Honeycomb Cheese Wheel

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Honeycomb Cheese Wheel! Remember when you were a kid and for fun you puckered up with those candy red wax lips? Me and my girlfriends would put them on, batt our eyes, sashay our hips, and laugh hysterically. Most often we’d find ourselves chewing on the sugary insides before spitting them out into tiny red blobs on our way home from school. I’m sure that made quite an impression on the neighborhood boys. Well today’s honeycomb is a distant cousin, twice-removed, to those artificial candy lips. Even better, raw honeycomb is completely safe to eat and naturally sweet. A little goes a long way simply because it is seeping with honey. Dress it up with a wheel of Camembert or Brie cheese, seasoned with a clove of garlic and a couple of sprigs from the herb garden. Spread it across baguette slices for an open-air treat.

HONEYCOMB CHEESE WHEEL

Ingredients:

1 wheel Camembert cheese

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Small section honeycomb

Instruction:

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove cheese from plastic wrap. Return cheese to its wooden box. Place box on a baking sheet. Take a knife and score a criss-cross pattern halfway through the cheese. Tuck garlic clove slices in the cuts. Sprinkle rosemary and thyme herbs over top. Drizzle butter over all. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes until cheese is soft, bubbling, and fragrant. Serve immediately by spreading the golden cheese over toasted baguette slices. Then spoon the oozing honeycomb pieces over all. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Mustard Glazed Rainbow Carrots! Have you noticed carrots now come in rainbow colors? How exciting is that?! It’s not only the color that catches your attention, it’s the difference in flavor. Traditional orange carrots have a certain sweet earthiness we’re all familiar with, whether you eat them raw or cooked. Others colors may range from a slightly peppery taste to mildly subtle one. Either way, the combination offers a range of nutrients linking benefits to eye health, better digestion, and possibly even cancer prevention. Refine your taste buds. Give rainbow carrots a try. Organic, of course.

MUSTARD GLAZED RAINBOW CARROTS

Ingredients:

12 ounces organic rainbow baby-cut carrots, cut lengthwise or left whole

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon natural honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Place carrots in a shallow dish. Combine olive oil, natural honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary leaves, garlic powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix well. Pour over carrots to coat. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20-30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes for a roasted, golden glow. Serve immediately.

Focaccia Herb Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Focaccia Herb Bread! I love bread. Don’t hate me. Besides, if the Italians and the French can make it a guilt-free pleasure, that’s good enough for me. Focaccia Bread is a flatter version than a loaf and actually resembles the texture of pizza dough and breadsticks. Are you with me now? At first glance you may think there is too much olive oil in this recipe. Not true. Actually, that is the secret to keeping the bread soft or preventing it from drying out. Feel free to begin imagining focaccia bread as an appetizer, sandwich bread, or healthy snack. Permission granted.

FOCACCIA HERB BREAD

Ingredients:

1 cup water

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

Dipping Olive Oil

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, follow this order: add water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt, bread flour, and sugar. Make a small well in the dry ingredients. Pour the active dry yeast in the well. Select Dough/Manual cycle. When cycle is complete, coat a 10”x15” baking pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. This will make the bottom crispy. Press the dough into the pan, stretching it to fit the pan. Be sure to turn the dough over to coat both sides with olive oil. Once the dough is stretched, take a wooden spoon and press it, handle side down, to make impressions in the dough, similar to dimples. Be careful. DO NOT make holes in the dough. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm area, free of drafts. Let the dough rise for one hour. Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia dough with rosemary leaves and parmesan cheese. Drizzle enough olive oil to pool in the indentations. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Remove the focaccia bread and let it cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with herbed olive oil or enjoy as is.

Versatile Fig-Glazed Cornish Hen

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Versatile Fig-Glazed Cornish Hen! When an evening meal becomes a dinner date for two, make it extra-special by choosing something out of the ordinary. A luxury, so to speak. Cornish hens are an individual serving, which makes them that much more appealing on the dinner plate. Typically they run in size around 1 1/2 pounds, which is perfect. The meat is quite tender and moist with a subtle chicken flavor. Whether it’s a romantic celebration or just because, turn on some music, open a bottle of wine, gaze into each other’s eyes, and enjoy the ambiance. Candlelight is purely optional.

VERSATILE FIG-GLAZED CORNISH HEN

Ingredients for Cornish Hens:

20-ounce each Cornish hens, twin pack, frozen and thawed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Ingredients for Fig Glaze:

1/4 cup chili-fig jam

1/4 cup port wine

1/4 cup balsamic reduction

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, quarter lemon

Pinch of kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a dutch oven with nonstick oil. Set aside. Wash the Cornish hens; pat dry. Season the cavities with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place a rosemary sprig inside. Secure the legs and wings with cooking twine. Transfer birds to the dutch oven. Dot the top of each Cornish hen with butter. Bake 45 minutes. While the hens are roasting, make the fig glaze. Place a small pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add chili-fig jam, port wine, balsamic reduction, butter, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Allow mixture to reduce to a syrupy consistency, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Baste the birds with the fig sauce during the last 10 minutes of roasting. The Cornish hens are done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°, and juices run clear. The skin should be golden brown and crispy. Remove pan from oven. Tent the pan with aluminum foil to keep warm. Allow the birds to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Rosemary Lemon Roasted Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Rosemary Lemon Roasted Turkey! Did you know a frozen turkey will last up to two years in the freezer? First and foremost, it’s only a bargain if you have the space to store it. That being said, roasting a turkey is a great source of lean protein. A whole bird provides healthy meat that can be served several different ways. Unfortunately, our bodies need protein and cannot store it. We need to replenish protein in order to build strong bones, repair muscle, heal skin, and help keep blood sugar levels even. All the other vitamins and minerals are a bonus. A few words of advice: Remove and discard the skin of the roasted turkey, no matter how tempting that crispy, golden outer covering calls your name. It’s main purpose is to keep the meat moist. That, and for taking fabulous snapshots, of course.

ROSEMARY LEMON ROASTED TURKEY

Ingredients:

4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 lemons, quartered

12-pound turkey, thawed

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Rinse turkey, pat dry. Insert rosemary and lemon pieces in the cavity of the turkey. Truss the turkey by wrapping the bird in cooking twine. Secure the legs and tuck the wings underneath. Transfer turkey to the roasting pan with the breast side up. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder. Bake uncovered for 4 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 180°. The juice of the turkey will run clear when the center of the thigh is cut. Remove from oven. Cover. Allow turkey to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and lemons.

Jell-O Shots with Sugared Cranberries

Experience the Holidays: Jell-O Shots With Sugared Cranberries! The holidays ring in the cheer with festive activities, enticing food, and snappy beverages. Make things awesome with dressed up Jell-O shots that cap off any occasion. Not only do they have an elegant look, but they satisfy the sweet tooth as a miniature dessert. By creating a garnish of fresh fruit with the sugared cranberries, it’s a classy finish with a gourmet twist!

JELL-O SHOTS WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES

For Make-Ahead Sugared Cranberries:

2 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup filtered water

12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup filtered water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Add cranberries. To prevent cranberries from bursting, do not boil. Stir until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack. Let dry for one hour. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Store in airtight container.

Ingredients for Jell-o Shots:

3-ounce package raspberry gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

1/2 cup ice water

Sugared cranberries Rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Empty contents of raspberry gelatin packet into a mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and amaretto liqueur and iced water. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs just before serving.

Garlic Bulbs Roasted

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Garlic Bulbs Roasted! Do you like the smell of garlic? Do you find it sweet, alluring, pleasant, pungent, or exciting? If garlic is your friend, get ready for a road trip you will long remember. Roasted garlic cloves could make you feel extra special. Especially slathered across a slice of crusty artisan bread. When garlic bulbs are slow-roasted in the oven, they become soft, caramelized, and almost sweet. The tantalizing aroma will practically drive you crazy. As you wait with anticipation, don’t be surprised if you find your mouth watering just a bit. Be patient. Once done, the tender golden cloves collapse and spread like butter. It is definitely worth the time spent in expectation.

GARLIC BULBS ROASTED

Ingredients:

3 garlic bulbs

3 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon rosemary leaves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Peel away outside loose layers. Slice 1/4 off the top of each garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Place cut side up on a sheet of foil. Drizzle olive oil over each. Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and rosemary leaves. Fold foil overtop the garlic, and place in an ovenproof dish. Roast for 45 minutes. Cloves will begin to soften and turn golden in color. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Gently squeeze the cloves to push them out or use a pointed butter knife. Spread mashed garlic on crusty artisan breads and crackers.

Vinaigrette Like the French

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Vinaigrette Like the French! I’m all about the creamier versions of salad dressings, yet sometimes I really must stick to a basic oil and vinegar one to appreciate the fabulous herbs the French adore. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and sometimes lavender are the star attractions. These unique flavors are very typical of the southeastern part of France, known as Provence. As a Francophile, is it any wonder I grow these herbs at home in my garden herb bed? Once dried, they keep very well in a sealed jar. Their shelf life can be up to three years, but I have yet to make that happen. Because the flavor is so distinctive, herbes de Provence may be incorporated into meat or fish recipes, soups, breads, fries, salad dressings, and more. Substitute the need for salt next time with a virtual trip to the French countryside. C’est magnifique!

VINAIGRETTE LIKE THE FRENCH

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Whisk together garlic wine vinegar, olive oil, herbes de Provence, minced garlic, and cracked black pepper. Blend well. Let stand 10 minutes to infuse flavors. Whisk again before serving.

Olive Oil Herb Potatoes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Olive Oil Herb Potatoes! Being raised in the Midwest, practically every evening meal consisted of meat, potato, and vegetable. Perhaps that is why I love potatoes so much. I learned how to make homemade potato soup at the hem of my mother’s apron, without measuring or a recipe. But that’s a story for another day. I like the baby potatoes available now at the supermarket. By slicing them, with the skin on, and drizzling them with herbs and olive oil, the taste is unbelievable! Who wouldn’t fall in love with these tasty little nuggets?

OLIVE OIL HERB POTATOES

Ingredients:

5 baby potatoes, washed and sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Leaving skin on potatoes, wash thoroughly and pat dry. Put one potato on a soup spoon. Beginning at one end, slice in strips, being careful to stop before slicing the bottom skin. The knife will hit the spoon to prevent it from cutting through. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Continue until all potatoes are sliced. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, garlic powder, Herbes de Provence, and chopped rosemary leaves. Brush each potato with herbed olive oil, separating slices to coat both sides. Drizzle remaining oil over all. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake potatoes one hour until crispy, basting occasionally. Serve immediately.