“Chowing Down”, what a charming expression. We’re all familiar with its meaning: to eat, especially at mealtime. It’s no secret I get great satisfaction from food, whether it’s an afternoon snack, evening appetizer, or late night sweet. Nowadays with the flux of farm-to-table and organic options, is it any wonder the allure of food is so enticing? Mealtime then becomes an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my posts have received a nod from Le Cordon Bleu as well as the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail). Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, spotted me on Instagram @gail_dorna. This continuous journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE CHOW DOWN!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Ginger-Orange Salmon Lettuce Cups! Is it an Appetizer or an Entrée? Both. Ginger paired with orange creates amazing flavor, not to mention health benefits galore. Adding grilled salmon for omega-3s is a bonus. But enough about that and back to the lettuce cup popularity. Anytime you cut down on calories, carbs, and gluten it adds up to guilt-free options. Mix things up with seasonal fruits, garden veggies, grilled seafood, and roasted meat for creative favorites. Anything goes!
GINGER-ORANGE SALMON LETTUCE CUPS
1 cup grilled orange-ginger grilled salmon, flaked
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon capers
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup mandarin oranges
Bibb lettuce leaves
Fresh chives, for garnish
Ground Pistachio nuts, for garnish
Grill ginger-orange salmon according to package directions. Flake salmon; set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese and horseradish until smooth. Gently fold in chopped dill, capers, and green onion. Spread onto Bibb lettuce leaves. Equally divide salmon over cream cheese mixture. Add mandarin orange slices. Garnish with fresh chives and pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Bacon Bit Sweet Potato Bisque! My pantry is sometimes filled with good intentions. I envision a nutritious meal and then get sidelined by other ingredients, especially in the Produce Department of the local grocery. I mean, just look at the bin overflowing with organic sweet potatoes. Medium-sized, smooth skin, pretty color, and screaming “Pick me. I’m healthy.” Soon after I get home, I store them out of sight in a cool, dark area only to discover them three weeks later. Thank goodness, sweet potatoes are very forgiving. Their shelf life is easily 5 weeks. If you ever wondered how to tell if it’s time to toss them out, press the skin. If it’s soft, discolored, or has an unpleasant odor, throw them out and promise yourself you’ll do better next time.
BACON BIT SWEET POTATO BISQUE
2 large sweet potatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Green onion snips, for garnish
Bacon bits, for garnish
Dollop Greek yogurt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Brush olive oil over the skins of the sweet potatoes. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Scoop the sweet potatoes into a bowl and thoroughly mash. Discard peels. Warm butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not scorch. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, ground ginger, cumin powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer. Add chicken broth; reduce heat to simmer. Transfer sweet potatoes to a food processor and Pulse until consistency is smooth. Whisk sweet potatoes into broth until heated through. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with green onion snips, bacon bits, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana. When a stay-cation makes sense to remain close to home, wander down the road a piece to The Sherman. Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, step over the threshold of this quaint inn and eatery. You may be taken aback by the lively music and intermittent laughter coming from the Black Forest Bar. Peek around the corner. Rub your eyes and look again. The deep dark interior almost resembles a magical forest where fairy tales come true. Do the walls have eyes? Enter if you dare. Check out that giant pretzel. The couple with their heads huddled together are nibbling on it as though they were Hänsel and Gretel. This is just one of many appetizers for dipping pleasure with gourmet mustards and bier cheese. The crafted cocktails and extensive beer selection complement house-baked specialties with Bavarian leanings. Go early, stay awhile, and above all…share dishes. The German-style food is so spot on, you’ll want to eat your fill…and then some.
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? Talking Points: Radish Chive Egg Salad! Meatless meals do not have to be boring, that’s for sure. I find it fun to put together interesting combinations of fresh veggies with egg salad. You can, too. If you like a hint of celery seed, think of feathery green celery leaves instead. Or if you usually add chopped shallots, what about snipped chives this time? Instead of tomatoes, add the crunch of radish slices. Bread doesn’t have to be humdrum either. Ditch the bland white open-faced for rye, pumpernickel, or honey wheat. Do you see where this is heading? Anything goes.
RADISH CHIVE EGG SALAD
6 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed and halved
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 slices honey wheat bread, toasted
12 celery leaves, washed
2 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
Chives, for garnish
Place the peeled eggs in a bowl. Roughly chop into pieces. Add mayonnaise, chopped chives, Dijon mustard, sea salt, white pepper, turmeric, and ground ginger. Mix the ingredients together until combined. Cut the toast into diagonal quarters. Arrange on a platter. Dollop a portion of the egg salad onto each piece of bread. Tuck celery leaves around egg salad. Top with thinly sliced radishes. Using a kitchen shears, snip the chives over all for garnish.
Dining Outside the Home: Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio! If buildings could talk, this 1868 longtime shoe repair shop turned ice cream parlor turned breakfast diner could fill volumes. It’s always been about family service and preserving history in the community. Sam and Ethel’s serves old-fashioned comfort food at affordable prices. The cozy atmosphere provides small talk with staff members, regular customers, and first-time guests. There may be a line at the door, but be patient. Check out the decor. You’ll see hanging on the wall a framed newspaper article with a faded photo of longtime comedian and actor, Jonathan Winters. He actually dropped by for a meal at Sam and Ethel’s. See? It’s definitely worth the wait.
Dining Outside the Home: Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not every meal has to be an extravagant dinner. Lunchtime can be special, too. After all, Las Vegas is a city that seldom sleeps. And you gotta eat, right? That’s when nothing short of a burger will hit the spot. Choose between the Hell’s Kitchen Burger and the Standard Burger. Both have the to-die-for beef with all the fixings plus seasoned fries. Executive Chef, Michelle Tribble, winner of Season 17 Hell’s Kitchen, can be seen keeping everything in tiptop shape for a dining experience you will long remember. Her professional attitude and friendly demeanor are reason enough to come back for more. And then there’s the food, which you can judge for yourself.
Dining Outside the Home: Hudson Yards Grill in New York, New York! Outside the window stands one of Manhattan’s newest public landmarks called The Vessel. It’s got people talking, which brings visitors to Hudson Yards for shopping and dining. After climbing the giant sculpture of interlocking staircases for a spectacular panoramic view of the Hudson River, Central Railroad, and Hudson Yards neighborhood, you’re bound to be hungry. Look no further than Hudson Yards Grill. Its Pre Fixe meals, Sushi, Salads, and Desserts win raves. And that’s just for lunchtime. Ingredients are fresh, expertly prepared, and served like an artistic masterpiece. Count on coming back for dinner. You deserve it.