Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Mealtime Crab Cocottes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Mealtime Crab Cocottes! Seafood can be my obsession and I’m not afraid to be a glutton of it, especially if I’m visiting a locale that is a coastal destination. In my defense, how can anyone resist signs and billboards openly declaring “Best Seafood in Town!”? But eventually one returns home to a land-locked State where seafood is as scarce as hen’s teeth. So when the cravings continue, I head over to the local supermarket in search of a packaged substitute. Maybe it’s the succulent crabmeat or perhaps it’s the French butter, but I have to admit this recipe isn’t half bad.

MEALTIME CRAB COCOTTES

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat

8 ounces imitation crabmeat, flaked

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1-2 tablespoons French butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat bottoms and edges of two ramekins with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, seafood seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Gently fold in lump crabmeat, imitation flaked crabmeat, and diced pimento. Divide crabmeat mixture evenly between ramekins. Top with Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle paprika over all. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with artisan bread and side salad.

Lemon Berry Cheesecake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Lemon Berry Cheesecake! There’s something about lemon that makes your head spin, especially on a hot summer day. It might be the refreshing burst of citrus that seems to hydrate the senses. Or it could be the charm of living in the South that makes it incredibly desirable. Perhaps you’re just a sweet-tart kinda soul. Whatever the reason, add a little berry to the mix and it feels like a party. Because time may be a factor, I began with a prepared cake mix. The rest is pure magic.

LEMON BERRY CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

16-ounce box of yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 eggs

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1 pound powdered sugar

8 ounce block Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Sliced strawberries, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine cake mix, melted butter, and one egg. Press crust into the bottom of a greased and floured 10” deep dish pie plate. Spread a thin layer of strawberry preserves over crust. Mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, Neufchâtel cheese and lemon extract until smooth. No lumps should remain. Slowly pour cream cheese mixture over the layer of strawberry preserves. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool and cut into wedges. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Icy Limoncello Slushie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Icy Limoncello Slushie! Talk about refreshing. Imagine yourself strolling along the Amalfi Coast of southern Italy. Pause a moment near the rugged shoreline to allow the cool breezes to caress your skin. Admire the sheer cliffs where coastal roads hug towering rock formations. Pay attention to the landscaped vineyards and lemon groves winding down the slope that practically appear to plunge into the sea. This is home to Limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur produced in the region. It is enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive around evening mealtime, due to its pleasing effect on the palate. What better time to gratify your taste buds.

ICY LIMONCELLO SLUSHIE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 cups ice cubes

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup Limoncello liqueur

Lemon and Limes, for garnish

Instructions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Heat 3 minutes, or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Strain sugar mixture, using a sieve to remove solids. Pour simple syrup into a blender. Add ice cubes, lemon juice, and Limoncello liqueur. Process until smooth and ice chunks no longer remain. Pour slushie into glasses. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Herbed Watercress Pistachio Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Herbed Watercress Pistachio Salad! Everyone knows leafy greens can supercharge your diet. But not everyone is crazy about kale and arugula. Ask my husband. The strong pungent flavors of the former can step aside, as far as I’m concerned. Watercress is the new sheriff in town. Its delicate leaves reveal a slight hint of horseradish or wasabi, but with a crispier texture. To combat the bitter tang, simply add a nice citrus fruit along with the ancient royal pistachio nut. Did you know the Queen of Sheba found pistachios so delightful, she declared it was forbidden for commoners to harvest pistachio nuts for themselves? Alas, I digress. Watercress is the star attraction. Rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, and folic acid, its roots thrive in creek bottoms where clear running water encourages natural growth. Most farmers cultivate it in very wet ground providing constant moisture. Ask around at the Farmers Markets. It sells quickly to those who desire it.

HERBED WATERCRESS PISTACHIO SALAD

Ingredients:

1 bunch watercress, roots trimmed

8 leaves fresh basil

8-10 leaves fresh mint

20 leaves Mexican tarragon

1/2 cup mandarin orange slices

1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pistachio nuts, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 drop orange extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Arrange watercress, basil, mint, and Mexican tarragon on a platter. Tuck mandarin orange slices and red onion pieces throughout. Sprinkle toasted pistachio nuts over all. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, orange extract, sea salt, and pepper. Slowly add olive oil while continuing to whisk. Dressing will emulsify. Before serving, drizzle salad dressing evenly over salad.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia! I never thought of tilapia as an interesting choice of fish until I mixed things up with a Santa Fe style coating. The robust crunch of tortilla chips is a surprising prelude to the tender moist fish inside. It had me wishing I prepared seconds for the hubs and me. If you’re looking for a meatless meal, give it a whirl. Who knows, you may find yourself adding tilapia to the weekly menu.

TORTILLA CRUSTED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Santa Fe style tortilla strips, crushed

1 tablespoon natural cornmeal

1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes

2 tilapia fish fillets

1 egg, room temperature

Fresh cilantro, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Whisk egg in a shallow dish. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine crushed tortilla strips, natural cornmeal, panko bread crumbs, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and parsley flakes. Mix well with a fork. Working one at a time, dip a tilapia fillet into the beaten egg. Flip over to coat both sides. Press fillet onto the crumb mixture; turn over and repeat. For an extra crispy crust repeat process. Carefully transfer crusted fish fillet to the baking sheet. Continue with second fillet. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden and crunchy. Serve with fresh cilantro.

Radish Cucumber Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Radish Cucumber Salad! For a scrumptious salad that satisfies the desire for crunchiness and color, these few wholesome ingredients practically transport themselves on a magic carpet ride from farm-to-table. No matter what time of year the calendar on the refrigerator affirms, every bite of cucumbers and radishes shift your mind to a taste of Springtime. Refresh, recharge, and renew yourself with feelings you can’t ignore.

RADISH CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients:

3 cups baby cucumbers, skin on, sliced

1 cup radishes, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh dill weed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine sliced baby cucumbers and thinly sliced radishes. Gently toss. Add fresh dill. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper until incorporated. Pour the dressing over the cucumber-radish mixture. Allow it to marinate for 10 minutes before serving.

Lobster Risotto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Lobster Risotto! Does anyone else smile when they hear the word “lobster”? To me, lobster looks good whenever someone is eating it. Think about it. In a restaurant you’re often draped with a disposable plastic bib that has a giant red lobster printed on it. Talk about drawing attention to yourself. “Look at me! I’m eating Lobstah! Bet you wish you were. More butter, please.” It doesn’t matter how big a mess you make, the bib gives you a pass. And just so you know, you can buy these on the internet, so the same feelings apply at home. I. Love. Lobster. 🦞

LOBSTER RISOTTO

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 cup Arborio rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 6-ounce frozen lobster tails, thawed

4-ounce dry aged prosciutto , diced

1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Lemon wedge, for garnish

Fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions:

Make risotto according to instructions for rice cooker using water, Arborio rice, and olive oil. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and add sea salt. Drop lobster tails in one at a time. Cook the lobster for 5 minutes. Set a timer to avoid overcooking. The lobsters will be bright red when done. Using metal tongs and a large strainer, take the tails out of the boiling water. Set aside. When the risotto is done, transfer to a bowl. Add diced prosciutto and sweet peas. Mix gently. Divide the risotto into two serving bowls. Add lobster tails. Garnish with lemon wedge and fresh dill. Serve immediately with melted butter.