Dining Outside the Home: First Watch in Estero, Florida! You can always tell breakfast is going to be good when you know the workers get up with the chickens, which means the crack of dawn. The oven heats up for freshly-baked pastries, the cage-free eggs get whipped for super-light lemon ricotta pancakes, and the smell of hardwood smoked bacon stimulates the appetite as succulent fruits and garden vegetables are chopped, sliced, or diced for the menu of the day. But that’s not all. Smell that coffee. Once you place the order, an aromatic pot of steaming coffee is set before you to drain at your leisure. This is how to enjoy the morning cuppa joe. As you can imagine, word has gotten out, so sometimes there’s a wait. No worries, it takes that long to decide what to choose. Besides, this is Florida and the weather brings a healthy disposition.
Dining Outside the Home: Caffé Milano in Naples, Florida! First impressions go a long way in my book. From the moment you choose an outdoor table along Fifth Avenue, the server greets you with marinated mixed olives from Italy and homemade ciabatta bread slices. If you’re Italian, you know how important bread is at a meal. Sink your teeth into the earthy goodness and make a mental note to buy a loaf to take home for later. Caffè Milano pretty much serves food all day long. Since I was there for a brunch-style meal, the natural choice that day was Eggs Benedict. Just so you know, the Hollandaise is ah-mazing! Relax and enjoy the activity along the boulevard. You may see luxury import cars to high fashion statements made by those strolling by, so appreciate the perfect vantage point for delicious food and current activity.
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? The Next Step: Quiche Keto-Friendly. So, in case you don’t know the difference between keto, paleo, and gluten-free, here’s a quick study. Keto focuses on fat, carbs, and protein without grains or breads. Paleo avoids most dairy, legumes, and grains. And gluten-free basically means you’ve given up wheat, rye, and barley. So you can be on a gluten-free diet and still be keto-friendly. What I’ve done today is eliminate the crust in the traditional quiche making it similar to an omelette, only thicker. No worries. You won’t miss the crust because the ham and cheese filling is worth the trade-off.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup ham chunks
1 cup cheddar cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon onion, minced
Preheat oven to 325°. Beat eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, and seasoned salt. Add ham chunks into egg mixture; stir to combine. Fold in shredded cheese and minced onion. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes until set. Top should appear golden brown.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Omelet 101. You’re having a get-together and need an effortless, but impressive, breakfast. While everyone is huddling in the kitchen, because this is what people do, pour them a cuppa joe and get started. Making the perfect omelet will have you feeling like a gourmet chef. It’s pretty basic. Use an 8-inch sauté pan with slanted edges and plenty of butter. Fresh veggies and shredded cheese are always a good idea. If you’re nervous about the “flip”, simply do what I do. Put a lid on it.
Ingredients: (per omelet)
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons smokey Swiss cheese, shredded
Sautéed asparagus tips
In a mini chopper, combine eggs, sea salt, black pepper, and water. Beat until light yellow in color. Warm butter in pan over medium-low heat. Do not scorch butter. Pour egg mixture into pan. Do not stir. Swirl the pan so eggs cover the edge. Cook until bottom begins to set, about one minute. Tilt the pan to allow liquid to flow underneath. Slide a rubber spatula around the surface to loosen omelet. Arrange shredded cheese, asparagus tips, and sliced mushrooms across the center of the egg, forming a vertical line. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan with a lid to absorb liquid, about 30-45 seconds. The center will remain creamy. Remove lid. Fold one-third of omelet onto itself. Gently transfer omelet to a plate. Serve immediately.
“The key to everything is patience.
You get the chicken by hatching
the egg, not by smashing it.”
~ Arnold H. Glasow
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Bird’s Nest Breakfast! For something fun, take an ordinary poached egg, lay it on a bed of greens, and turn it into a festive meal nestled in a coffeehouse cup. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you like toast, you say. No worries, it’s in there. Think about this attractive alternative when serving a mid-morning brunch for two or breakfast in bed on the weekend. This is how we cruise through life.
BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST
4 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed*
2 slices baguette bread, toasted and buttered
2 extra large eggs, poached or fried sunny-side up
2 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing
Red pepper flakes, for garnish
Gently tear romaine lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide between two large coffeehouse cups. Toast artisan bread, butter, and cut into cubes. Add to each lettuce cup. Gently toss. Poach or fry two eggs, leaving the centers slightly soft. Transfer one egg to each bowl. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
*Add alfalfa sprouts, if available.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: New Day Red Pepper Frittata! When you need breakfast for more than one, think frittata. Omelets serve one, frittatas serve two or more. Nowadays the courteous thing to do is omit the crust in case someone needs a low-carb gluten-free option. You can always serve the frittata with a crusty artisan piece of buttered toast for those who like bread with their meal. Using light cream will result in more of a creamy egg custard, but can certainly be omitted. Because I had already packed my iron skillet, I had to make due with a baking dish. Baking the frittata in an iron skillet gives the edges a “fried” appearance, which always gets the mouth drooling.
NEW DAY RED PEPPER FRITTATA
8 large eggs
1/4 cup light cream
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped
2 green onions, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, light cream, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, chopped green onions, and sweet red peppers. Mix well. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Too with 2 green onions. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until eggs are completely set. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.