Xinjiang Mini Cukes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Xinjiang Mini Cukes! Has anyone else noticed the adorable mini cucumbers in the produce department of the grocery store? I mean, they’re really cute; the size of an index finger. And they’re seedless! What a great addition to a relish plate. Today’s Chinese version of marinated cucumbers will kick-start any meal. It offers enough heat and spice from chile peppers along with the full-bodied taste of fried garlic to transport you to a country in Southeast Asia. No worries, the rice vinegar and natural honey make it easier on the stomach.

XINJIANG MINI CUKES

Ingredients:

4-6 mini seedless cucumbers

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon fried garlic

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Golden Mountain sauce

1 tablespoon chili paste

Instructions:

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise; then slice in half to make four quarters. Place cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain excess water from cucumbers. Using a mortar and pestle, pumice red pepper flakes and fried garlic. Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, natural honey, Golden Mountain sauce, and chili paste. Mix well. Serve as a dipping sauce for mini cucumber appetizer OR pour over cucumbers; toss to coat and marinate in refrigerator for one hour or overnight.

Furikake Party Mix

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.

FURIKAKE PARTY MIX

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

6 cups Crispix cereal

5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists

2 cups honey roasted peanuts

2 cups wasabi peas

1/2 cup furikake seasoning

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.

Wasabi Furikake Aioli

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Wasabi Furikake Aioli! For a homemade sauce that can be spread on fish and poultry or used as a spicy dip for vegetable crudités, this one is spot on. The “kick” of wasabi is a distant cousin to horseradish making its intensity a roller coaster ride for the palate. Wasabi lovers know all about the health benefits. Sushi bars offer it as a regular condiment. I find this superfood absolutely delicious.

WASABI FURIKAKE AIOLI

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon furikake seasoning (sesame seed and green seaweed)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons wasabi powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate one hour before serving.

Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits! Here is a salad you can snack on over and over. It keeps for days in the refrigerator as the flavor intensifies. And because the broccoli is fresh, the crunch appeases the taste buds. By adding the sweetness of raisins and the saltiness of bacon, it soothes those unexpected cravings that sabotage even the strictest diet enthusiast. Go ahead, take a bite. Permission granted.

UNLIMITED BROCCOLI TIDBITS

Ingredients:

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and stems

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup bacon bits, fully cooked

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 envelope of Italian dry salad dressing mix

Instructions:

Combine broccoli tidbits, raisins, and bacon in a covered bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian dry seasoning mix in a glass measuring cup until blended. Pour marinade over broccoli mixture. Gently stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate salad for two hours. Spoon reserve marinade over salad before serving.

Fried Green Tomatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Fried Green Tomatoes! The key to success is using solid, firm green tomatoes. Ripe ones will turn mushy and very disappointing. Even if you don’t live in the South, everyone can enjoy these crisp and juicy medallions. The seasoned cornmeal crust will have you resurrecting a southern drawl that sounds as authentic as a waitress in a country café. Try the first one with a fork and then have seconds as a sandwich.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

Ingredients:

2 green tomatoes, sliced with skin on

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, cheese, seasoned salt, and pepper. Blend with a fork. In a shallow bowl, mix egg and milk. Dip a green tomato slice in the egg mixture then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Repeat. Set aside. Continue until all slices have been coated. In a deep skillet on medium-high heat add vegetable oil for frying. Place tomatoes in a single layer. Do not crowd. Fry each side 3 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other side. Remove and place on a wire rack to remove excess oil. Repeat until all green tomato slices are used. Serve hot. Garnish with a dollop of wasabi aioli.

Quick-Fried Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Quick-Fried Potatoes! My favorite breakfast consists of eggs-over-easy, pan-fried potatoes, and crispy bacon. I love it when the warm runny yolks gush over the buttery chunks of Idaho potatoes, seasoned just right. I learned a long time ago the secret to perfect hash browns. Begin with baked potatoes. My sister-in-law gleaned that little secret from a restaurant where she worked. Thankfully, anyone can bake a potato in five minutes by using the microwave. Just don’t forget to pierce it first.

QUICK-FRIED POTATOES

Ingredients:

1 baking potato, skin on

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Wash potato; pat dry. Pierce with a paring knife. Microwave on High for 4 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and cut into slices or chunks. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Fry mixture until crispy, turning once or twice. Enjoy!

Lime Cilantro Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Lime Cilantro Dressing! The first time I tasted this unique dressing with a southwestern kick, I wanted to put down my fork and literally guzzle it by the spoonful. Then again, I’m a fan of fresh cilantro. It’s one of those herbs, I’ve discovered, people either love it or hate it. If you can’t handle it….well, I’ll see you tomorrow when I bake something sweet and decadent. For those who choose to remain, grab a spoon and hang on!

LIME CILANTRO DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cut in quarters

1 garlic clove

3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup natural honey

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Combine the jalapeño pepper, garlic clove, and ginger root into a mini chopper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add lime juice, natural honey, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to mix. Add cilantro leaves. Pulse a little longer to blend. With the mini chopper on Low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the dressing until it is completely blended. It is now ready to serve.

Quick Bread Lemon Poppyseed

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Quick Bread Lemon Poppyseed! When life gives you lemons, eat them! There’s nothing more refreshing than the citrusy taste of lemon, in my opinion. It’s light, refreshing, and reminds me of sunshine. I believe you can achieve surprising results when you use good ingredients in a recipe, even if it involves convenient shortcuts. After all, rave reviews are proof enough!

QUICK BREAD LEMON POPPYSEED

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 box of lemon cake mix

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon lemon citrus peel, granulated

2 tablespoons poppy seed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients and beat for 10 minutes. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans.* Bake for one hour or until done. Bread is done when a pick comes out clean and loaf springs back from pan.

*Makes 2 regular-size loaves or 6 mini-loaves and 1 regular loaf. The mini loaves need bake for only 25-30 minutes. Watch carefully.