Kosher Salt Dill Pickles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Kosher Salt Dill Pickles! When I visited the Farmers Market this week, I was impressed by the cute little cucumbers in abundant supply. The fact that my dill was showcasing its yellow flowery blossoms in proud display earlier that morning nudged me to take advantage of both. Canning a jar of classic dill pickles was about to become the focus of the day. So….when choosing a variety of cucumber to pickle remember three things: 1.) Choose small cukes about the size of your thumb. 2.) Make sure they have a thicker skin in order to maintain a crunchy snap. 3.) And remember to ask for the ones that were just freshly picked. Time is of the essence. The crucial time to pickle is as soon as practical after picking. This recipe will make one jar, which is exactly what I wanted.

KOSHER SALT DILL PICKLES

Ingredients:

1 pound pickling cucumbers; cut off tips of both ends and slice in half

2 fresh dill sprigs, with heads

1 cup filtered water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a clean quart jar, place one dill sprig and one garlic clove in bottom of jar. Arrange cucumber halves against the side of the jar working your way to the center. Do not crush. Add one more dill sprig. Pour cooled juice into the jar. Be sure to include the spices. Stop liquid within 1/4″ of top. Seal and store in refrigerator for 12 hours before opening. Keep refrigerated.

Hummus Amongus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Hummus Amongus! If I told you this was a healthy alternative to chip dip, would you believe me? It’s true. The difference is hummus is made from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. They are rich in protein and provide daily fiber. Their smooth texture feels buttery in the mouth leaving a slightly nut-like aftertaste. By adding lemon and spices, it’s the perfect partner for pita chips and fresh vegetables. Go ahead, indulge!

HUMMUS AMONGUS

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

Instructions:

Using a food processor, pulse garbanzo beans until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin powder, and salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with diced pimento. Serve with fresh crudités.

Yogurt Tomato Bisque

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Yogurt Tomato Bisque! Before you turn up your nose at the sound of yogurt, hear me out. Here’s a couple of facts you may not have heard about yogurt. Number One, it’s healthy. Number Two, it makes the soup creamier, which is always a plus in my opinion. Number Three, Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. And, Number Four, it has about half as many carbs, if that’s something that is important to you. All together, that makes it a Superfood. Yada-yada-yada. In the end, what it all comes down to is flavor. Tomatoes can be sweet, so the yogurt adds a little tang, which goes well with a dab of butter. Add herbs and cheese with a slice of garlic toast and you have the “pièce de résistance”. Nicely done.

YOGURT TOMATO BISQUE

Ingredients:

10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup Greek yogurt

Dab of butter

Colby cheese, finely shredded

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Place plum tomatoes and chopped onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor to purée. In a stock pot, combine vegetable broth and puréed tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Divide into soup bowls. Garnish with a dab of butter and finely shredded Colby cheese. Sprinkle with marjoram. Serve with garlic toast.

Spicy Poblano Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Spicy Poblano Sauce! Try to avoid slurping this sauce by the spoonful straight out of the jar. Poblano peppers are a whole other animal, so to speak. Compared to its fiery cousins, the habanero or jalapeño, poblanos are mild and earthy, especially when roasted. Most of the time they are either stuffed (like the chile relleno you find on restaurant menus) or served as a sauce over roasted chicken enchiladas. Still confused? Think Mexican green sauce with chicken and spicy red sauce with beef or cheese.

SPICY POBLANO SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 cup light cream

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Space poblano peppers two inches apart. Roast poblano peppers in broiler oven on High setting until the skins are blistered and charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to a bowl and cover for 15 minutes. When cool, peel off the skin and chop the peppers, discarding seeds and stems. Warm butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and light cream. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Add chopped poblanos. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer poblano mixture to a food processor. Pulse to purée. Season with cumin powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Pulse again. Add Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. Serve warm over burritos or other Mexican dishes.

Red Chili Garlic Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Red Chili Garlic Chicken! If you are a fan of stir-fry, this sauce is often a staple inspired by the fusion flavors of the Far East. Take a quick peek at the ingredient list to see what I mean: ginger and garlic popular in China, chili peppers from Thailand, Vietnamese soy sauce, and sweet rice vinegar used in Japan. It’s all in there. Personally I’m a fan of the sweet heat mixed with the cashew crunch. Skip the take-out for tonight and try this version for yourself.

RED CHILI GARLIC CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried red chiles

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, boneless and skinless

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup cashews

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

3 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Add clili peppers; cover. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain water. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in medium skillet. Turn heat to high setting and add chicken tenders. Season with sea salt, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. After 3-4 minutes, when chicken turns brown, flip over. Reduce the heat to medium setting and cover. Cook chicken until firm, about 5 minutes longer. The chicken will release itself from the surface when it is ready. Set pan aside. For the sauce, in a medium skillet combine brown sugar, rice vinegar, red wine, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Bring to a gentle boil on medium-high heat. Stir often. Mixture should not foam. Sauce will thicken after 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over chicken tenders. Add drained chiles, cashews, sesame seeds, and green onion snips. Heat through, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. Serve with choice of cooked rice.

Kimchi Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Kimchi Shrimp! Brace yourself for a wickedly sour Korean flavor with a crazy spicy kick. Some say it can be a bit salty, especially if you keep an eye on that sort of thing. Others notice the strong leaning toward fish, which is why I dove head first into this dish by adding naturally sweet shrimp, and of course, butter. Did you just do a double take? Stick around. You may end up on the hook.

KIMCHI SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1/2 cup prepared kimchi, chopped

1 pound frozen cooked jumbo shrimp, thawed

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ginger root, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Romaine lettuce leaves

Green onions, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a mini chopper, pulse the prepared kimchi into a paste. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter. Layer the shrimp in the pan. Add chopped ginger. Sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Cook shrimp for one minute, then flip over. Add the kimchi paste, stirring to coat shrimp. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Serve over romaine lettuce leaves. Garnish with green onion snips.

Egg Brekkie Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Egg Brekkie Pizza! Ever get the feeling you just aren’t in the mood to cook? I’ve been there. While you’re standing at the refrigerator, leaning on the door like it’s your best friend, don’t ignore last night’s leftover pizza. Butter up the iron skillet, toss in a couple slices of pizza, crack an egg on top, and put a lid on it. There’s gotta be an extra packet of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, not to mention, crushed oregano somewhere. Bingo! You’re done.

EGG BREKKIE PIZZA

Ingredients:

2 slices leftover pizza, any variety

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs

Sprinkling of parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and oregano

Instructions:

Warm butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle garlic powder into butter. Place pizza slices in pan. Crack an egg onto each slice. Cover. Cook until bottom of pizza is crispy and eggs are barely set, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and crushed oregano.

Alpine Cheese Crisps

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Alpine Cheese Crisps! If you ever get the munchies but want a low-carb snack, here’s something you can make at home in a matter of minutes. Not only that, it saves you the cost of paying for the prepackaged varieties available in the deli department of your favorite grocery store. Go to the refrigerator because you can take an ordinary slice of Swiss cheese and transform it into a thin crunchy chip, simply by using the microwave. No kidding. Add a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese plus a smidgen of garlic and rosemary for a gourmet finish. The secret? Be sure to use parchment paper.

ALPINE CHEESE CRISPS

Ingredients:

8 ounces Alpine Swiss cheese, sliced

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 smidgen garlic powder

1 teaspoon rosemary leaves

Instructions:

In a small bowl, mix parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and rosemary leaves. Set aside. Trim a piece of parchment paper to the size of a microwave-safe plate. Break one slice of Swiss cheese into small pieces over the parchment paper, forming a pile. Sprinkle parmesan cheese mixture on top. All microwave ovens cook differently so begin with 1 1/2 minutes on full power. Then microwave 20-30 seconds longer until the cheese is crisp and golden. Remove plate from oven and allow cheese crisp to cool to the touch. Carefully transfer cheese crisp to a wire rack. Reuse parchment paper. Repeat process until all cheese is used. Store at room temperature.

Thai Peanut Noodles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Thai Peanut Noodles! Take advantage of that extra serving, or two, of leftover spaghetti noodles in the fridge right now. As long as you kept them separate from the sauce, you have the option to eliminate one step in making Thai Peanut Noodles to eat with a sandwich for lunch. If not, then boil up a batch of spaghetti first and let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. I like the spicy kick of red pepper flakes blended with the smooth creaminess of chunky peanut butter. The fresh green onion bits give it an added crunch. Have I piqued your taste buds?

THAI PEANUT NOODLES

Ingredients:

2 servings of plain spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ginger powder

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

6 tablespoons green onions, sliced

Instructions:

Make spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and cool. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine chunky peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add garlic powder, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Blend well. Add noodles and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with green onion bits and serve.