National Lasagna Day!

Today, August 04, is National Lasagna Day

Lasagna is one of my favorite Italian dishes. In honor of National Lasagna Day I reposting a video for my version of Lasagna Bolognese. It’s made with a rich sauce that include Sweet Italian sausage and bacon. The sauce cooks for hours concentrating the flavors making this lasagna the best you’ve ever had. Yes, it’s better than your grandmother’s lasagna. 

The complete recipe and notes are available on the original post:




National Dry Martini Day

June 19 – Celebrating A Classic

I just got off a cruise and there were 3 different “Mixology” classes. We tasted 9 different “Martinis.” None of them remotely resembled an actual martini. Today any libation strained into a cocktail class can be called a martini. I’m an old fashion type of guy and I’m often reminded how old I am when I have to explain how to make a martini to a bartender.

This is an actual exchange between myself and a young person tending a bar.

ME:  I’d like a Tanqueray Martini up.
BT:   Gin? Do you still want olive juice
ME:   No, I’d like vermouth.
BT:   (Slowly) Okay, you want me to put the vermouth in the glass then pour it out?
ME:   No, I’d like you to put the vermouth in and leave it.
BT:   You mean like an ingredient?

Look if you want to drink chilled vodka with olive juice, knock yourself out, just don’t call it a martini.  In this video I made last year you’ll see how to make a classic gin martini.

Drink Responsibly or stay home and drink.
Ciao Fro Now

Gnocchi – Easiest Meal Ever

Thanks to Costco
You Can Make This Meal in Under 30min

People are always asking me, “When are you going to prepare something simple, something I can make.”  They are not interested in mousse, or coq au vin, or beef wellington.  I like a challenge, I like making things I haven’t made before but have always wanted to make. Don’t get me wrong, you serve me beans and franks, I’ll eat beans and franks. I’m just not going to blog about it.

Funny Speaker Makes Gnocchi

All ingredients used, including the vodka, are from Costco

Below is a video and a recipe for, Gnocchi in a creamy roasted red pepper and tomato vodka sauce. Wait. That was the hard part. Saying all that with a straight face. Thanks to Costco this dish is incredibly easy to prepare. But it’s a dish that will impress the most discriminating palate.  I say thanks to Costco because everything that went into this recipe was stuff I had on the shelf, in large quantities.

First of all, if you’re not tying to impress anyone, you can simply heat up the soup and pour it over your favorite pasta. Bada Bing, that’s it. That’s what I did the first time, But while you’re waiting for the water to boil, you might as well play with the soup

For 2 large servings or 4 first course servings

• One pouch gnocchi
• 16 oz. Pacific Brand Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (half a carton)
• 1 can diced tomatoes drained
• 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small onion chopped fine
• 1.5 oz Vodka
• Grated Parmigiano

Place pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Put a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil in a fry pan. Use a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. What does that mean, “Extra Virgin?” You got one too many virgins? I use the Kirkland Signature brand imported extra virgin olive oil which got a very high rating in Consumer Reports.

Sautee the onions over a medium high heat until soft. The soup is sweet to begin with so you don’t need to cook the onions too long. When the onions are to your liking, add the vodka pouring at arms length. DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE OVER THE PAN. That seems obvious to me but you have to say it. If you’re cooking with gas, merely tilt the pan so the fame comes in contact with the vodka. If you are using an electric stove, use one of those long matches you use for lighting a fire, or grill. Shake the pan until the flames die down. When the flames die down, add the soup and a can of diced tomatoes, drained. Stir everything together.

The water probably has yet to boil. So pour you a glass of red wine and grate some aged Parmigiano Reggiano. If you like a cheesier sauce you can add up to 1/2 Cup of grated cheese directly to the sauce as it’s cooking.

These gnocchi from Costco is imported from Italy and comes in a box of four. It only takes 6 minutes once placed in the boiling water. Drain the gnocchi and add it to the sauce. You can put up to a ½ cup of grated cheese into the sauce if you’d like but it does make the pan harder to clean.

Plate the pasta and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top. For a classy touch add a chiffonade basil. This is the perfect time to use some fresh basil chiffonade. Chiffonade is French for “little ribbons.” You make the ribbons by stacking some large basil leaves then roll them up tightly then making thin slices against the roll. This is also the perfect use for a Santoku knife. Basil is one of those herbs that change taste and character the more you play with it. A larger knife bruises the leaf and the color turns a dark color and it doesn’t make for as nice a garnish.

NOTE: The audio pronunciation guide at Webster’s online dictionary as well as pronounce Gnocchi as, “nock-ee,” but it’s pronounced like I say it in the video. The “GN” is almost like an “n” before a “y”, with the “n” almost silent. The “Oh” sound is long, n’yo-kee.

Posted by humorous motivational speaker and celebrity chef, Vinny Verelli

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 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

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.

The Pizza Chronicles Part One

•  New York Pizza – What is it?

Funny Motivational Speaker's Pizza Chronicles

A Hot NYC Wood Fired Pizza Oven in the East Village.

In New York we call it pizza. Outside of the City, it’s called, “New York Pizza.” All across the country restaurants are trying to emulate the style and convince customers they have New York Pizza. Impossible.

New York pizza is pizza you get in New York. Ergo, If you’re in Georgia and make the best pizza on the planet, it’s not New York pizza, it’s Georgia Pizza. Just being literal. Part of what makes New York Pizza so good is that you’re eating it whilst in New York. You can be in any of the boroughs and still enjoy great New York Pizza.

There are two classic types of New York pizza. New Yorkers are always on the go, even if they don’t have anywhere to go. Grab a slice from a front window and you’re on your way. There was a time in the Mid 70’s when I was living on slices that cost me 40¢ each. Yes, I’m that old. This New York pizza consists of sauce and cheese on a thin crust that is soft but not doughy. Just fold and eat and you’re on your way. They are cooked in ovens designed for pizzas in either gas or electric. The Blodgett Ovens I’ve worked with most often were usually set to 550 degrees.

The other New York classic is wood or coal fired pizza. This has an even thinner crispier crust that is charred on the bottom due to the intense heat. If the thought of burnt crust turns you off, stay away from an oven that can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees cooking a pizza in 90 seconds.

Although pizzas were sold in American cities with large Italian populations for years, it was Gennaro Lombardi in 1905 who opened the first pizzeria on Spring Street in Little Italy.

Funny Motivational Speaker

Vinny and Friend in front of the original pizza oven in 2005 to celebrate Lombardi’s centennial.

Lombardi’s signature pizza is the Margherita. The thin crust is brushed with olive oil, covered with a San Marzono tomato sauce and topped with fresh mozzarella and basil. I say YES to garlic! This is a simple pie where the fresh ingredients blend subtly and don’t assault your mouth.

Vinny Verelli’s Pizza Chronicles
by Funny Motivational Speaker Vinny Verelli