What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a picnic basket companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable picnic. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?
GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup catsup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners
Fresh chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, catsup, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Add cocktail wieners. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Foolproof Strawberry Galette! It’s more than the sweet strawberries that make this an appealing dessert. In my opinion, the delicious buttery cream cheese crust is as good as it gets. First of all, to keep your galette foolproof, here are a few tips. Make sure the dough is not too moist or it will turn chewy instead of crisp. Pay attention to the strawberries. If they appear too juicy, add more cornstarch to help the filling thicken. And don’t overfill the galette. Remember, there is no pie plate to contain the abundance. It’s better to make two smaller galettes than a big sloppy one. And lastly, be sure to use parchment paper on the baking sheet or you may find yourself replacing bakeware from the runoff. All that being said, let’s roll.
FOOLPROOF STRAWBERRY GALETTE
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, cubed
1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut up
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar
Pulse flour, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor. Add Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Pulse until crumbly. Add 3-4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Remove onto a lightly floured board. Gently knead to tighten dough. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Unwrap dough and roll to 1/8 inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Create a 12″ diameter circle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss strawberries with cornstarch, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar. Leaving an inch border, arrange strawberries atop dough. Fold border up and over strawberries to create a rim. Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake galette 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, I knew there was one place that was definitely on my Bucket List: Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace along the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re familiar with the reality cooking series, Hell’s Kitchen, I don’t need to tell you Michelle Tribble was the winner of Season 17. She was awarded the position of head chef for this Vegas hotspot by owner, Gordon Ramsey. And this is the second time I’ve met her. No matter how busy the kitchen staff is, on a full-scale stage for all to see, excited patrons as well as Instagram enthusiasts stop by to pose for selfies. Chef Michelle, keeping one eye on the crew as she circles the dining area checking out the food, continuously greets curiosity seekers for feedback and photo ops. She really is down-to-earth, very personable, and pays great attention to detail. No wonder it was a privilege to meet her.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Eagle Brand Caramel Rum Sauce! For caramel-lovers all over the world, this recipe can be your legacy. It’s rich, it’s thick, it’s buttery, and it’s laced with a hint of dark rum that gets the party started. Take a moment to tick off the countless ways you can drizzle caramel sauce over food. Spread it on toast, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Add it to coffee for a smooth latte. Turn it into an apple dip coated with salted peanuts. Whip it into pudding or smoothies. Top off a bowl of ice cream. You get the idea. If your imagination stalls out, simply dip a teaspoon into the jar and enjoy the caramel sauce all by itself.
EAGLE BRAND CARAMEL RUM SAUCE
14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425°. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil. Carefully place the pie plate into a shallow pan. Fill the larger pan with 1/2 inch hot water. It will surround the pie plate. Bake 2 hours or until sauce is thick and caramel in color. Remove larger pan from oven. Take the pie plate out; remove foil and pour caramel into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on LOW speed for one minute. Add dark rum and vanilla extract. Continue beating on LOW speed until liquid is blended. Increase speed to HIGH for one minute longer. Caramel will appear smooth and creamy. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
“Never treat anything you do
as a stepping stone. Do it fully,
and follow it completely.”
~ Mira Nair
“We live in a wonderful world
that is full of beauty, charm, and
adventure. There is no end
to the adventures that we can have
if only we seek them
with our eyes open.”
~ Jawaharlal Nehru
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Double Chocolate Skillet Brownie! I love gooey brownies, especially right out of the oven. Maybe it’s the butter and brown sugar that makes them so delicious. Or it might be the smidgen of peanut butter mixed with real vanilla extract. Lest we not forget the main attraction: dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate for that rich delectable aftertaste once your teeth sink in. Mmmm. Pass me the milk, please.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE SKILLET BROWNIE
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt crystals
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional), for garnish
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 10″ iron skillet and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar on low speed. Add egg and vanilla extract. Gradually mix in flour, cocoa, baking soda, and sea salt crystals. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to iron skillet. Spread evenly. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. Bake until set in center and pulling away from sides, 20-24 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into pie-shaped wedges. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Cantaloupe Chicken Salad! Indiana Cantaloupe is a popular fruit these days. Some even dub it a “labor of love”. As a sweet and fragrant melon, it quickly becomes a perfect alternative to the summer watermelon. Wonderfully rich and appealing in color, the cantaloupe becomes an ideal serving vessel. One scoop and the seeds are gone. Fill half with a savory chicken salad and save the other for vanilla ice cream later on. Win, Win!
CANTALOUPE CHICKEN SALAD
1 cantaloupe, cut in half or quarters, seeds removed
10-ounce can premium chicken breast, chunk in water; drained
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
10 seedless green grapes, halved
1 tablespoon pecan pieces
1/8 teaspoon fresh Mexican tarragon, chopped
One cantaloupe serves four. Cut the cantaloupe in half; using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Tip to remove any juice. Slice each half into a quarter wedge. Place each wedge into a luncheon plate. Set aside. In a large bowl, add drained chicken chunks. Shred chunks slightly, using two forks. Sprinkle with celery seed. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Fold in green grapes and pecan pieces. Stir to blend together. Divide chicken salad equally over each cantaloupe wedge. Garnish with chopped tarragon. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Broccoli Florets in Cashew Sauce! Are you one of those siblings who used to roll your eyes at the idea of being told to “eat your vegetables”? Isn’t it amazing how we outgrow childhood perceptions and turn them into a food-lover’s paradise? I know, right! Take broccoli, for instance. I remember sitting at the table until every tender green floret had been pushed around my plate, refusing to eat another bite. Nowadays, I practically cheer when the waitress says I can substitute broccoli in place of french fries.
BROCCOLI FLORETS IN CASHEW SAUCE
1 pound broccoli, cut up and stems removed
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons Golden Mountain sauce
2 teaspoons garlic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Blend
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup cashews, chopped
Cut the stalk off a head of broccoli with a sharp knife. As you cut through the thickness, the individual florets will fall away into smaller pieces. The crowns will feel tight and springy with the appearance of tight closed buds. Discard stems. Place the florets in a microwave safe covered dish. Add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Carefully remove from microwave oven; drain. In a small skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar, Golden Mountain sauce, garlic vinegar, Mrs. Dash spices, and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil; stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Mix in the cashews. Ladle cashew sauce over broccoli florets and serve.