Dining Outside the Home: Bistro La Baguette in Naples, Florida! When craving traditional French food without the cost of a plane ticket, look for a place that is tied to its roots. Bistro La Baguette offers classic French fare. The kitchen is a bounty of fresh ingredients for traditional dishes as well as decadent pastries, which are featured in a glass showcase at the counter. A shaded porch, surrounded by hanging draperies and green plants, offers open-air seating steps away from the dining room and wine cellar. The velvety green salads are overflowing with garden produce and topped with a heavenly house made dressing. Whether you’re nibbling over lunch or in for a gourmet experience, taking time is the secret to living like a Francophile.
Su’s Garden Chinese Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida
Dining Outside the Home: Su’s Garden Chinese Restaurant on Marco Island, Florida! Pay no attention to the golden lions guarding the serpent-wrapped columns as you enter through the glass doors, unless you want to take a photo. Dining areas are set with white tablecloths, printed placemats, and flatware. Meals are served in Old World style on blue and white designed dishes by attentive servers. Portions are generous and filling. The menu offers tasty appetizers, savory soups, and extensive house specialties with steamed or fried rice. Pay attention to the dishes that promote peppery hot, spicy ingredients for those who crave that Szechwan kick. One mustn’t forget a pot of the blended hot tea for the ultimate dining experience. When you can go no further, sit back, break open the fortune cookie, read the message, and eat the cookie. Perfect meals require perfect endings.
Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes! Turn ordinary tomatoes into a savory side dish with earthy vigor. Have you experienced roasted garlic lately? Don’t hate me if I describe it as smooth and sweet as a dab of butter. Having said that, I can tell by the look in your eye, you’re gonna roast more garlic cloves than I pictured here. Go for it. By quick-roasting vegetables on high heat in the oven, you’ll notice a natural hint of smokiness that satisfies the palate. Although they turn from shiny smooth to a dull luster when finished, the taste is what will win you over. I promise you this, here’s a down-home recipe that will not disappoint.
GARLIC ROASTED THYME TOMATOES
6 medium tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, peeled
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°. Rub tomatoes with olive oil and place in a baking pan. Add garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season, to taste, with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, occasionally brushing tomatoes with olive oil from the pan. Skins may split. Remove from oven. Spoon tomatoes, garlic, and thyme into serving bowls. Drizzle with pan juices. Serve warm.
Harvest Snap Beans
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Harvest Snap Beans! If you’ve ever planted a garden, you already know how easily and quickly green beans are to grow. They produce so well, even a novice takes pride in their bounty. When it’s time to harvest, choose smooth green (or yellow) pods. Lumps are a sign of an overripe bean, which means it could be dried out or damaged inside. Be particular. You can always tell how fresh it is by the “snap” sound it makes when broken. Perhaps that’s why my aunt on the farm used to call them “snap beans”. Taste is everything.
HARVEST SNAP BEANS
1 pound frozen yellow wax and green beans, thawed
6 slices bacon; cooked and broken into chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange yellow wax beans and green beans in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle bacon pieces over beans. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and agave nectar. Mix well. Pour over green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
Color My World
“Use plants to bring life.”
~ Douglas Wilson
Orchids on the Stem
“Love is like a beautiful flower
which I may not touch, but
whose fragrance makes the garden
a place of delight just the same.”
~ Helen Keller
Italian Bread Salad
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Italian Bread Salad! Panzanella. Travel with me to Tuscany for a delightful dinner on a gardened terrace. Indulge in a bountiful salad of artisan bread, juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, and green bell peppers. Appreciate the herbs de Provence perfectly blended with garlic wine vinegar whisked in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s enough to make you swoon. The ingredients are very forgiving. Tomatoes a little soft? Has the bread gone stale? No worries. This classic Italian meal was originally meant to be eaten that way. It’s truly amazing!
ITALIAN BREAD SALAD
1-pound loaf artisan bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, crushed
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine garlic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 300°. Slice and cube the bread in bite-size pieces, leaving crusts on. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Form a single layer of bread cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Bake 10 minutes; flip over and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine garlic vinegar, and sea salt. In a large salad bowl, combine bread with tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Stir occasionally to blend flavors. Just before serving, gently toss with fresh basil. Add cracked black pepper to taste.
* Serving suggestion: Italian Bread Salad is best eaten the day it is made.
Old Town Tavern and Beer Garden in Key West, Florida
Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Tavern & Beer Garden in Key West, Florida! When the heat becomes stifling on a humid island day, duck inside the threshold for cooling shade of Old Town Tavern. This is real southern hospitality. Crafted cocktails and other nice drinks invite relaxation and conversation. Mixed greens and hearty portions encourage shared plates, if you’re into that sort of thing. The friendly staff makes this location a stopping point on a busy street. Drop in and stay awhile.
A Cottage on the Shore
“Everyone can identify with a
fragrant garden, with beauty of sunset,
with the quiet of nature, with a
warm and cozy cottage.”
~ Thomas Kinkade