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


Chefs & Their Tattoos

I recently returned from the American Culinary Federation Convention in Kansas City. I was so totally humbled by the talent that was represented from all over the country. It also made me realize how much has changed in the food business.

My first restaurant gig was 1970 at the Top of the Hub, 52 floor of the Prudential Building, Boston. I was a fry cook. They hired me because — I showed up for the interview. I mean fry cook, right? Someone gives you something, you put it in the grease and then take it out before it burns. It’s not rocket science.

There isn’t much I haven’t done in a restaurant. Front of the house, back of the house, back of the walk-in. Everything from Slinging hash to tossing pizza, from salad prep to charcuterie chef. But it’s been 28 years since I’ve been on a kitchen line and a lot has changed.

The Biggest change I’ve noticed, tattoos. This is especially noticeable among the younger chefs. At the ACF Convention I did an informal survey with un scientific results. I wanted to see if there was any pattern that could be devised.

Okra and Garlic

Okra and Garlic

One man I met had a tattoo of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. One man had two I CHING – hexagrams, ancient Chinese text on his forearm. One was the symbol for “OVEN” the other was for “MOUTH.” He talked about feeding the world and then he got all esoteric on me and my eyes started to glaze over.

One chef had two concentric circles on the palm of his hand. What, I asked, is the symbolism? The smaller inner circle, he said. was a teaspoon and the larger outer circle was a tablespoon. Practical.

I spoke woman just out of culinary school who had a beautiful tattoo of a chef’s knife with the words written in script, “Mise en Place.” A french phrase for putting in place. In the cooking world it is the the area that has all the stuff you need on a regular basis during your shift. She said it was a constant reminder to keep her shit together


Chef Jeff Morris’ Goonies Tattoo

Jeff Morris, chef/owner of The Copper Pot in Clarkesville, GA has an incredible tattoo. It is is not food oriented but is a tattoo of substantial meaning to him. His entire right arm is a storyboard for the 1985 Richard Donner film, “Goonies.” He was 8 years old when he first saw the movie and it obviously had a huge effect on him. There is only so much real estate on your body for ink so one needs to put some thought into what tattoos you’re getting. The photo here is just the upper arm. Down the rest of his arm and and forearm are other iconic images from the movie: The treasure map, the waterfall, the wishing well, the doubloon that was used to align clues, an image of Sloth with a pirate hat and of course the slogan, “Goonies Never Say Die.” True dedication.

And by the way, if you’re ever in North Georgia, make your way over to the Copper Pot for a great Lunch, Dinner or Sunday Brunch. They also have a full bar which is not always easy to find in the mountains of North Georgia.

Are you a chef? Do you have a tattoo? Tell me about it. Many more things have changed in the restaurant business and in the coming weeks I’ll be posting more of my observations.

Ciao For Now

Primal Pizza Perfume Produced

I am thrilled and at the same time horrified.

Love the smell of pizza but really, a pizza perfume?  When I heard about Eau de Pizza Hut, I thought the story was something reported by the “Onion.”  But there it was on Pizza Hut’s facbook page.   The post had over 500 comments and 8,575 likes. The comments, mostly single word replies, ranged from elation to sarcasm to insults.  Me?  I really don’t think I’m in a position to make comments without actually smelling the perfume and experiencing it first hand.

Funny Speaker on Pizza Hut Perfume.

Funny Motivational Speaker & Celebrity Chef weighs in on the new pizza fragrance.

Pizza Hut isn’t the first food fragrance. Burger King introduced “FLAME” in 2009. Not sure if it’s still around and don’t really care. Although I like the smell of beef over an open flame I’m not sure I’d spray or rub it on my body. This is how the fragrance was described by Burger King. “The WHOPPER® sandwich is America’s Favorite burger. FLAME™ by BK® captures the essence of that love and gives it to you. Behold the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame broiled meat.”

The release of promotional perfumes are merely cute PR ploys to grab some media attention. But food smells are big business. There are companies that specialize in scenting systems. From the koolfog website, “Fragrances can be matched to almost anything including your favorite food. When people smell food they get hungry and subtle ‘suggestions’ through fragrance can help spur sales of almost anything.” koolfog produces scents like Apple Pie and Cinnamon Bun, Sage & Onion and Danish Blue Cheese.

I know that when I smell food or even hear someone talk about food I get hungry. When  Amy Wenham posted, “I WANT IT!!! Oh my god! It’s my dream to smell like pizza! I want to BE the pizza!” I had to stop reading.

Funny Speaker comments on FLAME

The FIRE MEETS DESIRE website is no longer up.

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.