2 Days on the food calendar. 

Chef/Humorist makes Guacamole

Simple fresh ingredients – National Guacamole Day; September 16 & November 14

Guacamole has its roots in Aztec culture as early as 500 B.C., when the native peoples would mash the avocados which were everywhere with a mortal and pestle called a molcajete. They would add tomatoes and salt to make a food accompaniment.

Of course in the last 2500 years or so there have been some variations on this recipe,  there are a million different recipes on line 90% the same some trying to be different for the sake of being different, making it hot for the sake of making it hot. Most of the stuff you add masks the subtle flavor of the avocado. Of course in the south they will use mayonnaise to add fat the fruit that has the most fat of any other. What’s up with that?


The guacamole I’m going to make has simple fresh ingredients inside and a few more on the outside that people can use to customize their experience.

I’m gonna use ripe avocado, some minced onion, some seeded and chopped tomatoes. Since I like a smoky flavor I’m just going to add a couple dashes of chipotle pepper, a dash of smoked paprika and about a tsp of adobo. Sprinkle some fresh coarsely chopped cilantro on top and turn altogether. I don’t like to mush everything, I want to see my ingredients. What you see you can taste.

A lot of recipes call for lime. Lime does help stabilize the color but again it can mask the flavor. If my avocado is not fully ripe I will add some lime as a harder avocado doesn’t have the same flavor. If you’re going to let the sauce sit, and I like to give the flavors a chance to meld, cover with cling wrap pressing the wrap onto the surface of the guac. This keeps the air out. It’s the oxidation that turns the avocado brown. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before you eat it. Remove the wrap and If anything turns brown it’s just going to be the top layer so gently stir the pot and no one will be the wiser.

One variation I do when I need to stretch the product is to incorporated roasted sweet red and green peppers. You can’t use hot peppers to increase volume cause a little bit goes a long way.

Serve the sauce with organic, gluten free non GMO chips and sides of, lime, your favorite hot sauce, and additional salt and finely chopped cilantro. Enjoy with a margarita.

Ciao For Now

Summer Salads

Just Add Lettuce

There are several varieties of lettuce that are looking and tasting great and we’ve been having salads for lunch and dinner. If we got up early enough to eat breakfast we’d probably have a morning salad as well. We can’t give it away fast enough so we’re making complete meals of salads.

Here are two of our favorites.

The Cobb Salad

funny speaker vinny verelli

The Ingredients.

Sharp cheddar, pickled beets, tomatoes, avocado, chicken and very thick bacon. The hard boiled eggs were placed in the jar of pickled beets for an hour to give them the red color. Leave them in for a day and the red goes deeper into the egg whites. We used a Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing.

Just Add Lettuce
Cobb Salad_close_post

Smoked Salmon Salad

Funny Speaker and celebrity Chef Vinny Verelli

The Ingredients. 

Smoked Gouda, hard boiled egg, capers, yellow pepper, pimento from a jar, chopped onion and smoked salmon. We used Annie’s Shiitake Sesame Vinaigrette. All the ingredients can be adjusted to your tastes.

Just Add Lettuce.
SalmonSalad_post

What Chefs Cook For Chefs

American Academy of Chefs Gala Dinner: Part 2

As a follow up to my post of May 6 here are some photos and descriptions of the food served at the Daniel Islands Club on Monday, April 28, 2014 for the American Academy of Chef’s Gala Dinner.

FriedOyster.sm Duck.sm

settingAfter 8 appetizers from She Crab Soup to Caviar, from Smoked Duck with Port Cherries, to Southern Fried Oysters. Not to mention Alabama Crab Cakes, Blackened Shrimp and Pork Rillette with Peach Confit, we were ushered into the dining room. The place setting spoke volumes as what awaited us. Not since my meal at the James Beard House in New York had I savored as delectable and decadent a meal.

 

 

salmon mousseBig flavor in a tiny package. The banquet began with Smoked Salmon Mousse with BBQ potato chip and chive oil. The chips were bursting with flavor and would have overpowered the delicate mousse  had I eaten then together.  I savored tiny tastes of the salmon’s followed by the crispy chips. Served with a Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Vally 2012

 

henNext came Guinea Hen on a Foie Gras, Celery Root & Wild Mushroom Duxelle. I was thinking I could make an entire meal of this, but we were just getting started.

Served with a Wild Horse Pino Noir, Central Coast 2012

 

 

 

scallopsThe Fish course was a cast iron seared jumbo scallops with a lump crab fava bean succotash.

Served with a Clos D Bois “Calcaire” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2010

 

 

lambThe main course was a domestic lamb sous vide with a Merlot Demi with smoked Yukon potato au gratin and Lavender Heirloom Carrot. I meant to ask how long the lamb bathed before it was seared to perfection, but my mouth was full.

Served with a Hoge “Genesis” Merlot, Columbia Valley 2011

 

saladIn traditional Continental fashion the salad was served after the main course to aid with digestion. It was an Arugula Salad with Fried Green Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Black Eye Pea Vinaigrette.
No wine was served with the salad.

 

 

desertFor dessert, Dulcey Mousse, Roasted Vanilla Bean Biscuit, Rasberry & Cocoa Nib. In addition a tray of petifores was passed.

Served with a Rober Mondavi Moscato D’Oro, Napa Valley 2012

 

 

A big thank you to all the chefs and staff of the Daniel Islands Club in Charleston, SC for this amazing culinary experience.

 

Curried Tuna Salad

What could be easier than making tuna salad?  Okay, peanut butter and jelly, but that’s because you don’t have to open a can. Believe me, there were days in my youth when I would open a can of generic tuna and mix a couple of packets of mayonnaise that I lifted from Burger King. That was lunch… or dinner depending on what time it was. Didn’t always know where my next meal was coming from.

Things changed when I started working at restaurants.  My first restaurant job was in 1970 at the Top of the Hub in Boston. Working nights however was cutting into my party time and I was missing out on some major fun.  I quit and got a day job working at the B&R Deli, in Roxbury in time to see Janis Joplin at Harvard Stadium for two bucks.  It was a simpler time.

funny Keynote Speaker curried tuna

My good friend Ron Morecraft did the photos for the cookbook.

From 1976 until 1985 I worked at the Soho Charcuterie in New York City and was a model employee. Good and fast at what I did plus I showed up on time.  And in turn the owners gave me great freedom and responsibility.

I could leave  (with notice) for months at a time and when I got back, I’d have a job cooking brunch the very next Sunday. By the middle of the following week, I’d picked up a couple of shifts and after two weeks I was working as many hours as I wanted.

The turnover in the restaurant business is seriously high. People get burned out, wacked out and spaced out. Some people just suck. Others find a better if not different restaurant to go to and some, get cast in a show.

One of the positions I held was doing prep for the Salad Chef. The Charcuterie had a large deli case full of salads, pates and deserts.  I would bake then skin the chicken breasts, chop the shallots and make the tarragon mayo that was mixed with the chicken.  The curried tuna salad recipe below is inspired by the one we made at the Charcuterie. I didn’t do the math, but as far as I can tell it’s gluten free.

Recipe written below the video:

Curried Tuna Salad
3 cans tuna, solid white, packed in water
4 stalks celery chopped fine
4 scallions chopped fine with the greens
1 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 – 6 oz Major Grey chutney depending on how sweet you like the salad.
    The better the chutney the better the final product
1/2 cup raisins
1 apple chopped fine (optional)

1/2 cup (cause I like them) toasted pine nuts for garnish
1 additional chopped scallion for garnish

Mix the chopped scallion and celery into the mayo. Add the curry powder, cumin, salt and chutney and stir.  Add the curry mayonnaise to the drained canned tuna and fold in the raisins. Spoon the salad onto lettuce leaves and garnish with additional chopped scallions and toasted pine nuts. Add some sliced tomatoes and serve it up. Also makes a great sandwich.