What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Cincinnati “Cottage” Ham! W-h-a-a-a-t? When my husband requested something his mother used to cook that conjured up pleasant memories of his youth, I couldn’t refuse. He was raised in southwestern Ohio where traditional foods, like Cottage Ham, make up comfort food thrown together in one pot for a meal that practically makes your eyes roll back. Local butchers recognize the term since they’ve been using it for over a hundred years. Secret recipes include tender meat taken from the shoulder of the pig, salt-and-sugar cured, and then hickory wood-smoked. The name became popular in the 1800s because the Cottage Ham is small in size, just like a tiny house.
CINCINNATI “COTTAGE” HAM
2-3 pound smoked pork shoulder butt
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
Place cottage ham in a slow cooker. Cover with water. Add green beans, sea salt, black pepper, and onions. Cook on Low 8 hours. Add quartered red potatoes. Cook 2 hours longer. Cut ham into thick pieces with green beans and potatoes. Ladle juice over all. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: USA Happy Snack! Did I ever tell you I spent my childhood surrounded by apple trees? It’s one of my favorite memories, growing up in the Midwest. If I was in a feisty mood, I’d nibble on sour green apples. Forget that my impatience may have caused a tart pursing of the lips and a slight ache in the stomach. As the apples ripened, I’d pluck the prettiest one off the tree, rub it against my knee for a mirrored sheen, and admire its beauty. Sometimes I’d twist the stem until it broke, reciting my ABCs. Whatever letter I was on when the stem splintered away became the name of my next boyfriend. But not if it matched my brothers’ names. That didn’t count. Here’s to all-American healthy food wrapped up in a little nostalgia.
USA HAPPY SNACK
1 Gala apple, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 slices smoked Virginia ham
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thick
Brush the sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut the ham slices in half. Take one apple slice and place it on top of a piece of cheddar cheese. Wrap them with one piece of ham, seam side down. Tuck a sprig of fresh mint into the snack. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Upgraded Lunch Break! For those original gamers from the 1980’s, today’s snapshot may detect a slight resemblance to a popular video game character known as Pac-Man. I assure you, that was not my intention. My kids played that harmless game all the time, staring at a screen that literally ate its way to a high score. Then again, I seem to remember them requesting pizza delivery more often as a result of it. At least nowadays I can choose a healthier alternative with multigrain baked crackers that have wheat, corn, and oats. Plus it won’t cost me a roll of quarters.
UPGRADED LUNCH BREAK
6 multigrain baked crackers
3 slices cherrywood smoked ham, deli-style
1 golden delicious apple, sliced in wedges
Fresh chives, for garnish
Arrange multigrain crackers on a platter. Cut each slice of ham in half. Form into an accordion shape to create “wells”. Secure one end with two strands of fresh chives. Tie securely. Place the ham onto a multigrain cracker, fanning out the hills and valleys. Insert apple wedges where possible, allowing them to stand upright. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Tortilla Roll-ups! Bite-size portions have a way of making a pinwheel platter into an appetizing celebration. The variations are endless, mostly depending on what you have on hand or the cravings that come knocking at your door. Make ahead recipes are popular, and convenient, as time-saving options when schedules become a bit blurry. Kids smile and giggle knowing this in one time eating with your fingers is allowed without scolding or frowns from the adults in the room. Think school lunchbox treats, picnic basket munchies, game day favorites, or holiday gatherings. Anything goes!
2 flour tortillas
4 tablespoons thousand island salad dressing, prepared
2 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
4 slices deli-sliced honey ham
2 slices provolone cheese
2-3 radishes, sliced thin
Lay out the flour tortillas in a work space. Spread each tortilla with thousand island salad dressing. Next, place the lettuce leaves over the mixture. Layer the ham and cheese slices evenly for easier rolling. Finally, divide the thinly sliced radishes between them. Starting at one end, slowly roll the tortilla as tight as possible. Hint: you can tie them with baker’s twine to keep them snug. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight, before slicing into 1/2” pinwheels. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Inside Out Bagel Grilled Ham ‘n Cheese! My world has always been part of the bagel craze. Think about it. It’s a quick breakfast smeared with cream cheese, it’s mobile for on-the-go travels, compact for a bento box, and incredibly satisfying as a lunch buddy. And then there’s the varieties: blueberry or strawberry, sun-dried tomato, cinnamon raisin, garlic and onion, plus everything seasoning on a wheat, rye, or sourdough bagel. There’s usually at least three kinds of cream cheese spreads to choose from, unless you make your own. Building a sandwich includes fresh vegetable sides of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and avocados. It can be exhausting. The list goes on and on, that’s for sure. I think when it all comes down to it, a bagel is simply my comfort food. And that is exactly why I turned it into a grilled cheese sammie. Spread the love.
INSIDE OUT BAGEL GRILLED HAM ‘N CHEESE
1 cinnamon raisin bagel, halved
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 slices smoky provolone cheese
3 deli slices cherrywood smoked ham
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350°. Lay the bagel slices with the inside halves open. Smear mayonnaise on each half. Warm an iron skillet over medium-low heat. Place the mayonnaise side down in the skillet. Layer the cheese over the bagel, then arrange the cherrywood smoked ham on top. Place the remaining bagel half, mayonnaise side up, over the sandwich. Press down with a spatula. Cook until the bagel turns golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Then carefully flip the sandwich over. Bake 3 minutes longer. Transfer the bagel sandwich to the oven for the cheese to continue melting and the bagel to turn crisp. Add Dijon mustard, if desired. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Pinto Bean Cottage Ham Stew! Whenever I make a main course meat, I usually have enough excess to freeze a portion or two for recipes down the road. It keeps us from growing weary of eating the same thing over and over until it’s gone. This recipe is one of those “second meals” from the cottage ham dinner recently. It can easily be substituted with ham or completely omitted for a vegetarian meal. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it?
PINTO BEAN COTTAGE HAM STEW
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced
6 mini carrots, sliced
15-ounce can pinto beans, with liquid
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water or broth from cottage ham*
1 cup cottage ham, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 bay leaves
In an iron skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, diced celery, and sliced carrots. Cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the pinto beans with liquid, garlic powder, marjoram, thyme, liquid smoke, and black pepper. Stir. Slowly add water and cottage ham pieces. Stir to combine. Place the bay leaves on top. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 30 minutes. For a thicker stew, lightly mash some of the pinto beans. Remove bay leaves before serving.
*Broth was saved from the original preparation of the cottage ham.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Cottage Ham! I’ve made this dense cottage ham three different ways: slow-cooker, stove-top, and oven-bake. The best results came when I used the Le Creuset cast iron enameled Dutch oven.* It seemed to distribute the heat more evenly. The ham was fork-tender, moist, and juicy. Because the pan locks in the moisture, you can keep it warm in the oven until dinner time by reducing the oven temperature after the first three hours. Any leftover cooking water can be used as a soup base the following day.
2 pound smoked shoulder butt
8-10 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse cottage ham to remove excess salt. Place cottage ham in a 3.5-quart Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill 2 inches above ham. Add black peppercorns, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Cover with lid. Bake cottage ham two hours. Check water level to keep the pan from going dry. If it does, add a little more water. The absorption allows the ham to be fork-tender, not chewy. Bake one hour longer, if necessary. The ham is done when the internal temperature is 160°. Serve with potatoes and vegetables of choice.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ham Salad Spread! Tired of ho-hum tuna salad or egg salad sandwiches? Think all-natural applewood smoked ham with no artificial ingredients. When you begin with quality, the results are astounding. Add sweet pickle relish, chopped celery, and fresh horseradish. The biggest challenge is deciding if you wish to smear it on rye bread, add a dollop over wheat crackers, or simply scoop it onto a Bibb lettuce leaf. Skip the Deli-made and crank out a batch at home. It’s easier than you think. In no time at all, you’ll have a party favorite or lunchtime energy boost.
HAM SALAD SPREAD
2 cups applewood smoked ham chunks
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
3 green onions, snipped
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon creamy horseradish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Place ham chunks in a food processor. Pulse in batches until finely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Place celery in the food processor and Pulse until chopped. Add to bowl. Repeat with hard-boiled eggs. Add to bowl. Stir to mix. Add green onion snips, sweet pickle relish, horseradish, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Jambon de Bayonne Baguette! If you don’t have time to run by the local artisan bakery, consider this option. By using ingredients you may already have on hand from the local supermarket deli, this homemade version of a Parisian favorite can be done in minutes. It’s basically a ham and cheese sandwich stepped up a notch.
JAMBON DE BAYONNE BAGUETTE
1 baguette, cut in half (serves 2)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
3 ounces Jambon de Bayonne, or aged prosciutto
2 romaine lettuce leaves
2 slices espresso/lavender rubbed cheese
8 cornichon gherkins
Slice baguette lengthwise, without cutting all the way through to create a submarine sandwich. Spread a fine layer of Dijon mustard over each baguette half. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and herbs de Provence. Add slices tomatoes to coat, reserving olive oil mixture. Place one layer of tomatoes in each baguette. Next divide prosciutto, romaine lettuce, and gourmet cheese between baguette sandwiches. Top with cornichon gherkins. Drizzle with remaining herbed olive oil. Close and serve. Bon Appétit!