Niçoise Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Niçoise Salad! Repeat after me, “nee-SWAHZ”. One more time, “nee-SWAHZ”. Spoken like a true Parisian. Now what does it mean, you wonder. In layman’s terms, niçoise refers to the style of cooking in the south of France. It usually includes deep brown olives, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tiny new potatoes, thin green beans, and anchovies or tuna. The dressing almost always includes Dijon mustard, minced shallots, herbs, and olive oil. If it sounds like a lot of fresh ingredients, think of it this way: it’s a gourmet salad, a meal in itself. Besides, it is absolutely show-stopping on the plate. Take your time. Enjoy every bite. Because when you’re all finished, you may discover you’re ready to have it again next week.

NIÇOISE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 pound petite fingerling potatoes

6 ounces thin green beans, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup niçoise olives

4 eggs, hard-boiled and halved

2 ahi tuna steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Wasabi mustard

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, bring to a boil fingerling potatoes, with skin on, in salted water. Cook 15 minutes. Add green beans for 1 minute or until bright green. Remove from heat. Drain; set aside. When potatoes are cool, cut in half or quarters. For salad dressing, whisk together Dijon mustard, garlic wine vinegar, minced shallot, marjoram, thyme, and oregano. Whisking continuously, slowly add olive oil until fully blended. Add kosher salt to taste. Set aside. Divide butter lettuce into serving dishes. Arrange fingerling potatoes, green beans, grape tomatoes, niçoise olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Serve with seared ahi steaks.

Instructions for ahi steaks:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning and white sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Drizzle wasabi mustard on a platter. Arrange sliced ahi, overlapping the slices.

Hawaiian Crunch PB Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Hawaiian Crunch PB Bars! When I asked my grandson what his favorite food was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s easy, Nana. It’s peanut butter.” It was all I needed to know to head to my kitchen to prepare something special for him for the weekend. By switching things up a bit with Hawaiian shortbread cookies, the results produced an amazing crunch that teamed well with the hazelnut spread frosting. How’s that for double coverage? His opinion, you wonder? Being a teenager, a thumb’s up was approval enough.

HAWAIIAN CRUNCH PB BARS

Ingredients:

12 ounces Hawaiian banzai furikake shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky

2 cups powdered sugar

12 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips

13 ounces hazelnut cocoa spread

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped

Instructions:

Pulse cookies in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick oil. Combine butter and natural chunky peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until blended. Next fold in cookie crumbs and mini chocolate chips. Mix to combine. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Warm hazelnut spread in a microwave until it is easy to spread. Cover the peanut butter layer completely. Sprinkle with chopped honey roasted peanuts. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Volcano Cheese Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Volcano Cheese Fries! Say, Whaaat? I first had these tasty morsels at my fav fish hut in Kauai. But after returning home, I really had a craving for them again. Granted, being a Midwesterner, I simply couldn’t resist adding a glob of queso cheese on top. In my defense, the bonfires we have always mix the colors of fiery red and golden yellow. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. But if you have the willpower, I won’t be offended if you skip it. The furikake seasoning and sriracha sauce are the star attractions anyway.

VOLCANO CHEESE FRIES

Ingredients:

16 ounces shoestring fries, frozen

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1/3 cup Queso cheese dip, warmed

1 tablespoon furikake seasoning

Instructions:

Bake French fried potatoes according to package directions. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt. Toss gently. Transfer to a large bowl so the fries can be piled into a volcano mound. Drizzle sriracha sauce over the top, to taste. Add the warmed Queso cheese dip. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning. Serve immediately.

Ahi Tuna Appetizer

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ahi Tuna Appetizer! When you’re looking for something to serve that makes a great starter, choose an exotic appetizer that awakens the “wow” factor in your taste buds. It takes only minutes to prepare but your guests will long remember it after the evening is over.

AHI TUNA APPETIZER

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, 4-5 ounces each, skinless

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons aji nori furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon white toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange on a platter, overlapping the slices. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and a Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Furikake Party Mix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.

FURIKAKE PARTY MIX

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

6 cups Crispix cereal

5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

2 cups wasabi peas

1/2 cup furikake seasoning

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.

Wasabi Furikake Aioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Wasabi Furikake Aioli! For a homemade sauce that can be spread on fish and poultry or used as a spicy dip for vegetable crudités, this one is spot on. The “kick” of wasabi is a distant cousin to horseradish making its intensity a roller coaster ride for the palate. Wasabi lovers know all about the health benefits. Sushi bars offer it as a regular condiment. I find this superfood absolutely delicious.

WASABI FURIKAKE AIOLI

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon furikake seasoning (sesame seed and green seaweed)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons wasabi powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate one hour before serving.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter A

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ahi Tuna Appetizer! When you’re looking for something to serve that makes a great starter, choose an exotic appetizer that awakens the “wow” factor in your taste buds. It takes only minutes to prepare but your guests will long remember it after the evening is over. 
AHI TUNA APPETIZER 
Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, 4-5 ounces each, skinless

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons aji nori furikake seasoning 

1 teaspoon white toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon black toasted sesame seeds
Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Arrange on a platter, overlapping the slices. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and a Vietnamese dipping sauce.