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
1 wheel Camembert cheese
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Small section honeycomb
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Everything But Bagel Seasoning! Anyone who has trekked to a coffeehouse for their morning cuppa joe has, at one time or another, nibbled on a bakery fresh bagel. That special blend of garlic flakes, minced onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and pretzel salt is a coveted secret in some kitchens. Not mine, simply because you probably already have all these spices in your pantry at home. DIY to begin a journey of inspiration on foods beyond the bagel. For example, sprinkle it on everything from mac‘n cheese, avocados, and eggs to chicken, veggies, and popcorn. It’s genius!
EVERYTHING BUT BAGEL SEASONING
1 tablespoon fried garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Using a mortar and pestle, slightly crush fried garlic and dried minced onion. Add poppy seeds, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, and coarse sea salt. Mix well. Store in a spice jar.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Oregano Roasted Fingerling Potatoes! Seasoning can change the taste of anything, especially when using fresh herbs. This is the time of year when I get excited about nurturing my herb garden. The hardier herbs, like mint, chives, and thyme withstand the winter months and breakthrough in the Spring with vim and vigor. Other favorites require renewing annually; rosemary, basil, cilantro, dill, and oregano are among them. Today’s recipe partners the delicate new fingerling potatoes, which grow small and narrow to live up to their name, alongside robust bleu cheese crumbles and the earthy flavor of fresh oregano. Together they produce a rustic dish characteristic of the south of France, Italy, and Greece. Enticing, isn’t it?
OREGANO ROASTED FINGERLING POTATOES
1.5 pound bag of petite fingerling gourmet potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet to coat the pan with a thin layer. Using a 2-quart pan on the stovetop, cut fingerling potatoes in half and place in the pan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil; cook for 7-8 minutes. Drain well. Set aside. Sprinkle dried oregano over potatoes. Cover pan with lid and shake vigorously to slightly loosen potato skins. Carefully transfer oregano potatoes to the baking sheet. Turn to coat in oil. Bake 30-40 minutes until skins are golden and crispy. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. Once the potatoes are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, transfer fingerling potatoes to a serving platter. Add bleu cheese crumbles and freshly chopped oregano. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes! You say pō-tay-toe, I say pō-tah-toe, but either way we all love mashed potatoes. My husband would forego the milk completely and focus instead on more French butter. So we compromise. By choosing the beautifully yellow Yukon Gold variety, you’re already getting an earthy, buttery flavor to begin with, thus leaving room for milk, cream cheese, or sour cream additions. Mash up Yukons for the fluffiest, smoothest mound of creaminess. Mmmm. Just don’t forget the gravy.
YUKON GOLD MASHED POTATOES
2 pounds yellow-skinned Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup milk, warmed
Place cut potatoes into a 2-quart pan with enough water to cover the potatoes. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil; reduce to medium heat and cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove pan from heat. Drain potatoes, leaving them in the pan. Add butter. Cover the pan with the lid. Warm the milk slightly in the microwave. Using a hand mixer, begin adding milk in 1/4 cup increments. Beat potatoes until slightly chunky texture is reached. Continue on for a smoother consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with brown gravy.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Unleavened Bread! Nothing is more appetizing than the aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven, in my opinion. Unleavened Bread is a quick and easy flatbread made with flour, salt, olive oil, and water. No yeast needed. Choose between a crispy texture, like I have here for that luscious golden color, or shorten the baking time for softer, more chewy results. Eat it plain, slather it with French butter, or turn it into a personal-size pizza flatbread. You can thank me later.
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
Dill weed for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside. Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in the oil on Low speed. Dough will resemble crumbs. Continuing on Low speed, gradually add water until dough forms a ball. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth, but not sticky. Divide into 6 equal balls. Pat each ball into a circle, using a rolling pin or your hands. Transfer flattened dough onto prepared baking sheet. Do not crowd. Bake in two steps, if necessary. Use a fork to lightly prick the dough. Brush each flatbread round with olive oil and sprinkle with dill weed. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Roasted Chickpeas! If you’re like me, some days instead of three squares, you graze your way through the day. It helps to have a high-protein snack on hand when the cravings kick in for something crisp and crunchy. Sure, potato chips might be handy, but would you really feel good after downing an entire bag while perusing the internet? I think not. Seasoned chickpeas can be just as satisfying with their naturally nutty flavor and fiber-filling benefits. Season them with maple syrup for sweetness, a kick of cayenne for spice, garlic for pizazz, or savory ranch flavoring. The best part is you get to choose. Just remember the basic rules: drain, pat dry, peel the skins, and bake. “Bada-bing bada-boom!”
30-ounces canned chickpeas, drained and patted dry. Skins removed.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine olive oil, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Mix well. Drain chickpeas. Transfer to a clean tea towel. Cover and rub gently over the chickpeas. This will loosen the skins so you can easily peel them away and discard. When dry, place the chickpeas in a ziplock gallon bag. Pour olive oil seasoning mixture over chickpeas. Seal bag, squeeze out the air, and toss bag to coat the chickpeas all over. Transfer seasoned chickpeas to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Adjust time, if necessary. They should appear browned and crunchy. Do not burn. Cool 10 minutes.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Tuscan Tomato Bisque! Picture this. Autumn has set in, the air emits a crisp chill, and a warm fire is enough to make you snuggle inside for the night. For the robust concentrated flavor of tomatoes, slow-roasting them brings it all home. Earthy Italian herbs and spices add a little mystery to every bite. Cozy up to a bowl with your favorite afghan and reap the harvest.
TUSCAN TOMATO BISQUE
6-8 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon basil
1 cup water
Fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 425°. Line baking sheet with foil. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast tomatoes until they are soft, approximately 30 minutes. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 8 minutes longer. Add paprika, oregano, marjoram, and basil. Increase heat to medium-high and add roasted tomatoes. Add water. Stir. Reduce heat slightly to medium, cover, and simmer for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully transfer portions to a food processor. Pulse tomatoes until somewhat smooth. Repeat. Transfer soup back into the pan to reheat. Divide tomato bisque into soup bowls. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately with toasted bagels, crackers, or crusty bread.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Edamame Spicy Stix! You’ve probably been to a restaurant where the server placed a bowl of edamame on the table, in lieu of the bread basket. Next to it was an empty bowl for placing the discarded pods. If it was a first for you, no worries. Friends, this is one time you are allowed to eat with your fingers. Truth. Simply pick up one pod with your fingers and put it in your mouth, not letting go. Bite down with your teeth and slide the beans out as you pull the pod away. Tender green beans, about the size of peas, will drop onto your tongue. Chew and enjoy the flavor sensation. Easily toss the pod into the empty bowl and reach for another. Who would’ve thought eating edamame could be this much fun?
EDAMAME SPICY STIX
12-ounce bag frozen Edamame with sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
Microwave edamame according to package directions. Let stand for one minute. Open package and set aside. In a cast iron skillet, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add minced garlic cloves, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and add cooked edamame. Transfer to a serving bowl. Fit with remaining butter. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Serve immediately. Remove shells before eating. Do not consume pods.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Dijon Deviled Eggs! Those who know me well fondly refer to me as a Francophile, someone who loves everything French. It goes all the way back to my school days when a sixth grade Social Studies teacher introduced the class to France, after having traveled there herself. From that moment on, it became a dream of mine to take a trip there someday. I studied the French language and Impressionist art. I admired the historical connection, the romantic countryside, and most of all the incredible food! Is it any surprise I chose to share today’s recipe of something a little French?
DIJON DEVILED EGGS
6 hard boiled eggs
1 tablespoon French Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon light cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
Fresh Basil for garnish
Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shells, and slice each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove yolk and place in a bowl. Arrange the egg on a plate. Repeat until all eggs are divided. Lightly mash the egg yolks until crumbly, leaving a few chunks. Add Dijon mustard, Greek yogurt, light cream, mayonnaise, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix until almost smooth. Fold in a few red onion pieces. Spoon yolk mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chopped red onion and fresh basil snips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.