Tuscan Tomato Bisque

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Edamame Spicy Stix

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Dijon Deviled Eggs

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Zen Himalayan Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Zen Himalayan Plate! Go above ordinary ingredients and transform your palate with a meal on the Himalayan salt plate. Foods pick up a delicate saltiness that transcends the flavor and leaves behind monotony. By creating bite-size pieces of fish, shellfish, and cucumber sushi, nourishment balances out the inner peace from within. Good for health-crazed affenciados as well as those soul-searching for expression.

ZEN HIMALAYAN PLATE

Ingredients:

3.75-ounce tin Wild Caught Sardines, in olive oil

1 lemon, sliced and quartered

3.75-ounce tin smoked oysters

Fresh lemon thyme

7-ounces prepared crab dip

4 mini cucumbers, seedless

Fresh dill

Assorted crackers

Instructions:

Arrange sardines on a Himalayan salt plate. Drizzle with olive oil from the tin. Place lemon wedges on fish and garnish with fresh lemon thyme. Smoked oysters may be served in individual sea shells. Drizzle with sauce from the tin. Oysters may also be served on a cracker. To assemble the cucumber sushi, slice mini cucumbers into thick rolls. To remove the inside portion of each disc, place the cucumber on a cutting board, use a sharp knife, and rotate the cuke until the center is cut out. Make sure the walls remain. Discard fleshy pulp. Place the cucumber “rings” on the Himalayan salt plate. Spoon prepared crabmeat dip into each ring. Press gently to fill the sushi roll. Garnish with dill.

Yummy Spud Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Yummy Spud Fries! Choose a healthier way to have your fries and eat them, too. Take regular potatoes, preferably russet, cut them into thick strips leaving the skin on, and bake until crispy before adding a mound of toppings. I use both grated and shaved Parmesan cheese. You’ll know perfection when the outside is a lovely sunset golden color. One bite reveals a fluffy potato within. Now dunk them in sour cream and chives or slather on thick tomato ketchup. Mmmmm.

YUMMY SPUD FRIES

Ingredients:

4 russet potatoes, washed and cut into thick strips

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Garnish with bacon crumbles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Put potato strips in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Season with garlic powder, thyme, and seasoned salt. Coat well. Transfer potatoes to a nonstick baking sheet. Spread into a single layer. Reserve oil in bowl. Bake 15 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake 15 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes back into the bowl with reserved olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Coat well. Layer fries onto baking sheet. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Before serving sprinkle spud fries with shaved Parmesan cheese and bacon crumbles. Serve immediately.

New Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: New Potato Salad! If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the French have it going on! The more I explore their recipes, the more I feel like a gourmet chef. You can, too. Trust me. When I tell you I’m going to have you make potato salad by skipping the mayo, just pretend you didn’t hear me and forge ahead. The results are worth it. Don’t make a big deal when you serve it as a side dish. You’re husband will do that for you. Husband-tested, rave reviews!

NEW POTATO SALAD

1 pound red-skinned new potatoes

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup celery hearts, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh chervil, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Place quartered potatoes, skin on, in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15-20 minutes. For dressing, combine olive oil, garlic red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. Whisk until blended. When potatoes are cooked, drain well. Transfer them to a bowl to cool. Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Add celery and chervil, gently folding to blend flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob! Here’s an alternative to stovetop corn on the cob or microwave cooking. Throw the corn on the grill while the burgers are on their way to being well-done. You won’t believe the incredible taste. Or will you? If the results are slightly blackened or charred in spots, so much the better. That’s what makes it taste so good. By leaving the corn in the husk, natural steaming keeps the corn moist rather than dry and brittle. And if it rains? By all means, get out the kitchen torch and improvise. Toppings still apply.

GRILLED CORN ON THE COB

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, in husks

1 teaspoon sea salt

Butter to taste

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning*

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Peel the husks without removing at the base. Strip away the corn silk. Fold the husks back into place. Fill a bowl with cold water. Add sea salt. Submerge the corn for 10 minutes. Heat the grill to medium-high. Remove corn and let drain. Place on the grill for 15 minutes. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally. Allow the corn to get slightly charred in places. When done, transfer corn cobs to a serving platter. Slather with butter. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning.

X-tra Virgin Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: X-tra Virgin Olive Oil Dipping Sauce! It’s no secret I’m a bread-lover. Just like chocolate, wine, and cheese….the key is moderation. I look to the French culture for validation. Their motto seems to be “use quality ingredients and fresh foods” for the best flavor. And I believe it. During my visit to Paris and the south of France, I noticed open markets everywhere and held often. Preservatives are pretty much absent. Nutrition rules. Grow an herb garden. Crush dried herbs to release flavor. That being said, go ahead and reach for the bread basket, just don’t eat the whole thing!

X-TRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL DIPPING SAUCE

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon parsley

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

Bakery baguette, sliced

Instructions:

Pour olive oil into a measuring cup. Add garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil, and kosher salt. Whisk to blend flavors. Add parmesan cheese. Stir. Marinate at room temperature for one hour to enhance flavors. Stir and pour onto a plate or shallow bowl. “Dot” oil with balsamic vinegar. Serve with baguette bread.

Tails of Maine Lobster

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Tails of Maine Lobster! There’s an upside to living through a pandemic. Practically everything is available to order from computer-to-doorstep. And that includes Maine hard shell lobsters, especially when you live in a state that is landlocked. Of course, you still have to do a little homework by reading reviews and asking questions on Live Chat websites. We found talking directly to a customer service representative can answer a lot of confusing questions and bring clarity. In turn, you never know when an actual salesperson of the company will offer an unexpected special to entice the purchase further. I guarantee you, it’s absolutely worth the time. The results are simply delicious.

TAILS OF MAINE LOBSTER

Ingredients:

2 6-ounce frozen lobster tails, thawed

2 tablespoons sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 lemon, for zest

1 lemon, quartered for garnish

Instructions:

Before cooking the lobster tails, make the clarified butter. In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Do not stir. Allow the butter to melt without turning brown. Gradually a white foam will appear on the surface. Allow the melted butter to stand for 5 minutes. Tilt the saucepan to carefully spoon the white foam off the top. This may take several steps. Strain the clarified butter through a cheesecloth to remove any milk solids. This will discard any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer clarified butter back to the saucepan to keep warm. Divide the lemon zest into single-serving dipping bowls. Set aside. To make the lobster tails, bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and add sea salt. Drop tails in one at a time. Cook the lobster for 5 minutes. Set a timer to avoid overcooking. The lobsters will be bright red when done. Using metal tongs and a large strainer, take the tails out of the boiling water. Transfer to two dinner plates. Pour the clarified butter over the lemon zest in the dipping bowls. Garnish with lemon wedge. Serve immediately.