What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Olive Oil Herb Potatoes! Being raised in the Midwest, practically every evening meal consisted of meat, potato, and vegetable. Perhaps that is why I love potatoes so much. I learned how to make homemade potato soup at the hem of my mother’s apron, without measuring or a recipe. But that’s a story for another day. I like the baby potatoes available now at the supermarket. By slicing them, with the skin on, and drizzling them with herbs and olive oil, the taste is unbelievable! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these tasty little nuggets?
OLIVE OIL HERB POTATOES
5 baby potatoes, washed and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 400°. Leaving skin on potatoes, wash thoroughly and pat dry. Put one potato on a soup spoon. Beginning at one end, slice in strips, being careful to stop before slicing the bottom skin. The knife will hit the spoon to prevent it from cutting through. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Continue until all potatoes are sliced. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic powder, Herbes de Provence, and chopped rosemary leaves. Brush each potato with herbed olive oil, separating slices to coat both sides. Drizzle remaining oil over all. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake potatoes one hour until crispy, basting occasionally. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ingenious Bakery Bread! Some days are just made for shortcuts. The fact is, everyone needs a timesaving tip now and then. For starters, buying frozen bread dinner roll dough takes the guesswork out of measuring ingredients, which is why I keep a bag on hand. The other day I made homemade chicken noodle soup and wanted freshly-baked bread instead of saltine crackers. While the aromatic flavors of the soup were blending in the slow-cooker, the bread was rising to perfection. Together they pulled off a meal like a pro.
INGENIOUS BAKERY BREAD
8 pieces frozen yeast dinner roll dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese
Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Place the 8 frozen rolls into the pan in a single layer with edges touching. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Cover entire pan with a tea towel. Place pan in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, between 2 and 4 hours. Remove tea towel and plastic wrap. The raised dough will resemble a single loaf. Brush top of dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with dill weed and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Immediately remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack. Brush with melted sea salt butter. Serve warm.
“If you want a love message to be heard,
it has got to be sent out.
To keep a lamp burning,
we have to keep putting oil in it.”
~ Mother Teresa
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
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
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.
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!