What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Jalapeño Confetti Jelly! This homemade jelly may become your all-time favorite. Not only is it enticing in the jar with its festive swirls of colorful confetti, but once you slather it over your favorite foods, it becomes a taste sensation. Don’t settle for ordinary. Be creative. Serve it as a dipping sauce with grilled meats and shrimp or spread it on crostini and crackers. No rules apply. Make some for yourself and some to share. Either way, it’ll be gone long before the next crop of garden jalapeños roll around.
JALAPEÑO CONFETTI JELLY
8-10 jalapeño peppers, stems removed
12-ounce bag assorted mini peppers
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 packet pectin, no sugar needed*
Wear disposable gloves when handling jalapeños. Chop jalapeño peppers, then pulse in a food processor until they are minced. Transfer jalapeños to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan. Repeat with mini peppers after removing stems, inner ribs, and seeds. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. Start with a rough chop, then pulse in the food processor until finely minced. Add mini peppers to the pan with the jalapeño peppers. Add apple cider vinegar and sugar to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring the pan to a boil. Gradually add the fruit pectin. Continue boiling for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle the hot liquid into clean jars. (Makes three pints or use assorted jar sizes for gift-giving.) Set aside jars to cool before capping. As jelly cools, pepper bits float to the top. Stir occasionally to distribute more evenly for a confetti appearance. Once the jelly is cool, cap and refrigerate the jars. The Jalapeño Confetti Jelly will thicken as it cools.
* I received no recompense for suggesting SURE-JELL, no sugar needed, premium fruit pectin, 1.75 ounce size box.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Habanero Hot Sauce! Let’s kick things up a notch or two with one of the hottest known chili peppers legally sold in grocery stores. And I mean REALLY hot, compared to the average pepperoncini. The adorable orange lantern with its sweet-looking dimples can be deceiving. Its sting may feel as strong as a viper while simultaneously releasing an endorphin rush that’ll knock you off your feet. This is my fourth batch from the garden harvest. I’m hooked! However, it comes with a few words of caution: Wear gloves and avoid the juices near your face and eyes. While oven roasting, set the exhaust fan on High. When taste-testing, keep a wedge of white cheese nearby. It actually cuts the heat almost instantly. Be brave, my Peeps. Heed these simple rules. Then and only then, will you become the master of your own domain.
HABANERO HOT SAUCE
16-20 habanero peppers, halved, stems, and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/8 teaspoon lime juice
Sea salt to taste
Place habanero pepper halves, skin side up in a single layer, on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast habanero peppers on High for 10 minutes, or until black spots appear. Remove. Using tongs, transfer habanero peppers to a covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Using gloves, remove any loose skins; discard. Add peppers to a food processor. Pulse to a slightly coarse texture. Add minced garlic, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Pulse until desired consistency. Season with sea salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve in dips, as a condiment, paired with ripe fruits in salsas, or on grilled meats.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Presto, Pesto! The garden went wild this year with an abundance of basil. I mean, you can only dry so much. Granted, I happen to like fresh basil with anything tomato, but not everyone agrees. So, this time I threw together a couple cups of basil leaves with my favorite pairing: parmesan cheese! Pesto freezes well, so it can be stored in an airtight container, or initially, ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags for later on. Always defrost in advance. Pesto tastes best served at room temperature or only slightly warmed. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Mix it into salad dressing or guacamole; the olive oil creates a smooth texture. Add a dollop to your evening vegetables, pasta noodles, or meat dish. Get creative and go Pesto!
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup olive oil
In a mini chopper, combine basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse to blend; approximately 30 seconds. Slowly pour the olive oil into the top of the lid while the blade is on the Low setting. The olive oil will drizzle through the little hole for smooth results. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Stir. Transfer pesto to a covered jar. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Li Hing Pineapple! Talk to any adult who is native to Hawaii and you’ll discover a craze from their youth. It’s Li Hing Mui, a powdered flavoring that can be sprinkled on anything from fruit to candy to popcorn, and even rimming the glasses of adult cocktails. No kidding. So what exactly is this mysterious flavoring, you wonder. Li Hing is plum powder made from dried plums. It has a combination of sweet, salty, and tangy taste. Local children love it on sour gummy worms or shave ice. Anything goes. One taste and you’ll find yourself giggling like a kid.
LI HING PINEAPPLE
Li Hing powder
Peel and core fresh pineapple. Cut into chunks. Using a sifter, lightly dust the fresh pineapple chunks with Li Hing powder. Let rest for a minute. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Hot Dog Heaven! Summer brings visions of baseball games, afternoons at the pool, picnics in the park, roasting marshmallows over the fire pit, and hot dogs any way you like them. Some people prefer premium Angus franks, others want fat-free turkey, German brats, or Italian sausage. Hold the ketchup? Maybe. Mustard only? Sometimes. Sweet relish? Extra onion? No bun? There have to be a bazillion ways to serve up a hot dog. For your back yard cookout, save yourself the agony of being a people-pleaser. Bring out the kid in everyone. Offer a condiment bar where the guests can congregate and “build-your-own” version of bliss.
HOT DOG HEAVEN
1 pound wieners, standard beef
Condiments of your choosing
Hot Dog Buns
Heat the grill to medium temperature. Grill franks 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until heated through and slightly charred. Remove with grill tongs and let sit for a minute or two to retain juices. For a toasted bun, toss the buns, cut side down, onto the grill for about 15-20 seconds; longer if you want them slightly charred. Watch carefully.
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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