What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Old Bay Mayo! First of all, there is no substitute for Old Bay seasoning as a core ingredient in this post. It’s a sacred concoction, invented in the 1940s and respected by Southerners, containing 18 unspecified ingredients. If you try to use Cajun, Jerk, or generic blends, don’t blame me if the results are less than phenomenal. What I can assure is that it taste ah-mazing with shrimp, crab cakes, seafood, and more. Turn Old Bay Mayo into an aioli for sandwiches, dressing for salads, or condiment for meats. I can see you coming up with a dip for french fries, too. Don’t blame me; I’m just the messenger.
OLD BAY MAYO
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed, snipped
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay* seasoning
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, fresh chives, dill weed, lemon zest, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning. Stir until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Serve as a condiment or dipping sauce for seafood.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
“Confidence comes with maturity,
being more accepting of yourself.”
~ Nicole Scherzinger
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Naked Ahi Chop Chop! When you discover fresh raw sashimi, your brain immediately kicks into the “gotta have it” register. At least, that’s the way it was for me. This Japanese delicacy offered a full-flavored high, without the nasty fishiness that can swear you off fish altogether. But here’s the secret: all ahi tuna is not the same. As I learned from my seafood specialist, sashimi-grade is meant to be eaten raw, so it is handled differently, vacuum sealed, and frozen quickly to the correct temperature to keep it safe. Check the labels, of course. Sushi and Sashimi are not the same thing.
NAKED AHI CHOP CHOP
8 ounces sashimi grade ahi tuna
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, sliced
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 tablespoons unagi sauce
Watercress, for garnish
Run the ahi steak under cold water and pat dry. Slice ahi tuna steak with only one stroke of the knife, against the grain. Each segment should be about one inch thick. Arrange on a platter. Add the pickled ginger to enhance the flavor of the sushi. Squeeze wasabi paste onto a dish for a punch of heat, if desired. Add unagi sauce as a sweetened soy sauce. Garnish with fresh watercress. Serve slightly chilled.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Mildly Sweet Red Grouper! Trust your local source for fresh fish. I do. Since the fishermen often eat what they catch, it’s natural to ask them questions about the type of fish they sell. Oftentimes it seems to be different from what is common in the supermarkets. Does that make sense? I can relate to species that “taste like” sea bass, halibut, mahi mahi, swordfish, ahi, or tilapia. Beyond that, I really need some guidance for porgy, grouper, snapper, and hogfish. I tend to lean more toward mildly flavored and subtly sweet flavors. That way I can always default to melted butter and lemon. As they say, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
MILDLY SWEET RED GROUPER
4 red grouper fish fillets
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
In a shallow dish, arrange red grouper in a single layer. Whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, ground ginger, and brown sugar. Pour marinade over red grouper fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the grill to 400°. Remove fish from marinade and place directly on the grill grates. Close lid and cook for 4 minutes until sides are slightly opaque. Discard marinade. Flip the fish and cook 4 minutes longer. Fish will appear charred with grill marks and flake easily. Transfer to a platter. Squeeze fresh lime juice over top. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Legendary Pizza Burger! I’ll never forget my first experience eating a pizza burger. I was probably 16 years old at the time. I worked in a ladies retail clothing store downtown. On my dinner break, I walked across the street where a drugstore had a lunch counter with a grill and fryer. Being a crazy kid who loved anything pizza, I ordered it off the menu. Upon first bite, this white goo began to overflow across my hands to the plate below. My first thought was, “Ohmygosh, this burger is rotten with a slimy white stuff running out of it!” Fortunately my brain kicked in and I realized what I was actually tasting was mozzarella cheese. From that day on, I was a champion for anything pizza burger. And the remarkable afterthought is, now I compare every other menu item pizza burger to it. Unexpected, but true.
LEGENDARY PIZZA BURGER
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
4 brioche buns, split and toasted
1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce, warmed
Fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat gas grill to 350°. In a large bowl, combine lean ground beef, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper. Form mixture into 8 patties. Place one slice of fresh mozzarella cheese into the diameter of a patty. Press another patty on top; pinching together to seal. Repeat until all four patties are formed. Cook directly on the grill. Close lid and grill for 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer pizza burgers to a platter. Serve between brioche buns. Top each pizza burger with a dollop of pizza sauce. Enjoy.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Kalamata Olive Oregano Loaf! Olive-Lovers rejoice. If olives are not in your wheelhouse, no worries. I’ll catch up with you later…….or you could simply substitute sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. Just so you know, olives have heart-healthy fats. I’ve mentioned before how much I love bread. And in the World of Bread, there are so many options: whole wheat, multi-grain, sourdough, flax seed, rye, pumpernickel, focaccia, pretzel, and more. Focus today on the taste of Mediterranean culture where savory bread can be made without yeast. Talk about instant gratification for a weeknight treat. Don’t forget the bread dipping oil. It’s slurp-worthy.
KALAMATA OLIVE OREGANO LOAF
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup Kalamata olive blend, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Line with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and egg whites. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in chopped olives and dried oregano. Spread batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove loaf from pan. Serve slightly warm with seasoned olive oil.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Jumbo Shrimp Over Avocado! Grill marks on food are like a person’s signature tattoo. I don’t know about you, but when I see that food is slightly charred, visions of smoky goodness can cause me to drool. The creaminess of the warmed avocado filled with spicy salsa takes me down a country road to memorable experiences of Mexican favorites. The grilled shrimp is enhanced by the savory herbs, adding tangy flavors seductive to the tongue. Not only is this a quick meal or tempting appetizer, it transforms every cook into a gourmet chef. You should try it.
JUMBO SHRIMP OVER AVOCADO
1 large ripe avocado, halved with pit removed
Fresh lime juice
6 frozen precooked jumbo shrimp, tail on and thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup prepared salsa
Dill sprig, for garnish
Preheat grill to 400°. In a small dish, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning blend, sea salt, and garlic powder. Mix well; set aside. Squeeze lime juice onto both halves of avocado. Brush each avocado, as well as both sides of the shrimp, with the seasoned olive oil. Place directly onto the grill grates. Close lid. Cook the avocados for 4 minutes, or until slightly charred. Cook the jumbo shrimp for 2 minutes. Then flip the shrimp, close the lid, and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer all to a platter. Spoon the salsa into the avocados. Arrange 3 jumbo shrimp over each portion. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve immediately.
“Patience and Perseverance have
a magical effect before which
difficulties disappear and
~ John Quincy Adams