Niçoise Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Niçoise Salad! Repeat after me, “nee-SWAHZ”. One more time, “nee-SWAHZ”. Spoken like a true Parisian. Now what does it mean, you wonder. In layman’s terms, niçoise refers to the style of cooking in the south of France. It usually includes deep brown olives, vine-ripened tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tiny new potatoes, thin green beans, and anchovies or tuna. The dressing almost always includes Dijon mustard, minced shallots, herbs, and olive oil. If it sounds like a lot of fresh ingredients, think of it this way: it’s a gourmet salad, a meal in itself. Besides, it is absolutely show-stopping on the plate. Take your time. Enjoy every bite. Because when you’re all finished, you may discover you’re ready to have it again next week.

NIÇOISE SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 pound petite fingerling potatoes

6 ounces thin green beans, ends trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup niçoise olives

4 eggs, hard-boiled and halved

2 ahi tuna steaks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Wasabi mustard

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, bring to a boil fingerling potatoes, with skin on, in salted water. Cook 15 minutes. Add green beans for 1 minute or until bright green. Remove from heat. Drain; set aside. When potatoes are cool, cut in half or quarters. For salad dressing, whisk together Dijon mustard, garlic wine vinegar, minced shallot, marjoram, thyme, and oregano. Whisking continuously, slowly add olive oil until fully blended. Add kosher salt to taste. Set aside. Divide butter lettuce into serving dishes. Arrange fingerling potatoes, green beans, grape tomatoes, niçoise olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Serve with seared ahi steaks.

Instructions for ahi steaks:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning and white sesame seeds. Marinate ahi tuna steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove from marinade and set aside. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil mixture. Cook steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center will remain rare. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Drizzle wasabi mustard on a platter. Arrange sliced ahi, overlapping the slices.

Lump Crabmeat Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Lump Crabmeat Salad! Be pampered on a sunny porch or backyard patio with a light luncheon for two. Dining al fresco is especially popular with nature’s backdrop of fragrant flowers and tittering birdsong. These are what days are made of. If it’s a late afternoon gathering of light appetizers and spritzers, serve this lump crabmeat salad with crackers instead. Fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take advantage of warm weather and celebrate a party-like atmosphere.

LUMP CRABMEAT SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces wild caught lump crabmeat, cartilage removed

1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 rib celery, diced

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

4 teaspoons chives, sliced

1 teaspoon tarragon leaves

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 dash sriracha sauce

Red pepper, halved and membrane removed

Bibb lettuce leaves

Instructions:

Gently rinse crabmeat in a fine mesh strainer to remove any shell pieces or cartilage. Do not break up crab chunks. Transfer crabmeat to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning mix. Toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red pepper, sliced chives, tarragon leaves, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery seed, kosher salt, white pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the crabmeat mixture to the mayonnaise mixture, gently coating the lump crabmeat. Spoon the crabmeat into two hollowed out red pepper shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange Bibb lettuce leaves on two saucers; place lump crabmeat salad on each plate. Serve chilled.

Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Kid-Friendly Pizza Toast! If it’s one food item that catches a kid’s attention on the cafeteria menu, it’s pizza. After all, Pizza checks the right boxes in the following food group categories: grain, milk, meat, and vegetable. What I like about this kid-friendly recipe is the fact that adults control the quality of ingredients. Plus, by involving the youngsters you’re feeding, they can feel good about making healthy choices. For instance, substitute plain white bread with crusty artisan varieties. Choose 90% lean meat. Nix the high fructose corn syrup brand of ketchup for the organic one. Try pimentos for natural sweetness. The opportunities are endless.

KID-FRIENDLY PIZZA TOAST

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef sirloin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup diced pimentos

6 slices artisan bread

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until cooked and crumbled. Drain excess liquid. Reduce heat to low. Add sea salt, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir well. Add chopped yellow onions, green peppers, and diced pimentos. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter one side of artisan bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Top with spoonfuls of pizza mixture. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 minutes until cheese melts and toast is crunchy. Bada-bing-bada-boom!

Donkey Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Donkey Sauce! If you tune in to the Food Network, you may recall a big guy who looks like a rock star with spiky bleached hair and a goatee. His name is Guy Fieri. When I visited his restaurant in Las Vegas, everything was super-sized and seemed to be slathered in his signature “donkey sauce”. Although he admits it is only aioli, you know it has to be his own secret ingredient list that makes it so famous. The basics include mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Today you can thank me for a version of the best…at least until you get back to one of his renowned restaurants.

DONKEY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/4 cup roasted garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Using a food processor, combine mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, and black pepper. Purée until smooth. Scrape down sides to incorporate. Pour aioli into a covered container. Chill for one hour. Slather on burgers, sliders, sandwiches, salads, and French fries. Anything goes!

Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots! Have you noticed carrots now come in rainbow colors? How exciting is that?! It’s not only the color that catches your attention, it’s the difference in flavor. Traditional orange carrots have a certain sweet earthiness we’re all familiar with, whether you eat them raw or cooked. Others colors may range from a slightly peppery taste to mildly subtle one. Either way, the combination offers a range of nutrients linking benefits to eye health, better digestion, and possibly even cancer prevention. Refine your taste buds. Give rainbow carrots a try. Organic, of course.

MUSTARD GLAZED RAINBOW CARROTS

Ingredients:

12 ounces organic rainbow baby-cut carrots, cut lengthwise or left whole

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place carrots in a shallow dish. Combine olive oil, natural honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary leaves, garlic powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix well. Pour over carrots to coat. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes for a roasted, golden glow. Serve immediately.

Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup! Not only is this soup perfect for those chilly evenings ahead, but it is also more fun to eat simply because instead of saltine crackers, fresh popcorn is used. That’s right, you heard me…popcorn. It really doesn’t matter if you use the air-popped variety, microwave movie popcorn, or slightly sweet kettle-style popcorn. I know, right!?! More and more you may discover this quirky dish on a restaurant menu, even outside the state of Wisconsin. It actually dates back to when German immigrants came to America. Beer was readily available and often used in soup. Over time, more veggies, spices, and cheese were added turning supper time soup into the comfort meal it is today. If you’re up for an adventure, read on.

WISCONSIN BEER CHEESE SOUP

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped

1 yellow onion, diced

1 rib celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups light cream or milk, warmed

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

16 ounces beer

Popcorn for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil. Add chopped carrots, diced onions, chopped celery, and minced garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. In a 4-quart pan, melt butter on low heat. Do not burn. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle in flour. Stir constantly while cooking. The flour mixture will turn a light brown. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper, and dry mustard. Mix well. Gradually pour in warmed milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps or scorching. It will thicken nicely. Add Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in shredded cheese, stirring constantly to melt the cheese. Slowly add beer and bring to a boil. Stir until foam disappears. Reduce heat to low setting. Add vegetable mixture to the cheese soup. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve with popcorn garnish.

Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Savory Bourbon Barbecue Sauce! Take a deep breath and try not to drool as you look at this tender slab of pork ribs. Focus instead on the incredible homemade bourbon barbecue sauce. It is so good you may want to slurp it with a spoon. Go ahead, permission granted. Swirl the tangy goodness around in your mouth so you can appreciate the savory sweet thick sauce with a surprising kick of red pepper. Underlying all this magnificence are hints of oak, toffee, dark fruit, and anise from bourbon whiskey. Well done.

SAVORY BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey*

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark molasses

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine ketchup, bourbon, brown sugar, dark molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended. Transfer bourbon barbecue sauce to a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for two minutes. Reduce heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about half and thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir often. Do not scorch. Remove from heat. Carefully pour sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*I receive no recompense from recommending Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Organic Red Lentil Pasta Salad! Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to serve up gluten-free meals. This one, in particular, is packed with protein and fiber, plus non-GMO red lentils. You don’t need to have allergic restrictions to appreciate its natural goodness. The texture is firm while providing an amazing taste sensation. Eat it cold or warmed up a bit. You decide. Either way, the health benefits will have you patting yourself on the back for making such a healthy choice.

ORGANIC RED LENTIL PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces organic red lentil pasta

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cauliflower florets

1/3 cup red onions, sliced

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dry Italian dressing and seasoning mix

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon natural honey

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cook red lentil pasta 8-10 minutes, according to package directions. Water will turn cloudy and foam up, so be sure to use enough water. Remove from heat. Drain, rinse, and set aside. To make dressing, combine garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning mix, Dijon mustard, and natural honey. Whisk together until nicely blended. Fill a large bowl with pasta, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red onion slices, diced pimento, and Kalamata olives. Pour dressing over all. Toss gently to coat ingredients. Serve cold.

Dijon Deviled Eggs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Dijon Deviled Eggs! Those who know me well fondly refer to me as a Francophile, someone who loves everything French. It goes all the way back to my school days when a sixth grade Social Studies teacher introduced the class to France, after having traveled there herself. From that moment on, it became a dream of mine to take a trip there someday. I studied the French language and Impressionist art. I admired the historical connection, the romantic countryside, and most of all the incredible food! Is it any surprise I chose to share today’s recipe of something a little French?

DIJON DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

6 hard boiled eggs

1 tablespoon French Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon light cream

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1-2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced and chopped

Fresh Basil for garnish

Instructions:

Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shells, and slice each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove yolk and place in a bowl. Arrange the egg on a plate. Repeat until all eggs are divided. Lightly mash the egg yolks until crumbly, leaving a few chunks. Add Dijon mustard, Greek yogurt, light cream, mayonnaise, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix until almost smooth. Fold in a few red onion pieces. Spoon yolk mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chopped red onion and fresh basil snips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.