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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Ranch Deviled Eggs! Behold the egg. It serves many options from breakfast omelets to afternoon appetizers, light snacks to mealtime casseroles. And who doesn’t love deviled eggs? Talk about versatility. This version implements the tangy creaminess of ranch flavor so popular in salad dressing. Add a garnish of applewood smoked honey ham crumbles for a superb finish. Make a dozen and watch them disappear.
RANCH DEVILED EGGS
3 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 pound applewood-smoked honey ham or bacon, crumbled
In a 4-quart pan, place eggs in a single layer. Add enough water to cover eggs. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. To remove eggshell, crack it by tapping gently all over; roll between hands to loosen it. Peel, beginning at the large end. Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Transfer to a platter. Remove yolks. In a medium bowl, mash the egg yolks with a fork. Sprinkle with dry ranch dressing mix. Add mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and minced chives. Stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. Garnish with applewood-smoked honey ham crumbles. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. May be prepared a full day in advance.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.
VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST
1-2 slices multigrain toast
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese
1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Snipped chives for garnish
Chia seeds for garnish
Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread! Some days time is in short supply and all we can hope for is a “working lunch”. At least you can treat yourself to something a little bit gourmet that says “I’m really worth it.” Knäckebröd whole grain crispbread is mighty enough to hold a layer of herbed cream cheese, a mini slice of seedless cucumber, wild Alaskan smoked salmon, fresh dill weed and chopped chives. How’s that for refueling your work day? Be forewarned: your coworkers may gather round the desk in curiosity while you’re nibbling away on finger food. Just hold up a single digit and keep nibbling. After all, it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.
KNÄCKEBÖRD CUCUMBER SALMON CRISPBREAD
4-6 slices Knäckebröd sourdough crispbread
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix
2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced
4 ounces Wild Alaskan applewood smoked salmon
Sprig of dill weed
Combine Neufchâtel cheese and Italian seasoning mix. Stir until blended. Store in a covered container. To assemble, lightly spread crispbread with a layer of herbed cream cheese. Next add one or two slices of seedless cucumber. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill weed and fresh chives.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Lump Crabmeat Salad! Be pampered on a sunny porch or backyard patio with a light luncheon for two. Dining al fresco is especially popular with nature’s backdrop of fragrant flowers and tittering birdsong. These are what days are made of. If it’s a late afternoon gathering of light appetizers and spritzers, serve this lump crabmeat salad with crackers instead. Fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take advantage of warm weather and celebrate a party-like atmosphere.
LUMP CRABMEAT SALAD
8 ounces wild caught lump crabmeat, cartilage removed
1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 rib celery, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
4 teaspoons chives, sliced
1 teaspoon tarragon leaves
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 dash sriracha sauce
Red pepper, halved and membrane removed
Bibb lettuce leaves
Gently rinse crabmeat in a fine mesh strainer to remove any shell pieces or cartilage. Do not break up crab chunks. Transfer crabmeat to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning mix. Toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red pepper, sliced chives, tarragon leaves, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery seed, kosher salt, white pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the crabmeat mixture to the mayonnaise mixture, gently coating the lump crabmeat. Spoon the crabmeat into two hollowed out red pepper shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange Bibb lettuce leaves on two saucers; place lump crabmeat salad on each plate. Serve chilled.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Garlic Smashed Potatoes! Now you, too, can have the same potato side dish at home which you often choose in popular eateries. It’s so incredibly easy you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t think of it before now. My simple recipe requires only three key ingredients: Idaho Russet Potatoes, Boursin Garlic Cheese, and of course, French Butter with sea salt. A sprinkling of bacon bits and fresh cut chives for garnish merely enhances an already phenomenal taste. With the holidays on the horizon, be kind to yourself. Keep it simple and WOW your friends and family without spending endless hours in the kitchen. You deserve it.
GARLIC SMASHED POTATOES
2 large Idaho Russet Potatoes
5.2 ounces package Boursin Garlic and Herb Gournay cheese
2 tablespoons butter, salted
Bacon bits, for garnish
Fresh cut chives, for garnish
Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Place potatoes in a 2-quart pan. Cover with cold water. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes for 15-18 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Empty pan of potatoes into a colander to remove water. Transfer potatoes back to the pan, add butter and Boursin garlic cheese. Cover for 2-3 minutes. Take a hand mixer and smash the ingredients together until slightly chunky. Potatoes will be stiff but creamy. Transfer potatoes to a serving dish. Top with bacon bits and fresh cut chives for garnish. Serve immediately with gravy, if desired.
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? Sunshine Eats: Hasselback Honey-Roasted Carrots! Get cooking with a vegetable side dish that will bring on the cheers. It not only has eye appeal when served, it is bursting of natural flavor combined with exotic spices. This is everyday cooking. Who wants to give it a try? These beautifully sliced carrots are incredibly simple to make.
HASSELBACK HONEY-ROASTED CARROTS
1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and tops trimmed
1/4 cup natural honey
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
Fresh Chives for garnish
Pomegranate arils for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Beginning at one end of the carrot, slice in vertical strips, being careful to stop before slicing through the bottom. Repeat with remaining carrots. Transfer carrots to a shallow dish. Combine natural honey, olive oil, seasoned salt, black pepper, ground ginger, paprika, ground cumin, and thyme. Stir well. Brush glaze onto the carrots, turning to coat. Place carrots on a nonstick baking pan in a single layer without touching. Bake 40-45 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives and pomegranate arils.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Xia Chinese Shrimp! Stir-fry is a popular way to cook a meal. Many chefs use a wok while others simply use a shallow skillet. Both work just fine, so follow your heart. By tossing and stirring chunks of food over high heat, meals are ready in minimal time. Who-hoo! It’s important to use a cooking oil that can handle high heat without smoking, so leave the olive oil on the shelf. Canola and vegetable oil are workhorses that not only have a high smoking point, but also have a neutral taste, which is why it was chosen here. Be sure to prepare ingredients in advance, including side dishes. Once the stir-fry is ready, it’s time to eat.
XIA CHINESE SHRIMP
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
Green onions, for garnish
Whisk together ketchup, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and agave nectar in a small bowl. Set aside. Warm vegetable oil in a shallow skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and chopped scallions. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly for one minute. Add shrimp. Cook about 2 minutes, turning over and over. Shrimp will change to pink in color. Add prepared sauce. Cook for one minute until thick, stirring often. Remove from heat. Divide between dinner plates. Garnish with green onion snips. Serve immediately over cooked rice, if desired.