Glorious Glazed Pecans

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Glorious Glazed Pecans! Go to any big city or farmers market and you’ll find street vendors roasting sweet and savory candied nuts. The bakery aroma practically has you walking on air. Now you can bring this enticing smell and sugary sweetness right into your very own kitchen. I’ve made it a tradition to bake a couple batches for holiday gift-giving. When mixed with an assortment of smoked almonds, wasabi peas, salty cashews, and honey roasted peanuts, these glazed pecans become a gourmet choice for absolutely anyone on your list. In fact, anticipation creates excitement followed by open delight and thanksgiving.

GLORIOUS GLAZED PECANS

Ingredients:

1 pound pecan halves

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white, room temperature

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. In a small bowl mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir well and set aside. In a large bowl beat egg white and water until frothy. Add one pound of pecans and coat well to cover. Pour sugar mixture over nuts. Stir completely to form a coating over pecans. Transfer nuts to the baking sheet. Form a single layer. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to form a crystallized finish. Remove from oven. Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

Walnut Brown Sugar Butter

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: 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.

Everything But Bagel Seasoning

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

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.

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.

Sea Salt-Rubbed Baked Potato

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Sea Salt-Rubbed Baked Potato! When my sister-in-law worked in a fine dining restaurant years ago, she shared with me an amazing secret for perfectly seasoned baked potatoes. “Wash the skins, then butter them up before sprinkling with sea salt,” she instructed. The skins become as tasty as a savory cracker. I thanked her and with enthusiasm have been making them that way ever since. It’s pretty much fool-proof. There’s no need for extra butter or salt since they are baked into the skin. She went on to share another tidbit of information with me. “Leftover baked potatoes prepared this way become the best shredded hash browns.” Bonus!

SEA SALT-RUBBED BAKED POTATOES

2 russet potatoes, washed and pierced

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon sea salt

Dollop of sour cream

Green onions, for garnish

Sprinkling of crushed oregano

Instructions;

Preheat oven to 350°. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Pierce the top with a paring knife. Holding the potato in one hand, apply softened butter all over the outer skin. Then sprinkle with sea salt. Place the potatoes on a stone, or directly on the oven rack, in the preheated oven. Be sure the pierce mark is facing up. Bake one hour, or until tender. To serve, split the potato open on a plate. Dollop with a generous spoonful of sour cream. Garnish with green onions and sprinkle with crushed oregano.