Juicy Roast Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.

JUICY ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

10-15 pound turkey, thawed

1/2 cup butter

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 teaspoon thyme

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.

Apple Orchard Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Apple Orchard Pie! Nothing conjures up autumnal nostalgia like a slice of apple pie, still warm enough from the oven to soften a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Inhale the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s delectable, isn’t it? I realize making pies may not be on the top of the list for everyone who loves it. So, I’m telling you today, it’s okay to begin with a prepared pie crust. There are some pretty decent brands out there for you to try. Some refrigerated brands are made to unroll and crimp the edges; others are frozen and meant to be thawed. Some are buttery, super-flaky, and even taste as good as homemade. That’s where you’ll need the help of an assistant, or taste-tester, so to speak. Just remember, pie doesn’t have to be picture perfect to taste spot on. It’s dessert, after all.

APPLE ORCHARD PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, 9”

4-5 large sweet apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Form prepared pie crust into a pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Crimp edges. Set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sea salt. Sprinkle about a quarter cup of mixture over the bottom of the pie crust. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the remaining sugar mixture. Coat well. Transfer apples to the pie plate, forming a mound in the center. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon for crumb topping. It should resemble small peas when mixed. Carefully add the topping to the apple pie. Bake 30 minutes longer. If necessary, cover the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers! Don’t hate me. These bakery-style popovers come with a warning label: Highly Addictive! Perhaps I might include a disclaimer. If you never suffer with sweet tooth cravings or for some unknown reason dislike cinnamon, no worries. For the rest of us, all I can say is “Try to resist licking your fingers!”.

NUTMEG CINNAMON POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups flour

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, sea salt, sugar, and flour. Blend until no lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Meanwhile place melted butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Take a popover and brush it with melted butter to coat. Place the popover in the sugar mixture and roll to coat. Repeat with entire batch of popovers.

Broccoli Florets in Cashew Sauce

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Wild, Wild Ramps

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Wild, Wild Ramps! “We have become foragers!”, my daughter-in-law proudly proclaimed as they walked through the front door. My son extended his hands with a large bouquet of wild ramps, as though they were a dozen long stem roses. “You can eat the tender bulbs as well as the leafy greens!”, they said in unison. Imagine my surprise. Little did I know that every Spring, foodies as well as seasoned chefs embark on a quest to unearth this subterranean gem known as Wild Ramps. What I learned that day is that ramps are simply wild leeks. Their flavor mimics garlic and onion. The fleshy leaves are a savory delight when sautéed in olive oil and butter. I promptly washed and trimmed the precious globular buds before serving them with breakfast. How unexpectedly delicious! It was only later, while traveling, I discovered their value at a farm-to-table restaurant when the waiter boastfully announced Wild Ramps on the menu. My smile said it all.

WILD, WILD RAMPS

1 large bunch wild ramps, skins discarded, washed, and chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

Using an iron skillet, warm butter and olive oil over medium heat. Swirl 3-4 minutes until slightly browned and nutty. Do not burn. Add the wild ramps. Sauté until pieces are slightly charred and leaves are crispy, turning occasionally. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Vichyssoise Cold Creamier Soup! Just hearing the word “soup” during the summer months can make someone rolls their eyes enough to make people pay no attention to what is being said. But hear me out. Let me remind you that the silky consistency of melted ice cream actually brings out the flavor more than its frozen counterpart. Right? Well, “vichyssoise” is a French word for velvety smooth potato and leek soup, usually served chilled. When eaten slightly cold, the sheer creaminess is truly divine. Leeks are mild fancy onions, so if you prefer to use yellow sweet onions, permission granted. Personally, for this recipe, I went all out and used both. I also chose Yukon potatoes for their sweet flavor and moist flesh making them fluffy in texture. Make sense? Obviously you can make modifications to suit your palate. Be creative and send me your thoughts.

VICHYSSOISE COLD CREAMIER SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and sliced; green and white parts only

2 Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

14 ounces chicken broth

1/2 cup light cream

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the yellow onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the leeks and sauté 5 minutes longer until soft. Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Carefully transfer small batches of soup to a blender. Purée until smooth. Repeat process until no lumps remain. Pour the smooth texture back into the saucepan. Heat to medium. Add light cream and stir. Soup will thicken within 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and then chill for one hour before serving. Pour into bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve.

Killer Skillet S’Mores

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Killer Skillet S’Mores! You were probably wondering if I’d ever get around to satisfying your sweet tooth. Look no further than your favorite fire pit companion: sticky chocolaty marshmallow s’mores. Bring out the inner child who remembers camping trips with family members when you’d circled a crackling fire, balancing a roasting stick on your knee. Not too close to the flames or you’d end up with a charred gooey mess. Then again, those marshmallows were ones you got to gobble down before skewering another one. Fast-forward to the Present where you can recreate that same incredible taste in an iron skillet.

KILLER SKILLET S’MORES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 graham cracker, broken into chunks

1 milk chocolate bar, broken into pieces

8 large marshmallows, cut in half

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat mixture for 30 seconds. Let rest 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. In another bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly add the butter mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10” iron skillet. Top with remaining chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, graham cracker chunks, and chocolate bar pieces. Bake 18-20 minutes. Remove hot skillet and carefully arrange the large marshmallows around the edge of the cookie. Return pan to the oven and continue baking until the marshmallows turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookie to cool 15 minutes before serving.

Culinary Cauliflower

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Culinary Cauliflower! Not everyone is a fan of cauliflower. I get that. It might be because of the way it’s prepared. Or smells. Or possibly because it looks bland and boring. Meh. Well, here’s my solution if you promise to give it one more chance. Smother it in cheese. Good cheese, like smoky Gouda. Then take buttery garlic croutons and sprinkle them over the top. Get the picture? Sooo, if the family turns up their noses at the idea of eating cauliflower, simply shrug your shoulders, kick off your shoes, and curl up on the sofa with the entire bowl yourself.

CULINARY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 cup water

1/2 cup smoky bacon Gouda cheese, sliced thin

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup garlic croutons, coarsely crushed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm water over medium heat in a saucepan with a steamer basket. Cut off stem of cauliflower, removing the leaves. Make an “x” in the core with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer, place cauliflower in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Cut cauliflower into florets. Transfer to an ovenproof bowl. Combine sliced Gouda cheese and milk in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on Low (30%) in 30-second intervals. Stir until smooth as it melts. Pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Bake 5-10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Warm butter in a pan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic croutons. Stir occasionally until brown. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over melted cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Watermelon Waffle Wedges

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Watermelon Waffle Wedges! Bring back childhood memories of lazy summer days leaning against the back porch chomping on a mouthwatering slice of watermelon. As the juice runs down your chin, a swipe of the shirt sleeve doubles as a napkin. Your mischievous brother takes aim at your bare feet, shooting tiny black seeds as if his mouth is a pea shooter. You squeal with delight and sometimes run away. Those were the days. Now we think about nutrition. That’s okay. Watermelon, with its juicy red flesh, is high in lycopene which makes it heart-healthy. Chomp away.

WATERMELON WAFFLE WEDGES

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 slices watermelon, cut in wedges

Maple syrup, to taste

Butter, to taste

Strawberries, cherries, almonds, powdered sugar, mint sprig for Garnish

Instructions:

Preheat waffle iron. Place eggs in a bowl and beat on medium-high using a hand mixer. Eggs will get fluffy. Slowly add flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat just until smooth. Brush waffle iron with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray. Pour mix into waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve warm with watermelon wedges, strawberries, cherries, almond slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh mint.