What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Tuna Tartare with Seaweed! Do you wrinkle your nose when you hear the word “raw”? Some people get a little squeamish. How about if you see the word “sushi”? My grandkids’ eyes light up and their mouths begin to salivate. See the difference? “Tartare” is a fancy word for raw meat or seafood. In Hawaii, you may see the words “Ahi Poke”, which is a healthy raw tuna dish made with the best tuna right out of the sea. By adding a mixture of ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, the flavor becomes incredibly irresistible. Check out the closest Asian Deli to pick up a container of ready-to-serve seaweed salad. It’s already marinated in a delicious sauce. Together on a plate, you’ve just created a masterpiece.
TUNA TARTARE WITH SEAWEED
2 ahi tuna steaks, cut into 1/4” cubes
3 tablespoons organic soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 green onion
1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced
4-ounce container of prepared seaweed salad
Green onion slivers for garnish
Pat ahi tuna dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add organic soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, the chopped white ends of the green onions, and the red jalapeño pepper slices. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. To serve, place prepared seaweed salad on a plate. Layer ahi tuna over salad. Garnish with the remaining green onion curls.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Zestful Ahi Poke! Have you noticed all the rage about eating raw tuna? Whether it’s an appetizer or poke bowl, ahi seems to be the star attraction. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps it takes some getting used to. After all, the texture is totally different from cooked fish. When saturated in a spicy sesame soy marinade, I found it absolutely irresistible. Then served with crunchy wonton crisps, taro chips (my fav), or corn tortilla chips it evolves from a curiosity to a craving. Just so you know, premium ahi tuna steaks are now available in the freezer aisle for those, like me, who are landlocked part of the year.
ZESTFUL AHI POKE
2 ahi tuna steaks, premium grade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
Wonton Crisps, Taro Chips, or Corn Tortilla Chips
Pat ahi tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Cut into 1/2” cubes. Transfer to a bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped green onions. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Serve as an appetizer with choice of chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.
PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA
1 prepared pizza crust
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornmeal
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce
1 cup pulled pork
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Sweet Potato Wedges! Mention the word sweet potato french fries and watch everyone’s eyes glaze over. Just the thought of a crispy outer skin surrounding a fluffy center sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Add homemade ketchup or sriracha mayo for dipping. Ahhh. Suddenly it’s a meal in itself……unless family members think you should share. Better make more.
SWEET POTATO WEDGES
2 sweet potatoes, skin on and cut into wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons agave nectar
Green onion, snipped, for garnish
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine sweet potato wedges and olive oil. Toss to coat. Cover. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife, tossing and replacing lid after 3 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Add chili powder, coarse sea salt, and black pepper. Toss to coat. Preheat grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush with olive oil. Place sweet potato wedges on oiled grill pan. Cook 3 minutes per side until charred and tender. Remove from heat. Drizzle with agave nectar. Garnish with green onion snips. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Queso Blanco Shrimp Street Tacos! Not everyone has the luxury of accessibility to freshly-made corn tortillas. Because corn tortillas contain less fat than flour tortillas, they are more prone to breakage. One way to prevent this from happening is to dip them in warmed vegetable oil. The extra moisture enhances the taste. Another way is to take two corn tortillas to create a double-layered shell. That way if the inside tears or cracks when folded in half, the outer shell will keep all the ingredients from falling into your lap. Make sense?
QUESO BLANCO SHRIMP STREET TACOS
8 corn street tacos
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound medium shrimp, precooked, peeled, deveined, and tail removed
2 tablespoons bacon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon raspberry chipotle seasoning
1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed, and sliced into wedges
1 cup broccoli slaw
2 large leaves romaine lettuce, gently torn
1/2 cup prepared queso blanco with jalapeños
Fresh lime, for garnish
Cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 300°. Set aside a baking sheet. Warm vegetable oil over medium-high heat in an iron skillet. One at a time, dip a corn tortilla into the oil for about 15 seconds; flip and repeat. Drain and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortilla shells. Stack them two to a pile on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt (optional). Keep warm in the oven. Using the remaining vegetable oil, add bacon olive oil to the skillet. Gently place the shrimp in the warmed oil. Sprinkle with raspberry chipotle seasoning. After one minute, flip. Shrimp should be slightly charred. Cook one minute longer. Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine the broccoli slaw with the gently torn romaine leaves. Toss. Remove tortillas from the oven. On the four stacks of warmed tortilla shells, place avocado wedges. Divide the broccoli slaw blend between the tacos. Top with sautéed shrimp. Warm the jalapeño queso blanco for 20 seconds in the microwave on high setting. Stir. Repeat, if necessary. Drizzle over street tacos. Squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Pom Pom Salad! You can’t miss the incredibly bright red edible seeds of a ripe pomegranate. It’s actually the only part of the fruit that can be eaten. The naturally sweet and slightly tart flavor of an aril almost tastes like a piece of candy. They look incredibly enticing when sprinkled on a leafy salad. Wouldn’t you agree?
POM POM SALAD
1 lime, juice of
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 smidgen cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon chili-lime seasoning
25 baby spinach leaves, chopped
6 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
To make the dressing, in a small bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, raw honey, kosher salt, cinnamon, and chili-lime seasoning. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. To assemble salad, place baby spinach leaves on a large platter or individual salad plates. Arrange orange slices on spinach. Drop pomegranate arils on top. Drizzle the prepared dressing over salad. Serve slightly chilled.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Red Hot Chili Peppers! Hello. My name is Gail and I’m addicted to red pepper flakes. Seriously. Sometimes my husband has to ask me to scale back on the capsaicin factor. In that case, I simply place the jar next to my plate and sprinkle away. It wasn’t until recently I realized the health benefits of crushed red peppers. According to Healthy Eating*, “Red Peppers soothe upset stomach and ulcers, bolsters heart health, regulates diabetes, and fortifies the immune system.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
1 pound red peppers, cayenne or chili with stem on.
Preheat oven to 175°. Wash red peppers; pat dry. Arrange peppers on a baking sheet in a single layer without touching. Bake overnight, or 10 hours. Snap off stems and crush dried peppers, using a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar.
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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Veggie Burger! For a quarter-pounder without all the fat, substitute red meat for black beans instead. Sound crazy? Actually, I conducted a little taste test on my husband recently. By using mashed black beans, onion, green pepper, egg, and bread crumbs, it seemed more like a meatloaf than a burger. It kinda did. The texture was the same and they fried up real nice in the iron skillet. By the time we added lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, we practically did a double-take on the finished product. Go all out and slide it between a brioche bun. The veggie burger definitely crossed the finish line at the dinner table. Now that’s delicious.
16-ounce can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
3 drops sriracha sauce
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Butter for frying
Brioche hamburger buns
Condiments, per taste
Using a food processor set on Pulse, mash black beans until thick and chunky. Transfer to a bowl. Next, combine green pepper, yellow onion, and minced garlic in the food processor. Chop into small pieces. Stir into the black beans. Add egg, chili powder, cumin, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add bread crumbs. Mix together with gloved hands until consistency is dense enough to form into patties. Melt butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Place patties into skillet and cook about 7-8 minutes until a crispy outer edge is present. Flip and cook 7-8 minutes longer. Serve with condiments of choice on a brioche bun.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Zapata Mexican Corn Salad! Picnic season is upon us and salads are the star attractions. They are not only refreshing, colorful, and bursting with flavor, but look appealing in glass jars…making them incredibly portable. Choose single-size portions or larger quantities. How fun is that? Southwest corn offers the extra kick of poblano and red peppers. Pair it with natural sweet corn for amazing seasoning. Top everything off with the crunch of chili cheese corn chips. Toss a bag in the picnic basket since you only crush them and sprinkle them on before serving. Nibbling is allowed.
ZAPATA MEXICAN CORN SALAD
15-ounce can Southwest Corn with poblanos and red peppers, whole kernel and drained
15-ounce can natural sweet corn, whole kernel and drained
2 radishes, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, chopped
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
9.75-ounce bag chili cheese corn chips
Cilantro for garnish
Combine southwest corn, sweet corn, radishes, green onion, red onion, and jalapeño. Mix well. Stir in mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Fold in cheddar cheese. Stir well. Transfer to covered container. Refrigerate one hour. Before serving, crush chili cheese corn chips. Sprinkle on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.