Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida! You’re probably wondering what the big deal is about mentioning “coal oven” in the name of this pizza joint. Basically, it boils down to the deliciousness of a charred crust enclosing a chewy center without overcooking the toppings. You get this from very high, dry heat contained within the oven walls. The coal oven is a little larger than the others, so it holds more pizzas. Makes sense, amirite? There’s nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a pizza pie loaded with extra cheese only to discover the bottom crust is a bit soggy. That’s not going to happen at Tony Sacco’s. In fact, customize your creation like I do. For cheese-lovers, request shredded mozzarella, smoky provolone, grated parmesan, and fresh mozzarella over authentic Italian marinara. The cheese pulls will practically make your mouth drool in public. Slowly wipe your chin. Then garnish a pizza slice with freshly chopped basil and dig in.

Divieto Ristorante in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Divieto Ristorante in Estero, Florida! Whenever a meal is prepared table-side, things are bound to feel a little bit different at this 1920’s version of a classic Italian restaurant. Their signature dish, Ruota di Parmigiano, is a creamy fettuccine Alfredo specialty tossed in a parmigiana-reggiano cheese wheel. The steamy homemade pasta is poured into the hollowed out cheese wheel over a layer of freshly scraped parmesan shavings. As the pasta is gently mixed in, the buttered noodles are coated in the creamy decadence causing the customers to practically drool uncontrollably. But mind your manners, take a sip of water, and wait patiently until the server ceremoniously transfers the traditional pasta dish before you as though you were royalty.

Mealtime Crab Cocottes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Mealtime Crab Cocottes! Seafood can be my obsession and I’m not afraid to be a glutton of it, especially if I’m visiting a locale that is a coastal destination. In my defense, how can anyone resist signs and billboards openly declaring “Best Seafood in Town!”? But eventually one returns home to a land-locked State where seafood is as scarce as hen’s teeth. So when the cravings continue, I head over to the local supermarket in search of a packaged substitute. Maybe it’s the succulent crabmeat or perhaps it’s the French butter, but I have to admit this recipe isn’t half bad.

MEALTIME CRAB COCOTTES

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat

8 ounces imitation crabmeat, flaked

1 tablespoon pimento, diced

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1-2 tablespoons French butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat bottoms and edges of two ramekins with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, seafood seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Gently fold in lump crabmeat, imitation flaked crabmeat, and diced pimento. Divide crabmeat mixture evenly between ramekins. Top with Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle paprika over all. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with artisan bread and side salad.

Nature’s Tomato Naan

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Nature’s Tomato Naan. Who likes ooey gooey melted mozzarella cheese? I do, I do! Now add nature’s juicy ripened tomatoes for fresh garden flavor that will have you wiping your chin after the first bite. Be careful of those cheese pulls, though. Steam may be trapped between the naan crust and the pizza stone. Besides, there’s nothing worse than burning the roof of your mouth from lack of patience. Let your eyes create desire. After all, everyone wants eating to be an enjoyable experience.

NATURE’S TOMATO NAAN

Ingredients:

One prepared naan crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 Campari tomatoes, sliced

5 grape tomatoes, sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spread olive oil on both sides of naan bread. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom crust. Sprinkle garlic powder over top crust. Place cornmeal side down on a pizza stone. Bake for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes on a cutting board. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Remove naan from oven. Carefully layer mozzarella cheese over crust. Then arrange sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with parmesan cheese before serving.

Island Sweet Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Island Sweet Potato Salad! There is nothing wrong with your smart phone screen. The colors of Hawaiian sweet potatoes range from orange to green to purple. Notice the creamy texture. The slightly sweet taste may remind you more of a piece of fruit than a root vegetable. Sure it’s popular among the Asian markets, and it can be a little drier than its American cousin, but didn’t someone once say, “Variety is the spice of life”? Go ahead, add your version of seasonings. The results will amaze you.

ISLAND SWEET POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes, Hawaiian assortment, cooked with skin on and cubed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

3 strips bacon, crumbled

2 green onions, chopped

Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and Himalayan sea salt. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Coat with mayonnaise mixture. Fold in bacon crumbles and green onion. Chill for one hour. Serve.

Egg Brekkie Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Egg Brekkie Pizza! Ever get the feeling you just aren’t in the mood to cook? I’ve been there. While you’re standing at the refrigerator, leaning on the door like it’s your best friend, don’t ignore last night’s leftover pizza. Butter up the iron skillet, toss in a couple slices of pizza, crack an egg on top, and put a lid on it. There’s gotta be an extra packet of red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, not to mention, crushed oregano somewhere. Bingo! You’re done.

EGG BREKKIE PIZZA

Ingredients:

2 slices leftover pizza, any variety

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs

Sprinkling of parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and oregano

Instructions:

Warm butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle garlic powder into butter. Place pizza slices in pan. Crack an egg onto each slice. Cover. Cook until bottom of pizza is crispy and eggs are barely set, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and crushed oregano.

Culinary Crab Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Culinary Crab Rolls! Seafood lovers will look for any excuse to substitute chicken or beef. Do we really need a reason? Building healthy lifestyle choices could be enough to make me try new things. Seafood is a lean protein option which does fill me up the way fruit, vegetables, and nuts do. The fact remains that I truly like the taste of seafood. Pairing it with bread is practically a bonus. Need I say more?

CULINARY CRAB ROLLS

Ingredients:

6 frozen bread dough rolls, thawed according to package instructions

3/4 cup crabmeat, precooked and chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon green onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine crabmeat, mayonnaise, green onion, and red pepper flakes. Once dough has risen, press into a 3-4” circle. Fill the center of each circle of dough with a heaping tablespoon of crabmeat filling. Gently pull the edges around the filling to form a ball, lightly brushing the seam with beaten egg, then pinching the edges to seal. Place in muffin cup, seam side down. Brush tops with beaten egg. Repeat with remaining rolls. Set aside to rise until puffy. Dough should be nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Alpine Cheese Crisps

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Alpine Cheese Crisps! If you ever get the munchies but want a low-carb snack, here’s something you can make at home in a matter of minutes. Not only that, it saves you the cost of paying for the prepackaged varieties available in the deli department of your favorite grocery store. Go to the refrigerator because you can take an ordinary slice of Swiss cheese and transform it into a thin crunchy chip, simply by using the microwave. No kidding. Add a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese plus a smidgen of garlic and rosemary for a gourmet finish. The secret? Be sure to use parchment paper.

ALPINE CHEESE CRISPS

Ingredients:

8 ounces Alpine Swiss cheese, sliced

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 smidgen garlic powder

1 teaspoon rosemary leaves

Instructions:

In a small bowl, mix parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and rosemary leaves. Set aside. Trim a piece of parchment paper to the size of a microwave-safe plate. Break one slice of Swiss cheese into small pieces over the parchment paper, forming a pile. Sprinkle parmesan cheese mixture on top. All microwave ovens cook differently so begin with 1 1/2 minutes on full power. Then microwave 20-30 seconds longer until the cheese is crisp and golden. Remove plate from oven and allow cheese crisp to cool to the touch. Carefully transfer cheese crisp to a wire rack. Reuse parchment paper. Repeat process until all cheese is used. Store at room temperature.

Italian Meatball Manicotti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Italian Meatball Manicotti! Pasta tubes, known as manicotti, are mere vessels for holding melted cheese, savory meat, Italian herbs, and certain vegetables like spinach or mushrooms. The marinara sauce is spread on the bottom of the dish to prevent the pasta from sticking, or tearing, which would ruin the whole idea of creating the perfect pocket of delicious fillings. With a crowning layer of marinara sauce on top, it deserves a round of applause for the extra cheese sprinkled there for good measure. Cray, Cray!

ITALIAN MEATBALL MANICOTTI

Ingredients:

6 dried manicotti shells

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic

12 Italian meatballs, cut in quarters

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

8 ounces marinara sauce, prepared

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8.5”x5.5” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook manicotti shells in boiling water for 9 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet pan. Set aside. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic clove, meatballs, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and Italian herb blend. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread half the marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Gently fold in meatball mixture. Fill each manicotti shell with meat and cheese mixture; place in the prepared baking dish over the marinara layer. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Cover dish with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Serve immediately.