The Dock at Crayton Cove in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: The Dock at Crayton Cove in Naples, Florida! Open waterfront dining has been drawing people like a moth to flame since 1976. Could it be the tropical paradise setting? Or the splash of a wave against the floating dock stretching out into Naples Bay? What about the low hum of the motor on a distant yacht? It’s not hard to imagine when you are seated at the open-air restaurant sipping on a refreshing cocktail basking in the afternoon breeze. Order a Crayton Cove Cobb Salad. Enjoy it as served or add lump lobster meat for a taste extravaganza. Afterwards take a nice long walk around this “Back Bay” area. It’s seeped in history for the early pioneers as well as the fishing community.

Wild, Wild Ramps

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Wild, Wild Ramps! “We have become foragers!”, my daughter-in-law proudly proclaimed as they walked through the front door. My son extended his hands with a large bouquet of wild ramps, as though they were a dozen long stem roses. “You can eat the tender bulbs as well as the leafy greens!”, they said in unison. Imagine my surprise. Little did I know that every Spring, foodies as well as seasoned chefs embark on a quest to unearth this subterranean gem known as Wild Ramps. What I learned that day is that ramps are simply wild leeks. Their flavor mimics garlic and onion. The fleshy leaves are a savory delight when sautéed in olive oil and butter. I promptly washed and trimmed the precious globular buds before serving them with breakfast. How unexpectedly delicious! It was only later, while traveling, I discovered their value at a farm-to-table restaurant when the waiter boastfully announced Wild Ramps on the menu. My smile said it all.

WILD, WILD RAMPS

1 large bunch wild ramps, skins discarded, washed, and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Using an iron skillet, warm butter and olive oil over medium heat. Swirl 3-4 minutes until slightly browned and nutty. Do not burn. Add the wild ramps. Sauté until pieces are slightly charred and leaves are crispy, turning occasionally. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Bistro 821 in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Bistro 821 in Naples, Florida! Located in the heart of historic Olde Naples along Fifth Avenue, not far from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, Bistro 821 awaits you. Whether you choose a charming indoor table for two or alfresco dining along the thoroughfare, excitement grows among the pulse of activity. Look around; notice the ambiance of European architecture. Peruse the world-class menu as you sip on a crafted cocktail of choice. There’s a lot to be said for enjoying the mood, quality, and atmosphere. These are the times we remember as special. Small plates make great beginnings for a taste of seafood. Graze through a salad as the conversation flows before deciding on a main course entree. Experienced servers are happy to answer any questions you may have. Before the evening comes to a close, save room for dessert, a specialty coffee, or the perfect nightcap.

Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup! Just hearing the word “soup” during the summer months can make someone rolls their eyes enough to make people pay no attention to what is being said. But hear me out. Let me remind you that the silky consistency of melted ice cream actually brings out the flavor more than its frozen counterpart. Right? Well, “vichyssoise” is a French word for velvety smooth potato and leek soup, usually served chilled. When eaten slightly cold, the sheer creaminess is truly divine. Leeks are mild fancy onions, so if you prefer to use yellow sweet onions, permission granted. Personally, for this recipe, I went all out and used both. I also chose Yukon potatoes for their sweet flavor and moist flesh making them fluffy in texture. Make sense? Obviously you can make modifications to suit your palate. Be creative and send me your thoughts.

VICHYSSOISE COLD CREAMIER SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; green and white parts only

2 Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

14 ounces chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the yellow onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the leeks and sauté 5 minutes longer until soft. Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Carefully transfer small batches of soup to a blender. Purée until smooth. Repeat process until no lumps remain. Pour the smooth texture back into the saucepan. Heat to medium. Add light cream and stir. Soup will thicken within 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and then chill for one hour before serving. Pour into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve.

Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida! You’re probably wondering what the big deal is about mentioning “coal oven” in the name of this pizza joint. Basically, it boils down to the deliciousness of a charred crust enclosing a chewy center without overcooking the toppings. You get this from very high, dry heat contained within the oven walls. The coal oven is a little larger than the others, so it holds more pizzas. Makes sense, amirite? There’s nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a pizza pie loaded with extra cheese only to discover the bottom crust is a bit soggy. That’s not going to happen at Tony Sacco’s. In fact, customize your creation like I do. For cheese-lovers, request shredded mozzarella, smoky provolone, grated parmesan, and fresh mozzarella over authentic Italian marinara. The cheese pulls will practically make your mouth drool in public. Slowly wipe your chin. Then garnish a pizza slice with freshly chopped basil and dig in.

Underrated Summertime Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Underrated Summertime Supper! Does anyone have a Himalayan Salt Block besides me? Well, one of the things I like about it is, it can take the guesswork out of adding seasoning to food. It’s a block of pink salt, after all. When serving cold foods like salads, fruits, and cheeses, refrigerate the salt block overnight before using. This helps to keep foods chilled for hours when you need it. Simply arrange the ingredients directly on the block, drizzle on the dressing, and you’re good-to-go. Clean up is easy. Never use soap; salt is naturally antibacterial. Remove food residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse it with a clean swipe, then dab dry. Allow the salt block to air-dry before next use. You’re done.

UNDERRATED SUMMERTIME SUPPER

Ingredients:

4 ounces goat’s milk cheese, plain

1 teaspoon Italian dry mix spice blend

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces mixed greens, washed

1 Roma tomato, chopped

4 assorted mini sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into rings

2 radishes, sliced very thin

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Crusty Artisan Bread

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle Italian dry mix spice blend and red pepper flakes. Form the goat’s milk cheese into a ball. Roll it in the spice mix to cover all sides. Place cheese ball on the chilled Himalayan salt block. Next, arrange mixed greens in a single layer. Arrange Roma tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, radish slices, and red onion rings. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over top. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over salad. Serve with crusty artisan bread.

Pier 22 in Bradenton, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Pier 22 in Bradenton, Florida! Perched on the edge of the Manatee River since the 1920’s, with a panoramic view of the marina and beyond, Pier 22 is a road trip destination to Historic Bradenton that culminates in a fabulous meal on the riverside deck. From casual occasions on the patio to formal celebrations in the ballroom, time spent here becomes a memorable experience. The building itself resembles a charming Mediterranean villa with bobbing bateaux against the distant skyline. Meals are made from scratch, creating art-on-a-plate presentation worthy of the crown. Take your time by enjoying the seafood bounty, the gussied up entrées, the summery cocktails, and the fabulous desserts. No matter the hour or weather, Pier 22 transforms the entire scene into one of life’s perfect moments.

Turmeric Chicken Curry

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.

TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken

1 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup crushed tomatoes

4 teaspoons turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida! Whenever people get the choice to dine outside among potted palms and waterfall fountains, they choose it. The feeling of nature creates a calming atmosphere for casual conversation. Food seems to taste better, too. In essence, it’s almost like a mental vacation to embrace the ambiance. The food choices encompass cravings from Appeteasers to Gourmet Salads to Triple ‘B’ Burgers, Wraps, and Famous Flatbreads. But that’s not all… NFB spotlights a Tap Wall with over 50 domestic and craft beer choices available on a self-serve draft system. You’ll find beers, wines, hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brews, meads, and kombuchas. Seriously, if you’re a food and drink enthusiast, it’s time to check this place out. What have you got to lose?