Unconventional Peach Side Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Unconventional Peach Side Salad! What a blessing to partake in the abundance of plump and juicy peaches. The options are endless. For instance, I like to substitute tomatoes for fresh peaches in a side salad. By adding the buttery taste of Gorgonzola cheese, it creates a robust flavor that easily compliments the sweetness of the peach. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Oh my!

UNCONVENTIONAL PEACH SIDE SALAD

Ingredients:

1-2 fresh peaches, washed and skin on

2 cups organic salad greens

1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons pecan bits

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic reduction

Croutons for garnish

Instructions:

Cut peaches into wedges. Divide organic salad greens into shallow serving dishes. Distribute peach slices. Sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and pecan bits. Drizzle lemon olive oil and pomegranate balsamic reduction sauce over all. Garnish with toasted croutons.

Underrated Summertime Supper

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Underrated Summertime Supper! Does anyone have a Himalayan Salt Block besides me? Well, one of the things I like about it is, it can take the guesswork out of adding seasoning to food. It’s a block of pink salt, after all. When serving cold foods like salads, fruits, and cheeses, refrigerate the salt block overnight before using. This helps to keep foods chilled for hours when you need it. Simply arrange the ingredients directly on the block, drizzle on the dressing, and you’re good-to-go. Clean up is easy. Never use soap; salt is naturally antibacterial. Remove food residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse it with a clean swipe, then dab dry. Allow the salt block to air-dry before next use. You’re done.

UNDERRATED SUMMERTIME SUPPER

Ingredients:

4 ounces goat’s milk cheese, plain

1 teaspoon Italian dry mix spice blend

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces mixed greens, washed

1 Roma tomato, chopped

4 assorted mini sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into rings

2 radishes, sliced very thin

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Crusty Artisan Bread

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle Italian dry mix spice blend and red pepper flakes. Form the goat’s milk cheese into a ball. Roll it in the spice mix to cover all sides. Place cheese ball on the chilled Himalayan salt block. Next, arrange mixed greens in a single layer. Arrange Roma tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, radish slices, and red onion rings. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over top. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over salad. Serve with crusty artisan bread.

Mediterranean Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Mediterranean Salad! I was asked to provide a salad on short notice for a gathering recently, so it seemed like a no-brainer to share the bounty of my garden. The abundance of ripe tomatoes practically transformed my platter into a work of art. Anyone can do the same. All you need is a few ingredients and two different size platters.

MEDITERRANEAN SALAD

Ingredients:

4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced

3-4 small tomatoes, sliced

1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

2 mozzarella sticks string cheese, sliced

1 small green pepper

1/2 cup pitted black olives

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

2-3 tablespoons balsamic reduction sauce

Instructions:

Choose tomatoes that are uniform in size. This will enhance the pinwheel effect when complete. Slice the tomatoes, discarding the end pieces. Place on paper towels to avoid too much juice on the platter. In a shallow dish combine sliced mozzarella, olive oil, dried basil, oregano, and marjoram. Try to coat the cheese evenly. Set aside to marinate. Meanwhile, take the green pepper and cut across the top to remove the stem portion. Hollow out the pepper and rinse. Turn upside down so no water remains inside. This pepper will be placed in the center as the focal point to hold the black olives. To assemble platter, begin by placing the smaller plate inside the platter. Place the green pepper in the center of the small plate. Arrange the small tomatoes and sliced string cheese around the green pepper. Next take the medium tomato slices and alternate with the marinated mozzarella slices until the outer area of the large platter is filled. Take the fresh basil and arrange the leaves throughout. Some may remain whole while others may be snips of basil. Drizzle reserve olive oil being careful not to drench. You may not need much. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over all. Garnish olives with colorful picks.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Uptown Burrata Masterpiece Salad! I stumbled onto this decadent cheese with the soft creamy center at first bite when my husband and I visited Little Italy in Boston. Hearing the excitement in the voice of our waiter piqued my interest. Oh my, this has to be the best cheese ever! The easiest way to describe it is to say that it’s a type of fresh mozzarella cheese with a hollow center filled with thick cream that boasts of a rich buttery taste. Make sense? It’s meant to be eaten at room temperature, so don’t waste your money melting it on a pizza.

UPTOWN BURRATA MASTERPIECE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh arugula leaves

3-4 Campari tomatoes, quartered

6-ounces artichoke hearts, marinated

6-ounces Burrata mozzarella cheese

Balsamic Reduction

Cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Arrange arugula leaves in a shallow bowl. Place tomatoes and artichokes around decoratively. Place a portion of the Burrata mozzarella at center stage. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over all. Garnish with cracked peppercorns to taste. Yes, please!

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Balsamic Reduction Sauce-It’s Sweet! This is the elegant dark sauce you find drizzled over salads, cheese, meats, vegetables, and even fruity desserts in restaurants. At home, it can be made in minutes. You’ll feel like a master chef when you swirl it over your favorite dishes. I do. 
BALSAMIC REDUCTION SAUCE-IT’S SWEET!
Ingredients:

1 cup imported Italian balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pure honey
Instructions:

Mix vinegar and honey together in a reduction pan.* (If you do not have one, simply substitute a 2-quart pan instead.) Bring contents to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Stir occasionally. You will need to use the exhaust fan on the stove since the aroma of vinegar will fill the kitchen. It will take 10-30 minutes to reduce to half the amount, depending on how thick you want your sauce to be. I prefer it closer to molasses so it stands up when drizzled. Watch carefully so it does not burn. Set the timer every10 minutes to see how it coats the back of a spoon. (It is also helpful to use the markings on the measuring tool.) Once it has reduced to half, remove from heat and set aside to cool. It does thicken up as it cools. Store in the refrigerator. Drizzle on foods in teaspoon-size portions. Enjoy! You’re Welcome! 
* A reduction pan tapers from wide at the top to narrow at the base to encourage evaporation when reducing liquids. It often comes with a measuring spoon that has markings on it for accuracy.