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

Jalapeño Poppers

chef humorist Vinny Verelli

Peppers seeded and deveined

The jalapeños are popping up more than our sweet peppers so it was time to make some poppers. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I don’t know of any place in New York that stuffed jalapeño peppers with cheeses and bacon, bread them twice and deep fry them. This time of year in Georgia, you can’t go anywhere without seeing them on the menu.
If you go to a pot-luck in the mountains 2 or 3 people will bring poppers. Sissy Reed made the best ones I ever had, the perfect cheese blend stuffed in a pepper and wrapped with bacon, then grilled.

In the past two weeks I tried 3 different recipes as I experimented with the prolific peppers. I didn’t want to fry or bread the poppers and wanted to control the amount of bacon used. The first batch were made with cream cheese, smoked gouda and some cooked bacon (drained and dried) and some spices. If the peppers aren’t deep enough the cheese when melted runs out. It was messy but delicious.
PoppersHalf

The next batch were prepared by coring out the center of the pepper and leaving it whole. You stuff the cheese mixture into the pepper and then place in a special tray to keep the peppers upright. This time I substituted smoked salmon for the bacon. Ate these too quickly to get a photo.

For the last batch I had no bacon or smoked salmon. So I took a can of smoked salmon, drained and added a tablespoon of mayo before adding 4oz cream cheese and 4 oz of smoked gouda along with ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke and some smoked paprika. This mixture was stuffed into the halved peppers. But to keep the melted cheese from running all over the place, I wrapped the stuffed peppers in some phyllo pastry that was getting past it’s prime. I don’t have any photos of them coming out of the oven but I do have a photo of the peppers the next morning after being browned up in a frying pan and served with scrambled eggs.
PopperBreakfastNOTE: I wasn’t sure how if the peppers would cook enough when wrapped in the phyllo so I roasted the stuffed jalapeño halves for about 15 minutes at 350. Let them cool and transferred the mostly cooked peppers onto the phyllo and wrapped them up. I really don’t like working with phyllo dough as you have to keep it moist or it dries out and is impossible to work with. Plus it takes a lot of melted butter.  

Refrigerate any leftover poppers and heat them in a frying pan when you’re ready to eat. No need to add any oil to the pan. Start the heat low and butter will start to flow from the dough and you can cook to a crispy brown.

 

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

Salmon Pinwheels with Scallop Mousse

First Course for Christmas Dinner

What? You made salmon for Christmas? What kind of Jamook makes salmon for Christmas? Relax, I used the dish as the salad course served cold with an herb mayo on a bed of baby spinach. Yum!  I made roast duck for the main course.

In many cultures salmon IS the traditional meal for the holidays. Look up Christmas Salmon and you get between 13-22 million results.  Use “quotes” and the results are down to 8,510. But really, over 8,000 results for “Christmas Salmon.” So I’m not totally pazzesco.  Besides, a cold salmon appetizer is just the thing for Spring.

The complete recipe is coming soon. Can’t find my notes and have to get ready for the American Culinary Federation, Southeastern Conference this weekend in Charleston. Hope to post from the conference. I’m not promising anything.

Cia For Now
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Dining Alfresco

The Hotdog Cart Still Exists But in a World of Gourmet Delights.

Humorous Motivational Speaker Dines Alfresco

The old time carts are still on the streets.

Grabbing a gourmet meal from a truck is all the rage in cities across the country. You’re not limited to hotdogs, you can find anything you want on the streets of New York.

I use to live on pizza slices sold out of a storefront window and hotdogs from a Sabrett cart. Buy a dog, walk two blocks, buy another dog. Over the years I’ve seen the carts become more diverse and sophisticated. But now, the food truck opens up an entire world of gourmet treats.

On a cold day in February I decided to dine alfresco. What a pleasant surprise.

Links to the three trucks I visited on this day.
Hibachi Heaven I read some Yelp reviews the said the chicken was dry. The chicken I had tender and moist. The veggies were crisp and fresh. But it’s the sauce that brings these dishes to life. Yum Yum in deed. At the time of  this posting the Hibachi Heaven site is under construction check them out on Twitter @hibachiheaven

Kimchi Taco I loved this truck and everyone inside. I failed to get their names but you could tell they were enjoying themselves and their warmth was refreshing on a cold day. And the tacos? Their short rib taco was the best taco I have ever had.

Sweetery: The Guy in the cart was tight-lipped and wouldn’t tell me what the best seller way, he was protecting trade secrets. Don’t blame him, the pastries were beautiful and the toasted coconut cookie was fabulous.  It also may have something to do with Sweetery being  part of a, “full-service experimental marketing company.” Not sure what that means but it tastes good.

Post by Vinny Verelli, Humorous Motivational Speaker and Celebrity Chef

Fresh Salmon Cakes

You’ll Never Use Canned Salmon Again

Funny Speaker - Blog

Fresh salmon and herbs, easy and tasty

Look up “Salmon Cakes” on any search engine and most of the recipes call for canned salmon. Guilty as charged. These recipes call for lots of ingredients to mask the taste of salmon from a can.  If fresh salmon isn’t available or affordable at the moment, don’t make salmon cakes.

I don’t know what amazes me more, how easy these Fresh Salmon Cakes were to make or how good they tasted. I know one thing. I’m giving the rest of my canned salmon to the cats.

My mother always worked so she didn’t spend too much time in the kitchen.  As long as you could make a good marinara sauce on Sunday, all was forgiven.Things were different when my grandmother came to visit. She would make salmon cakes.  It was a special day when you opened a salmon.  Add some onion, breadcrumbs, spices and fry them up.  Baked salmon cakes were a treat at Morrison’s.  Fresh Salmon?? Never saw it.

Even today you don’t see Salmon Cakes on restaurant menus. compared to the amount of time you see Crab Cakes.  Every body makes crab cakes. So yesterday I made me some FRESH SALMON CAKES.

This recipe is enough for 5 cakes 4 to serve one to play with. It’s easy to double or even triple the recipe. Serve one cake for an appetizer or 2 for a main course with a salad, boom that’s it.

Buy Salmon with the skin on. It’s not that hard to remove the skin and it doesn’t have to be beautiful as you’re going to chop the salmon up anyway. And the crispy salmon skin is a real treat.

  • 14oz      Fresh salmon with skin on.
  • 1 tbl       Minced parsley
  • 1 tbl       Minced red pepper (I used an orange one cause it was there)
  • 1 tbl       Chives (cause I had them}
  • 1 tbl       Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp      Lemon juice
  • ½ tsp     Dijon mustard
  • ½  tsp    Salt
  • ¼ tsp     Pepper
  • ½          Scallion thinly sliced
  • ½          Shallot minced
  • ¼ cup   Panko bread crumbs or other plain bread crumbs
  • ¼  tsp    Ground chipotle chili pepper (optional)

Remove the skin from the salmon. With a sharp knife cut into the salmon at a slight angle careful not to pierce the skin. With the blade against the skin and the fish, start to shave the meat from the skin.

It's just like shaving if you used a straight razor

It’s just like shaving if you used a straight razor

Cut the salmon up into 1 inch cubes and place into a food processor. Pulse the salmon in 2 batches to have better control over the consistency. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the salmon up into little pieces.

In a separate mixing bowl combine all the other ingredients. Add the chopped salmon and fold everything together. Use a 1/3 cup measure to portion the salmon mixture. There should be 4 cakes with enough mixture left over to experiment with. Put about a cup of Panko on a plate and gentle pat all sides of the salmon cake to coat. Over a medium high heat fry the cakes on each side until dark brown careful not to burn them.

Serve with lemon wedge and a couple of salmon skin strips (see below). Using tarter sauce is a crime with these delicacies. Save the sauce for your fish sticks.

Crispy Skin StripsCrispy Salmon Skin

On a parchment lined baking sheet brush a small amount of sesame oil onto the outside of the salmon skin and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Place in a 325° oven for about 25 minutes or until the skin is hard to the touch. Take out of the oven and let cool. You may want to set on a paper towel to absorb some of the fat.

Cut into strips and garnish the salmon cakes.

These delicacies are so simple and so delicious.

Posted by Vinny Verelli

Humorous Motivational Speaker and
Celebrity Chef.

National Pistachio Day

February 26th is National Pistachio Day.
Don’t ask, I just know.

Funny Speaker on National Pistachio Day

The Incredible Edible Nut

My first experience with  the, “Happy nut” was on my first and only visit Monkey Jungle.  One summer in the late 50s my family took a vacation to Miami. It was a long hot drive without Interstates but my brother and I made the most of it. With no pesky seatbelts to restrain us, we had the entire backseat and the ledge above the back seat to play, fight and sleep. The highlight was Monkey Jungle.

Funny Speaker on National Pistachio Day

This Post Card Sold on eBay for $23

Funny Speaker on National Pistachio Day

These days you don’t see the dyed pistachios that often

The park had gumball machines filled with pistachios so you could feed the monkeys. My father gave my brother and me four nickels, two sticks of gum and some lint and told us to have fun. I tasted one of the bright red nuts after my brother told me I had to take the shell off first. It was delicious. Now it was one for the monkey, two for me then all for me. When I told my brother that we had to get more money from dad he started to laugh because he knew what was coming. My father wanted to know how we had gone through 20¢ worth of nuts so quickly.  I told him the monkeys were hungry. He did one of those things were he cocked his head to the left and raise the back of his right hand. The next words out of my mouth had to be chosen with care. It was at this point I could never lied to my father, because I didn’t want to know what happened next. Besides it became clear as my mother went into her purse for a hand-full of Kleenex, I had been caught red-handed and red-faced.

Looking Like Audrey II From  Little Shop of Horrors.

Looking Like Audrey II From Little Shop of Horrors.

I digress. The pistachio and its health benefits. The pistachio has been shown to reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol. They are also a good source of protein and fiber.

This may sound nutty, but the pistachio can be used as part of a weight loss program.  This of course is due to the “Pistachio Principle” which pretty much says that the act of shelling and eating pistachios one by one slows down your consumption, allowing you to feel full faster after having eaten less. Learn more about this incredible edible at the Pistachio Health Website.

And by the way, “Monkey see, monkey do?” No so much. Monkeys will pretty much do anything they want. I made a face at a monkey and rather than copy my expression the caged primate spat at me. They weren’t as kind to my brother.

Posted by Funny Motivational Speaker and Celebrity Chef Vinny Verelli.

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