What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Kumquat Lollipops! I must admit discovering kumquats at the Farmers Market in Kauai was a thrill beyond imagination. My mind was spinning with all the possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, eating them out of my hand brought instant gratification. Yet, I wanted more. After making a batch of salsa*, I wanted to try something for dessert. That’s when I came up with my version of Kumquat Lollipops. It’s sugar and spice and citrusy nice. I hope you like it, too.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 drops habanero pepper sauce
1 cup kumquats, washed and blemish-free skins
Bamboo party picks
1/4 cup sugar for rolling the lollipops
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, water, ground cinnamon, and habanero pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Add kumquats. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 15-20 minutes. The skins will be knife tender. Remove saucepan from heat. Set aside until the simple syrup and kumquats are room temperature. This will take 2-4 hours. Remove the kumquats; set aside. Pierce each kumquat with a bamboo party pick. Roll each lollipop in sugar. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate kumquat lollipops in an airtight container until ready to serve. The reserve simple syrup can be used to enhance beverages.
*Click the link below for Kumquat Cilantro Salsa.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: X-Tra Cheese, Please, Appetizer! Ever since I visited a popular Las Vegas restaurant, I’ve been looking for a cheese appetizer like this one. It’s not the traditional gooey soupy cheese dip you swipe tortilla chips through before gobbling down. The waiter set the iron skillet in front of us and said, “This is a cheese you need to use a knife and fork with. It’s not going to jump onto the chip.” Come to find out it was flambéed over an open fire in the kitchen. Wow! And they used tequila to ignite it. I wish I could tell you that’s what I did here, but sorry, “no comprendo”. Instead I baked it at a high temperature and dredged it through a spicy honey. Show compassion. I tried.
X-TRA CHEESE, PLEASE, APPETIZER
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup raw Tupelo honey
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 teaspoon garlic habanero sauce
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
Chives, for garnish
Preheat oven to 475°. Using a 10” iron skillet, warm butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and kosher salt. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden brown. Add Monterey Jack cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix thoroughly with onions. To make the spicy honey, in a microwave-safe dish combine raw Tupelo honey, sriracha, and garlic habanero sauce. Stir well. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir again. Set aside. Transfer cheese-filled iron skillet to the oven. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Turn oven setting to High on Broil. Allow dark spots to appear on the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully as this happens very quickly. Remove skillet from oven. Drizzle with spicy honey and ranch dressing. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with tortilla chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Knee-Jerk Chicken Wings! Look ahead for a weekend meal that is Mmm Mmm Good. It takes a minute of advanced planning, but is, oh, so worth it. As with any marinade, its main purpose is to tenderize the chicken while bathing it with flavor and moisture. In the end you have chicken wings so juicy you won’t be able to put them down. As always, store the marinated chicken in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend reusing the marinade once you transfer the meat to a baking pan. As a general rule, any sauces that come into contact with uncooked meat should be disposed of properly to prevent harmful bacteria exposure. I’m good with that. In most cases an extra sauce or dressing can be offered instead.
KNEE-JERK CHICKEN WINGS
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 habanero peppers, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon molasses
2 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon spicy honey
Chives, for garnish
To make the jerk paste marinade, combine vinegar, dark rum, habanero peppers, red onion, green onions, thyme, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses in a blender. Pulse to mix until smooth. Place the chicken in a baking dish. Pour lime juice over chicken to coat on both sides. Wearing gloves, rub the jerk paste over both sides of the chicken wings, covering well. Transfer chicken to a gallon freezer bag. Use a rubber spatula to transfer all the marinade to the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a rimmed baking pan with nonstick oil. Place chicken wings in a single layer, skin side up. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then flip to bake for another 20 minutes. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, and spicy honey in a small bowl. Mix well. Turn the chicken back over so the skin side is up. Brush with ketchup sauce. Bake 10 minutes longer. When chicken is done, transfer to a platter. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Habanero Hot Sauce! Let’s kick things up a notch or two with one of the hottest known chili peppers legally sold in grocery stores. And I mean REALLY hot, compared to the average pepperoncini. The adorable orange lantern with its sweet-looking dimples can be deceiving. Its sting may feel as strong as a viper while simultaneously releasing an endorphin rush that’ll knock you off your feet. This is my fourth batch from the garden harvest. I’m hooked! However, it comes with a few words of caution: Wear gloves and avoid the juices near your face and eyes. While oven roasting, set the exhaust fan on High. When taste-testing, keep a wedge of white cheese nearby. It actually cuts the heat almost instantly. Be brave, my Peeps. Heed these simple rules. Then and only then, will you become the master of your own domain.
HABANERO HOT SAUCE
16-20 habanero peppers, halved, stems, and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/8 teaspoon lime juice
Sea salt to taste
Place habanero pepper halves, skin side up in a single layer, on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast habanero peppers on High for 10 minutes, or until black spots appear. Remove. Using tongs, transfer habanero peppers to a covered bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Using gloves, remove any loose skins; discard. Add peppers to a food processor. Pulse to a slightly coarse texture. Add minced garlic, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Pulse until desired consistency. Season with sea salt. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve in dips, as a condiment, paired with ripe fruits in salsas, or on grilled meats.
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? The Joy of Eating: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies! Get set for an explosion of hot jerk sauce slathered over fork-tender chicken slowly cooked all afternoon. These “fall off the bone” juicy morsels will have you smacking your lips and wiping your chin. A side dish of chunky Bleu cheese dressing snuffs out the fire and tramples the heat. Keep stalks of celery handy and you’ll find yourself wondering how you finished the entire platter.
WICKED HOT WINGS AND DRUMMIES
1 1/2 cups Jazzy Jerk Sauce**
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup ginger beer
1 1/2 pounds chicken wings and drummies
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Mix together habanero sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup ginger beer. Stir to blend. Place chicken wings and drummies in a crockpot. Cover all with sauce. Cook on High setting for 2 hours. Reduce temperature to Low setting and cook 2 1/2 hours longer. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with nonstick oil. Place wings and drummies on foil. Baste tops with sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Turn with tongs, baste, and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with additional sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serving suggestion: Celery sticks and chunky Bleu cheese dressing.
*The Jazzy Jerk habanero sauce may be substituted for another hot pepper sauce.
**Jazzy Jerk Sauce recipe may be found by clicking on the link below.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: One Fish, Two Fish! The health benefits of eating tilapia are enough to make you feel like a poet. By choosing a fish that is high in protein and low in calories, why not get creative with a baked and crispy crust? This one has a kick of spice balanced with natural cornmeal and grated cheese. Give it a whirl and pass your comments on to me. I’d love to hear from you.
ONE FISH, TWO FISH
2 tilapia fillets, boneless and skinless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Jazzy Jerk Sauce*
Preheat oven to 425°. While the oven is preheating, cover the bottom of an iron skillet with the olive oil. Place skillet in oven while you prepare the breading for the tilapia. Mix together all dry ingredients and spread on a sheet of waxed paper. Pour the Jazzy Jerk Sauce* into a shallow bowl. Dip one fish fillet at a time into the sauce, coating both sides. Once wet, dredge in bread crumb mixture to fully cover both sides. Set aside and repeat for the second fish fillet. Using oven mitts, carefully remove iron skillet from oven. Place fish fillets in pan and return to oven. Bake 8 minutes, gently turn over and bake 4 minutes longer. Do not over cook. Serve with a side of cole slaw.
*Jazzy Jerk Sauce recipe may be found by clicking on the link below.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Jazzy Jerk Sauce! Get fired up as you crank up the heat with this homemade habanero pepper sauce. Choose those festive little lantern-shaped peppers from the local market or nearby health food resource, don a pair of vinyl gloves, and fill your kitchen with aromas from the Caribbean Islands. As it cooks, let your imagination run wild for the condiment that sends the temperature rising!
JAZZY JERK SAUCE
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 cups water
10-12 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat. Add habanero peppers, orange juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
*Serving suggestion: Wicked Hot Wings and Drummies!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Jamaican Jerk Chicken! I admit, I tend to take the path of least resistance. By the time I decided I was making this dish for dinner, all I had on hand was frozen chicken. Solution: Slow-cooker to the rescue. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my crockpot? Honestly, some days I’d be lost without it. Not only is the chicken tender and moist, but the citrusy-sweet-spicy glaze made it a perfect accompaniment for steamed sticky rice. Win! Win!
JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
12 ounces nonalcoholic beer
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup puréed Habanero peppers
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons natural honey
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Place frozen chicken in crockpot. In a measuring cup add nonalcoholic beer, orange juice, lime juice, and Habanero purée. Stir to combine. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, thyme, and garlic powder. Add soy sauce, agave nectar, kosher salt, and olive oil. Pour over meat. Cover and cook 4 hours on High setting. After chicken is cooked, using a tongs, carefully transfer meat to a platter. Chicken will be very tender. Transfer drippings to a heatproof bowl. Add red pepper flakes and honey. Mix well. On the stovetop, heat an iron skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil. Transfer the chicken to the skillet. Add half the marinade to the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy and deep brown or charred in places. Turn chicken over and repeat, adding more marinade. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes longer. Brush over the chicken as it thickens.