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!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Sombrero Bread Bowl! OMG, this is the best kept secret! Go to your nearby Bakery and choose a savory artisan bread, small loaf. I chose Rosemary Olive Oil. From there, the biggest challenge is waiting for your mouth-watering seasoned creation to come out of the oven! Repeat after me, “All good things come to those who wait!” You can thank me later.
SOMBRERO BREAD BOWL
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
14.5-ounce round loaf of artisan loaf
Preheat oven to 300°. In medium bowl, blend Neufchâtel cheese, ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, and bacon until well mixed. Stir in onion snips. Cut off top of bread bowl. Hollow out insides. These may be used for dipping later. Fill center cavity with creamy mixture. Replace top. Wrap entire loaf in foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Peel back foil to expose bread bowl. Bake 30 minutes longer. Serve warm with bread cubes, multi-colored tortilla chips, and green onions. Enjoy!
Dining Outside the Home: Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market San Diego, California! Three city blocks were filled with artisans and tent vendors. California growers sold bushels of farm fresh produce while gourmet chefs filled platters of specialty foods offer tempting samples for patrons walking by. Wide selections of fresh cut flowers and seasonal arrangements brightened up street corners. From European linens and handmade soaps to sushi-filled sea urchins and artisan breads, the weekly Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market is well worth the walk.
Along a scenic two lane road in rural Wayne County, nestled among Amish settlements, sits a charming little town since 1832. My girlfriend, Judy, and I shared a carefree lunch of artisan choices leaving room for tasting decadent desserts. Oh, my! As the conversation flowed, we were surrounded by old-fashioned comfort, artistic expression, and pleasing aromas. This quaint little bistro is a splendid distraction for anyone who appreciates homemade flavor served with a modern-day touch.
Discover hidden treasures while meandering among the unique shops, galleries, and food joints in Mt. Dora, Florida. You never know what you’ll find. It may be a vibrant needlepoint pillowed Picasso in the Modernism Museum Shoppe, the most gigantic hand-blown witches ball you’ve ever seen at Home & Garden Treasures, or “talking flatware” by Uncommon Love at the local Farmers Market. Mt. Dora is a paragon of serendipity you’ll want to add to your list of places to visit. Imagine my delight at meeting Erin, an expert handicrafter of “talking flatware”! She is skilled in the art of creating messages on silver-plated utensils with exceptional results. You may have noticed I tend to use such accents while showcasing the recipes on my blog, Snapshotsincursive. The food section is entitled, “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet”. I am pleased to announce, from time to time, future dishes will be complimented by some of Erin’s designs that I purchased that day. You are invited to accompany me on this mouthwatering journey of the palate.