Tuna Tartare with Seaweed

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Tuna Tartare with Seaweed! Do you wrinkle your nose when you hear the word “raw”? Some people get a little squeamish. How about if you see the word “sushi”? My grandkids’ eyes light up and their mouths begin to salivate. See the difference? “Tartare” is a fancy word for raw meat or seafood. In Hawaii, you may see the words “Ahi Poke”, which is a healthy raw tuna dish made with the best tuna right out of the sea. By adding a mixture of ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, the flavor becomes incredibly irresistible. Check out the closest Asian Deli to pick up a container of ready-to-serve seaweed salad. It’s already marinated in a delicious sauce. Together on a plate, you’ve just created a masterpiece.

TUNA TARTARE WITH SEAWEED

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, cut into 1/4” cubes

3 tablespoons organic soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 green onion

1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced

4-ounce container of prepared seaweed salad

Green onion slivers for garnish

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add organic soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, the chopped white ends of the green onions, and the red jalapeño pepper slices. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. To serve, place prepared seaweed salad on a plate. Layer ahi tuna over salad. Garnish with the remaining green onion curls.

Presto, Pesto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Presto, Pesto! The garden went wild this year with an abundance of basil. I mean, you can only dry so much. Granted, I happen to like fresh basil with anything tomato, but not everyone agrees. So, this time I threw together a couple cups of basil leaves with my favorite pairing: parmesan cheese! Pesto freezes well, so it can be stored in an airtight container, or initially, ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, transfer the cubes to airtight freezer bags for later on. Always defrost in advance. Pesto tastes best served at room temperature or only slightly warmed. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Mix it into salad dressing or guacamole; the olive oil creates a smooth texture. Add a dollop to your evening vegetables, pasta noodles, or meat dish. Get creative and go Pesto!

PRESTO, PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine basil leaves, chopped garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse to blend; approximately 30 seconds. Slowly pour the olive oil into the top of the lid while the blade is on the Low setting. The olive oil will drizzle through the little hole for smooth results. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Stir. Transfer pesto to a covered jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Underrated Summertime Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Underrated Summertime Supper! Does anyone have a Himalayan Salt Block besides me? Well, one of the things I like about it is, it can take the guesswork out of adding seasoning to food. It’s a block of pink salt, after all. When serving cold foods like salads, fruits, and cheeses, refrigerate the salt block overnight before using. This helps to keep foods chilled for hours when you need it. Simply arrange the ingredients directly on the block, drizzle on the dressing, and you’re good-to-go. Clean up is easy. Never use soap; salt is naturally antibacterial. Remove food residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse it with a clean swipe, then dab dry. Allow the salt block to air-dry before next use. You’re done.

UNDERRATED SUMMERTIME SUPPER

Ingredients:

4 ounces goat’s milk cheese, plain

1 teaspoon Italian dry mix spice blend

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces mixed greens, washed

1 Roma tomato, chopped

4 assorted mini sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into rings

2 radishes, sliced very thin

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Crusty Artisan Bread

Instructions:

On a sheet of waxed paper, sprinkle Italian dry mix spice blend and red pepper flakes. Form the goat’s milk cheese into a ball. Roll it in the spice mix to cover all sides. Place cheese ball on the chilled Himalayan salt block. Next, arrange mixed greens in a single layer. Arrange Roma tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, radish slices, and red onion rings. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence over top. Drizzle balsamic reduction sauce over salad. Serve with crusty artisan bread.

Zestful Ahi Poke

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Zestful Ahi Poke! Have you noticed all the rage about eating raw tuna? Whether it’s an appetizer or poke bowl, ahi seems to be the star attraction. If you’ve never tried it, perhaps it takes some getting used to. After all, the texture is totally different from cooked fish. When saturated in a spicy sesame soy marinade, I found it absolutely irresistible. Then served with crunchy wonton crisps, taro chips (my fav), or corn tortilla chips it evolves from a curiosity to a craving. Just so you know, premium ahi tuna steaks are now available in the freezer aisle for those, like me, who are landlocked part of the year.

ZESTFUL AHI POKE

Ingredients:

2 ahi tuna steaks, premium grade

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

Wonton Crisps, Taro Chips, or Corn Tortilla Chips

Instructions:

Pat ahi tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Cut into 1/2” cubes. Transfer to a bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped green onions. Gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Serve as an appetizer with choice of chips.

Unstuffed Green Pepper Bake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Unstuffed Green Pepper Bake! If you love the taste of stuffed green peppers, but really hate the extra steps of preparation, look no further. This “unstuffed” version can be served in individual casserole dishes or a family-style pan, thus eliminating the need for hollowed-out green peppers. Still yummy, still Spanish-flavor, still way back generational goodness like your grandma used to make. Be good to yourself when the week gets crazy busy. Make a batch of “unstuffed” green peppers and sit back with a glass of wine while the oven does all the work. You’re worth it.

UNSTUFFED GREEN PEPPER BAKE

Ingredients:

2 green peppers, coarsely chopped

24-ounce jar traditional pasta sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon basil

2 cups rotisserie chicken or turkey, shredded

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 1/2 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook chopped green peppers in the microwave-safe dish for 2 minutes on High setting. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine pasta sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Mix well. Fold in shredded meat, brown rice, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Add green peppers. Transfer filling into prepared casserole dish(es). Top with remaining cheese. In a small bowl coat panko crumbs with olive oil. Mix well. Spoon crumbs over cheese. Baked 25 minutes or until heated through.

Spicy Poblano Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Spicy Poblano Sauce! Try to avoid slurping this sauce by the spoonful straight out of the jar. Poblano peppers are a whole other animal, so to speak. Compared to its fiery cousins, the habanero or jalapeño, poblanos are mild and earthy, especially when roasted. Most of the time they are either stuffed (like the chile relleno you find on restaurant menus) or served as a sauce over roasted chicken enchiladas. Still confused? Think Mexican green sauce with chicken and spicy red sauce with beef or cheese.

SPICY POBLANO SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 cup light cream

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Space poblano peppers two inches apart. Roast poblano peppers in broiler oven on High setting until the skins are blistered and charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer to a bowl and cover for 15 minutes. When cool, peel off the skin and chop the peppers, discarding seeds and stems. Warm butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and light cream. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Add chopped poblanos. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer poblano mixture to a food processor. Pulse to purée. Season with cumin powder, sea salt, and white pepper. Pulse again. Add Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. Serve warm over burritos or other Mexican dishes.

Red Chile Garlic Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Red Chili Garlic Chicken! If you are a fan of stir-fry, this sauce is often a staple inspired by the fusion flavors of the Far East. Take a quick peek at the ingredient list to see what I mean: ginger and garlic popular in China, chili peppers from Thailand, Vietnamese soy sauce, and sweet rice vinegar used in Japan. It’s all in there. Personally I’m a fan of the sweet heat mixed with the cashew crunch. Skip the take-out for tonight and try this version for yourself.

RED CHILI GARLIC CHICKEN

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried red chiles

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound chicken tenders, boneless and skinless

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup cashews

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

3 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Add clili peppers; cover. Set aside for 30 minutes, then drain water. Meanwhile, warm olive oil in medium skillet. Turn heat to high setting and add chicken tenders. Season with sea salt, black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. After 3-4 minutes, when chicken turns brown, flip over. Reduce the heat to medium setting and cover. Cook chicken until firm, about 5 minutes longer. The chicken will release itself from the surface when it is ready. Set pan aside. For the sauce, in a medium skillet combine brown sugar, rice vinegar, red wine, soy sauce, corn starch, ginger powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Bring to a gentle boil on medium-high heat. Stir often. Mixture should not foam. Sauce will thicken after 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over chicken tenders. Add drained chiles, cashews, sesame seeds, and green onion snips. Heat through, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors. Serve with choice of cooked rice.

Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza! Need a break from ordinary pizza? Here’s a unique twist on an old classic. Take southern pulled pork, usually served on a toasted bun, lose the bread, and spread the pork over pizza crust instead. Tangy barbecue sauce is used in lieu of marinara, providing just enough zing to alert the taste buds. Since barbecue sauces come in a multitude of options from hickory smoke to brown sugar sweet, you may want to blend two flavors together like I’ve done here. The results will astound you.

PULLED PORK BBQ PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon cornmeal

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup chili cocktail sauce

1 cup pulled pork

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Rub both sides of prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Season bottom with garlic powder. Sprinkle cornmeal over the bottom side. Bake on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine barbecue sauce and chili cocktail sauce. Mix well. Spoon onto pizza dough. Top with pulled pork and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip! Appetizers are fun to serve for a gathering of friends or date night for two. I usually keep cooked, frozen shrimp on hand, which can be thawed in a few minutes. But I have also used tiny canned shrimp, which work very well. Obviously, the canned shrimp should be drained first. A few steps later and you’re good to go.

CREAM CHEESE SHRIMP DIP

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

8 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed and cut into chunks

10 ounces cocktail sauce, prepared

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions:

Spread a thin layer of softened cream cheese onto a serving dish. Add a layer of cocktail sauce, expanding to the edges. Arrange bite-sized shrimp pieces over all. Sprinkle with dill weed. Garnish with green onion strips. Chill one hour. Serve with crackers.