What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Old Bay Mayo! First of all, there is no substitute for Old Bay seasoning as a core ingredient in this post. It’s a sacred concoction, invented in the 1940s and respected by Southerners, containing 18 unspecified ingredients. If you try to use Cajun, Jerk, or generic blends, don’t blame me if the results are less than phenomenal. What I can assure is that it taste ah-mazing with shrimp, crab cakes, seafood, and more. Turn Old Bay Mayo into an aioli for sandwiches, dressing for salads, or condiment for meats. I can see you coming up with a dip for french fries, too. Don’t blame me; I’m just the messenger.
OLD BAY MAYO
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed, snipped
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay* seasoning
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, fresh chives, dill weed, lemon zest, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning. Stir until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Serve as a condiment or dipping sauce for seafood.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Island Pineapple Salsa! For healthy taste with a breath of an island paradise mixed in, treat yourself to this virtuous condiment that goes well with practically anything. Grilled meats, charred veggies, fresh fish, and exotic seafood are great dinner companions as well. For an excellent appetizer, serve the pineapple salsa with lightly seasoned tortilla chips. Goes well with tiki-themed cocktails showcasing dark rum floaters. Can you hear me now?
ISLAND PINEAPPLE SALSA
2 cups pineapple, tidbits
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Combine pineapple tidbits, red pepper, red onion, green onions, chopped ginger, and soy sauce in a bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Bang Bang Sauce! Look no further for a tasty condiment that can be smeared, dunked, or drizzled all over fried chicken, grilled shrimp, or even steamed broccoli if the mood strikes you. It’s smooth and creamy, a little bit spicy, honey sweet, and tingles your tongue. You absolutely must share with everyone else at the table. After all, garlic tastes delicious in food, but it leaves behind a slightly pungent odor that can find some people feeling offended or jealous. And we wouldn’t want that.
BANG BANG SAUCE
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 teaspoon natural honey
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Green onions, for garnish
Red pepper flakes, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, natural honey, rice vinegar, and minced garlic. Whisk until everything is combined. Pour into a serving dish. Garnish with green onion snips and red pepper flakes. Serve as a dipping sauce with seafood.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Vine Tomato Relish! Here’s a farm fresh recipe that can be substituted for a side salad, vegetable accompaniment, or sandwich condiment. I’ve even used it in pasta salad as well as on homemade pizza instead of marinara sauce. It’s that versatile. The fact that tomato relish is chunky makes it appealing no matter how you serve it. The herbs and spices enhance the flavor of the garden tomatoes making it a tasty treat that will surprise you. Keep a jar in the refrigerator and watch it disappear.
VINE TOMATO RELISH
1 pint cherry tomatoes on the vine, halved and stems discarded
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Italian spices
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a mixing bowl, combine cherry tomato halves, red onions, and green onions. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian spices, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle vinaigrette over tomato mixture. Lightly toss. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Unagi Sauce! Anyone who likes Japanese cuisine is familiar with the term “unagi”. You may have seen a squeeze bottle, among other sauces, in a condiment caddy placed on each table at a restaurant specializing in sushi. Those who use unagi regularly may choose to call it “Eel Sauce”, but I’ve found that term used for shock-value more than anything else, especially among family members. If you were ordering grilled eel, well sure by all means, call it that. More importantly, let’s talk about taste because unagi sauce is that thick, sweet, salty stuff you could literally slurp with a spoon. I’d recommend adding a mound of steamed rice to your plate so it wouldn’t be so obvious.
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mirin
3 tablespoons sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
Place a saucepan over Medium heat. Add sugar, mirin, and sake. Mix well. Add the soy sauce; stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. It allows the sugar to dissolve equally. Reduce heat to Simmer. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes longer. Bubbles will appear around the surface of the liquid. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, it is ready to serve. Store leftovers in a covered jar 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? Equal Measures: Lilac, Sugar, Sugar! Here’s a way to capture the essence of an early Spring morning. By infusing lilacs into ordinary table sugar, any bakery item or tea beverage can be transformed into an European delight. The unique floral flavor of lilacs is amazing paired with lemon citrus or wild berries. Think scones, muffins, cookies, and ice cream. Or what about an aromatic herbal infusion to iced tea? I like mine fizzy with lemonade and sparkling water. How refreshing! In any event, the possibilities are endless. The next time the lilac blossoms come around, get picking. Your taste buds will thank you.
LILAC, SUGAR, SUGAR
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup lilac petals
Rinse lilac flowers under running water. Let dry. Remove blossoms from stem with scissors. Discard stems. Alternate layers of sugar and lilac petals in a jar. Close lid. Place the jar in a dry dark cabinet. Every day, gently shake the jar to mix the sugar and break up any clumps. After one week, sift the sugar to separate the dried petals from the flavored sugar. Crush the petals or discard them. Spread the lilac sugar on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to dry one week longer. Transfer lilac sugar to an airtight container for storage.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Watermelon Salsa! Want a conversation-starter? The next time you’re in a group, pose the simple question: “Do you eat watermelon WITH or WITHOUT a sprinkling of salt?” Then stand clear and let the debate begin. Some insist that a pinch of salt awakens the taste buds. Others believe it interferes with the natural sweetness. Me? I gotta tell you, I kinda prefer the whole sweet & salty thing. Like mixing buttered movie popcorn with kettle corn. But that’s another story.
1/4 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into chunks
1 ripe peach, peeled, pit removed, and cut into chunks
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, stem removed, finely diced
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Raspberry Chipotle seasoned salt (optional)
Combine watermelon, peach, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers. Gently toss all ingredients together. Squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Chill one hour. Before serving add a sprinkling of raspberry chipotle seasoned salt or have the shaker available as an option.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Thai Peanut Sauce! Known as a popular condiment for skewered meat or seafood in East Asian cuisine, peanut dipping sauce gets all the attention. Homemade Pad Thai is one example. After all, it’s no secret anyone can get addicted to peanut butter. Think about it. We add spicy chili peppers for heat, exotic curry for an earthy taste, coconut milk for authenticity. And depending on the day, there is no substitute for peanut butter and chocolate. Just saying.
THAI PEANUT SAUCE
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy
3/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a food processor, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, kosher salt, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.
*Serving Suggestion: Skewered Shrimp with orange wedges and cilantro.