Roasted Corn Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Roasted Corn Salad! Nothing tastes better than fresh corn. Shuck it off the cob to make a spectacular side dish that goes well with quesadillas, tacos, and grilled meats. This make-ahead roasted corn salad is another picnic basket favorite that travels well and satisfies a crowd. Simply modify the portions to match the event. It’s fresh, it’s spicy, and it’ll keep ’em coming back for more.

ROASTED CORN SALAD

Ingredients:

3 ounces cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon water

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

3 ears bicolor corn, shucked off cob

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup black beans, drained

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped

1 ripe tomato, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Combine the cider vinegar, water, olive oil, sugar, sea salt, and white pepper in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool at room temperature. In an iron skillet over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. Drop the corn kernels into the skillet; stir to coat. Every few minutes, turn corn with a spatula. As the kernels begin to char, continue turning until corn is tender, about 6-7 minutes. It may be necessary to reduce heat. Place black beans in a large covered bowl. Transfer roasted corn to same bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder, cumin powder, and Cajun seasoning. Add chopped jalapeño pepper, tomato, green pepper, celery, red onion, and cooled marinade. Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.

Mini Caprese Skewers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Mini Caprese Skewers! Can you tell I’m trying to squeeze as many foods in my picnic basket as possible before Summer ends? For a quick veggie burst of flavor, these off-the-vine cherry tomatoes are a match made in heaven when paired with fresh basil. It doesn’t hurt that the marinated mozzarella balls are skewered together for lovely presentation. It’s all about the finger food.

MINI CAPRESE SKEWERS

Ingredients:

12 mozzarella balls

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon Italian spice blend

24 fresh basil leaves

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

12 black olives, sliced

Olive oil for drizzling

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, place mozzarella balls. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with Italian spices. Toss cheese to cover well. Beginning with a cherry tomato half, thread tomato on a toothpick or skewer. Then place one basil leaf, followed by a marinated mozzarella ball. Finish with the remaining cherry tomato and another basil leaf. Repeat with remaining cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella balls. Thread black olives on separate skewers. Drizzle olive oil mixture over finished caprese skewers. Transport in jars or covered containers.

Liptauer Cheese Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Liptauer Cheese Spread! I love appetizers. Mostly because they give you permission to graze through a meal. Some say by eating smaller meals more frequently, it can lead to a longer, healthier life. So, around dinner time you could find me uncorking a bottle of nice red wine and nibbling on fruit, cheese, and crudités. This mellow cheese spread offers a blend of anchovy-stuffed green olives, sweet onions, salty capers, and spicy French Dijon mustard. Permission granted, my friends.

LIPTAUER CHEESE SPREAD

Ingredients:

8-ounce block of Neufchâtel cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely chopped

12 anchovy-stuffed green olives, finely chopped

1 teaspoon French Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon imported capers, chopped

1 teaspoon caraway seed

1 teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

Combine softened Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix until smooth. Add Vidalia onion, anchovy-stuffed green olives, French Dijon mustard, imported capers, caraway seed, and paprika. Mix well. Form into a ball. Chill for one hour. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices and vegetable crudités.

Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Leeks and Ham Gnocchi

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Leeks and Ham Gnocchi! Leeks are nothing more than giant green onions. They add a mild onion-like taste to any dish and seem to be more flavorful when cooked. By combining them with gnocchi and ham, the leeks turn these little dumplings into a gourmet Mac ‘n Cheese alternative that is pleasing to the palate. The biggest challenge lies in preparing leeks for eating. After all, like an onion or shallot, they have a small bulb and a long stalk of green tightly-wrapped leaves. First I trimmed the tops and cut off the roots. Then I found that when filling the sink with water and submerging them, what little dirt that collected near the leaves fell to the bottom. Once rinsed, they were easy to slice and fun to separate the rings. Use what you need and freeze the rest for soups, casseroles, or other dishes later on. Isn’t it fun to try new things?

LEEKS AND HAM GNOCCHI

Ingredients:

1 leek, sliced into rings

1 cup chopped ham

1 16-ounce package gnocchi

8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded

1 1/4 cups light cream

3 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 slices Hawaiian bread, torn

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to. 350°. Grease lightly 3 individual casserole dishes. In a medium bowl, combine ham, gnocchi, and Havarti cheese. Divide evenly between casseroles. Whisk together light cream, flour, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper until smooth and flour is dissolved. Pour over gnocchi, dividing equally. In a bowl, place bread and leeks. Pour melted butter over all to coat. Gently toss. Sprinkle over gnocchi casseroles. Bake 35 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives. Serve warm.

Kosher Salt Dill Pickles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Kosher Salt Dill Pickles! When I visited the Farmers Market this week, I was impressed by the cute little cucumbers in abundant supply. The fact that my dill was showcasing its yellow flowery blossoms in proud display earlier that morning nudged me to take advantage of both. Canning a jar of classic dill pickles was about to become the focus of the day. So….when choosing a variety of cucumber to pickle remember three things: 1.) Choose small cukes about the size of your thumb. 2.) Make sure they have a thicker skin in order to maintain a crunchy snap. 3.) And remember to ask for the ones that were just freshly picked. Time is of the essence. The crucial time to pickle is as soon as practical after picking. This recipe will make one jar, which is exactly what I wanted.

KOSHER SALT DILL PICKLES

Ingredients:

1 pound pickling cucumbers; cut off tips of both ends and slice in half

2 fresh dill sprigs, with heads

1 cup filtered water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a clean quart jar, place one dill sprig and one garlic clove in bottom of jar. Arrange cucumber halves against the side of the jar working your way to the center. Do not crush. Add one more dill sprig. Pour cooled juice into the jar. Be sure to include the spices. Stop liquid within 1/4″ of top. Seal and store in refrigerator for 12 hours before opening. Keep refrigerated.

Omelet 101

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Omelet 101. You’re having a get-together and need an effortless, but impressive, breakfast. While everyone is huddling in the kitchen, because this is what people do, pour them a cuppa joe and get started. Making the perfect omelet will have you feeling like a gourmet chef. It’s pretty basic. Use an 8-inch sauté pan with slanted edges and plenty of butter. Fresh veggies and shredded cheese are always a good idea. If you’re nervous about the “flip”, simply do what I do. Put a lid on it.

OMELET 101

Ingredients: (per omelet)

2 eggs

Pinch sea salt

Pinch black pepper

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons smokey Swiss cheese, shredded

Sautéed asparagus tips

Sautéed mushrooms

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine eggs, sea salt, black pepper, and water. Beat until light yellow in color. Warm butter in pan over medium-low heat. Do not scorch butter. Pour egg mixture into pan. Do not stir. Swirl the pan so eggs cover the edge. Cook until bottom begins to set, about one minute. Tilt the pan to allow liquid to flow underneath. Slide a rubber spatula around the surface to loosen omelet. Arrange shredded cheese, asparagus tips, and sliced mushrooms across the center of the egg, forming a vertical line. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan with a lid to absorb liquid, about 30-45 seconds. The center will remain creamy. Remove lid. Fold one-third of omelet onto itself. Gently transfer omelet to a plate. Serve immediately.

Culinary Crab Rolls

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Culinary Crab Rolls! Seafood lovers will look for any excuse to substitute chicken or beef. Do we really need a reason? Building healthy lifestyle choices could be enough to make me try new things. Seafood is a lean protein option which does fill me up the way fruit, vegetables, and nuts do. The fact remains that I truly like the taste of seafood. Pairing it with bread is practically a bonus. Need I say more?

CULINARY CRAB ROLLS

Ingredients:

6 frozen bread dough rolls, thawed according to package instructions

3/4 cup crabmeat, precooked and chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon green onion, chopped

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a bowl, combine crabmeat, mayonnaise, green onion, and red pepper flakes. Once dough has risen, press into a 3-4” circle. Fill the center of each circle of dough with a heaping tablespoon of crabmeat filling. Gently pull the edges around the filling to form a ball, lightly brushing the seam with beaten egg, then pinching the edges to seal. Place in muffin cup, seam side down. Brush tops with beaten egg. Repeat with remaining rolls. Set aside to rise until puffy. Dough should be nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Bird’s Nest Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Bird’s Nest Breakfast! For something fun, take an ordinary poached egg, lay it on a bed of greens, and turn it into a festive meal nestled in a coffeehouse cup. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you like toast, you say. No worries, it’s in there. Think about this attractive alternative when serving a mid-morning brunch for two or breakfast in bed on the weekend. This is how we cruise through life.

BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

4 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed*

2 slices baguette bread, toasted and buttered

2 extra large eggs, poached or fried sunny-side up

2 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing

Red pepper flakes, for garnish

Instructions:

Gently tear romaine lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide between two large coffeehouse cups. Toast artisan bread, butter, and cut into cubes. Add to each lettuce cup. Gently toss. Poach or fry two eggs, leaving the centers slightly soft. Transfer one egg to each bowl. Drizzle with Caesar salad dressing. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

*Add alfalfa sprouts, if available.