What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Keto Midday Snack! The funny thing about the Keto diet is discovering I ate that way, but didn’t know it was a “thing”. I’d pack a lunch in the morning because I was one of those people who ate at my desk. Hence, finger food seemed the logical choice. Hard-boiled egg, cheese wrapped in meat, nuts, veggies, and fruit. It was easy to nibble on and never got cold when a phone call or visitor interrupted my break. I wonder how many other people go through the same thing. Now, by choice, I still like finger foods to nibble on. Imagine that.
KETO MIDDAY SNACK
3 slices smoked ham
3 slices Swiss cheese
Garlic and onion chives
3 cherry tomatoes
2 dill pickle spears
1/4 cup walnut halves
Place the ham on a flat surface. Add a slice of Swiss cheese. Lay garlic chives horizontally over cheese. Roll the pieces tightly into a spiral. Wrap two or three strands of onion chives around each ham roll and tie in a knot. Repeat two more times. Serve with cherry tomatoes, pickle spears, and walnut halves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad! One of my offseason luxuries is baking a turkey during the summer months. Think about it. There’s less holiday stress, plenty of time, and loads of leftover ideas. Think it’s way too much meat for the two of you? No worries. Divide the cooked turkey into gallon-size freezer bags to use as timesaving options later on. Turkey makes a refreshing substitute for most chicken or pork recipes by simply adding different herbs and spices. I’ve served turkey carnitas with chunky salsa for a Mexican fiesta, shredded turkey and hash browns with eggs for a weekend breakfast, and added garden vegetables for a farm table midday Cobb salad. Today though, in lieu of chicken salad, turkey is the star attraction for a summertime picnic.
SMOKED TURKEY THYME SALAD
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
In a large bowl, combine shredded turkey, liquid smoke, mayonnaise, sea salt, black pepper, chopped celery, and sweet pickle relish. Mix well. Gently fold in chopped hard-boiled egg and minced thyme leaves. Serve over a bed of alfalfa sprouts, or mixed greens, with seasonal fruit.
Dining Outside the Home: Mr. Big Fish Seafood Grill in Naples, Florida! When a city thrives bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, seafood restaurants are a natural choice. One glance at the menu brings assurance that the fish is either freshly caught by local fishermen or flown-in daily. The casual vibe invites patrons to gather around the bar, choose a table for two, or dine alfresco surrounded by activity. Either way, the wait staff is attentive. Specialty cocktails, like the Ultimate Bloody Mary, include fresh garnishes for snacking. Tasty. As for the menu selections…raw, seared, grilled, or smoked, each entrée is prepared to perfection. The Chilean Sea Bass is critically acclaimed and reasonably priced. You should try it. And before you leave, snap a photo of the big fish in the waiting area. It’s postcard-worthy.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.
VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST
1-2 slices multigrain toast
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese
1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Snipped chives for garnish
Chia seeds for garnish
Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Hoosier Hot Dish! When I moved to Indiana over 30 years ago, it didn’t take me long to hear the term “Hoosier”. I knew it was a nickname for the State’s residents. But, honestly, I wondered how it originated. I had no idea it came into popularity over 200 years ago. The story that was told to me went something like this. Along the Ohio River, in the hills of southern Indiana, settlers lived and worked around the riverfront. As boatmen passed by on barges taking corn to New Orleans, the countrymen would call out, “Who’s Yere?” to assure they were friend, not foe. It happened so often, in time those workers became known as people of the “Hooshier” State. My experience in hearing about this one-pot meal for the first time was just as funny. A coworker said she was making Hoosier Hot Dish for supper. When I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and told me there wasn’t one. She said you just throw everything in a pot on the stove and eat it when it’s done. I narrowed it down a little bit more for you. Go figure.
HOOSIER HOT DISH
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
15-ounce can cut green beans, with liquid
1 pound potatoes, quartered, skin on
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2” chunks
Warm olive oil on medium-low setting in the bottom of a stock pot. Add sliced onions, seasoned salt, garlic and herbed seasoning. Sauté 20 minutes until onions are a light brown. Add green beans with liquid, quartered potatoes, and smoked sausage chunks. Cover and Cook 30-40 minutes over medium heat or until potatoes are fork tender. Hot Dish will thicken. Add 1/2 cup water, if necessary, to keep things from boiling dry or scorching. Serve with cornbread.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Wrapped-in-Bacon Roast Turkey! Bacon-lovers unite. With the holidays looming on the horizon, this main dish is perfect for those who turn their nose up at Mr. Turkey. By wrapping applewood smoked bacon around the outside of the bird, the inside meat stays moist and a little bit salty while the outside gets crispy. No basting required. I was able to weave the bacon strips on a sheet of waxed paper therefore making it easier to cover the turkey breast. It sounds weird, but rub a little butter on the turkey skin first. It actually helps the bacon stay in place. As it bakes, the house begins to smell amazing. You know you want it.
WRAPPED-IN-BACON ROAST TURKEY
7-8 pound turkey breast, thawed
1 pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
Butter for rubbing
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Place turkey breast, breast-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the onions quarters in the cavity of the breast. Brush turkey with butter. Add one cup water to the bottom of the pan. This keeps the bacon from shrinking while creating steam for a crispier skin. Place the woven bacon onto the turkey breast by flipping the waxed paper over it. Peel back and tuck the bacon edges around the breast to cover it evenly. The butter will help move it into place. Bake 3-3 1/2 hours. If the bacon becomes too golden-brown before the turkey is fully cooked, cover it with a loose tent of aluminum foil. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer registers at least 165° in the deepest part of the breast. Remove from oven and allow the cooked breast to stand 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and makes carving easier. To keep the bacon intact, cut through the bacon first before carving the breast beneath. Transfer to a platter with onions and rosemary sprigs.
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: Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread! Some days time is in short supply and all we can hope for is a “working lunch”. At least you can treat yourself to something a little bit gourmet that says “I’m really worth it.” Knäckebröd whole grain crispbread is mighty enough to hold a layer of herbed cream cheese, a mini slice of seedless cucumber, wild Alaskan smoked salmon, fresh dill weed and chopped chives. How’s that for refueling your work day? Be forewarned: your coworkers may gather round the desk in curiosity while you’re nibbling away on finger food. Just hold up a single digit and keep nibbling. After all, it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.
KNÄCKEBÖRD CUCUMBER SALMON CRISPBREAD
4-6 slices Knäckebröd sourdough crispbread
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix
2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced
4 ounces Wild Alaskan applewood smoked salmon
Sprig of dill weed
Combine Neufchâtel cheese and Italian seasoning mix. Stir until blended. Store in a covered container. To assemble, lightly spread crispbread with a layer of herbed cream cheese. Next add one or two slices of seedless cucumber. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill weed and fresh chives.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Baby Corn Split Pea Soup! For a taste of the country, chocked full of wholesome ingredients and tender smoked ham, look no further. Step off the beaten path of ordinary chicken noodle soup for a bowl of flavorful homemade goodness. Pay attention to the subtle smoky aftertaste of cottage ham that lingers on the tongue. Perhaps the blissfully sweet golden harvest of roasted baby corn meets your satisfaction. Either way, the blend of savory split peas infused among them will leave you asking for a smidgen more.
BABY CORN SPLIT PEA SOUP
1 3/4 cups dry split green peas and lentils, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups smoked ham, shredded
7-ounce jar baby corn, whole
In a slow cooker, combine split peas and lentils, vegetable broth, water, garlic powder, black pepper, celery seed, and sea salt. Mix together. Add chopped onion and shredded ham. Cover and cook on HIGH for four hours, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Adjust with more water if soup becomes too thick. Meanwhile, drain baby corn. Pat dry. Take an iron skillet; spray it with nonstick oil. Heat on high temperature. Add baby corn. Gently turn corn as it browns so all sides are evenly roasted. Cut into pieces or leave whole. Add to soup. Lower crockpot setting to LOW. Cook two hours longer. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm.