What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Splatter Pan Roasted Peppers! There’s something comforting about roasted vegetables. Perhaps it’s the amazing flavor as a result of dry oven heat. Ever notice that slightly caramelized texture? Sometimes it results in a toasted nutty-like flavor. Sweetness piques, especially in tomatoes. The soft brown garlic bulbs surprised me most of all. I mashed one against the roof of my mouth. The raw bitterness had been replaced with a savory sweetness that brought sheer pleasure to my taste buds. No wonder people say food can produce a seductive spark. Am I the last one to discover this about roasted garlic?
SPLATTER PAN ROASTED PEPPERS
3 green bell peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
24 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon basil, crushed
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a splatter pan with nonstick oil. Arrange green peppers, cut side up to fit. Brush the peppers, inside and out with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mozzarella cheese between peppers. Arrange cherry tomatoes so they fill each pepper “boat” to overflowing. As they roast the tomatoes will shrink in size. Tuck garlic cloves in between the tomatoes. Finish with capers. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle crushed basil over all. Bake 40-45 minutes. Allow roasted peppers to cool to room temperature before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Oven-Roasted Golden Peaches! Forget about cleanup of baking sheets by utilizing a perfect nonstick solution. Parchment paper. Never confuse it with wax paper, though, which will smoke in the oven. That’s a big mistake. Parchment paper is made to withstand oven temperatures during the baking or roasting process. Not only that, parchment paper contains a release agent that prevents foods from sticking to it. Bonus points, in my opinion. Because we’re covering the sliced peaches with pure maple syrup, you can imagine how difficult that would be to scrape off the pan once it’s baked in. May as well throw the pan away and buy another. Or…you could do what I did the first time I baked a galette. My husband took his sander tool and ground the petrified sugar off. Hey, don’t judge me. It was my favorite baking sheet. Still is.
OVEN-ROASTED GOLDEN PEACHES
3-4 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 425°. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced peaches in a single layer, without touching. Drizzle with melted butter and maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then flip peaches over. Spoon excess sauce over peaches. Bake 10 minutes longer. Serve warm with sea salt caramel ice cream.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Furikake Party Mix! Popular in the Hawaiian Islands, furikake is a seasoning with leanings toward seaweed, sesame seeds, sea salt, and a pinch of sugar. It can be sprinkled on anything from popcorn to tuna. By taking a classic snack mix and adding a candied Japanese twist, you may leave the former far behind for awhile. To prove a point, I gave out jars of Furikake Party Mix to some friends of mine for taste-testing. After one bite, they eagerly devoured its contents within a couple days and then asked for more. Proof positive as far as I’m concerned.
FURIKAKE PARTY MIX
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons organic soy sauce
6 cups Crispix cereal
5 cups gluten-free pretzel twists
2 cups honey roasted peanuts
2 cups wasabi peas
1/2 cup furikake seasoning
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 225°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, about 3 minutes. When the sugar is melted, remove pan from stove and add vegetable oil, pure maple syrup, and organic soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Crispix cereal, gluten-free pretzel twists, honey roasted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Slowly pour the butter mixture over all; gently turning the ingredients to coat well. Sprinkle on the furikake seasoning and red pepper flakes. Toss again to mix things up equally. Divide the cereal mixture between the two baking sheets. Bake for one hour, turning every 15 minutes to keep from scorching. (It may be necessary to alternate the pans between upper and lower oven racks for even browning.) The cereal will begin to dry as it bakes. After one hour, allow the Furikake Party Mix to cool before storing in airtight jars or containers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Desperado Dinner Nachos! The title says it all. I had been running all day long from this to that when I finally returned home to realize I had made no plans for supper. Going back out was not an option. So things got a little desperate. Thank goodness I had some leftover roasted turkey (chicken would work just fine) plus a half a bag of tortilla chips. The rest of the toppings were a given. So you see, sometimes making mediocre effort will suffice, especially if you make it look downright delicious!
DESPERADO DINNER NACHOS
1/2 bag corn tortilla chips
2 cups roasted turkey or rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups Mexican-blend cheese, shredded
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup pickled jalapeños, sliced
2-3 green onions, snipped
Greek yogurt or Sour cream
Preheat the oven to 400°. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. In a single layer, line the baking sheet with tortilla chips, covering every space. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, reserving a little as a final sprinkling. Arrange roasted meat over cheese layer. Top with chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and green onion snips. Toss on the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve nachos with yogurt and salsa to taste.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Spicy Poblano Sauce! Try to avoid slurping this sauce by the spoonful straight out of the jar. Poblano peppers are a whole other animal, so to speak. Compared to its fiery cousins, the habanero or jalapeño, poblanos are mild and earthy, especially when roasted. Most of the time they are either stuffed (like the chile relleno you find on restaurant menus) or served as a sauce over roasted chicken enchiladas. Still confused? Think Mexican green sauce with chicken and spicy red sauce with beef or cheese.
SPICY POBLANO SAUCE
4 poblano peppers
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup light cream
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Space poblano peppers two inches apart. Roast poblano peppers in broiler oven on High setting until the skins are blistered and charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to a bowl and cover for 15 minutes. When cool, peel off the skin and chop the peppers, discarding seeds and stems. Warm butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and light cream. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Add chopped poblanos. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer poblano mixture to a food processor. Pulse to purée. Season with cumin powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Pulse again. Add Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. Serve warm over burritos or other Mexican dishes.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Xtra Tender Grilled Radishes! If you’ve avoided radishes because of their bitter earthy taste when eaten raw, perhaps it’s time to give them another chance. Keep in mind radishes are simply a root vegetable, no different than a potato or turnip. Once they are cooked, a natural sweetness emerges. Surprise! The slightly crisp outer core reveals a nice soft middle that makes your mouth go “Mmmm.”
XTRA TENDER GRILLED RADISHES
4 cups radishes, stems removed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Warm an iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the radishes in olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with garlic and herb seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium. Place the radishes, cut side down, on the iron skillet. Sear the radishes for 3-4 minutes per side. They will start to soften without losing their crunch. Remove pan from heat. Drizzle the radishes with melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped thyme leaves, sea salt, and black pepper. Serve immediately.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Glorious Glazed Pecans! Go to any big city or farmers market and you’ll find street vendors roasting sweet and savory candied nuts. The bakery aroma practically has you walking on air. Now you can bring this enticing smell and sugary sweetness right into your very own kitchen. I’ve made it a tradition to bake a couple batches for holiday gift-giving. When mixed with an assortment of smoked almonds, wasabi peas, salty cashews, and honey roasted peanuts, these glazed pecans become a gourmet choice for absolutely anyone on your list. In fact, anticipation creates excitement followed by open delight and thanksgiving.
GLORIOUS GLAZED PECANS
1 pound pecan halves
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 300°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a small bowl mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and set aside. In a large bowl beat egg white and water until frothy. Add one pound of pecans and coat well to cover. Pour sugar mixture over nuts. Stir completely to form a coating over pecans. Transfer nuts to the baking sheet. Form a single layer. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to form a crystallized finish. Remove from oven. Let cool and then store in an airtight container.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.
WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY
7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
Butter for rubbing
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Red Hot Chili Peppers! Hello. My name is Gail and I’m addicted to red pepper flakes. Seriously. Sometimes my husband has to ask me to scale back on the capsaicin factor. In that case, I simply place the jar next to my plate and sprinkle away. It wasn’t until recently I realized the health benefits of crushed red peppers. According to Healthy Eating*, “Red Peppers soothe upset stomach and ulcers, bolsters heart health, regulates diabetes, and fortifies the immune system.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
1 pound red peppers, cayenne or chili with stem on.
Preheat oven to 175°. Wash red peppers; pat dry. Arrange peppers on a baking sheet in a single layer without touching. Bake overnight, or 10 hours. Snap off stems and crush dried peppers, using a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar.
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