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
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
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.
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
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
Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate one hour before serving.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
1/2 cup oil
1 box of lemon cake mix
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon lemon citrus peel, granulated
2 tablespoons poppy seed
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Oregano Roasted Fingerling Potatoes! Seasoning can change the taste of anything, especially when using fresh herbs. This is the time of year when I get excited about nurturing my herb garden. The hardier herbs, like mint, chives, and thyme withstand the winter months and breakthrough in the Spring with vim and vigor. Other favorites require renewing annually; rosemary, basil, cilantro, dill, and oregano are among them. Today’s recipe partners the delicate new fingerling potatoes, which grow small and narrow to live up to their name, alongside robust bleu cheese crumbles and the earthy flavor of fresh oregano. Together they produce a rustic dish characteristic of the south of France, Italy, and Greece. Enticing, isn’t it?
OREGANO ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES
1.5 pound bag of petite fingerling gourmet potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet to coat the pan with a thin layer. Using a 2-quart pan on the stovetop, cut fingerling potatoes in half and place in the pan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil; cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain well. Set aside. Sprinkle dried oregano over potatoes. Cover pan with lid and shake vigorously to slightly loosen potato skins. Carefully transfer oregano potatoes to the baking sheet. Turn to coat in oil. Bake 30-40 minutes until skins are golden and crispy. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. Once the potatoes are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, transfer fingerling potatoes to a serving platter. Add bleu cheese crumbles and freshly chopped oregano. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Icing Glazed French Toast! This is one of those days where little effort produces extraordinary results. I recently purchased a loaf of homemade raisin bread at the Amish Market, the kind smothered in gooey white icing. Later on, I plumped some raisins to add to the glaze, beat a couple eggs, and Voilà. Within minutes, it was transformed into a bakery-fresh gourmet breakfast. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to slice and eat as the craving hits. You can thank me later.
ICING GLAZED FRENCH TOAST
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons boiling water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 slices raisin bread, cut into quarter triangles
Place raisins in a heatproof dish. Boil water. Pour just enough water over raisins to cover. Stir. Let raisins sit 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually add enough boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and appears like thick cream. It should coat the back of the spoon. Fold the raisins into the icing glaze. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Dip each portion of raisin bread into the egg batter. Flip to soak bread completely; coat both sides evenly. Transfer to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drizzle with raisin icing glaze. Serve immediately.