Dining Outside the Home: Rosati’s Pizza in Estero, Florida! You learn a lot about a business by talking to the owners. Perhaps that is why I sometimes visit a restaurant in the off hours of the day. You are more apt to find the owners working face-to-face with customers. Rosati’s Pizza is owned and operated by a family who not only strives for perfection, but also cares about the people who walk through their door. When they expanded their business in Estero for dine-in service, Covid hit with a vengeance and caused them to shift to delivery and carry-out service only. That takes a chunk out of overhead, which translates to selling a boatload of pizza. Yet, they endured. And thrived because they do things the old-fashioned way: like sourcing local ingredients, fresh mozzarella, and homemade crusts. Their story goes all the way back to the first pizzerias in Chicago; Italian roots to the core. So proud, they live by the motto, “We don’t cut corners, just slices of pizza.” Dine in, smell the aromas, chat with the staff, and over-order so you have extra servings for leftovers. Don’t forget to add a jar of the Hot Giardiniera. It is ah-mazing!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Hoosier Hot Dish! When I moved to Indiana over 30 years ago, it didn’t take me long to hear the term “Hoosier”. I knew it was a nickname for the State’s residents. But, honestly, I wondered how it originated. I had no idea it came into popularity over 200 years ago. The story that was told to me went something like this. Along the Ohio River, in the hills of southern Indiana, settlers lived and worked around the riverfront. As boatmen passed by on barges taking corn to New Orleans, the countrymen would call out, “Who’s Yere?” to assure they were friend, not foe. It happened so often, in time those workers became known as people of the “Hooshier” State. My experience in hearing about this one-pot meal for the first time was just as funny. A coworker said she was making Hoosier Hot Dish for supper. When I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and told me there wasn’t one. She said you just throw everything in a pot on the stove and eat it when it’s done. I narrowed it down a little bit more for you. Go figure.
HOOSIER HOT DISH
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
15-ounce can cut green beans, with liquid
1 pound potatoes, quartered, skin on
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2” chunks
Warm olive oil on medium-low setting in the bottom of a stock pot. Add sliced onions, seasoned salt, garlic and herbed seasoning. Sauté 20 minutes until onions are a light brown. Add green beans with liquid, quartered potatoes, and smoked sausage chunks. Cover and Cook 30-40 minutes over medium heat or until potatoes are fork tender. Hot Dish will thicken. Add 1/2 cup water, if necessary, to keep things from boiling dry or scorching. Serve with cornbread.
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Jumping Chicken Noodle Bowl! I love it when I can go to the kitchen and use ingredients I already have on hand. The “make ahead” Vietnamese Dipping Sauce* (nuoc cham) is a multi-purpose staple that livens up Asian cuisine nicely. By making supper a noodle bowl with prepackaged veggies and spicy chicken, the blend of flavors quickly satisfy hunger pangs while providing comfort at the same time.
JUMPING CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL
8 ounces boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup soybean sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch broccoli florets, cooked and drained
1 cup blend of shredded cabbage and carrots
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup cashew pieces
1 cup Vietnamese Dipping Sauce*
Heat a skillet over medium temperature. Add olive oil and chicken strips, single layer. Cook 3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Reduce heat to low. Add soybean sauce and red pepper flakes. Cook 10 minutes longer until meat is tender and liquid is absorbed. Arrange chicken strips, rice noodles, broccoli florets, and cabbage-carrot blend in a shallow bowl. Top with chopped green onions and cashew pieces. Cover with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce*, to taste. Serve immediately.
*Make your own Vietnamese Dipping Sauce by clicking on the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Hot Sauce Tex-Mex Dip! Nothing screams “party” like a flavorful Mexican dip loaded with cheese, beans, chorizo, and chips. This do-ahead recipe is perfect for advance planners. Pull it all together and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready, simply allow it to stand at room temperature half an hour before you need to bake it. Add 10 minutes to the time it is covered in the oven for melting the ooey gooey cheese. If you’re going to make this Tex-Mex Dip, may as well get lost in the tug-of-war between chili lime seasoning and garlicky hot sauce. It’s everything you love. Just add cocktails.
HOT SAUCE TEX-MEX DIP
4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained, and divided
3/4 tablespoon fresh lime juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup chorizo, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix
4 ounces Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded and divided
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons pickled jalapeño, diced
Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, 1 teaspoon lime juice, hot sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Pulse until smooth and creamy. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir remaining black-eyed peas, chorizo, scallions, red pepper, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup Mexican Cheese Blend into the cream cheese mixture. Mix thoroughly. Spread into the bottom of a lightly greased deep dish pie plate. Sprinkle with remaining Mexican Cheese Blend. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 15 minutes longer until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir together in a bowl chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, olive oil, diced jalapeño, remaining lime juice, and remaining sea salt. Using a slotted spoon, top dip with tomato mixture. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
Dining Outside the Home: Hattie B’s Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee! Chicken places can be a dime a dozen in the South, but Hot Spicy Chicken is a bird of a different color. Hattie B’s is a mom and pop food joint that rolls off the tongue with a southern drawl. Ask anyone on the street and they’ll point you in the direction for fried chicken at its best in Nashville. Five heat levels from no heat crispy chicken to eye-bulging habanero spicy are offered, so be prepared to eat your words. You’re going to need the coleslaw, pickles, and beans to tone things down long enough to finish the basket you ordered. For an explosion of flavor worth bragging about, head over to Hattie B’s. It’s something to crow about.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Jersey Hot Dogs! Ask anyone how they prefer a hot dog and you’re bound to get a multitude of answers. Some prefer ketchup and onions, others insist on mustard and pickle relish. When grilling or roasting you hear everything from “barely warm” to “charred and crispy”. And then there’s New Jersey where the technique has been practiced for over a century. Maybe you know the secret: crispy potato chunks, sweet red peppers, and grilled onions. Overload the bun and slather on the mustard. Pay attention. You’ve just entered the Hot Dog Zone of America!
JERSEY HOT DOGS
3 new potatoes, cut into chunks
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
4 Angus beef hot dogs
4 hot dog buns
Deli Mustard to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in an iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add potatoes. Fry for 3 minutes; turn and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Potatoes will be partially crisp and browned. Remove and set aside. Add sweet red peppers and onions; repeat same frying process. Return potatoes to skillet. Add Italian seasoning. Combine vegetables. Cook 5-7 minutes longer on medium heat until all are tender and browned. Open hot dog buns and smear with deli mustard. Grill hot dogs as you prefer them. Insert hot dogs into sliced buns and fill with potato mixture.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.
PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA
1 prepared pizza crust
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornmeal
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce
1 cup pulled pork
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.
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.