What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.
WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY
7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
Butter for rubbing
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Open-Faced Sammie! The popularity of open-faced sandwiches has been brewing since the 15th century, when it was typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper. Although the layers have changed, butter or cheese remain the favorites as spreads, plus any combination of meat and vegetables. This is where your personal palate comes in. Or, perhaps whatever you have on hand in the refrigerator. Gardens abound with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. But don’t limit yourself there. I find avocados to be perfectly satisfying, especially with a crispy slab of applewood smoked bacon. Like I said, the choice is yours. One thing is for certain, it’s definitely easier to eat an open faced sandwich with a fork and knife.
2 slices pumpernickel rye bread, artisan-style
1 tablespoon sea salt butter
3 slices Swiss cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tomatillo, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Toast artisan pumpernickel rye bread. Butter with sea salt. Place 1 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of toast. Microwave on High 15 seconds to melt cheese. Layer with 1 1/2 slices crisp bacon. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped tomatillo. Spread over each sandwich. Place two tomato slices over avocado mixture. Spoon chopped hard-boiled egg pieces over tomatoes. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Makes two open-face sandwiches.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Devils on Horseback! The name itself is a conversation starter. I know, right. The colors themselves resemble the “dark side” of our personalities. The small savory dish is made with pitted dates, smoked almonds, and crispy bacon or prosciutto. It’s pretty simple to prepare and is often served as an appetizer at social gatherings. Popular as a finger food, this hors d’oeuvre is perfect for small conversation at backyard parties. Watch yourself. Eating too many may find you a little mischievous.
DEVILS ON HORSEBACK
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
24 pitted dates, whole
24 smoked almonds, whole
3-ounce package prosciutto, deli sliced and cut in half lengthwise or 12 slices thin bacon, cut in half width wise
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a shallow bowl, combine soy sauce and ground ginger. Mix well. In a second dish, place brown sugar. Take a pitted date, open carefully, and stuff it with a smoked almond. Wrap the date with a half slice of prosciutto or half bacon slice. Dip it into the soy sauce mixture. Roll it in brown sugar and place seam side down into the prepared baking dish. Repeat until all dates are prepared. Bake in the preheated oven until the prosciutto or bacon is crisp, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: White Cheddar Bacon Risotto! Risotto. Seeing it on the menu always makes my heart palpitate a little faster. I once asked a chef his secret to creamy risotto. He confessed he cooked it part way and froze it until a customer requested it that night. He said with a wink, “That way, I only have to stir it til half my arm falls off.” Thank goodness my rice cooker knows no difference. If you must know, I had more difficulty coughing up the cost for saffron threads, the most expensive spice in the world. Once I understood that it is grown around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, and in India, I began to see why it was such a labor-intensive crop. Saffron comes from a Fall flower and it takes more than 80,000 crocus flowers to process one pound of saffron. Perhaps that is why the taste is worth the price.
WHITE CHEDDAR BACON RISOTTO
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallot, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add diced shallots. Sauté shallots and Arborio rice until translucent, about 5 minutes. In a rice cooker, add chicken broth, white wine, saffron threads, diced shallots, and Arborio rice. Close and lock the lid of the rice cooker. Turn the knob to “Pressure”. Set timer for 7 minutes. When done, release the pressure. Stir in white cheddar cheese, bacon, and parsley. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Jalapeño Cheesy Cups! Fusion foods are the rage right now. Restaurant and Food Truck menus are the trendsetters that carry over into our home kitchens. Fusion foods blend a couple cultures into a balanced dish with copacetic results. Take this one, for instance. Asian wonton meets Mexican spice. You get the gooey cheese with spicy meat perfectly portable in a crispy cup. Pick one up and walk around. These handheld appetizers don’t last long. Forgot a napkin? No worries. Lick your fingers and meander back to the buffet line to snag another.
JALAPEÑO CHEESY CUPS
24 wonton wrappers
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños, chopped
2 tablespoons bacon bits
2 tablespoons cooked chorizo, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Jalapeño slices, garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Place 2 wonton wrappers in each cup. Bake 4 minutes. Remove muffin tin from oven. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, bacon bits, crumbled chorizo, and green onions. Mix well. Divide cheese mixture into cups. Top with cheddar cheese. Finish with jalapeño slices. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Wontons should appear golden brown and slightly crispy. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Zuppa Toscana! The secret to great Italian soups can be found as near as your local Italian restaurant. However if you want to save a little money, now you can create a mouth-watering meal at home in your very own kitchen. Don’t believe me, check your pantry. With basic ingredients plus Italian herbs, you can get outstanding results. Pick up bakery fresh breadsticks or focaccia bread for a hearty meal. Buon Appetito!
1 pound Italian sausage, ground
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 potatoes, washed with peel on and cut into chunks
14-ounce can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces diced pimentos
2 cups kale, gently torn
4 strips of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
In a skillet over medium heat, brown Italian sausage until fully cooked and crumbled. Add onion, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue cooking until onions are soft. Reduce heat to keep warm. In a 2-quart pan, add potato chunks, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend flour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add flour mixture to potatoes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add heavy cream, diced pimentos, torn kale, and crumbled bacon. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with breadsticks or focaccia bread.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Gluten-Free Crustless Pizza! Are you ever tempted to just eat the toppings off a pizza? For those who require a gluten-free lifestyle or simply desire fewer carbs, here is a healthy alternative on pizza night. Eliminate the crust altogether. By substituting eggs and cheese for bread dough, it’s surprising how this turns into a delicious deep dish pizza.
GLUTEN-FREE CRUSTLESS PIZZA
8-ounce cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces pepperoni, sliced
1/3 cup ham, chopped
1/3 cup chorizo sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10”-12” iron skillet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine cream cheese, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Spread in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese. Arrange pepperoni, ham, chorizo sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and marjoram. Bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into pizza slices.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Dill Pickle Bacon Spears! If you’ve ever drooled over the thought of a dill pickle appetizer, be prepared to reward yourself with this amazing recipe you can make at home. For the perfect zing of flavor, choose zesty garlic dill pickle spears. I recommend visiting the butcher department at your favorite grocers to buy a pound of thick sliced hickory-smoked bacon. You only need a half a pound for these appetizers, but trust me, you’ll finish it later on. Not only is the flavor unsurpassed, but the mere texture of thick bacon combined with the garlic pickles is highly addictive. Go ahead, slather them in creamy buttermilk ranch dressing for an unbeatable combination. You’re Welcome!
DILL PICKLE BACON SPEARS
12 dill pickle spears, zesty garlic
6 slices thick bacon, cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup buttermilk ranch dressing
Chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange the 12 bacon strips on a wire rack that is placed on a foiled-lined baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool until easy to handle. Wrap each dill pickle spear with one strip of bacon, seam side down. Secure with 1-2 toothpicks. Return dill pickles to wire rack and bake 25-30 minutes longer until bacon is crisp. Remove from oven and arrange on a platter. Pour buttermilk ranch dressing into a dip bowl. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Quinoa BLTE Sandwich! What exactly is quinoa; does anyone know for sure? I took a trip down Wikipedia Lane and discovered “it is an experimental crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied space flights.” It’s also gluten-free and easy to digest. That’s pretty important stuff in my book. Oh yeah, it’s been around for human consumption for at least 3,000 years. Maybe it’s time to give it a whirl.
QUINOA BLTE SANDWICH
2 slices organic quinoa multigrain bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 slices tomato
2 romaine lettuce leaves
2-4 slices thick bacon, cooked crisp
1 large egg, cooked over-easy
Pinch seasoned salt
Black pepper to taste
Garnish with parsley
Microwave bacon on paper-towel-lined plate for 5 minutes on High or until crisp. Set aside. In a small skillet sprayed with nonstick oil, crack an egg over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Fry until set, then carefully flip over. Turn off heat. Continue cooking until white is set, but yolk is still runny. To assemble sandwich, slather both pieces of quinoa toast with mayonnaise. Layer ripe tomatoes, romaine lettuce leaves, and bacon strips on one slice. Slide the fried egg onto the bacon. Top the sandwich with the remaining slice of quinoa toast. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.