What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Gherkin Pork Sliders! Mini sandwiches are popping up on bar and grill menus all over the place. What that translates to the consumer is unspoken permission to have seconds. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s a way to try creative small bites to match your mood. Did you know the toppings can include creamy coleslaw, mac ’n cheese, crunchy potato chips, pineapple salsa, onion rings, and anything else you find delicious? Just like this recipe. If you prefer dill gherkins to sweet ones, by all means tweak it up. After all, in your kitchen you’re in charge.
GHERKIN PORK SLIDERS
12-count slider buns
3 cups precooked pulled pork
1/2 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 pint deli coleslaw
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice the slider buns horizontally in half. Remove the tops and set aside. Transfer the bottom half of the buns to a 9”x13” glass dish. Spread the precooked pulled pork evenly on the buns. Layer with barbecue sauce. Replace the tops of the buns. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine unsalted butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion salt, garlic powder, and poppy seeds. Warm the mixture on 20% for 15 seconds in the microwave. Stir. Repeat, if necessary, until completely melted. Brush the butter mixture over the tops of the buns. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer. Once cool, separate sliders. Serve with coleslaw and sweet gherkins.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Havarti Habanero Handful! You’re probably thinking, “Not another grilled cheese sandwich!” Anyone who knows me understands I can’t leave well enough alone. So…when I came across this “heated” rich, semi-soft version of havarti cheese, I knew I had to have it. Habaneros, as you may recall, are like dynamite in your mouth. The cheese itself is creamy and mild which makes it a perfect match for the testy habanero pepper, or orange lantern as some people call them. When layered with cherrywood smoked ham and grilled artisan bread, the end result is nothing short of Fire and Ice. Are you up for the challenge?
HAVARTI HABANERO HANDFUL
4 thick slices of artisan bread
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cherrywood smoked ham, deli sliced
4 ounces havarti habanero cheese, sliced
Preheat an iron skillet over medium low heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place two slices in skillet, buttered side down. Divide cherrywood smoked ham between them. Replace tops, buttered side up. Heat sandwiches until bread is lightly browned, then carefully flip over. Layer havarti habanero cheese over toasted tops of sandwiches. Reduce heat to low setting. Place a glass lid over the pan so the cheese will melt as the bottoms turn golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Open-Faced Sammie! The popularity of open-faced sandwiches has been brewing since the 15th century, when it was typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper. Although the layers have changed, butter or cheese remain the favorites as spreads, plus any combination of meat and vegetables. This is where your personal palate comes in. Or, perhaps whatever you have on hand in the refrigerator. Gardens abound with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. But don’t limit yourself there. I find avocados to be perfectly satisfying, especially with a crispy slab of applewood smoked bacon. Like I said, the choice is yours. One thing is for certain, it’s definitely easier to eat an open faced sandwich with a fork and knife.
2 slices pumpernickel rye bread, artisan-style
1 tablespoon sea salt butter
3 slices Swiss cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tomatillo, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Toast artisan pumpernickel rye bread. Butter with sea salt. Place 1 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of toast. Microwave on High 15 seconds to melt cheese. Layer with 1 1/2 slices crisp bacon. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped tomatillo. Spread over each sandwich. Place two tomato slices over avocado mixture. Spoon chopped hard-boiled egg pieces over tomatoes. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Makes two open-face sandwiches.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Quinoa BLTE Sandwich! What exactly is quinoa; does anyone know for sure? I took a trip down Wikipedia Lane and discovered “it is an experimental crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied space flights.” It’s also gluten-free and easy to digest. That’s pretty important stuff in my book. Oh yeah, it’s been around for human consumption for at least 3,000 years. Maybe it’s time to give it a whirl.
QUINOA BLTE SANDWICH
2 slices organic quinoa multigrain bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 slices tomato
2 romaine lettuce leaves
2-4 slices thick bacon, cooked crisp
1 large egg, cooked over-easy
Pinch seasoned salt
Black pepper to taste
Garnish with parsley
Microwave bacon on paper-towel-lined plate for 5 minutes on High or until crisp. Set aside. In a small skillet sprayed with nonstick oil, crack an egg over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Fry until set, then carefully flip over. Turn off heat. Continue cooking until white is set, but yolk is still runny. To assemble sandwich, slather both pieces of quinoa toast with mayonnaise. Layer ripe tomatoes, romaine lettuce leaves, and bacon strips on one slice. Slide the fried egg onto the bacon. Top the sandwich with the remaining slice of quinoa toast. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: German Pretzel Burger! One glance at this plate will have you snapping your head back in a double-take. What appears to be a classic burger suddenly reminds you of something else. Could it be the bun? The “x” on top is a dead giveaway as well as the deeply browned glossy finish. That’s because it’s a pretzel bun. Oktoberfest wouldn’t be the same without these signature foods: soft pretzels, aromatic sauerkraut, buttery cheese, and tepid beer. Are you up for the culinary adventure? Climb aboard the passenger train. Que Será, Será…Whatever will be, will be.
GERMAN PRETZEL BURGER
4 quarter-pound frozen ground beef patties, thawed
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 pretzel burger buns, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
14-ounce can shredded sauerkraut, drained
4 leaves romaine lettuce
Dijon mustard, as condiment
Prepare hamburger patties per package directions. Top with a slice of Swiss cheese. Set aside. Butter tops and bottoms of pretzel buns. Place buttered side down in a warmed iron skillet over medium heat. Heat until buns are toasted golden brown. Warm sauerkraut in a covered microwave-safe dish for 1 minute on High. To assemble burgers, place a romaine lettuce leaf on the bottom bun. Transfer a burger with Swiss cheese to place over lettuce. Spoon sauerkraut on top. Season with Dijon mustard. Replace lid of pretzel bun. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Tortilla Roll-ups! Bite-size portions have a way of making a pinwheel platter into an appetizing celebration. The variations are endless, mostly depending on what you have on hand or the cravings that come knocking at your door. Make ahead recipes are popular, and convenient, as time-saving options when schedules become a bit blurry. Kids smile and giggle knowing this in one time eating with your fingers is allowed without scolding or frowns from the adults in the room. Think school lunchbox treats, picnic basket munchies, game day favorites, or holiday gatherings. Anything goes!
2 flour tortillas
4 tablespoons thousand island salad dressing, prepared
2 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
4 slices deli-sliced honey ham
2 slices provolone cheese
2-3 radishes, sliced thin
Lay out the flour tortillas in a work space. Spread each tortilla with thousand island salad dressing. Next, place the lettuce leaves over the mixture. Layer the ham and cheese slices evenly for easier rolling. Finally, divide the thinly sliced radishes between them. Starting at one end, slowly roll the tortilla as tight as possible. Hint: you can tie them with baker’s twine to keep them snug. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight, before slicing into 1/2” pinwheels. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Inside Out Bagel Grilled Ham ‘n Cheese! My world has always been part of the bagel craze. Think about it. It’s a quick breakfast smeared with cream cheese, it’s mobile for on-the-go travels, compact for a bento box, and incredibly satisfying as a lunch buddy. And then there’s the varieties: blueberry or strawberry, sun-dried tomato, cinnamon raisin, garlic and onion, plus everything seasoning on a wheat, rye, or sourdough bagel. There’s usually at least three kinds of cream cheese spreads to choose from, unless you make your own. Building a sandwich includes fresh vegetable sides of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and avocados. It can be exhausting. The list goes on and on, that’s for sure. I think when it all comes down to it, a bagel is simply my comfort food. And that is exactly why I turned it into a grilled cheese sammie. Spread the love.
INSIDE OUT BAGEL GRILLED HAM ‘N CHEESE
1 cinnamon raisin bagel, halved
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 slices smoky provolone cheese
3 deli slices cherrywood smoked ham
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350°. Lay the bagel slices with the inside halves open. Smear mayonnaise on each half. Warm an iron skillet over medium-low heat. Place the mayonnaise side down in the skillet. Layer the cheese over the bagel, then arrange the cherrywood smoked ham on top. Place the remaining bagel half, mayonnaise side up, over the sandwich. Press down with a spatula. Cook until the bagel turns golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Then carefully flip the sandwich over. Bake 3 minutes longer. Transfer the bagel sandwich to the oven for the cheese to continue melting and the bagel to turn crisp. Add Dijon mustard, if desired. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Everything Turkey Sliders! These miniature sandwiches are anything but small, when it comes to flavor. In a world of “supersize” portions, having something more manageable is always a good thing. It’s like when my husband and I eat out at a restaurant. We split a portion and then if we’re still hungry, we can order something else. More often than not, we are completely full and satisfied with smaller portions. It works for us. These sliders follow the same concept. Eat one and if you’re still hungry, have another. Permission granted.
EVERYTHING TURKEY SLIDERS
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon natural honey
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons poppyseeds
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
6 slider rolls, split
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cups shredded turkey, precooked
6 slices Havarti cheese
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine melted butter, Dijon mustard, natural honey, Worcestershire sauce, poppyseeds, and minced onion in a small bowl. Whisk until mixed. Set aside. In a 6”x10” baking dish, place the bottom halves of the slider buns in a single layer, sides touching. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over them. Divide the shredded turkey between the buns. Place one slice of Havarti cheese over the shredded turkey. Carefully place the bun lids on top of each slider. Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the sliders. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the buns are toasted. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Ham Salad Spread! Tired of ho-hum tuna salad or egg salad sandwiches? Think all-natural applewood smoked ham with no artificial ingredients. When you begin with quality, the results are astounding. Add sweet pickle relish, chopped celery, and fresh horseradish. The biggest challenge is deciding if you wish to smear it on rye bread, add a dollop over wheat crackers, or simply scoop it onto a Bibb lettuce leaf. Skip the Deli-made and crank out a batch at home. It’s easier than you think. In no time at all, you’ll have a party favorite or lunchtime energy boost.
HAM SALAD SPREAD
2 cups applewood smoked ham chunks
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
3 green onions, snipped
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon creamy horseradish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Place ham chunks in a food processor. Pulse in batches until finely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Place celery in the food processor and Pulse until chopped. Add to bowl. Repeat with hard-boiled eggs. Add to bowl. Stir to mix. Add green onion snips, sweet pickle relish, horseradish, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.