Dining Outside the Home: Old Naples Pub in Naples, Florida! Located in the heart of historic Third Street South, atop a winding staircase in an vine-covered brick building, is a cozy gathering place for tasty food, cold drinks, and complimentary dill pickles. That’s right, whole dill pickles. For Free. Whether you slide onto a stool along the bar, a seat near the window where dappled sunlight pours in, or a cafe table on the lush patio overlooking the sidewalk foot traffic… every spot has a jar of pickles within reach. Enjoy the relaxed feeling of an aged pub as you glance around at the historical memorabilia, including a wooden upright piano in the corner. This is definitely Old Naples. The menu has enough to satisfy every mood, especially if you’re hungry. It’s easy to see why stopping by is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Gherkin Pork Sliders! Mini sandwiches are popping up on bar and grill menus all over the place. What that translates to the consumer is unspoken permission to have seconds. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s a way to try creative small bites to match your mood. Did you know the toppings can include creamy coleslaw, mac ’n cheese, crunchy potato chips, pineapple salsa, onion rings, and anything else you find delicious? Just like this recipe. If you prefer dill gherkins to sweet ones, by all means tweak it up. After all, in your kitchen you’re in charge.
GHERKIN PORK SLIDERS
12-count slider buns
3 cups precooked pulled pork
1/2 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 pint deli coleslaw
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the slider buns horizontally in half. Remove the tops and set aside. Transfer the bottom half of the buns to a 9”x13” glass dish. Spread the precooked pulled pork evenly on the buns. Layer with barbecue sauce. Replace the tops of the buns. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine unsalted butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion salt, garlic powder, and poppy seeds. Warm the mixture on 20% for 15 seconds in the microwave. Stir. Repeat, if necessary, until completely melted. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the buns. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer. Once cool, separate sliders. Serve with coleslaw and sweet gherkins.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: X-cellent Egg Salad Sliders! Have you noticed more and more farm-to-table cafés are featuring egg salad sandwiches on the menu? I get crazy happy when I discover it, as someone who loves home-cooking. Not only are there a dozen variations on egg salad, but each seems to add a unique twist. This recipe is pretty basic so you can get creative from here. Think avocado, dill, bacon, or red pepper flakes. Looks like I need to buy more eggs. Happy Boiling!
X-CELLENT EGG SALAD SLIDERS
8 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon red onion, diced
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 slider buns
4 romaine lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, dill pickle relish, red onion, yellow mustard, and sea salt. Chop the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir gently until well blended. Cover and chill in the refrigerator one hour. Assemble sliders using the buns, egg salad, romaine lettuce leaves, and tomato slices. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.
PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS
1 cup vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 garlic cloves, whole
1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced
In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Veggie Burger! For a quarter-pounder without all the fat, substitute red meat for black beans instead. Sound crazy? Actually, I conducted a little taste test on my husband recently. By using mashed black beans, onion, green pepper, egg, and bread crumbs, it seemed more like a meatloaf than a burger. It kinda did. The texture was the same and they fried up real nice in the iron skillet. By the time we added lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, we practically did a double-take on the finished product. Go all out and slide it between a brioche bun. The veggie burger definitely crossed the finish line at the dinner table. Now that’s delicious.
16-ounce can organic black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
3 drops sriracha sauce
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Butter for frying
Brioche hamburger buns
Condiments, per taste
Using a food processor set on Pulse, mash black beans until thick and chunky. Transfer to a bowl. Next, combine green pepper, yellow onion, and minced garlic in the food processor. Chop into small pieces. Stir into the black beans. Add egg, chili powder, cumin, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add bread crumbs. Mix together with gloved hands until consistency is dense enough to form into patties. Melt butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Place patties into skillet and cook about 7-8 minutes until a crispy outer edge is present. Flip and cook 7-8 minutes longer. Serve with condiments of choice on a brioche bun.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Relish Charcuterie! Everyone knows the best defense is a good offense, especially when it comes to group gatherings and holiday parties. Low-calorie items are always a wise choice. Keep it healthy with a nice assortment of raw veggies packed with nutrients and fiber. Besides, they’re colorful and festive. By filling a plate with appealing choices like these, you can splurge later on with a sampling of dessert.
1 head celery, with stalks and ribs
3 large carrots, cut into strips
7 ounces pimento stuffed queen olives
10 ounces grape tomatoes
1 pint sweet gherkins
8 ounces wild caper berries
6 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted
12 ounces imported pepperoncinis
1 bunch garden radishes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Wash all fresh vegetables in cold water. Pat dry on paper towels. Chop and slice as needed in unique shapes. Use small dip bowls for height and color. Arrange ingredients on a nice platter so designs are appealing to the eye. It is better to keep it looking full by switching around shapes and color. Small plates and toothpicks or skewers encourage snacking.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ham Salad Spread! Tired of ho-hum tuna salad or egg salad sandwiches? Think all-natural applewood smoked ham with no artificial ingredients. When you begin with quality, the results are astounding. Add sweet pickle relish, chopped celery, and fresh horseradish. The biggest challenge is deciding if you wish to smear it on rye bread, add a dollop over wheat crackers, or simply scoop it onto a Bibb lettuce leaf. Skip the Deli-made and crank out a batch at home. It’s easier than you think. In no time at all, you’ll have a party favorite or lunchtime energy boost.
HAM SALAD SPREAD
2 cups applewood smoked ham chunks
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
3 green onions, snipped
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon creamy horseradish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Place ham chunks in a food processor. Pulse in batches until finely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Place celery in the food processor and Pulse until chopped. Add to bowl. Repeat with hard-boiled eggs. Add to bowl. Stir to mix. Add green onion snips, sweet pickle relish, horseradish, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Hattie B’s Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee! Chicken places can be a dime a dozen in the South, but Hot Spicy Chicken is a bird of a different color. Hattie B’s is a mom and pop food joint that rolls off the tongue with a southern drawl. Ask anyone on the street and they’ll point you in the direction for fried chicken at its best in Nashville. Five heat levels from no heat crispy chicken to eye-bulging habanero spicy are offered, so be prepared to eat your words. You’re going to need the coleslaw, pickles, and beans to tone things down long enough to finish the basket you ordered. For an explosion of flavor worth bragging about, head over to Hattie B’s. It’s something to crow about.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Jambon de Bayonne Baguette! If you don’t have time to run by the local artisan bakery, consider this option. By using ingredients you may already have on hand from the local supermarket deli, this homemade version of a Parisian favorite can be done in minutes. It’s basically a ham and cheese sandwich stepped up a notch.
JAMBON DE BAYONNE BAGUETTE
1 baguette, cut in half (serves 2)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
3 ounces Jambon de Bayonne, or aged prosciutto
2 romaine lettuce leaves
2 slices espresso/lavender rubbed cheese
8 cornichon gherkins
Slice baguette lengthwise, without cutting all the way through to create a submarine sandwich. Spread a fine layer of Dijon mustard over each baguette half. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and herbs de Provence. Add slices tomatoes to coat, reserving olive oil mixture. Place one layer of tomatoes in each baguette. Next divide prosciutto, romaine lettuce, and gourmet cheese between baguette sandwiches. Top with cornichon gherkins. Drizzle with remaining herbed olive oil. Close and serve. Bon Appétit!