Tomato Burrata Crostini

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Tomato Burrata Crostini! One look, one whiff, and one bite is all you need to be satisfied with this gastronomic appetizer. The intensity of slow-roasted tomatoes releases a tangy sweetness that marries well with the luscious creaminess of burrata cheese. Now balance that out with the subtle smokiness of paper-thin hard salami intermingling with aromatic basil leaves. You have just been transported to seventh heaven, inspired by the taste of Italy. Need I say more?

TOMATO BURRATA CROSTINI

Ingredients:

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 bakery flatbread, plain

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

8 ounces burrata cheese

8 thin slices of hard salami

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Warm an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned tomatoes. Roast tomatoes 15-20 minutes until they blacken slightly and begin to burst. Brush both sides of flatbread with olive oil. Cut flatbread into 8 pieces and place on a pizza pan. Sprinkle with oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove. Place burrata in a shallow dish. Divide it into 8 portions, cutting slowly to keep the creamy filling in the mozzarella shell. Transfer each portion to the flatbread, spreading burrata cheese as needed. Layer thin salami over burrata. Tear or fold to fit the shape of the flatbread. Add roasted tomatoes. Bake 5-8 minutes until edges begin to char. Remove crostini from oven. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve warm.

Firecracker Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Firecracker Shrimp! Celebrations bring people together to share joy, laughter, and fond memories. They can be as elaborate as milestone birthdays and anniversaries or as simple as two friends supporting each other. Whatever the reason, emotions are involved to experience peace, harmony, and rapport. Hence, the explosion of bold flavors for shrimp-lovers everywhere. Let your celebrations include food that says “Wow! I’m really glad to see you.”

FIRECRACKER SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen jumbo shrimp, pre-cooked and thawed

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup natural honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon chili paste

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 green onion, snipped

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Combine cornstarch, cornmeal, sea salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. Place beaten eggs in a separate shallow dish. Coat shrimp in dry breading, one at a time. Dredge coated shrimp into beaten eggs, covering both sides. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add coated shrimp to pan; do not crowd. Cook until golden brown, approximately 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all shrimp is pan-fried. To make glaze, combine natural honey, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, chili paste, and ground ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce to Simmer for 2 minutes until thickened, stirring often. Drizzle honey mixture over pan-fried shrimp or use as a dipping sauce. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Donkey Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Donkey Sauce! If you tune in to the Food Network, you may recall a big guy who looks like a rock star with spiky bleached hair and a goatee. His name is Guy Fieri. When I visited his restaurant in Las Vegas, everything was super-sized and seemed to be slathered in his signature “donkey sauce”. Although he admits it is only aioli, you know it has to be his own secret ingredient list that makes it so famous. The basics include mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Today you can thank me for a version of the best…at least until you get back to one of his renowned restaurants.

DONKEY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/4 cup roasted garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Using a food processor, combine mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, and black pepper. Purée until smooth. Scrape down sides to incorporate. Pour aioli into a covered container. Chill for one hour. Slather on burgers, sliders, sandwiches, salads, and French fries. Anything goes!

Chop Chop Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Chop Chop Salad! Stop your scrolling and check this out. Because in every single bite, it delivers. Sure, it takes a few extra minutes to chop things up…but it’s so worth it. Check out the delicate, spears of baby asparagus. Imagine that sweet nutty taste. Or what about the thin-as-paper radish slices? They provide a slight tickle of pepper spray. Did you notice the tiny shallot rings nestled between the romaine and radicchio? Their subtle oniony/garlic taste may surprise you. Without a doubt, the finishing touch reveals feathery fronds of dill that promise not to overpower. Together, Chop Chop Salad comes across as ineffably sublime.

CHOP CHOP SALAD

Ingredients for Vinaigrette:

1 shallot, sliced and chopped

1/8 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Instructions for Vinaigrette:

Combine shallot pieces, lemon citrus peel, lemon juice, garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and agave nectar. Whisk well. Set aside at room temperature.

Ingredients for Salad:

Kosher salt

1 cup snow peas

1/2 bunch baby asparagus

5-6 radishes, thinly sliced

1 romaine heart, sliced

1/4 head radicchio, chopped

1/2 cup dill fronds, snipped

Instructions for Salad:

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add a handful of kosher salt. Stir. Submerge snow peas and asparagus in ice water for 10 minutes. This makes them very crisp. Drain well; pat dry. Chop into bite-size pieces. Mix together romaine lettuce, chopped radicchio, snow peas, baby asparagus, and radish slices. Pour vinaigrette over all. Toss to coat. Add dill fronds. Serve immediately.

Roasted Chickpeas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Roasted Chickpeas! If you’re like me, some days instead of three squares, you graze your way through the day. It helps to have a high-protein snack on hand when the cravings kick in for something crisp and crunchy. Sure, potato chips might be handy, but would you really feel good after downing an entire bag while perusing the internet? I think not. Seasoned chickpeas can be just as satisfying with their naturally nutty flavor and fiber-filling benefits. Season them with maple syrup for sweetness, a kick of cayenne for spice, garlic for pizazz, or savory ranch flavoring. The best part is you get to choose. Just remember the basic rules: drain, pat dry, peel the skins, and bake. “Bada-bing bada-boom!”

ROASTED CHICKPEAS

Instructions:

30-ounces canned chickpeas, drained and patted dry. Skins removed.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine olive oil, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Mix well. Drain chickpeas. Transfer to a clean tea towel. Cover and rub gently over the chickpeas. This will loosen the skins so you can easily peel them away and discard. When dry, place the chickpeas in a ziplock gallon bag. Pour olive oil seasoning mixture over chickpeas. Seal bag, squeeze out the air, and toss bag to coat the chickpeas all over. Transfer seasoned chickpeas to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Adjust time, if necessary. They should appear browned and crunchy. Do not burn. Cool 10 minutes.

Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots! Have you noticed carrots now come in rainbow colors? How exciting is that?! It’s not only the color that catches your attention, it’s the difference in flavor. Traditional orange carrots have a certain sweet earthiness we’re all familiar with, whether you eat them raw or cooked. Others colors may range from a slightly peppery taste to mildly subtle one. Either way, the combination offers a range of nutrients linking benefits to eye health, better digestion, and possibly even cancer prevention. Refine your taste buds. Give rainbow carrots a try. Organic, of course.

MUSTARD GLAZED RAINBOW CARROTS

Ingredients:

12 ounces organic rainbow baby-cut carrots, cut lengthwise or left whole

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place carrots in a shallow dish. Combine olive oil, natural honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary leaves, garlic powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix well. Pour over carrots to coat. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes for a roasted, golden glow. Serve immediately.

Korean Pork Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Korean Pork Tacos! Once you get a taste for spicy food, the cravings thrive. That doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring, to say the least. Be creative. I like corn tortillas so I transformed an ordinary pork loin into slightly hot Korean tacos. Forego the kimchi and traditional greens by substituting with crispy broccoli strips and shredded carrots. Fresh cilantro and green onions add zest, not heat. Trust me, this recipe is not “burn your lips off” hot, it’s just more balanced between flavor and spice.

KOREAN PORK TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound pork loin, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup ground fresh chili paste

1 tablespoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

Corn tortillas, warmed

10-ounce bag broccoli and carrot slaw

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, dried garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, green onions, and yellow onions in a bowl. Add pork chunks, mixing well to coat. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and marinate for 2-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Be sure the meat is no longer pink in the center. Lower heat and shred pork with two forks. Simmer to absorb liquid to enhance flavor. For coleslaw, mix broccoli and carrot blend with mayonnaise. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fill bottom half of corn tortillas with coleslaw. Top with shredded pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders! Even though the weather won’t cooperate, you can still have that “just grilled” taste of tender pork in your own oven. Broil it instead. The blend of Jamaican spice creates a hot spice mixture that will jazz up any meal. Go heavy or go light. It’s not just for meats, “don’t cha know”. Dry rub fish, shrimp, veggies, or tofu. The diversity will amaze you.

JAMAICAN JERK PORK TENDERS

Ingredients:

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds pork tenders, cut into chunks

Instructions:

Combine cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, ginger, garlic powder, allspice, and sea salt in a shallow dish. Mix to blend. Using a mini chopper, combine green onion and yellow onion. Chop very fine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic wine vinegar. Purée until smooth. Add red pepper flakes. Mix with the spices in the shallow dish. Dredge pork in marinade, coating both sides. Cover and marinate for eight hours or overnight. Skewer pork tenders and place on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, with oven rack in the top position. Broil on high 5 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Hot and Saucy Meatballs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Hot and Saucy Meatballs! For an amazing appetizer or afternoon snack, simply throw everything together for quick work. Bake in the oven or simmer in the crockpot on a low setting. Obviously, if you prefer to make the meatballs from scratch, be my guest. I opted for a simpler method today. Either way, once the meatballs are cooking, you can get on to other things. Such as the latest episode of “The Voice” on DVR. Don’t judge me.

HOT AND SAUCY MEATBALLS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 honey

1 cup ketchup

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds

26 ounces Italian meatballs, fully cooked

Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add Italian meatballs. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.