What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Very Cheddar Potato Gratin! It’s no secret some of us have a love affair with cheese. It’s not enough to sprinkle a handful of cheese on top of scalloped potatoes before sliding them into the oven. Sometimes you have to be downright sneaky about it. And you can blame me for it, if need be. By hiding grated cheese between two layers of sliced potatoes, and then sprinkling more cheese across the top of these mini casseroles, you not only guarantee a cheesy, ah-mazing dish, you have one that is comfort-food all the way to your favorite spot on the couch. Now where’s the remote?
VERY CHEDDAR POTATO GRATIN
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Everything But Bagel seasoning
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray single two serving pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine chicken broth, light cream, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, and thyme. Mix well. Layer half the potatoes in the prepared dishes. Sprinkle half the cheese over each; divide half the liquid over top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, cheese, and broth. Transfer cookware to a baking sheet. Cover each pan with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender when tested with a knife. The top will be crispy. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Cool slightly before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Old Bay Mayo! First of all, there is no substitute for Old Bay seasoning as a core ingredient in this post. It’s a sacred concoction, invented in the 1940s and respected by Southerners, containing 18 unspecified ingredients. If you try to use Cajun, Jerk, or generic blends, don’t blame me if the results are less than phenomenal. What I can assure is that it taste ah-mazing with shrimp, crab cakes, seafood, and more. Turn Old Bay Mayo into an aioli for sandwiches, dressing for salads, or condiment for meats. I can see you coming up with a dip for french fries, too. Don’t blame me; I’m just the messenger.
OLD BAY MAYO
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed, snipped
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Old Bay* seasoning
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, fresh chives, dill weed, lemon zest, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning. Stir until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Serve as a condiment or dipping sauce for seafood.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Legendary Pizza Burger! I’ll never forget my first experience eating a pizza burger. I was probably 16 years old at the time. I worked in a ladies retail clothing store downtown. On my dinner break, I walked across the street where a drugstore had a lunch counter with a grill and fryer. Being a crazy kid who loved anything pizza, I ordered it off the menu. Upon first bite, this white goo began to overflow across my hands to the plate below. My first thought was, “Ohmygosh, this burger is rotten with a slimy white stuff running out of it!” Fortunately my brain kicked in and I realized what I was actually tasting was mozzarella cheese. From that day on, I was a champion for anything pizza burger. And the remarkable afterthought is, now I compare every other menu item pizza burger to it. Unexpected, but true.
LEGENDARY PIZZA BURGER
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
4 brioche buns, split and toasted
1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce, warmed
Fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat gas grill to 350°. In a large bowl, combine lean ground beef, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper. Form mixture into 8 patties. Place one slice of fresh mozzarella cheese into the diameter of a patty. Press another patty on top; pinching together to seal. Repeat until all four patties are formed. Cook directly on the grill. Close lid and grill for 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer pizza burgers to a platter. Serve between brioche buns. Top each pizza burger with a dollop of pizza sauce. Enjoy.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Kalamata Olive Oregano Loaf! Olive-Lovers rejoice. If olives are not in your wheelhouse, no worries. I’ll catch up with you later…….or you could simply substitute sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe. Just so you know, olives have heart-healthy fats. I’ve mentioned before how much I love bread. And in the World of Bread, there are so many options: whole wheat, multi-grain, sourdough, flax seed, rye, pumpernickel, focaccia, pretzel, and more. Focus today on the taste of Mediterranean culture where savory bread can be made without yeast. Talk about instant gratification for a weeknight treat. Don’t forget the bread dipping oil. It’s slurp-worthy.
KALAMATA OLIVE OREGANO LOAF
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup Kalamata olive blend, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Line with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and egg whites. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in chopped olives and dried oregano. Spread batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove loaf from pan. Serve slightly warm with seasoned olive oil.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Jumbo Shrimp Over Avocado! Grill marks on food are like a person’s signature tattoo. I don’t know about you, but when I see that food is slightly charred, visions of smoky goodness can cause me to drool. The creaminess of the warmed avocado filled with spicy salsa takes me down a country road to memorable experiences of Mexican favorites. The grilled shrimp is enhanced by the savory herbs, adding tangy flavors seductive to the tongue. Not only is this a quick meal or tempting appetizer, it transforms every cook into a gourmet chef. You should try it.
JUMBO SHRIMP OVER AVOCADO
1 large ripe avocado, halved with pit removed
Fresh lime juice
6 frozen precooked jumbo shrimp, tail on and thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup prepared salsa
Dill sprig, for garnish
Preheat grill to 400°. In a small dish, combine olive oil, Italian seasoning blend, sea salt, and garlic powder. Mix well; set aside. Squeeze lime juice onto both halves of avocado. Brush each avocado, as well as both sides of the shrimp, with the seasoned olive oil. Place directly onto the grill grates. Close lid. Cook the avocados for 4 minutes, or until slightly charred. Cook the jumbo shrimp for 2 minutes. Then flip the shrimp, close the lid, and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer all to a platter. Spoon the salsa into the avocados. Arrange 3 jumbo shrimp over each portion. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Garlic Wine Red Snapper! Before I begin, Rule Number One: When marinating fish, always refrigerate. As fish sits in a marinade at room temperature, it encourages bacteria growth, which can be a bad thing. The olive oil makes a wonderful tenderizer making the fish soft and juicy. When seasonings are added at the same time, the results elevate the flavor. By grilling the fish fillets at a high temperature, the meal transforms into perfection on a plate.
GARLIC WINE RED SNAPPER
1/2 cup garlic wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 6-ounce red snapper fillets
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of fresh lemon
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Arrange the red snapper fillets in a shallow dish. Pour the garlic wine vinegar over the fish. Allow the vinegar to surround the fish. Pour olive oil over top. Sprinkle Italian seasoning blend and black pepper over all. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to 450°. Transfer red snapper directly onto the grill grates. Close lid. Set timer for 4 minutes. Discard marinade. Using a fish spatula, flip fish and grill 4 minutes longer with lid closed. Meanwhile, melt butter and pour into individual cups. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into warm butter. Remove red snapper fillets from grill. Serve with melted lemon butter poured over top.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Foiled Potatoes! Have I mentioned how much I like my new outdoor kitchen? Living in Florida, the weather is so tropical it makes cooking outdoors an effortless way to prepare meals. Grilling seems to make food taste better and roasted potatoes easily become a star attraction. And the best part is dining alfresco. This is what I call a “stay-cation”.
2 baking potatoes
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the grill to 400°. Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Pierce each potato with a knife. Microwave for 4 minutes on 100% power. Remove from microwave and allow to cool, slightly. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Cut the potatoes into 1/4” slices. Arrange potatoes on foil. Top with sliced onions. Add pats of butter over all. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper. Fold the packet to seal. Place the sealed foil packet directly onto the grill grates. Close lid. Cook for 10 minutes; carefully flip packet and cook 10 minutes longer. Transfer foiled potatoes to a platter. Be aware of steam when the packet is opened. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Egg Noodle Bowl! Cooking eggs in the microwave has spoiled me. No fuss, no mess, and practically perfect every time. Do-ahead noodles can be a time saver, as well. But back to the eggs. When using a custard dish, two eggs can easily be prepared in the same dish by increasing the time to 2 minutes. Always cover the dish with a silicone lid or paper towel in case the egg “pops”. Otherwise, it can be an annoying mess to clean up later. Trust me. Once the egg is finished, live boldly and add a dollop of sea salt butter to melt into it. That adds glorious flavor, without regrets
EGG NOODLE BOWL
1 cup fine egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup grilled chicken strips, precooked and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon seasoned soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 green onion, chopped
Pinch herb garlic seasoning
Sriracha sauce, to taste
Once the fine egg noodles are cooked, drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Microwave the chicken chunks on 40% for 2 minutes in the seasoned soy sauce sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Add to the noodle bowl; gently toss. Add the green onions. Set aside. Spray a custard dish with nonstick oil. Crack the egg into it. Pierce the yolk with a toothpick. Sprinkle herb garlic seasoning on top. Cover. Microwave egg on 40% power for 1 1/2 minutes, for runny results. Increase time at 12-second intervals for a hard cooked yolk. Transfer the egg to the top of the noodles. Top with sriracha sauce, to taste. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Delicious Holiday Foods: Nori Sesame Popcorn! If you’ve never tasted dried edible seaweed, you’re really missing out. It wasn’t until recently that I gave it a whirl and I have to tell you, I kinda like it. Besides, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals. Asian cultures have known this all along, so it’s like preaching to the choir when I rave about the natural health benefits. When nori is added to a batch of popcorn, seasoned with roasted sesame seeds and Oriental rice crackers, it transforms a typical snack into a sensational wholesome one. Prepare to grab a handful and nibble away.
NORI SESAME POPCORN
1 packet microwave popcorn, any variety
8-ounces rice cracker blend, bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
.21 ounces dried seaweed sheets, cut into small strips
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the microwave popcorn according to package directions. Transfer to a large bowl. Discard any unpopped kernels. Add the rice cracker pieces. Toss with sesame oil, sesame seeds, seasoned salt, and nori strips. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Cool five minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.