What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Zested Orange Cranberry Sauce! Infuse the traditional cranberry sauce with cinnamon, orange, and citrus to reap a perfect blend of holiday flavors. By simmering the mixed fruits together, it transforms ordinary sauce into a fancier version of a popular classic. Elevate your taste buds from semi-sweet to welcome complement. Top off baked Brie, spoon onto a dish of yogurt, or slather across a piece of toast. It’s perfect for now as well as all season long.
ZESTED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/8 teaspoon granulated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup fresh orange juice, from 2 oranges
1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
Combine marmalade, orange rind, and lemon zest. Set aside. Combine juice, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries pop and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in marmalade mixture. Cover and chill.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Allspice Apple Butter! Nothing makes your house smell better than warm bakery spices filling the air. Apples are in abundant supply at every turn, whether it’s a nearby orchard, farmers market, co-op center, or local grocery store. This easy-to-follow recipe gives you a jumpstart on making two small jars of homemade apple butter. Share one with a friend and keep the other for yourself. Win! Win!
ALLSPICE APPLE BUTTER
23 ounces unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground
1/8 teaspoon ginger, ground
1/8 cloves, ground
1-2 sugared ginger discs, sliced (optional)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
Combine all ingredients in a reduction pan or medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Watch carefully. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Do not scorch. Remove from heat, cool and transfer to two small jars. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Vinaigrette Vendetta! Every once in awhile it’s nice to step up your game at mealtime. So often we go out to a restaurant and then feel like everything at home is just humdrum and boring. Not true. By changing the ingredients, a completely different flavor is born. Take advantage of the olive oil gourmet shoppes popping up all over. Consultants are eager to have you taste flavored olive oils paired with specialty balsamic vinegars. They will astound you. Flavors like lemon with pomegranate or lime with strawberry are only the beginning. Think about bacon olive oil with maple balsamic. Mmmm. Have I piqued your curiosity?
1/4 cup lime olive oil
1/4 cup strawberry balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons wildflower honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Combine lime olive oil, strawberry balsamic vinegar, red onion, Dijon mustard, wildflower honey, minced garlic, kosher salt, and white pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together until mixed. Pour into a cruet with a stopper. Store in the refrigerator.
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? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.
PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS
1 cup vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 garlic cloves, whole
1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced
In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Ketchup From Scratch! Many gourmet burger joints are joining the health revolution by opting out with in-house condiments. For those who truly appreciate knowing exactly what’s in the food they eat, here is a novel recipe for homemade ketchup without high fructose corn syrup and extra preservatives. It’s incredibly simple to make and can be prepared in about 30 minutes. The taste, you ask? OMG! I never thought I’d actually consider ketchup a veggie, but now I do. Enough said.
KETCHUP FROM SCRATCH
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28-ounce can whole Italian Roma tomatoes in juice
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Warm olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Cook until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add chopped garlic, chopped ginger, red pepper flakes, and allspice. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir for 2 minutes. Add the Italian Roma tomatoes in juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The ketchup will thicken and appear shiny. Remove from heat. Blend until smooth. Cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Jazzy Jerk Sauce! Get fired up as you crank up the heat with this homemade habanero pepper sauce. Choose those festive little lantern-shaped peppers from the local market or nearby health food resource, don a pair of vinyl gloves, and fill your kitchen with aromas from the Caribbean Islands. As it cooks, let your imagination run wild for the condiment that sends the temperature rising!
JAZZY JERK SAUCE
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 cups water
10-12 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add habanero peppers, orange juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
*Serving suggestion: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Quality Lemon Butter! Is it a thick custard to be eaten plain? Is it creamy butter for freshly baked bread? Or is it frosting for a scone? You decide. I smothered a blueberry muffin with this citrusy spread. But then again, I also topped my morning yogurt with it. Talk about versatility. You can improvise with this luscious lemon butter in just about anything. Well, except broiled lobster or corn on the cob. That might be disappointing simply because this particular lemon butter has a sweetness to it that makes it more like a dessert than a condiment. Think lemon curd and you’ll be on the right track. Now let’s get started.
QUALITY LEMON BUTTER
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
2 lemons, grated peeling and juice
1/2 cup butter, melted
In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine eggs, egg yolk, and sugar. Stirring constantly, cook until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil as it will curdle. When mixture is thick, remove from heat. Add grated lemon peel, lemon juice, and melted butter. Stir well. Pour warm lemon butter into jars. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Balsamic Reduction Sauce-It’s Sweet! This is the elegant dark sauce you find drizzled over salads, cheese, meats, vegetables, and even fruity desserts in restaurants. At home, it can be made in minutes. You’ll feel like a master chef when you swirl it over your favorite dishes. I do.
BALSAMIC REDUCTION SAUCE-IT’S SWEET!
1 cup imported Italian balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pure honey
Mix vinegar and honey together in a reduction pan.* (If you do not have one, simply substitute a 2-quart pan instead.) Bring contents to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Stir occasionally. You will need to use the exhaust fan on the stove since the aroma of vinegar will fill the kitchen. It will take 10-30 minutes to reduce to half the amount, depending on how thick you want your sauce to be. I prefer it closer to molasses so it stands up when drizzled. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Set the timer every10 minutes to see how it coats the back of a spoon. (It is also helpful to use the markings on the measuring tool.) Once it has reduced to half, remove from heat and set aside to cool. It does thicken up as it cools. Store in the refrigerator. Drizzle on foods in teaspoon-size portions. Enjoy! You’re Welcome!
* A reduction pan tapers from wide at the top to narrow at the base to encourage evaporation when reducing liquids. It often comes with a measuring spoon that has markings on it for accuracy.