Dining Outside the Home: O’Quigley’s Seafood Steamer & Oyster Sports Bar in Destin, Florida! Question: What do you get when you combine fresh seafood with an Irish sports bar? Answer: A name that says it all. When you’re craving seafood and everyone has a different idea of what that might be, choose a restaurant that not only keeps the kids occupied with private tv screens in comfy booths, but also an incredible menu items plus a wide selection of crafted beers for the grownups. Sit back and relax. The portions are generous and the choices seem endless. Seafood can be prepared steamed, blackened, fried, or sautéed. Burgers, steaks, wings, and soups are other options worth considering. On second thought, better plan on taste-testing each other’s platters.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Grilled Avocado Bowls! Now you have a reason to eat more than mashed avocados in guacamole. Anyone can become a grill master with this perfect side dish. By grilling these sumptuous half moons, you not only get a portion all to yourself, the protein-packed morsels will give you energy enough to tackle whatever else is on your list. The touch of lime compliments the earthy hint of outdoor smoke. Top them off with farm fresh sweet corn niblets, chopped Roma tomatoes, and leafy cilantro snips. See what you’ve been missing.
GRILLED AVOCADO BOWLS
2 avocados, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Italian salad dressing dry mix
1/2 cup sweet corn
1 tablespoon pimento, diced
1 slices Roma tomato, chopped
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Drizzle each avocado half with lime juice. Use a pastry brush to coat the cut side of the avocados with olive oil. Avoid surplus in the well; it may cause a flare up. Sprinkle on garlic powder. Divide the Italian dry mix over all. Place the avocados on the hot grill, cut side directly on the grate. Cook for 3 minutes or until grill marks and slight charring is visible. Meanwhile, combine sweet corn, diced pimento, chopped tomato, and cilantro leaves in a bowl. Gently toss. Using a tongs, carefully transfer avocado bowls to a platter. Fill the centers with a scoop of the sweet corn mixture. Before serving, squeeze lime juice over all.
Dining Outside the Home: Mr. Tequila Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Naples, Florida! When one restaurant owner boasts about an additional place to try, my ears usually perk up. Mexican food is one of my favorites, especially authentic family-owned restaurants with a story to tell. Rafael Romo, born in Guanajuato, migrated to the United States as a teenager. With a good work ethic, he understood the commitment required for a successful business. His journey progressed into a food truck where he sold Mexican food infused with family traditions. Over time he gained more knowledge and experience. Then Mr. Tequila was born. Now popular as a farm-to-kitchen cantina, people flock here for grilled specialties that are bound to become favorites. Some of the drool-worthy dishes include crispy flour shells, grilled seafood and veggies, gooey melted cheese, creamy guacamole, marinated meats, and always fresh pico de gallo. Happy Hour margaritas definitely make late afternoon quite satisfying. For a dining experience rich in culture where people are greeted by name, this place fits the bill.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Zia Marianna’s Grilled Peppers! Did you know there are three ways to roast peppers? You can use a grill pan over a burner flame, a broiler for fast charring, or roast them in the oven. The results are amazing, compared to raw peppers sliced into a salad. The incredible flavor is so smoky and sweet you may wonder why you don’t take the time more often. Pay attention to your taste buds! This is how we add depth to any dish, I promise you that.
ZIA MARIANNA’S GRILLED PEPPERS
10 mini sweet peppers, mix of red and orange
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Heat a grill pan on high heat until hot. Rinse the mini sweet peppers and garlic cloves; pat dry. Place the whole peppers and garlic cloves onto the grill pan, charring the skin completely on all sides until black on the outside and soft on the inside, 5-8 minutes per side. Remove and discard charred skin of peppers, seeds, and stems. Cut the peppers into thin slices about 1/4” thick. Transfer the charred pepper slices and garlic cloves into a container with a lid. Slightly wilt celery leaves on grill pan. Add to pepper mixture. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Add the seasoned salt and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Warm slightly before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Xtra Tender Grilled Radishes! If you’ve avoided radishes because of their bitter earthy taste when eaten raw, perhaps it’s time to give them another chance. Keep in mind radishes are simply a root vegetable, no different than a potato or turnip. Once they are cooked, a natural sweetness emerges. Surprise! The slightly crisp outer core reveals a nice soft middle that makes your mouth go “Mmmm.”
XTRA TENDER GRILLED RADISHES
4 cups radishes, stems removed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Warm an iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the radishes in olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with garlic and herb seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium. Place the radishes, cut side down, on the iron skillet. Sear the radishes for 3-4 minutes per side. They will start to soften without losing their crunch. Remove pan from heat. Drizzle the radishes with melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped thyme leaves, sea salt, and black pepper. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Wheat Brioche Burgers! Why brioche buns, you’re thinking. First of all, you must admit a hamburger bun that crumbles into your hands is very frustrating. After the first bite, you’re afraid to put it down in case it turns into a heaping mess on your plate. From that point on, a fork is your only option. Amirite? Brioche buns are rich, chewier, and a little more dense. The golden texture alone is soft and buttery while leaving you with an element of light consistency. Now that’s a way to compliment a savory, grilled burger. Wouldn’t you agree?
WHEAT BRIOCHE BURGERS
1 pound ground chuck beef
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 tablespoons water, boiling
2 eggs, beaten
6 Ritz crackers, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 gourmet wheat brioche hamburger buns
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 leaves romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, sliced into 8 rings
1/3 cup mayonnaise
In a small bowl, dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water. Stir. In another bowl, combine ground chuck, bouillon water, and beaten eggs. Fold in crushed crackers. Divide beef into four portions. Form into patties about 1/2” thick and 1” wider than the burger buns. Indent with a thumbprint in the center of the patty. Sprinkle with black pepper. Chill for one hour. Preheat grill on high heat to 400°. Grill patties, indented side up, for 6 minutes. Juices will accumulate on top of burgers causing them to sear. Do not smash down. Flip; reduce grill temperature to 325° for another 6 minutes. Turn grill off, leaving burgers on grill for 4 minutes longer. At this time, spread the cut sides of the brioche buns with softened butter. Place buttered sides down on grill for a couple minutes to toast until golden brown. Meanwhile, coat romaine lettuce leaves with mayonnaise, gently turning. To assemble burgers, transfer buns to a platter. Add more mayonnaise, if desired. Layer hamburgers with grilled meat, romaine leaves, and tomato slices. Top with toasted buns. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Uff-Da Bread Tacos! Did you know there is a difference between naan and pita bread? Pita bread is definitely enhanced by all the ingredients stuffed into it. Naan, on the other hand, is made with egg and yogurt-instead of water-which are typically fermented (or rested) in the dough before baking in a clay oven, which makes it chewy and delicious. The texture is different and more pliable. Have I piqued your curiosity? If so, now it’s time to see for yourself. You’re welcome.
UFF-DA BREAD TACOS
4 single-serving naan bread slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground chorizo
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup picante sauce, divided
1 cup romaine lettuce, gently torn
1 cup pinto beans, drained
1 cup Mexican blend cheeses, finely shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chorizo. Break apart the meat as it cooks. Drain off excess grease. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle in the chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and black pepper. Mix well. Simmer 2 minutes. Keep warm. Warm grill pan, over medium-high heat; brush pan with vegetable oil. Use remaining vegetable oil to lightly coat naan on both sides. Place naan slices on pan for 1 minute; flip and repeat for one minute longer. Naan will be slightly charred, soft, and pliable. Remove pan from heat. Set aside. To assemble bread tacos, spoon picante sauce on each naan. Layer with romaine lettuce leaves, pinto beans, crumbled chorizo, Mexican blend cheeses, red onion slices, and black olives. Top with a dollop of sour cream and the remaining picante sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Havarti Habanero Handful! You’re probably thinking, “Not another grilled cheese sandwich!” Anyone who knows me understands I can’t leave well enough alone. So…when I came across this “heated” rich, semi-soft version of havarti cheese, I knew I had to have it. Habaneros, as you may recall, are like dynamite in your mouth. The cheese itself is creamy and mild which makes it a perfect match for the testy habanero pepper, or orange lantern as some people call them. When layered with cherrywood smoked ham and grilled artisan bread, the end result is nothing short of Fire and Ice. Are you up for the challenge?
HAVARTI HABANERO HANDFUL
4 thick slices of artisan bread
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cherrywood smoked ham, deli sliced
4 ounces havarti habanero cheese, sliced
Preheat an iron skillet over medium low heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two slices in skillet, buttered side down. Divide cherrywood smoked ham between them. Replace tops, buttered side up. Heat sandwiches until bread is lightly browned, then carefully flip over. Layer havarti habanero cheese over toasted tops of sandwiches. Reduce heat to low setting. Place a glass lid over the pan so the cheese will melt as the bottoms turn golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Grilled Romaine with Strawberries! I call this a lazy cook’s meal. After all, it’s pretty simple. More than likely, most ingredients are probably there in the fruit and vegetable crispers of the refrigerator. You know, those drawers down at the bottom that regulate humidity. (Quick tutorial: most fruits like LOW humidity, most vegetables like HIGH humidity. If set correctly, everything stays fresher and crisper longer.) Heat up the grill, sear the romaine, layer on ripe strawberries, red onion slices, and shaved parmesan cheese. Drizzle olive oil over all. You’re done. The hubs will think you planned the meal with attention to detail. Just nod your head and smile.
GRILLED ROMAINE WITH STRAWBERRIES
1 romaine heart, cut lengthwise
Nonstick olive oil spray
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pint strawberries, sliced in half, stems removed
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat grill to 400°. Spray both sides of romaine halves with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on the hot grill. Sear 3 minutes, until charred. Carefully flip over and sear 3 minutes longer until slightly wilted. Transfer to a platter. Layer with fresh strawberries and red onion slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.