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.

Green Tea Berry Cobbler

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Green Tea Berry Cobbler! Now you can drink your tea and eat it too. Presenting a unique twist on an old favorite. Green tea combines its earthy flavors with a touch of bitterness to complement the natural sweetness of fresh fruit. The results will astound your taste buds, rounding off the cobbler’s cake-like topping. Choose any combination of fruit; blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, or mulberries. One hint for best results: Spoon the cobbler topping in small portions leaving room for the fruit to “pop” through and become caramelized. That’s the part that makes our eyes roll back in satisfaction.

GREEN TEA BERRY COBBLER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup boiling water

1 Green Tea bag

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup mulberries

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup granola

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a baking dish or iron skillet with butter. Set aside. Place teabag in 1/2 cup boiling water. Steep for 3 minutes. Discard tea bag. Cool tea to room temperature. In a medium bowl, combine berries, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Toss gently to coat; do not crush berries. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together egg and sugar. Continue for one minute. Add sea salt, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely blended. Add green tea. Mix well. Gradually add flour and baking powder. Stir until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan, leaving about 5 tablespoons reserved for topping. Gently layer berries over batter. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over fruit. Bake 10-12 minutes. Scatter granola over the top of the batter. Bake 20 minutes longer or until cobbler is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Worcestershire Onion Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Worcestershire Onion Dip! Add a little drama to ordinary chip dip. Choose pan-fried sweet onions infused with agave nectar for that luscious caramel taste we adore so much. Pair it with a splash of Worcestershire sauce for spice and pizazz. Blend everything together for the most satisfying oniony taste. Refrigerate an hour and get the party started.

WORCESTERSHIRE ONION DIP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 sweet onions, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 green onion, chopped

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil and butter. Stir in chopped onions, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and cook until onions are deep golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep from scorching. Stir in agave nectar and garlic powder. Reduce to low heat and cook 15 minutes longer. Reserve one tablespoon of onion mixture for garnish. Set aside. Transfer caramelized onions to a food processor. Purée until only slightly chunky. Add Worcestershire sauce, Neufchâtel cheese, and Greek yogurt. Pulse until combined. Scoop into a bowl. Top with remaining tablespoon of caramelized onions and green onion snips. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Serve with chips, crackers, or pretzels.

Quick-Mix Cheesy Grits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Quick-Mix Cheesy Grits! Step away from the usual breakfast smoothie for an occasional southern meal of cheesy grits, eggs-over-easy, and crispy applewood bacon. Grits are not only quick and easy, they’re delicious and filling. This fail-safe method is spot on and can be whipped up in no time at all. It’s packed with enough protein to keep hunger pangs at bay. Save the weekends when you have more time for making grits from scratch.

QUICK-MIX CHEESY GRITS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant grits

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Pat of butter, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine instant grits, water, and sea salt in a quart microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Stir. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until thickened when stirred. Add cheese; stir. Cook 1 minute longer or until cheese melts into a creamy texture. Spoon cheesy grits into individual bowls and add a pat of butter to each bowl. Serves 4.

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.

Egg Drop Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Egg Drop Soup! Treat yourself to a Chinese favorite. Using only a few items, you can prepare a festive bowl of chicken broth flavored with green onion, plus a hint of ginger spice. Check out the silky ribbons of beaten eggs and curly wonton strips. Isn’t it pretty? You can do this.

EGG DROP SOUP

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons corn starch

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup mushrooms, sliced and sautéed (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 green onions

Fried wonton strips for garnish

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan, combine corn starch, ground ginger, white pepper, and sea salt. Slowly pour chicken broth into the pan, stirring constantly to dissolve lumps. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. After two minutes, reduce heat to simmer. When the broth has thickened, place a whisk over the pan. Slowly pour beaten egg mixture over the whisk, swirling in a clockwise motion to create silky ribbons. Add sautéed mushrooms. Heat through. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with droplets of sesame oil. Sprinkle green onion snips over soup. Garnish with fried wonton strips.

Dirty Kettle Chips

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Dirty Kettle Chips! Get set to trigger your brain’s pleasure center. I came upon this treat after surviving a bout with the flu bug. For days all I could do was crawl into bed and sleep, drink plenty of water, then satisfy my hunger pangs with spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup. Obviously when my appetite returned, I discovered there weren’t too many groceries in the house. Voilà, Dirty Kettle Chips were born. One bite was all it took to begin craving more. You should try it.

DIRTY KETTLE CHIPS

Ingredients:

8-ounce bag kettle-cooked potato chips

6-ounces provolone cheese, sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Green onion snips, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an iron skillet with nonstick oil. Arrange potato chips in a single layer overlapping a bit. Next add provolone cheese on top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Top with cracked black pepper. Repeat for second layer. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts and edges turn slightly brown. Remove from oven. Garnish with green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Italian Stewed Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Italian Stewed Tomatoes! Before the weather turns chilly, grab up all those garden tomatoes at the peak of ripeness. You’ll appreciate a little extra effort now for that rich intense flavor in the middle of winter. Slow-cooked and simmered to perfection, stewed tomatoes are the secret ingredient for tailgating chili, flavorful stews, and Italian pasta dishes. Go ahead, score big with the best-tasting slightly sweet firm texture of harvest stewed tomatoes.

ITALIAN STEWED TOMATOES

Ingredients:

19-20 Roma tomatoes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon parsley

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 green pepper, chopped

Instructions:

Make a small X in the stem end of each Roma tomato. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for one minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water for an ice bath. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes, removing the core, and place tomatoes in a large skillet. Add kosher salt, agave nectar, parsley, oregano, basil, marjoram, garlic powder, and green pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve fresh or freeze for later.

Taqueria Guacamole

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Taqueria Guacamole! Everyone eats out, that’s a fact. It gives us pleasure. Besides, it takes less energy than planning, shopping, and cooking at the end of the day. But have you ever had a taste for one of the vacay restaurant specials and wish you could make it yourself? Well, I do it all the time. That’s why I recreated a popular cantina menu item that takes guacamole to the next level.

TAQUERIA GUACAMOLE

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados; halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 green tomato, chopped

1 red tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon red onion, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

1 roasted red chili pepper, diced

Cilantro to garnish

Instructions:

In a medium mixing bowl, mash avocado chunks with a fork until thick and smooth. Sprinkle in lime juice, garlic powder, and sea salt. Fold in green tomato chunks and red tomato chunks. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with chopped red onion, jalapeño slices, and diced red chilies. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.