Nutty Fish Fillets

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Nutty Fish Fillets! Eating freshwater fish may seem humdrum, especially if you make it the same way every time. But I don’t wanna try something new, you say. What if I don’t like it? That’s what I thought until I discovered another way to keep fish part of a healthy diet. Butter. And almonds. The wonderful natural flavor of butter is milky and creamy. Pair that with the crunch and depth of flavor in toasted almonds for a heavenly combination.

NUTTY FISH FILLETS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds, sliced

2 tilapia fillets

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon crushed parsley

Celery leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Add almonds. Stir continuously until they are tinged with color. Do not burn. Transfer to a platter to cool. Season both sides of tilapia fillets with sea salt and black pepper. Using the same iron skillet, warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When it begins to bubble, add tilapia fillets. Brown fish, until opaque, for 4 minutes per side. Transfer fish to a serving platter. Turn heat setting to low. Reserving the drippings, add lemon juice to iron skillet. Stir to blend. Pour sauce over fish fillets. Sprinkle with crushed parsley and scatter toasted almonds over all. Serve with celery leaves.

Zippy Olive Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Zippy Olive Pesto! Your last visit to the doctor may have been one where you received a good report, yet were advised to lean more toward a Mediterranean diet. What does that mean exactly, you wonder. In layman’s terms it simply suggests making a couple of substitutions in food choices to maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease, live longer, and travel often. “The healthy fats in olives are extracted to produce olive oil, one of the key components of the incredibly healthy Mediterranean diet”, according to Healthline, a provider of health information.* For many this may not be the advice you wish to hear, but for an olive-lover, like me, it is the Best.News.Ever.

ZIPPY OLIVE PESTO

Ingredients:

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 bunch parsley, leaves only

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

5 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup organic green olives, chopped

3 tablespoons water (optional)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, toast pine nuts turning occasionally until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine parsley leaves, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until almost smooth. Add toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Pulse slightly. With the machine running on low, drizzle in the olive oil until combined. Transfer pesto to a bowl. Fold in the chopped green olives. Add water, if needed. Season with kosher salt. Serve over toasted bread.

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Mediterranean Baked Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Mediterranean Baked Tilapia! Do you ever experiment with different spice combinations? Salt and pepper can only go so far, especially if you try to reduce your salt intake. Spices, on the other hand, can turn an ordinary meal into a savory one. They can also add color, flavor, and aroma. If you’re like me, when a recipe calls for a spice you don’t stock in your pantry, you go out and buy a jar. Then what? Do you use it once and shove it back into the corner of your cupboard? What if you experiment a little instead? When you use cumin, think about partnering it with coriander for results that can add warmth as well as a tinge of sweetness.

MEDITERRANEAN BAKED TILAPIA

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tilapia fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400° in a shallow bowl, combine lemon juice, butter, and olive oil. Mix well. Set aside. On a sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Pat tilapia fillets dry. Dip fish in lemon juice mixture before coating with flour coating. Repeat for second tilapia fillet. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish fillets. After a minute or so, flip fillets over to sear the both sides. Remove skillet from heat. Add minced garlic to remaining lemon juice mixture. Drizzle over fish. Bake 7-9 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with broccoli and cous cous.

Quick Savory Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Quick Savory Butter! For some time now we’ve gotten pretty spoiled by restaurants, bistros, and cafés serving compound butter with the artisan bread basket. You almost hear us clapping our hands as we sink our teeth into the savory herbs or sweet concoctions. I know it makes me feel special. Chefs have been creating compound butters for years, though. It’s one of the ways they save time and add a level of sophistication for the customer. In my own kitchen, I found it’s best to begin with unsalted butter. That way I can add just enough sea salt to tease the palate. Lemon, believe it or not, adds a hint of flavor that embellishes steak or seafood. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Although I began smearing this combination on rolls and crackers, I couldn’t resist warming it to pour over a bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Talk about gourmet!

QUICK SAVORY BUTTER

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with lemon juice. Add garlic powder and sea salt; stir. Fold in fresh rosemary and parsley leaves. Mix until combined. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto sheet. Roll the waxed paper over butter to form a log. Roll tight and twist both ends. Refrigerate one hour or until firm.

Culinary Cauliflower

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Culinary Cauliflower! Not everyone is a fan of cauliflower. I get that. It might be because of the way it’s prepared. Or smells. Or possibly because it looks bland and boring. Meh. Well, here’s my solution if you promise to give it one more chance. Smother it in cheese. Good cheese, like smoky Gouda. Then take buttery garlic croutons and sprinkle them over the top. Get the picture? Sooo, if the family turns up their noses at the idea of eating cauliflower, simply shrug your shoulders, kick off your shoes, and curl up on the sofa with the entire bowl yourself.

CULINARY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 cup water

1/2 cup smoky bacon Gouda cheese, sliced thin

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup garlic croutons, coarsely crushed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Warm water over medium heat in a saucepan with a steamer basket. Cut off stem of cauliflower, removing the leaves. Make an “x” in the core with a sharp knife. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer, place cauliflower in the steamer basket. Cover and steam for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Cut cauliflower into florets. Transfer to an ovenproof bowl. Combine sliced Gouda cheese and milk in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on Low (30%) in 30-second intervals. Stir until smooth as it melts. Pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top. Bake 5-10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Warm butter in a pan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic croutons. Stir occasionally until brown. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over melted cheese. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Roasted Turkey Breast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Roasted Turkey Breast! Life just got a little easier. Instead of cooking an entire holiday bird, it is just as rewarding to roast a turkey breast. You still get the herb seasonings and butter-basted juicy portions, along with drippings for a savory pan gravy, without all the time and effort. It’s simple, economical, and carves up nicely. One more reason to serve turkey for any occasion.

ROASTED TURKEY BREAST

Ingredients:

5-pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed

1/8 teaspoon parsley

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon sage

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey breast side up in a roaster. Insert meat thermometer so the tip is at the thickest part of the breast meat. Brush the bird with butter. Sprinkle seasonings over all. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Do not use a lid. Every hour, baste the breast with butter or pan drippings. Turkey is done when the thermometer reads 185°, approximately 2 1/2 hours. There is no substitute for a meat thermometer for determining the doneness of a turkey, in my opinion. Remove from oven and allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. The skin will be crisp and the breast meat will be moist.

White Cheddar Bacon Risotto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: White Cheddar Bacon Risotto! Risotto. Seeing it on the menu always makes my heart palpitate a little faster. I once asked a chef his secret to creamy risotto. He confessed he cooked it part way and froze it until a customer requested it that night. He said with a wink, “That way, I only have to stir it til half my arm falls off.” Thank goodness my rice cooker knows no difference. If you must know, I had more difficulty coughing up the cost for saffron threads, the most expensive spice in the world. Once I understood that it is grown around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, and in India, I began to see why it was such a labor-intensive crop. Saffron comes from a Fall flower and it takes more than 80,000 crocus flowers to process one pound of saffron. Perhaps that is why the taste is worth the price.

WHITE CHEDDAR BACON RISOTTO

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup shallot, diced

1 cup Arborio rice

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add diced shallots. Sauté shallots and Arborio rice until translucent, about 5 minutes. In a rice cooker, add chicken broth, white wine, saffron threads, diced shallots, and Arborio rice. Close and lock the lid of the rice cooker. Turn the knob to “Pressure”. Set timer for 7 minutes. When done, release the pressure. Stir in white cheddar cheese, bacon, and parsley. Serve immediately.

Veal Scallopini Piccata

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Veal Scallopini Piccata! Did you know substituting pork cutlets for veal meat is a common practice? If the idea of a baby calf makes you squeamish, you will be delighted with that little bit of news. It’s all about the select few bull calves, but that’s a story for another day. Here again, we’re talking about a time-saving recipe. After all, we’re on the brink of Summer with daylight extending further into the evenings tempting us with outdoor activities that are much more pleasant that cleaning up the kitchen. This recipe calls for pork cutlets, lemon, capers, wine, and butter. Ah, now I have your attention.

VEAL SCALLOPINI PICCATA

Ingredients:

1 pound veal (or pork) cutlets, pounded 1/4” thick

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

14-ounce can chicken broth

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 tablespoon parsley

Instructions:

Warm 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. On a sheet of wax paper, combine flour, sea salt, and pepper. Dredge veal (pork) in flour; shake off excess. Add veal (pork) to skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter; set aside. Add wine to skillet. Cook, scraping bottom of pan until reduced by half. This will take approximately 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and lemon slices. Bring to boil. Cook 8 minutes longer. Add remaining butter, lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Return veal (pork) cutlets to pan. Coat with sauce. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter S

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Sensational Stuffing Balls! Two words: OMG, YUM! Seriously, this is the answer to a prayer when asked, “What is a good side dish to serve with meat?” Personally, I like the make-ahead option of having a bag of Stuffing Balls on hand in the freezer. I guess you could even serve them as an appetizer for your next gathering. They’re that tasty. As usual, you can opt out of the shortcut version provided here and make your own stuffing with 5 cups of cubed cornbread, wheat bread, or day-old white bread crumbs. You decide. Go crazy with garden herbs, diced apples, or skip the meat completely. I chose golf ball-size over baseball-size, but that’s totally up to you. After all, you’re the one who will reap the accolades.

SENSATIONAL STUFFING BALLS

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 egg, well beaten

1/4 cup chicken broth

12.5 ounce can cooked chicken breast, drained and flaked

6-ounce box chicken stuffing mix

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with foil that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Do not scorch. Add chopped onion and celery. Sauté until soft. Add chopped parsley, black pepper, sea salt, poultry seasoning, beaten egg, chicken broth, flaked chicken, and dry stuffing mix. Stir well to combine. Shape into golf ball-size portions. Place stuffing balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until set.