What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Lettuce Cup Shrimp Salad! When you need a boost from the usual lunch menu, treat yourself to an outstanding salad that feels gourmet-worthy. As a shrimp-lover, I already had ideas about serving this to my husband. In my opinion, the bigger the shrimp you can find, the better. Because I saw for myself the seafood deli offered humongous jumbo shrimp (yeah, I know), I couldn’t resist getting a pound to take home. Here’s the secret: oftentimes the market gets specific seafood brought in frozen. Frozen shrimp is usually same-day fresh. They thaw it for the customers and sell it individually or by the pound. I asked the seafood specialist if I could buy a frozen quantity from him. He was more than happy to oblige. Now you know.
LETTUCE CUP SHRIMP SALAD
1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked and tails removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
2-3 lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
Red onion, finely sliced, for garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh dill. Gently fold in the precooked shrimp and celery slices. Place a lettuce leaf onto a plate. Scoop shrimp salad on top. Garnish with red onion. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Dill-Sprinkled Cocktail Shrimp! When you live where seafood is easily accessible, the natural thing to do is buy it and eat it as often as possible. Especially if you like it. And I’m crazy about shrimp. Thus, “Seafood Thursday” came into being at our house. It doesn’t hurt that a seafood vendor makes a scheduled stop, like clockwork, in our community every Wednesday afternoon. Taking advantage of specials at your doorstep not only helps us to expand our palate, but it also keeps me engaged by identifying new ways to prepare things at home. Luckily, I have a husband who doesn’t mind being a taste-tester for me. Granted, sometimes I’m the one finishing the portions in the days that follow, but it does keep meals interesting. This appetizer is pretty basic. Please note: adding wasabi definitely adds a spicy kick to the cocktail sauce. Go easy.
DILL-SPRINKLED COCKTAIL SHRIMP
1/2 cup cocktail sauce
1 teaspoon prepared Japanese wasabi, in a tube (optional)
Romaine Lettuce, shredded
1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, tail on; precooked and thawed
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Lemon wedge, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine cocktail sauce and Japanese wasabi. Mix well; set aside. Divide shredded romaine lettuce between individual serving dishes. Arrange 3-4 cocktail shrimp over lettuce. Add a dollop of cocktail sauce. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Rum-Topped Ginger Beer Float! I gotta tell you, there are some fantastic-tasting nonalcoholic ginger beers on the market right now. One of my absolute favorites is made with organic agave and extracts of chili pepper, coriander, cardamom, lime, and orange. Don’t get me wrong, ginger is still the star attraction. These flavors go extremely well in a Mexican Mule with chile pepper-infused tequila. But that’s another story. I went with a much lighter version of ginger beer for a refreshingly light twist on an old favorite. Granted, with a dark rum floater, it definitely has a boozy punch. Obviously, this is an adult beverage and should not be served to anyone under the age of 21.
RUM-TOPPED GINGER BEER FLOAT
3 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
6.8-ounce bottle ginger beer, chilled
1.5 ounce spiced dark rum
Lime wedge, for garnish
Place ice cream in a glass or mason jar. Slowly pour ginger beer over ice cream. Squeeze a touch of lime juice into the glass. Top with a spiced dark rum floater. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve with a spoon. Cheers!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail! One bite, one little taste, will leave you wondering how you didn’t know about this version of an old classic. So what’s the difference, you ask. Actually, quite a bit. But I’m not gonna lie to you. If you’ve been following my blog, you can often see there’s a method to my madness. One recipe can be a critical ingredient to another dish. Like today. Recently I featured Jalisco Pico de Gallo. I’m gonna tell you it is a key ingredient in my Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, slightly tweaked. On the upside, it makes preparation a snap. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
MEXICAN SHRIMP COCKTAIL
1 1/2 cups Jalisco Pico de Gallo*
1/2 cup Clamato Tomato Cocktail**
1/2 cup ketchup
1 pound jumbo shrimp, precooked but chilled
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a bowl, combine Jalisco Pico de Gallo, Clamato Tomato Cocktail, and ketchup. Mix well. Take at least half the shrimp, discard tails, and cut into chunks. Add the shrimp chunks to the sauce mixture. The remaining whole shrimp will be used for dipping. Gently fold in avocado chunks. To serve, divide shrimp cocktail into parfait glasses. Arrange whole shrimp on the edge of the glass. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
*Follow the link for recipe.
**I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
Dining Outside the Home: Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida! Have you ever eaten in a tiki hut along the waterfront? The open air seating is a sought-after request for a stunning tropical view. It feels like being on a river in the tropics the way the trees embrace the shoreline like an island oasis. There’s no doubt atmosphere affects our perception of being carefree and downright sexy. At Coconut Jack’s the local seafood is fresh, the cocktails are thirst-quenching, and the experience is memorable. Oftentimes, the chef features a daily special that will leave you smiling all the way home. If seafood is your go-to choice, there’s plenty to choose from and more to look forward to on a return trip back.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Iced Peach Spritzers! Ripe peaches are succulent and running-down-your-chin juicy. When you have an abundance of them, think peach cocktails. By adding a sparkling mixer, such as seltzer water or Prosecco, you’ll feel as though every meal is as special as dining out. The blend of flavors and textures is far from ho-hum. Both versions are suitable for mixed company. Go completely non-alcoholic or throw together a grown-up concoction made with a nice white wine and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.
ICED PEACH SPRITZERS
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle white wine, chilled
12 ounces seltzer water
Layer peach wedges on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. To serve, place 3-4 frozen peach wedges into a stemmed glass. Add 3 ounces of white wine. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of seltzer water over top. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Icy Limoncello Slushie! Talk about refreshing. Imagine yourself strolling along the Amalfi Coast of southern Italy. Pause a moment near the rugged shoreline to allow the cool breezes to caress your skin. Admire the sheer cliffs where coastal roads hug towering rock formations. Pay attention to the landscaped vineyards and lemon groves winding down the slope that practically appear to plunge into the sea. This is home to Limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur produced in the region. It is enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive around evening mealtime, due to its pleasing effect on the palate. What better time to gratify your taste buds.
ICY LIMONCELLO SLUSHIE
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Limoncello liqueur
Lemon and Limes, for garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Heat 3 minutes, or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Strain sugar mixture, using a sieve to remove solids. Pour simple syrup into a blender. Add ice cubes, lemon juice, and Limoncello liqueur. Process until smooth and ice chunks no longer remain. Pour slushie into glasses. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip! Appetizers are fun to serve for a gathering of friends or date night for two. I usually keep cooked, frozen shrimp on hand, which can be thawed in a few minutes. But I have also used tiny canned shrimp, which work very well. Obviously, the canned shrimp should be drained first. A few steps later and you’re good to go.
CREAM CHEESE SHRIMP DIP
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed and cut into chunks
10 ounces cocktail sauce, prepared
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Spread a thin layer of softened cream cheese onto a serving dish. Add a layer of cocktail sauce, expanding to the edges. Arrange bite-sized shrimp pieces over all. Sprinkle with dill weed. Garnish with green onion strips. Chill one hour. Serve with crackers.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Jell-O Shots With Sugared Cranberries! The holidays ring in the cheer with festive activities, enticing food, and snappy beverages. Make things awesome with dressed up Jell-O shots that cap off any occasion. Not only do they have an elegant look, but they satisfy the sweet tooth as a miniature dessert. By creating a garnish of fresh fruit with the sugared cranberries, it’s a classy finish with a gourmet twist!
JELL-O SHOTS WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES
For Make-Ahead Sugared Cranberries:
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup filtered water
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup filtered water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Add cranberries. To prevent cranberries from bursting, do not boil. Stir until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack. Let dry for one hour. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Store in airtight container.
Ingredients for Jell-o Shots:
3-ounce package raspberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup ice water
Sugared cranberries Rosemary sprigs
Empty contents of raspberry gelatin packet into a mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and amaretto liqueur and iced water. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs just before serving.