Mukimame Sea Salt Starter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Mukimame Sea Salt Starter! This is going to sound a little weird, but those who aren’t aware might be interested to know that mukimame and edamame are the same vegetable. They are both soy beans, a legume used to make tofu, soy milk, miso, and soy flour. Mukimame is the soybean after it is shelled; consequently, edamame is the soy bean in its fuzzy pod. Often a restaurant menu will offer a bowl of steamed edamame as an appetizer. You place the pod in your mouth, slide the beans out with your teeth, and then discard the pods. It’s meant to be a finger food snack you nibble over cocktails. Not everyone likes the texture or cares to graze in public. Now you have an alternative. Taste a lil bit of nutty flavor the easy way.

MUKIMAME SEA SALT STARTER

Ingredients:

10-ounce Mukimame, frozen

1 tablespoon sea salt course crystals

Instructions:

In a 2-quart double boiler, fill the saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Fill the basket insert with mukimame beans. Place insert into the double boiler. Cover. Boil mukimame for 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer mukimame to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt course crystals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Hummus in Hindsight (without tahini)! Let’s spread the news: rules are meant to be broken. I put off making hummus because I had no tahini, sesame seed paste, in my kitchen. The last time I needed it I became frustrated because I couldn’t find it in the grocery stores. So I made it myself. The trouble is homemade tahini can be pricey as well as wasteful if you don’t use it all before it becomes bitter. Not cool. Now you have an alternative. Lose the tahini without sacrificing the taste. By adding sesame oil and spices, you still end up with a smooth, creamy paste to smear onto pita bread. And isn’t that the point?

HUMMUS IN HINDSIGHT (without tahini)

Ingredients:

15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Drizzle of sesame oil, for topping

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Red pepper bits, for garnish

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Using a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until coarse. With the machine running, add the olive oil, sesame oil, and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Fold in the ground cumin, Himalayan pink salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish. Drizzle hummus with sesame oil. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with red pepper bits and sliced chives. Serve with celery sticks, red pepper strips, and pita bread.

Volcano Cheese Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Volcano Cheese Fries! Say, Whaaat? I first had these tasty morsels at my fav fish hut in Kauai. But after returning home, I really had a craving for them again. Granted, being a Midwesterner, I simply couldn’t resist adding a glob of queso cheese on top. In my defense, the bonfires we have always mix the colors of fiery red and golden yellow. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. But if you have the willpower, I won’t be offended if you skip it. The furikake seasoning and sriracha sauce are the star attractions anyway.

VOLCANO CHEESE FRIES

Ingredients:

16 ounces shoestring fries, frozen

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1/3 cup Queso cheese dip, warmed

1 tablespoon furikake seasoning

Instructions:

Bake French fried potatoes according to package directions. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt. Toss gently. Transfer to a large bowl so the fries can be piled into a volcano mound. Drizzle sriracha sauce over the top, to taste. Add the warmed Queso cheese dip. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning. Serve immediately.

Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Seasoned Shrimp Pineapple Pupus! If you’ve ever needed a simple appetizer that will elevate an evening, think shrimp. By adding fresh ingredients, it definitely kicks things up a notch. When people cram into the kitchen to watch, assign them a minor task such as chopping fruit into chunks or snipping cilantro into small sprigs. Real conversations happen in the kitchen. Everyone benefits and memories are created. After all, being involved is natural and welcoming. It’s how we all stay connected.

SEASONED SHRIMP PINEAPPLE PUPUS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup papaya, cut into chunks

1/2 cup pineapple, cut into chunks

12 jumbo frozen shrimp, precooked and thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Arrange papaya chunks on a decorative platter. Set aside. Spray a skillet with nonstick oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, arrange pineapple chunks in a single layer. They will sizzle and char. Flip over to darken both sides. Remove and add to the platter. Warm olive oil in the same skillet. Layer shrimp without overlapping. Sprinkle with half the seasoned salt, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Slightly sear, then flip over. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning. When shrimp is golden brown, transfer to the pupu platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley! Way back when I was in middle school, my home economics teacher actually graded us on how colorful the foods looked on the plate. Her thoughts were “If it tempts your eyes, your stomach will want it.” I never forgot that message. She was pretty adamant about food presentation. So having mashed potatoes, rolls, and cauliflower was kind of a no-no when meal planning. That’s one of the reasons I was intrigued by Okinawan sweet potatoes when visiting Kauai. They are buff-skinned on the outside with a violet-purple flesh inside. It’s not as sweet as the orange variety I’m accustomed to, but nonetheless, it’s pretty tasty. And as you can see, it passes the color test.

OKINAWAN SWEET POTATO MEDLEY

Ingredients:

1 large Okinawan sweet potato, skin on, washed and sliced

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

2 each of mini sweet peppers in red, yellow, and orange; stems and seeds removed, cut in wedges

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

Spray a sheet of heavy aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Arrange Okinawan sweet potatoes on foil. Add sweet onion slices and mini sweet pepper wedges. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, oregano, and cinnamon. Dot with pats of butter. Place another sheet of heavy aluminum foil over top of vegetables. Fold sides twice to seal. Fold ends twice to seal. Avoid puncturing foil. Place packet on a 425° preheated grill. Close lid. Cook 25 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from grill. Carefully open one corner of foil packet to release steam. Then remove top layer of foil. Transfer sweet potatoes and vegetables in the herbed butter to a platter. Serve immediately.

New York Strip Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: New York Strip Steak! The secret to a good steak, when grilling, is to crank up the heat. It took years to figure this out because grilling is different than baking. A steak likes to have the outside seared, or even charred, in order to keep those wonderful juices inside. The secret is to get the outside seared as soon as possible. When I asked my husband how high the gas grill was set, he replied, “All the way up!” Next, take your cell phone because you’re going to need a timer. For me, the soft pink center of a medium-rare steak is perfection. Obviously, if you prefer it more well done, you add extra time. Ready? Grilling season is upon us.

NEW YORK STRIP STEAK

Ingredients:

1-inch thick New York strip steaks,(for two)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon butter, per steak

Instructions:

Remove steak(s) from the refrigerator 20 minutes before grilling. Season both sides with sea salt and black pepper. Preheat gas grill to highest setting. When you hold your hand over the grill, you have to pull it back immediately. Place steaks directly on grill for 4 minutes. Close the lid. Flip and sear the remaining side for another 3 minutes, with lid closed. Remove from heat and allow steaks to “rest” on a platter for 5 minutes. Add a pat of butter at this time. Serve steak immediately.

French Baguettes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: French Baguettes! Ever wonder why the daily baguette, le baguette quotidien, in France tastes so much better than in the US? For one, it is meant to be baked and eaten the same day. After that, don’t be surprised if it goes stale. No preservatives. Well, I can attest that as soon as the aromas filled the kitchen and drifted throughout the house, I had to ask myself, “Why would anyone want to wait?” The crunch of crispy crust, the melted sea salt French butter, and the hint of honey sweetness were enough to be convincing. Plus, I let the bread machine do half the work. Another bonus, the perforated French bread pan “simplifies baking baguettes worthy of a Parisian boulangerie.”* I agree.

FRENCH BAGUETTES

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, combine water, bread flour, sugar, sea salt, and yeast. Select Dough cycle and press Start. When the cycle is completed, transfer dough to a greased bowl. Coat all sides of dough with grease. Cover; Place bowl in a warm area for 30 minutes. Dough will rise to double its size. Punch down dough. Place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 12″x16″ rectangle. Cut dough in half to equal two 12″x8″ rectangles. Beginning at the 12” side, roll dough tightly, pounding out air bubbles. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Transfer loaves to a divided and perforated French bread pan. Make diagonal slashes across each loaf every 3 inches. Cover and let dough rise in a warm area for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375°. Mix egg yolk and water. Brush over tops of loaves. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

* I receive no recompense for mentioning the Williams-Sonoma Perforated French Bread Pan.

Walnut Brown Sugar Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Walnut Brown Sugar Butter! Ahh, sweet butter. I don’t know if it’s the winter weather or the upcoming holidays that get me in the mood for bakery ideas. Who doesn’t appreciate aromatic cinnamon, sweet nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice? The smell of bread baking in the oven triggers all kinds of emotions. It can lift our mood and impact our behavior. Honestly, it would have been pretty easy to feature today’s compound butter all by itself. But tell me, isn’t it better to imagine slathering it all over those freshly-baked cinnamon rolls?

WALNUT BROWN SUGAR BUTTER

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine unsalted butter, brown sugar, and sea salt until smooth. Fold in chopped walnuts. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto plastic wrap. Roll layer of plastic wrap over butter to form a log. Roll tight and place in refrigerator for one hour or until firm. Serve over toast, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, or muffins.

Quick Savory Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Quick Savory Butter! For some time now we’ve gotten pretty spoiled by restaurants, bistros, and cafés serving compound butter with the artisan bread basket. You almost hear us clapping our hands as we sink our teeth into the savory herbs or sweet concoctions. I know it makes me feel special. Chefs have been creating compound butters for years, though. It’s one of the ways they save time and add a level of sophistication for the customer. In my own kitchen, I found it’s best to begin with unsalted butter. That way I can add just enough sea salt to tease the palate. Lemon, believe it or not, adds a hint of flavor that embellishes steak or seafood. I see you nodding your head in agreement. Although I began smearing this combination on rolls and crackers, I couldn’t resist warming it to pour over a bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Talk about gourmet!

QUICK SAVORY BUTTER

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, cream butter with lemon juice. Add garlic powder and sea salt; stir. Fold in fresh rosemary and parsley leaves. Mix until combined. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto sheet. Roll the waxed paper over butter to form a log. Roll tight and twist both ends. Refrigerate one hour or until firm.