Quick Savory Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Quick Savory Butter! For some time now we’ve gotten pretty spoiled by restaurants, bistros, and cafés serving compound butter with the artisan bread basket. You almost hear us clapping our hands as we sink our teeth into the savory herbs or sweet concoctions. I know it makes me feel special. Chefs have been creating compound butters for years, though. It’s one of the ways they save time and add a level of sophistication for the customer. In my own kitchen, I found it’s best to begin with unsalted butter. That way I can add just enough sea salt to tease the palate. Lemon, believe it or not, adds a hint of flavor that embellishes steak or seafood. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Although I began smearing this combination on rolls and crackers, I couldn’t resist warming it to pour over a bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Talk about gourmet!

QUICK SAVORY BUTTER

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with lemon juice. Add garlic powder and sea salt; stir. Fold in fresh rosemary and parsley leaves. Mix until combined. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto sheet. Roll the waxed paper over butter to form a log. Roll tight and twist both ends. Refrigerate one hour or until firm.

Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs, Florida! On your way back from the beach when you’re feeling as hungry as a shark and parched beyond feeling, make a stop at a friendly bar where open-air dining makes a spirit soar like a hot air balloon, no pun intended. The pub-style grub offers a delicious variety of flavors. It’s family-friendly and sits on the palm-lined main drag on Bonita Beach Road. It’s fairly new, since Covid anyway, but casual enough to feel like a neighborhood hangout. Get the taste of homemade with a southwest Florida twist. Take it from me, the grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy with a tangy Remoulade Sauce, toasted sub roll, fresh lettuce, and salty tomatoes did not disappoint. It’s Shrimpolicious.

Presto, Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Presto, Pesto! The garden went wild this year with an abundance of basil. I mean, you can only dry so much. Granted, I happen to like fresh basil with anything tomato, but not everyone agrees. So, this time I threw together a couple cups of basil leaves with my favorite pairing: parmesan cheese! Pesto freezes well, so it can be stored in an airtight container, or initially, ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags for later on. Always defrost in advance. Pesto tastes best served at room temperature or only slightly warmed. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Mix it into salad dressing or guacamole; the olive oil creates a smooth texture. Add a dollop to your evening vegetables, pasta noodles, or meat dish. Get creative and go Pesto!

PRESTO, PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse to blend; approximately 30 seconds. Slowly pour the olive oil into the top of the lid while the blade is on the Low setting. The olive oil will drizzle through the little hole for smooth results. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Stir. Transfer pesto to a covered jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Rosati’s Pizza in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Rosati’s Pizza in Estero, Florida! You learn a lot about a business by talking to the owners. Perhaps that is why I sometimes visit a restaurant in the off hours of the day. You are more apt to find the owners working face-to-face with customers. Rosati’s Pizza is owned and operated by a family who not only strives for perfection, but also cares about the people who walk through their door. When they expanded their business in Estero for dine-in service, Covid hit with a vengeance and caused them to shift to delivery and carry-out service only. That takes a chunk out of overhead, which translates to selling a boatload of pizza. Yet, they endured. And thrived because they do things the old-fashioned way: like sourcing local ingredients, fresh mozzarella, and homemade crusts. Their story goes all the way back to the first pizzerias in Chicago; Italian roots to the core. So proud, they live by the motto, “We don’t cut corners, just slices of pizza.” Dine in, smell the aromas, chat with the staff, and over-order so you have extra servings for leftovers. Don’t forget to add a jar of the Hot Giardiniera. It is ah-mazing!

Oven Roasted Golden Peaches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Oven-Roasted Golden Peaches! Forget about cleanup of baking sheets by utilizing a perfect nonstick solution. Parchment paper. Never confuse it with wax paper, though, which will smoke in the oven. That’s a big mistake. Parchment paper is made to withstand oven temperatures during the baking or roasting process. Not only that, parchment paper contains a release agent that prevents foods from sticking to it. Bonus points, in my opinion. Because we’re covering the sliced peaches with pure maple syrup, you can imagine how difficult that would be to scrape off the pan once it’s baked in. May as well throw the pan away and buy another. Or…you could do what I did the first time I baked a galette. My husband took his sander tool and ground the petrified sugar off. Hey, don’t judge me. It was my favorite baking sheet. Still is.

OVEN-ROASTED GOLDEN PEACHES

Ingredients:

3-4 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced peaches in a single layer, without touching. Drizzle with melted butter and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then flip peaches over. Spoon excess sauce over peaches. Bake 10 minutes longer. Serve warm with sea salt caramel ice cream.

Vergina Restaurant in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Vergina Restaurant in Naples, Florida! Italians are known for their food culture as well as their leisurely meals. Located on 5th Avenue, a few steps away from the Sugden Civic Theater, is a great place for meeting people. It’s known as Vergina’s. The neo-classic architecture provides lovely patio dining as well as intimate gatherings inside along the u-shaped bar or at tables located throughout. Vergina’s crafted martinis by personable bartenders, an euphoric wine list, memorable cocktails, and leisurely Italian courses are reasons enough to stop by for social interaction or that weekly “date night”. Unwind where the music is lively, without drowning out personal conversations, and the appetite is fully sated.

No-Fuss Turkey Gravy

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: No-Fuss Turkey Gravy! So today’s post is one that will either have you running out to the store or shopping online. I’m honestly asking myself why I waited so long. My son introduced me to the secret of having incredibly lump-free gravy. He gifted me with a fat separator which takes all the effort out of skimming the fat from the top of the pan drippings. Just in time for the upcoming holidays, too. This gadget is amazing. It looks like a regular measuring cup with the exception of a spout stopper and strainer. Here’s how it works: make sure the rubber stopper is in the spout. Pour the pan drippings into the cup through the strainer. Allow the drippings to “rest” and separate. The stopper actually prevents fat from flowing into the spout. Remove the stopper and slowly pour the clear broth into a pan. Then discard the fat. You may have to repeat the process if you are making gravy for a crowd. It works like magic.

NO-FUSS TURKEY GRAVY

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

3-4 cups turkey broth, separated

Parsley flakes

Instructions:

Transfer meat drippings from the roaster pan to a sauté pan on the stove over medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan, blending with a wire whisk. Continue to stir as the gravy begins to thicken. At this time, gradually add the strained turkey broth. Alternate stirring and adding liquid until you get the consistency you want. While the gravy is simmering, it will begin to evaporate, making it thicker. If need be, you can add water to thin it down. (My mother taught me to use the potato water I used to boil the mashed potatoes. It adds flavor.) Before serving, sprinkle parsley over top.