What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Avocado Egg Bake! Everyone already eats eggs and avocados, right? At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must confess, this really is delicious! Forget hum-drum. I mean, just look at the colors! What surprised me the most was not that the eggs cooked thoroughly in the avocado shell, but that the avocado did not turn an unpleasant shade of brown. Seriously. Top it off with onion snips and prosciutto crumbles for love at first bite.
AVOCADO EGG BAKE
1 avocado, halved and pit removed
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch cracked black pepper
1 pinch garlic powder
1 slice prosciutto
1 green onion, snipped
1 pinch parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 425°. Place oven rack in the middle setting. Arrange avocado halves in a small baking dish to keep them upright. Crack each egg into a custard cup. Gently spoon one egg yolk into the center of each avocado half. Transfer as much of the egg white as possible without overflowing. Discard excess. Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Bake 15 minutes until eggs are set. Meanwhile, microwave prosciutto on High setting until crispy for 45-60 seconds. Crumble and set aside. Remove avocados from oven. Sprinkle with prosciutto crumbles, onion snips, and parsley flakes.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Utmost Prosciutto Plate! Treat yourself right by going the extra mile in gourmet treats. Something so simple, yet sublime, can change a mood from sour to exciting. We all need something to look forward to. Am I right? Fresh mozzarella is usually sold in a brine or water solution to retain its moisture, texture, and soft shape. Let it drain for a few minutes on paper towels; then dab dry and slice. By drizzling a rich olive oil over the mozzarella to enhance that delicate milky flavor, the buttery essence peeks through. Add a leaf or two of fresh basil to enrich the nutritive value. As you sit there nibbling on a slice of prosciutto, pat yourself on the back for enduring the tough times we’ve been through recently. Our home is a safe haven and we can get through whatever storm is next.
UTMOST PROSCIUTTO PLATE
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
3 ounces old world prosciutto, sliced
7 ounces rustic crostini crackers
4 ounces organic green olives, pitted
Drain mozzarella cheese for a few minutes on paper towels; then dab dry and slice. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with dried basil. Arrange sliced prosciutto and crostini crackers around cheese. Add pitted green olives. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with Pinot Grigio.
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!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Xigua Watermelon Salad! With seasonal changes, there may be days that feel more like Summer than Autumn. At those times, I roll back the calendar by serving a light meal with a couple of cool melons. The natural sweetness of watermelon and honeydew are complimented by the smoky saltiness of thinly sliced prosciutto. When drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette, it works beautifully to balance the fresh fruit and mixed greens with the aged cheese. Take advantage of watermelon salad’s one final “hurrah” before it’s gone.
XIGUA WATERMELON SALAD
1 cup watermelon, cut into chunks and seeded
1 cup honeydew melon, cut into chunks and seeded
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup mandarin oranges
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons natural honey
2 cups arugula
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn
3-4 slices prosciutto
1/4 cup Romano cheese, shaved
Combine watermelon, honeydew melon, red onion, mandarin oranges, and kosher salt. Gently toss. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk lemon juice, lemon olive oil, and natural honey. Drizzle over fruit mixture. Divide arugula and mint between chilled salad plates. Top with fruit mixture. Add prosciutto. Garnish with shaved Romano cheese. Serve chilled.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Egg Veggie Tart! Take ordinary ingredients and spread them over a prepared puff pastry crust and I promise you, your family will eat anything you serve. It’s that good. I always keep a box of frozen puff pastry on hand because it is so versatile. From main courses to desserts, they all turn out like a culinary masterpiece. For everyone to take you seriously though, be sure to wear an apron. It makes you look like a chef who means business. I think I have at least five different styles, some with pockets, some without. And I’m always open for more. Today’s version of a breakfast tart incorporates vegetables and prosciutto that not only add color, but eye appeal. Without regrets, add this recipe to your list of easy-to-assemble meals.
EGG VEGGIE TART
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
3 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips
1/4 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
3 eggs plus 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup baby peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons green onion snips
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry on prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, pierce the dough evenly across surface, stopping about 1/2” from the edge. At the edges, roll dough once to form a crust. This will keep the ingredients from overflowing. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven to assemble remaining ingredients. Layer the Swiss cheese on the bottom of the crust. Arrange tomatoes, prosciutto, and green beans. Crack 3 eggs onto the dough. Try to place the eggs where the vegetables will “hold” them into place. Sprinkle tart with baby peas. Drizzle with olive oil. Divide grated parmesan cheese over all. Brush the crust all the way around the tart with the egg/water mixture. This gives the crust that beautiful golden color when baked. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is cooked through. Garnish with green onion snips. Cut into squares. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Jasmine Rice Pilaf! If you can boil water, you can master the art of restaurant-style rice pilaf. It’s that simple. By using your favorite herbs and spices, the air is filled with an aromatic essence that draws everyone to the kitchen. Keep in mind, Patience is key. Follow this step-by-step recipe for a be-all and end-all gourmet fluffy rice pilaf that can be eaten as a main meal or partnered with a meat portion. I served it with Nugget Sesame Chicken, which you’ll be seeing a little later on. Stay tuned.
JASMINE RICE PILAF
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 cup long-grain jasmine rice
1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1-2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces prosciutto, cubed
1/2 cup sweet baby peas
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Fresh chives, snipped
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, onion, garlic cloves, seasoned salt, and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, approximately 45 seconds. Sprinkle in cumin powder. Add jasmine rice; stir to coat. Cook 3 minutes until grains turn toasty. This prevents clumping later on. Add low-sodium chicken broth and wine. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Take a cotton tea towel and cover the pan. Place the lid over the towel to absorb the steam; let rice rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat butter on low. Add cubed prosciutto, peas, and beaten egg. Stir while cooking until egg is scrambled. Add soy sauce to taste. Before serving the rice, fold in the prosciutto mixture. To complete the pilaf, garnish with fresh chive snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Diablo Pepper Poppers! Sometimes you need an appetizer that doesn’t come across as a flame thrower sending your guests to the nearest source of water to put out the fire. I have discovered mini sweet peppers are a great stand-in for their high intensity cousin, the jalapeño. These little jewels are a colorful sight and taste even better than they look, which is pretty appealing. The green, orange, red, and yellow “pops” of color are bursting with flavor as well. No fire extinguisher needed.
DIABLO PEPPER POPPERS
12 mini sweet peppers
2 tablespoons garlic olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt
3 green onions, snipped
7 Pepper Jack string cheese sticks
3 ounces prosciutto, deli sliced
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray and place on the pan. Set aside. Wash the sweet peppers. Pat dry. Slice the top of each pepper vertically, removing a small portion to create a well. Remove any seeds. Brush each pepper with the garlic olive oil. Sprinkle on seasonings. Place peppers on the wire rack with cut side down. Bake 10 minutes; then set the broiler to High and broil for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Using a tongs, flip them over. Divide the green onion snips into the bottom of each pepper well. Using a kitchen shears, cut the string cheese to fit each pepper. Take each deli portion of prosciutto and slice it in half lengthwise. Carefully wrap the prosciutto around each filled sweet pepper and place upright on wire rack. Broil on High another 2-3 minutes or until the prosciutto gets crispy. Remove pan from oven and let cool slightly. Taking a cake tester, pierce each pepper from one side to another to make an opening. Insert a wooden pick in the opening. Now you have a finger food appetizer. Serve with herbed yogurt for dipping.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Spinach Prosciutto Flatbread! As the King of Hams, prosciutto reigns. Its savory and aromatic flavor is a result of a slow-aged process known well by the Italians. You will immediately notice the paper thin velvety texture of prosciutto. The sea salting process has a regional influence on the curing results as well. Many remain trade secrets for all time. You and I reap the benefits by shopping around. Always keep a little prosciutto on hand. It can mean the difference between ho-hum and WOW!
SPINACH PROSCIUTTO FLATBREAD
1 prepared flatbread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, cut-up*
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup spinach leaves
Preheat oven to 400°. Brush flatbread with one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Spread Greek yogurt over flatbread. Dot with goat cheese crumbles. Layer shredded mozzarella over all. In a skillet over medium low heat add one tablespoon olive oil, cut up prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears, tomatoes, and spinach. Stir with tongs to coat. Cover for 1-2 minutes or until spinach turns bright green. Spoon over flatbread. Bake assembled flatbread 2-3 minutes in oven. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
*Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus recipe may be found at the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Not-Your-Momma’s Scrambled Eggs! Do you have a fussy eater? Sometimes it takes a lot of energy to keep things interesting and fun. Here’s your answer for simplifying breakfast or dinner: put the scrambled egg mixture in a hollowed out pepper shell. Bake it in the oven while the bread is toasting. The aromas alone will grab their attention. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
NOT-YOUR-MOMMA’S SCRAMBLED EGGS
3 sweet peppers, seeded and ribs removed
1/4 cup dry aged prosciutto, cubed
2 tablespoons sweet red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
smidgen of seasoned salt
nip of cracked black pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat oven-proof baking dish with nonstick spray. Place peppers upright in bottom of dish, like a boat. They need to sit flat in order to keep the eggs from running out. In a small skillet, add olive oil, red pepper, onion, and prosciutto. Sauté in seasonings. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Beat well. Layer the pepper boats with cheese and prosciutto mixture. Pour eggs over all to fill. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve with buttered toast and salad.