Dining Outside the Home: Cibao Grille in Naples, Florida! Don’t let the formality of the fine dining restaurant in the Neapolitan Way Shopping Center intimidate you. There’s a cozy table for two in the bar where you still receive the personal touch for some of the best Caribbean food to cross your lips. Attention to detail, by the master chef, makes every entree frame-worthy for your next social media post. Go ahead, try something out of the ordinary like the pan seared sea scallop medallions. The slightly crunchy outer layer reveals a soft and chewy center that will practically make your eyes roll back. The succulent sweet taste has a tender, buttery flavor some people actually refer to as the “candy of the sea”. Notice the large size. This is good. Keep in mind, though, the larger the scallop, the higher the price. When you want the best dining experience, Cibao Grille is worth every penny.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: X-quisite Caesar Salad Dressing! Ever wonder why restaurants add an upcharge when customers order a Caesar Salad? One of the reasons is the time involved. Fine restaurants will have the server make it table-side for presentation. That’s pretty cool. Another reason is the high quality of ingredients required, especially if you don’t cut corners. Romaine is the lettuce of choice, not iceberg. Anchovies are also a key ingredient, not sardines. Do you see a pattern here? Plus olive oil, parmesan cheese, and homemade croutons are in there. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Naturally, this all adds up for the restaurant so they need to pass it along to you. That’s why I’m here to offer you a tasty alternative. Just like cooking at home is less expensive than eating out, every once in awhile you get the urge to satisfy that food craving right where you live. Make sense?
X-QUISITE CAESAR SALAD DRESSING
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
Romaine lettuce, gently torn
Parmesan cheese, shaved
Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste
Combine grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, lemon juice, anchovies, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Run on Low speed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil another 30 seconds until thick and creamy. Divide the torn romaine lettuce between salad plates. Add buttered croutons. Drizzle Caesar Salad Dressing over all. Top with shaved parmesan cheese. Garnish with a sprinkling of Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste. Serve immediately.
*To make buttered croutons, warm 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce in a medium skillet. Add 3 cups of day-old artisan bread cubes or sliced bagel pieces. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing to coat, until croutons are golden brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towel-lined platter. Lightly season with Everything But Bagel seasoning.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Upside Down Tomato Tart! If I were a fairy princess, in the Land of Make Believe, I would wrap myself in puff pastry and nibble my way out. Just so you know…puff pastry is paper-thin layers of buttery dough. It’s like a chef’s all-time secret never-fail pastry dough that practically makes everything look and taste gourmet. When baked, the layers of butter release steam that turns the dough light and flaky. Thank goodness it is sold prepackaged in the freezer section of most grocery stores. All you need to do is let it thaw for about 45 minutes and it’s ready to be transformed into your latest craving. I’ve heard it makes an incredible pizza dough, so I see that on my list of recipes soon. In the meantime, take advantage of tomato season. This recipe can slay dragons.
UPSIDE DOWN TOMATO TART
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup yellow sun gold tomatoes, cut in half
4 small green tomatoes, quartered
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon basil
6 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1 sheet puff pastry, room temperature
1 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer. Add cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, green tomatoes, oregano, marjoram, garlic powder, and basil. Coat well. Cover and cook until tomatoes are slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Spray an iron skillet with nonstick oil. Transfer tomato mixture to skillet. Layer with shredded provolone cheese. Place puff pastry on top. Trim extra dough with kitchen knife. Bake 25-30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Let cool 5-7 minutes. Invert tart onto a plate or pizza stone.* Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve warm.
*Once inverted onto a pizza stone, I wanted the dough a little charred. I set the oven to Broil, placed it back inside, and let the edges of the tart darken further. Watch carefully!