What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Xmas Pear Pupus! A popular Polynesian appetizer, served hot or cold, comes from the Hawaiian word “pūpū”. It can be anything from a buffet table of skewered meat, tempura veggies, raw fish, and other finger foods to simple cold trays of tropical fruits, deviled eggs, edamame, and smoked salmon. Remember to make everything bite-size when planning an informal gathering. Because pear trees live such a long time, their fruit is very symbolic during the holiday season. The pear often represents immortality, wisdom, and health; a treat fit for royalty. By creating a pear pupu platter, you’re giving your guests a gift of intangibles they may treasure for years to come. Get the conversation started. Serve freshly sliced ripe pears and cinnamon dusted pear chips with a wheel of warm Brie. How festive!
XMAS PEAR PUPUS
2 pears, thinly sliced for baking
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 wheel Brie cheese, warmed
2 tablespoons cranberry relish
2 tablespoons sugared pecans
2 pears, cut into wedges for eating
Cinnamon Dusted Pear Chips must be made in advance. Preheat oven to 225°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Pat dry sliced pears. Place them on the parchment paper in a single layer. Dust with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake 3 hours until dried and crisp. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
For Pear Pupus, warm a wheel of Brie cheese in a 350°oven for 5-10 minutes to soften. Spread cranberry relish over top. Sprinkle with sugared pecans and chopped pears. Serve with pear wedges and cinnamon dusted pear chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad! One of my offseason luxuries is baking a turkey during the summer months. Think about it. There’s less holiday stress, plenty of time, and loads of leftover ideas. Think it’s way too much meat for the two of you? No worries. Divide the cooked turkey into gallon-size freezer bags to use as timesaving options later on. Turkey makes a refreshing substitute for most chicken or pork recipes by simply adding different herbs and spices. I’ve served turkey carnitas with chunky salsa for a Mexican fiesta, shredded turkey and hash browns with eggs for a weekend breakfast, and added garden vegetables for a farm table midday Cobb salad. Today though, in lieu of chicken salad, turkey is the star attraction for a summertime picnic.
SMOKED TURKEY THYME SALAD
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
In a large bowl, combine shredded turkey, liquid smoke, mayonnaise, sea salt, black pepper, chopped celery, and sweet pickle relish. Mix well. Gently fold in chopped hard-boiled egg and minced thyme leaves. Serve over a bed of alfalfa sprouts, or mixed greens, with seasonal fruit.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Dill Pickle Cheese Spread! You’ve heard of pregnant women craving dill pickles, toddlers munching on them, bar patrons dunking a spear in a mug of beer, and families gobbling down an order of fried dill pickle chips. So what’s the buzz? Why is everyone going crazy over dill pickles? First of all, they practically have no calories at all. They have a crunch that makes your mouth smile. Dill pickles ease in digestion, heartburn, and bloating. Plus, their saltiness helps the body absorb water. I’m sure you can come up with a few reasons of your own.
DILL PICKLE CHEESE SPREAD
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup dill pickle relish, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Assorted vegetables, crackers, and pretzels
Combine cream cheese, dill pickle relish, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Beat until smooth. Fold in cheddar cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with veggies, crackers, and pretzels. Also good on deli sandwiches.
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 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? Food Junkie Favorites: Kidney Bean Salad! I find this chilled high protein dish a complement to any menu. It is especially delightful for Summer road trip outings, lake-side picnics, and cookouts on the deck. Store it in a glass jar for easy serving or make up individual potluck portions. For an exciting, easy, and often overlooked alternative that is vegan and gluten-free, add these ingredients to your grocery list and take a trip on the wild side.
KIDNEY BEAN SALAD
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 smidgen sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1 can red kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
Mix mayonnaise, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend in onions. Add celery, beans, and relish. Chill two hours before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Hot Dog Heaven! Summer brings visions of baseball games, afternoons at the pool, picnics in the park, roasting marshmallows over the fire pit, and hot dogs any way you like them. Some people prefer premium Angus franks, others want fat-free turkey, German brats, or Italian sausage. Hold the ketchup? Maybe. Mustard only? Sometimes. Sweet relish? Extra onion? No bun? There have to be a bazillion ways to serve up a hot dog. For your back yard cookout, save yourself the agony of being a people-pleaser. Bring out the kid in everyone. Offer a condiment bar where the guests can congregate and “build-your-own” version of bliss.
HOT DOG HEAVEN
1 pound wieners, standard beef
Condiments of your choosing
Hot Dog Buns
Heat the grill to medium temperature. Grill franks 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until heated through and slightly charred. Remove with grill tongs and let sit for a minute or two to retain juices. For a toasted bun, toss the buns, cut side down, onto the grill for about 15-20 seconds; longer if you want them slightly charred. Watch carefully.