What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast! If it’s one food item that catches a kid’s attention on the cafeteria menu, it’s pizza. After all, Pizza checks the right boxes in the following food group categories: grain, milk, meat, and vegetable. What I like about this kid-friendly recipe is the fact that adults control the quality of ingredients. Plus, by involving the youngsters you’re feeding, they can feel good about making healthy choices. For instance, substitute plain white bread with crusty artisan varieties. Choose 90% lean meat. Nix the high fructose corn syrup brand of ketchup for the organic one. Try pimentos for natural sweetness. The opportunities are endless.
KID-FRIENDLY PIZZA TOAST
1 pound ground beef sirloin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup diced pimentos
6 slices artisan bread
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain excess liquid. Reduce heat to low. Add sea salt, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir well. Add chopped yellow onions, green peppers, and diced pimentos. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter one side of artisan bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Top with spoonfuls of pizza mixture. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 minutes until cheese melts and toast is crunchy. Bada-bing-bada-boom!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Avocado Breakfast Toast! Nothing looks more appealing in the morning than an open face breakfast sandwich, in my opinion. Avocado and salmon step things up a notch when paired with a nice yolk-drenched piece of artisan toast. I love French butter, but if you choose to omit slathering the toast with it, I’ll understand. My husband and I don’t mind a little taste sensuality in the morning. You choose.
AVOCADO BREAKFAST TOAST
2 slices artisan bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
1 avocado; halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs, cooked over easy or poached
1/2 cup grilled salmon, flaked
1 teaspoon capers
Pinch Herbes de Provence
Fresh thyme for garnish
Take the chopped avocado and mash it until chunky. Fold in the lemon juice and garlic powder. Set aside. Toast bread as desired. Spread with sea salt butter and keep warm. Cook the eggs over easy so the yolks are still runny. Place one piece of buttered toast on a plate. Spoon a thick layer of avocado over toast. Next divide flaked salmon between the two servings. Sprinkle with capers. Place one egg on top. Garnish with Herbes de Provence and fresh tarragon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Yeast Artisan Bread! There’s no doubt bread can be a family’s comfort food, even if you seldom bake it yourself. With more people setting up a home office or home schooling, suddenly bread-baking has turned into a thing. And if you own a bread machine, better yet. Dust it off and give it center stage on the quartz countertop in your gourmet kitchen. Baking bread is like therapy for the soul. We combine ingredients, knead dough, make decorative slits on top, and bake it to a rich golden color. From start to finish, it becomes a focused project. When the house begins to smell like the neighborhood corner bakery, everyone notices. It’s time to slice it up and slather on the butter.
YEAST ARTISAN BREAD
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 packet active yeast
Using a bread machine, add ingredients in the order listed. Always add the yeast last, creating a small indentation on the top of the dry ingredients. Pour yeast into indentation. Select the “Dough” setting. At the end of the cycle, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for one minute. Grease a bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour. Cover bowl with a damp cloth. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch the dough down and knead for a few seconds. Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover again and allow it to rise in a warm place 30 minutes longer. To bake in an iron skillet, preheat oven to 400°. Put the iron skillet in the oven while it is preheating. Place a roasting pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Fill it with one inch of hot water. Using oven mitts, remove the hot skillet from the oven. Grease the inside of the skillet with olive oil. Sprinkle with one tablespoon cornmeal. Carefully transfer the puffed bread dough to the iron skillet. Dip a kitchen shears in hot water. Cut slits in the top of the dough. Sprinkle generously with water. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is a deep golden brown. When a cake tester is inserted in the center, it comes out clean. Remove the iron skillet from the oven. Immediately remove artisan bread to prevent over baking. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Ramping Up Breakfast! For a hearty and satisfying way to jumpstart your morning, think outside the box with sautéed ramps. Prepared in minutes with hardly anytime at the stove, you’ll be serving up a “green” feast fit for a king. If you live in the country where farm fresh eggs are as plentiful as the next roadside produce stand, even better. Treat yourself to a scrumptious weekend meal on the back porch in true farmhouse style.
RAMPING UP BREAKFAST
1/4 pound wild ramps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 smoked sausage links
2 pieces artisan bread, toasted
Crushed oregano, for garnish
Wash thoroughly every crevice and leaf stem of each ramp. Cut off and discard bulb roots. Rinse again. Gently pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Warm olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer ramps to the skillet. Cook until tender and crispy, gently turning. After 10 minutes, divide ramps between two plates. Cook eggs according to personal preference. Add to each plate. Heat smoked sausage, slicing open to sear. Arrange on plates. Butter toast to complete each breakfast plate. Garnish ramps and eggs with crushed oregano. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Violet Crostini! Edible flowers are kind of a new thing for me this year. Everywhere I look, nature has exploded with beauty and color. Because I take special care in avoiding chemicals and pesticides in my herb garden and on the grounds, I can reap the benefits of sweet edible flowers high in vitamins. This recipe for Violet Crostini is one step up from an ordinary salad of mixed greens. By toasting a sesame artisan bread and slathering it with Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread, the salad greens and fresh violet petals create an open face sandwich or crostini. Top it off with a pretty, light purple edible chive blossom for a light onion taste. Doesn’t it look delicious?
2-4 slices sesame bread, toasted
4 tablespoons Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread*
1 cup mixed salad greens
2 tablespoons violet petals
2 chive blossoms, stems removed
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
2-4 sprigs lemon thyme
Toast sesame seed artisan bread. Spoon two tablespoons of Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread on each piece. Divide salad greens between the crostini. Top with violet petals and chive blossom. Drizzle lemon olive oil over all. Garnish with lemon thyme.
* Follow the link for the Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread recipe.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Onion Basil Bread! You have got to try this! Tasty Vidalia onions are unbelievably sweet and mild. They are grown locally in the state of Georgia, yet recognized all over the world. You begin to see them pop up in the neighborhood markets from mid-April to mid-June. Their unique fresh taste makes them an outstanding option for eating raw or cooking in recipes. Packed with nutritional value makes them a bonus. Become a believer; discover why Vidalia onions are all the buzz!
ONION BASIL BREAD
Loaf of sesame artisan bread
1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 large size Vidalia onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the bread in half, then length-wise, and quarters. Dredge the cut sides in 1/3 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, marjoram, and sea salt. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion slices and seasoned salt. Cover and cook one minute. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Watch carefully to reduce scorching and stir if necessary. Meanwhile divide Jarlsberg cheese equally over the face of the bread. Top with caramelized onions. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Creamed Honey on Toast! Begin today at the Farmers Market on a quest for liquid gold. This version of natural honey is thicker in consistency, lighter in color, and creamier than ordinary honey varieties. For one, it does not contain the noticeable sugar crystals that can often leave a grainy aftertaste. Trained beekeepers put more effort into this little delicacy but, in my opinion, it is worth the extra time and effort. Pick up a couple jars this summer. Store them at room temperature and they will be good until you scrape the bottom of the jars.
CREAMED HONEY ON TOAST
Artisan bread, sliced
Sea salt French butter
Choose a nice artisan bread for toasting. Slather on a tablespoon of sea salt French butter and watch it melt. Next, drizzle a generous swirl of creamed honey over the butter layer. Finally, top it off with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Havarti Habanero Handful! You’re probably thinking, “Not another grilled cheese sandwich!” Anyone who knows me understands I can’t leave well enough alone. So…when I came across this “heated” rich, semi-soft version of havarti cheese, I knew I had to have it. Habaneros, as you may recall, are like dynamite in your mouth. The cheese itself is creamy and mild which makes it a perfect match for the testy habanero pepper, or orange lantern as some people call them. When layered with cherrywood smoked ham and grilled artisan bread, the end result is nothing short of Fire and Ice. Are you up for the challenge?
HAVARTI HABANERO HANDFUL
4 thick slices of artisan bread
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cherrywood smoked ham, deli sliced
4 ounces havarti habanero cheese, sliced
Preheat an iron skillet over medium low heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two slices in skillet, buttered side down. Divide cherrywood smoked ham between them. Replace tops, buttered side up. Heat sandwiches until bread is lightly browned, then carefully flip over. Layer havarti habanero cheese over toasted tops of sandwiches. Reduce heat to low setting. Place a glass lid over the pan so the cheese will melt as the bottoms turn golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ravishing Radish Sandwich! There’s something a little French about nibbling on a radish sandwich. And you can pull it off without raising your pinky finger into the air. Choose an artisan bread such as a crusty baguette or toasted sesame loaf. All you really need is a little butter and sea salt. However, I went one step further and used a creamy Neufchâtel cheese blended with pimento-filled green olives. Can you say, “Oooh, La La”?
RAVISHING RADISH SANDWICH
1 bunch of radishes, washed, stalks removed, and thinly sliced
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
1 loaf artisan bread
1/4 teaspoon Chia seeds
In a small bowl, mix Neufchâtel cheese and green olives until combined. Slice bread evenly on a cutting board and then toast lightly. Slather each slice of bread with cheese spread. Layer radishes on top, randomly squeezing on as many pieces as possible. Sprinkle with chia seeds to garnish. Voilá!