Now that the period of time from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day is in the rear view mirror, everyone can take a deep sigh of relief to figure out what to do with the abundance of leftovers as well as homemade sweets we’ve accumulated. Let’s approach the days ahead with the clear vision of waste not, want not. I’m the first to admit I limit trips to the grocery store, during the current pandemic, in order to be proactive about my health. Thankfully, I have extra freezer space which keeps my husband and me from eating the same meals over and over until it’s finally gone. I’ve found a few minutes of planning works as a productive strategy to keep foods from going to waste. Perhaps that is also the secret to offer balance, color, texture, and food presentation. After all, isn’t that what the pros do? And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest and Parler at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: After the Holidays!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and daily words of encouragement.
Experience the Holidays: Garlic Clove Little Smokies! I know people often wait for the holidays to serve this spicy little appetizer, but I recently discovered its popularity as a lunch box companion. By making it ahead of time and storing it in a jar, it travels well. Add dill pickle chunks, bite-size cheese cubes, vegetable skewers, fresh fruit, chips, salsa, and double chocolate brownies. You’ll have the perfect portable party food for any occasion. Doesn’t everyone love finger foods?
GARLIC CLOVE LITTLE SMOKIES
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup catsup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
14 ounces little smokies cocktail wieners
Fresh chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, catsup, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, and roasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Add cocktail wieners. Coat evenly. Transfer to a covered casserole dish. Bake for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving.
“I know it’s corny…
but I love ‘Jingle Bells!’”
~ Dolly Parton
Experience the Holidays: Unicorn Holiday Bark! Everyone remembers a childhood of mythical creatures, especially the unicorn which resembled a horse with a pointed horn spiraling out of its forehead. Some believed it had magical powers in addition to being a symbol of purity and grace. Only a virgin had the power to tame the unicorn, according to art from the Middle Ages now hanging on museum walls. Today the thought of unicorns make us happy. Perhaps they represent childhood dreams, or wishes, filled with hope for a future. It should be no surprise that pink swirls of white chocolate and candy glitter in sparkly hues appear in food to further those good feelings. Think of Unicorn Holiday Bark for your next festive occasion. Kid-friendly, husband-approved.
UNICORN HOLIDAY BARK
2 pounds white chocolate chips
Food coloring of choice
1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
1 tablespoon glitter sprinkles
1 tablespoon candy pearls
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Depending on how many colors you choose (I used 3), place 1/3 cup white chocolate chips per color in separate microwave-safe bowls. Warm on Low setting for 15 second intervals in microwave, stirring often. Continue until chips are melted. Add food coloring to desired tint. Hint: One drop of red will produce a pastel pink. Prepare tinted chocolate first before finishing with the remaining plain white chocolate. Once the white chocolate is melted, spread it onto the baking sheet. Smooth into an even layer, approximately 1/4” thick. Working quickly, dot tinted colors over the white chocolate in a random pattern. Take a wooden skewer, or toothpick, and drag it through the colors creating swirls. Next, scatter the rainbow sprinkles, glitter sprinkles, and candy pearls on top. Refrigerate baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until firm. Once set, break the bark into pieces, reserving a curved edge for the unicorn’s horn. Let the magic begin!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Zebra Almond Bark! Isn’t it funny how things get their name? Almond Bark doesn’t even contain nuts. Seriously. I guess, technically, there is a popular candy coating people believe is white chocolate, but isn’t. It’s made with vegetable oil and often artificial flavors. It was used originally to be melted into chopped almonds to make Christmas candy that people went crazy over. So, although I borrowed the name “almond bark”, I actually preferred to use white chocolate chips instead. The ingredient list mentioned cocoa butter and natural extracts, which sounded more appealing and taste better, in my opinion. Whatever you choose, we’ll still refer to it as “almond bark”.
ZEBRA ALMOND BARK
2 cups premiere white chocolate morsels
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate morsels on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals until morsels are melted and consistency is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Spread thin. In another microwave-safe bowl, melt mini chocolate chips the same way, stirring until no lumps remain. To form “zebra” stripes, drop tiny spoonfuls of dark chocolate into the white chocolate. Take a cake tester and create a swirl pattern by dragging the dark chocolate outward into stripes. The more random the design, the prettier it looks. Place baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. Remove pan and break Zebra Almond Bark apart into pieces. Store candy at room temperature.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Traditional English Toffee! So often we have those cherished childhood memories of homemade candy and cookies that accompanied holiday celebrations. They stick with us for life. I can remember being in eighth grade and determined to replicate a batch of my mother’s English Toffee. I waited for her to go into town and then pulled out her secret recipe. You know, the ones scratched on a 3.5”x5” card. More often than not, they showed a list of ingredients with instructions that simply said, “Bake at 350° for 30 minutes”. Let’s face it, that’s pretty vague compared to what we explain nowadays. As you can imagine, I melted the butter along with the brown sugar and stirred. And stirred. And stirred. So how come it wasn’t turning into this crisp crunchy texture of rich golden butter that fueled my addiction? What could I possibly be doing wrong? There was nothing written on the card to correct this runny, gooey mess. Alas, I scraped it all into the trash, washed the pan, and plopped myself at the kitchen table with my Algebra book. She walked in, smiled, and never said a word.
TRADITIONAL ENGLISH TOFFEE
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Butter a baking sheet. Spread pecans in a single layer in the center. Heat butter and brown sugar to boiling in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. Boil over Medium heat, stirring constantly, for 7 minutes. Immediately spread mixture over pecans on baking sheet. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot mixture. Place a cookie sheet over pan until chocolate chips are melted. Spread melted chocolate over candy. Refrigerate until firm. Break toffee into pieces.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Noel Charcuterie Tray! Everyone loves a party. As the host or hostess, you should too. Instead of picking up a ho-hum relish tray at the local supermarket, make a charcuterie tray because they’re fun…and easy entertaining. Basically, it consists of cured meats, cheeses, nuts, fruit, and olives. And there’s no rhyme or reason for arranging things on a tray or platter. The more random the pattern, the better. Fresh herbs can add an aromatic ambiance making your guests feel special. Candles have the same effect, as long as they are away from the direct line to finger food. Crackers or artisan bread are a nice platform for spreadable cheeses or gourmet jams. Getting ideas? I see you nodding your head in agreement, so let’s get this party started.
NOEL CHARCUTERIE TRAY
4-ounce assorted Antipasto Italiano sliced meats
8-ounces Bleu cheese, wedge
8-ounces Colby Jack cheese cubes
6-ounces Wasabi & Soy Sauce almonds
6-ounce jar Kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup moonshine maraschino cherries
1 cup candied orange peel*
4.25-ounces sea salt snack crackers
4.25-ounces sesame artisan crackers
Fresh Rosemary, for garnish
First, arrange some items in small bowls, like olives, nuts, and fruits. It keeps them contained for easy replenishment. Cured meats and cheese wedges are often the spotlight. As larger items, place then on the tray once you have the bowls in place. Crackers or bread go next. Don’t be afraid to pile them on. Feel free to fill in the “spaces” with salty nuts, cheese cubes, and fresh rosemary sprigs. Enhance your presentation with knotted bamboo picks or cocktail toothpicks for spearing small bites.
*Follow the link for recipe.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.
JUICY ROAST TURKEY
10-15 pound turkey, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon thyme
Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Golden Oyster Stew! I knew it was something special when my father requested this savory stew once a year. Although he was the only one who indulged in its aromatic creaminess, I managed to sneak one spoonful each time. I guess you could say eventually I acquired a taste for this seafood delicacy. Now I’m sharing it with you. Carry on the tradition.
GOLDEN OYSTER STEW
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces of fancy whole oysters, with oyster liquor
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, finely shredded
In a 2-quart pan over medium high heat, combine potatoes, onion, butter, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add just enough water to cover. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add oysters with liquor, cream, and cheese. Stir occasionally for cheese to melt. Gently bubble until the edges of the oysters begin to curl. Do not boil over. Serve the golden oyster stew immediately with oyster crackers.