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Monday, October 3, 2011

“Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XV: Vermicelli Pilaf—a Tasty Combination of Rice and Pasta all in One Dish”

The Grateful Dead’s thirty-sixth album, “Hundred Year Hall,” was released in September 1995 and was another retrospective live album that was recorded in Germany during the band’s 1972 European tour.  There is plenty of Pigpen (“Next Time You See Me!”), and the band is in awesome form.  We truly enjoy this 2-CD set and highly recommend it and think you will be delighted with it so please take the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and buy it now! You won’t be disappointed!  Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 445 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

END Commentary 10-04-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1,372.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Tuesday, October 04, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein


 Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XV: Vermicelli Pilaf—a Tasty Combination of Rice and Pasta all in One Dish

Bakersfield, CA, 10-04-2011 T: Here we are, Day Two, of the Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein show! We are going to continue on with our Side Dish Seminar, one of the more important topics we can discuss here at the Elemental News of the Day. Too often, a successful restaurant owner will overlook the most important things: desserts, salads, and side dishes in favor of putting everything into signature entrees.  Yes, signature entrees are important but so are signature desserts, salads, and yes: side dishes.  Side dishes are extremely important and too many times, a restaurateur will serve the same old tired items to his diners over and over again and in time, they will say, “I’m bored going there, let’s go somewhere else.”  That is precisely what they’ll do, they’ll go to the new place that opens up across the street and before long, the old place will be laying off help and wondering what the hell went wrong?

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and if a foodservice operation doesn’t keep up with the times by changing its side dishes and accompaniments, it will most likely close its doors at some point down the line.  The life of most restaurants is generally 1-5 years although some become institutions and go on forever and ever.  Places like those, people will forgive them for whatever reason because they’ve become a part of the “family,” so-to-speak.  But those sorts of places are few and far between and while they can get away with serving atrocious food, most places have to work very hard to keep business coming through their doors.  All one has to do is to look at all of the horrible failures that were once cherished establishments on shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” where the Chef goes in and aids crappy places so that maybe they can become successful again.  And believe it or not, changing the side dishes many times is the correct medicine for bringing back old customers and for bringing new ones in the door. Never ever discount the need for change all of the time and while your cooks may enjoy being mired in the same rut each and every night (cooks are notorious to change), they’re happier when the money is coming in and their paychecks are being paid.  Change your accompaniments! Go fresh! Be adventurous and match your sides to your entrees and you will become well-known!

Our rice for today is one that is good whenever you have a bunch of dry or cooked vermicelli on hand.  We use dry making the original recipe but if you have some cooked, you can cut it up and throw it in the French fryer for a moment and then fold it into the cooked rice.  Otherwise, use dry and do what the recipe says for best results.  This is definitely one you are going to enjoy and it’s a great accompaniment with Italian food.


Yield: 4 servings  / Mis-en-place: 45-60 minutes:

Chicken broth

Whole thyme

Bay leaf

Olive oil

Coil fideo

Jasmine rice

Kosher salt

White pepper

Minced garlic

Whole oregano

Minced chives

Diced celery
Diced carrots
Sliced mushrooms
Freshly minced parsley


1.       Preheat standard oven to 375°F or a convection oven to 325°F (fan on). Combine the first THREE ingredients together in a saucepot and place over a medium flame.  In a second, oven-proof saucepot equipped with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium flame.

2.      When it’s hot, add the crumbled coil fideo (vermicelli pasta) and brown quickly over a medium-high flame.  Stir constantly and then add the rice, salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano.  Increase the heat underneath the liquid and bring it to a rolling boil.  Add the chives and stir.

3.      Taking care to avoid the onrushing steam, pour the liquid into the rice. Increase the heat so that it’s boiling and allow the liquid to reduce to the level of the rice.  Clamp on the lid, boil for another 30 seconds and then place on the middle oven rack of your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid.

4.      Remove the rice from the oven and place upon a cooling rack and remove the lid.  Fluff with a fork and add the blanched vegetables and fluff them in with the kitchen fork.  Add the parsley, fluff, allow the steam to finish escaping and serve.

5.      Note: all rice dishes can be made earlier in the day you plan on serving them or even the day before and then cooled in a shallow pan.  Reheat by doing so in the microwave oven.  You can heat the rice portions up in individual, buttered ramekins for good effect or altogether in a bowl. Do whatever is easiest for you and enjoy.

Vermicelli Pilaf is one of the better rice dishes we have to offer as many folks enjoy good old-fashioned Rice-A-Roni.  Nothing wrong with that and this one is as close as we can get to it.  It’s great for Italian dishes, crunchy pasta and savory rice.

As I informed you yesterday, I have had a great time today and as always enjoy my opportunities to write for the Elemental News of the Day. We urge our readership to write to us and leave comments and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun!

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

This was a good time today, my friends, I always have fun. The funny thing is, like most of the rest of us, I began on the floor of the dining room bussing tables and doing room service for the coffee shop at the hotel in which I worked.  Then, I had a chance to go into the kitchen and become a pantry man which I did for quite a few years and also learned how to cook. I enjoyed working in the kitchen but one day, the opportunity arose that allowed me to go into the bar and to become a bar-back.  At first, I was somewhat apprehensive thinking that I had it made in the kitchen but a cocktail server over there that I liked talked me into doing it.  Then, I had an opportunity to learn how to tend bar and that’s what I ended up doing for about a decade.  This experience allowed me to become a restaurant manager which is what I did for the rest of my career.  However, being a good restaurant manager meant I had to help out in the kitchen every now and then and that is why I know the recipes I do.  The fact of the matter is, NEVER turn down any opportunity to advance or to learn something new as that is what will take you to the level of success you wish to attain!  Anyhow, please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Grateful Dead and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com.  We are allied with them and are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!    

Thank you!

Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

The Chuckster
Restaurant Manager, Mixologist, Foodserver, and Cook

This is a photo of me back in 1973 while being the Food and Beverage Director at one of the hotels in Bakersfield, CA, located on Union Avenue. I was in my late 30's at the time.


END Commentary for Tuesday, October 04, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Recipes created by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein on January 17, 1983 in Taft, CA.



“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!




This is #419, a 24” x 36" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Mermaid Pavilion." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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Magnolia Hilltop Brewers and What's Cookin' Productions Trademark of Quality and Symbol of Integrity. Copyright 10-03-2011, all rights reserved. No unauthorized reproductions of any of this material are permissible unless granted by written permission. Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

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