Very Cheddar Potato Gratin

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Very Cheddar Potato Gratin! It’s no secret some of us have a love affair with cheese. It’s not enough to sprinkle a handful of cheese on top of scalloped potatoes before sliding them into the oven. Sometimes you have to be downright sneaky about it. And you can blame me for it, if need be. By hiding grated cheese between two layers of sliced potatoes, and then sprinkling more cheese across the top of these mini casseroles, you not only guarantee a cheesy, ah-mazing dish, you have one that is comfort-food all the way to your favorite spot on the couch. Now where’s the remote?

VERY CHEDDAR POTATO GRATIN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Everything But Bagel seasoning

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray single two serving pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, light cream, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, and thyme. Mix well. Layer half the potatoes in the prepared dishes. Sprinkle half the cheese over each; divide half the liquid over top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, cheese, and broth. Transfer cookware to a baking sheet. Cover each pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender when tested with a knife. The top will be crispy. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Cool slightly before serving.

Unfinished Pecan Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Unfinished Pecan Pie! Before you ask…No, this pie is not made with raw dough and there’s no ingredient missing from the recipe. The “unfinished” word in the title simply means you may choose to eat it as is OR top it with sweetened whipped cream, buttery streusel, or caramel sauce. The choice is yours. ‘Course if I wanted to be snarky, I could say it is unfinished because there’s still a piece or two left in the pie plate. Any takers?

UNFINISHED PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, refrigerated

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 eggs, room temperature

2 cups pecan halves and pieces

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick oil. Unfold pie crust and ease into plate, pressing firmly against the bottom and sides. Fold and roll pastry edges under, even with the rim of the plate. Flute edges or press with fork tines. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, sea salt, and eggs. Beat with an electric hand mixer until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake 40-50 minutes or until center is set. Allow to cool for two hours. Slice and Serve.

Tripletail Fish Fillet

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Tripletail Fish Fillet! No, this fish species does not actually have three tails, like its name implies. It does, however, have three rounded fins on the back end of its body that make it appear that way. Pretty cool, huh? It tends to swim in tropical waters, or float on top of the water giving it an appearance of a dry leaf drifting along on a wave. Perhaps the tripletail’s ancestors were the original hippies of the sea, back in the day. You know, hanging out with aquatic mermaids and other interesting water nymphs. But I digress. If you’re wondering how tripletail taste, it’s kinda like grouper or snapper: naturally firm, flaky, and sweet. You should try it.

TRIPLETAIL FISH FILLET

Ingredients:

12-ounce triple tail fish fillet

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Green Onions, chopped

Instructions:

Wash the fish fillet; pat dry. Place in a shallow dish. In a separate bowl, combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ground ginger, garlic powder, and chopped green onion. Mix well. Pour the marinade over the fish; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Preheat the gas grill to 400°. Transfer triple tail fish directly to the grill grates. Close lid and cook for 4 minutes. Discard marinade. Turn fish and cook 4 minutes longer, with lid closed. Serve over a bed of Chinese fried rice.

Smoked Mahi Fish Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Smoked Mahi Fish Dip! If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste Florida’s smoked fish dip, you must add it to your list of interesting foods. It has a creamy texture accented by a rich smoky flavor. Did you just wrinkle your nose at the word “Fish”? Hold on a sec, because we’re not talking about pungent canned tuna here. The fish that is used has white flesh, is pretty mild and actually sweet tasting, so it balances beautifully with a citrusy kick that will entice you to another mouthful. Try it in a restaurant or seafood diner first. Then come back for this recipe and make it yourself. Without reservations.

SMOKED MAHI FISH DIP

Ingredients:

2 8-ounce smoked fillets of mahi-mahi, skin removed

1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped

Instructions:

Flake smoked mahi-mahi fish into 1/2” chunks in a bowl. Set aside. In a larger bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and white pepper. Mix until smooth. Add sliced scallions, chopped dill, and capers. Gently stir. Fold in smoked mahi-mahi until incorporated. Do not over mix. Small chunks will keep the dip from turn mushy. Chill slightly. Spread the smoked fish dip over crackers or toasted baguettes.

Red Pepper Bruschetta Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Red Pepper Bruschetta Pasta! I truly enjoy perusing Italian gourmet markets. There’s something charming and romantic about choosing a jar of private-label olive oil, flavored balsamic vinegar, house roasted red pepper bruschetta, or four-fruit jam. An extensive collection of imported products can send my mind spinning as I begin to salivate with serving ideas. There are often aromas of freshly baked bread, smoked and cured meats, unique deli offerings, an antipasto bar, pizza nook, and fresh burrata station. San Marzano tomatoes always seem to make it into my cart as well as olive tapenades and basil pesto or marinated artichoke hearts. Before you leave, don’t forget a nice bottle of Chianti.

RED PEPPER BRUSCHETTA PASTA

Ingredients:

8 ounces spaghetti pasta

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/3-1/2 cup red pepper bruschetta, prepared

Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta in salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta in a colander. Transfer cooked pasta back to the pot. Add prepared red pepper bruschetta mixture. Gently toss; heat through. Using tongs, place spaghetti clusters into a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Quick Egg Salad Subs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Quick Egg Salad Subs! Lucky for you, egg salad is a no-brainer when it comes to a fulfilling lunchtime meal. It’s quick, basic Cooking 101, and all you need as additives are salt and mayo. Now if you happen to have celery, onions, mustard, or pickles in the back of the fridge, you can elevate this sammie to a level fit for the royals. For me, brioche buns carry enough natural sweetness, are chewy, and serve as a gourmet vessel for all that chunky, flavorful deliciousness. Serve with a side of kettle chips.

QUICK EGG SALAD SUBS

Ingredients:

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 rib celery, finely chopped

1 teaspoon scallion, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 brioche split-top sub buns, toasted

Watercress, for garnish

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine hard-cooked eggs, mayonnaise, finely chopped celery, minced scallion, kosher salt, and celery seed. Stir until completely mixed. Divide between 2 brioche sub sandwiches. Garnish with fresh watercress.

Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Pork Tenderloin Chimichanga! If you want to step up your game from an ordinary burrito, but really prefer the flavor of crispy fried foods, there are healthier ways to accomplish it without a deep fryer. Anyone who owns an air fryer will attest to that. I haven’t purchased this countertop convection yet, although my new kitchen does have the option on the built-in wall unit. The one time I tested it produced a charred burn mark on the wooden cutting board afterwards. The jury is still out if I’ll make another attempt at it. These chimichangas are baked in the oven and deliver golden brown crunchy results. Tried-and-True techniques go a long way in my book.

PORK TENDERLOIN CHIMICHANGA

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups pork tenderloin, cooked and shredded

2/3 cup medium picante sauce, prepared

1/3 cup green onions

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 flour tortillas

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup Mexican blend cheeses, shredded

Lettuce, tomatoes, onions

Ranch dressing, prepared

Fresh lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, combine shredded pork tenderloin, picante sauce, green onion, ground cumin, dried oregano, and sea salt. Simmer 5 minutes to heat through and allow most of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat. Brush both sides of a flour tortilla with melted butter. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture into the center; top with 2 tablespoons Mexican blend cheese. Fold 2 sides over filling; fold ends down. Place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve lettuce fixings drizzled with ranch dressing. Garnish with lime wedges.

Old Bay Mayo

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Naked Ahi Chop Chop

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

Ingredients:

8 ounces sashimi grade ahi tuna

2 tablespoons pickled ginger, sliced

1 teaspoon wasabi paste

2 tablespoons unagi sauce

Watercress, for garnish

Instructions:

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.