Ahi Poke Platter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Ahi Poke Platter! Here’s a perfect example of choosing the foods you love. An ahi platter can offer many variations of side veggies to compliment the star attraction. Personally, I like the crunch of radish slices and mukimame. They balance quite nicely with the creaminess of a ripe avocado. Perhaps you may substitute these ingredients with cucumber slices and jicama sticks. I realize there are those who just don’t care for the taste of cilantro, no matter how often they try. That’s fine. Dill is a delightful change. I’m not here to be the food police. Are you getting the idea?

AHI POKE PLATTER

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons furikake seasoning

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

2 ahi tuna steaks, skinless

1 cup sticky rice, prepared

1 avocado, pitted and cubed

1/2 cup mukimame

1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin

Fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

Instructions:

Combine olive oil, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Add furikake seasoning, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. Marinate ahi steaks ten minutes per side to coat evenly. Remove steaks from marinade and set aside. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the marinade mixture. Cook ahi steaks 2-3 minutes per side. The outer skin will appear seared while the center remains pink. Remove from heat. Transfer ahi steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4” thick slices. Arrange on a platter over sticky rice, overlapping the slices. Arrange avocado chunks, mukimame, radish slices, and chopped cilantro on the platter. For dipping sauce, combine mayonnaise, sriracha, and soy sauce. Mix well. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the ahi poke platter.

X-tra Cheese, Please, Appetizer

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: X-Tra Cheese, Please, Appetizer! Ever since I visited a popular Las Vegas restaurant, I’ve been looking for a cheese appetizer like this one. It’s not the traditional gooey soupy cheese dip you swipe tortilla chips through before gobbling down. The waiter set the iron skillet in front of us and said, “This is a cheese you need to use a knife and fork with. It’s not going to jump onto the chip.” Come to find out it was flambéed over an open fire in the kitchen. Wow! And they used tequila to ignite it. I wish I could tell you that’s what I did here, but sorry, “no comprendo”. Instead I baked it at a high temperature and dredged it through a spicy honey. Show compassion. I tried.

X-TRA CHEESE, PLEASE, APPETIZER

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup raw Tupelo honey

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 teaspoon garlic habanero sauce

2 tablespoons ranch dressing

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 475°. Using a 10” iron skillet, warm butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and kosher salt. Sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden brown. Add Monterey Jack cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix thoroughly with onions. To make the spicy honey, in a microwave-safe dish combine raw Tupelo honey, sriracha, and garlic habanero sauce. Stir well. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir again. Set aside. Transfer cheese-filled iron skillet to the oven. Bake 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Turn oven setting to High on Broil. Allow dark spots to appear on the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully as this happens very quickly. Remove skillet from oven. Drizzle with spicy honey and ranch dressing. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thai Curry Compound Butter

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Thai Curry Compound Butter! Flavor your favorite meats or slather it on crusty breads and crackers. Thai spices Rock! Maybe you can’t exactly put your finger on it. Thai seasoning is that unique. It appeals to the senses. Not only are the spices aromatic, but their diverse array of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty sashay around the room in a rhythmic dance to a different drum. Is it any wonder we are magically drawn to the earthy quality in Thai food? The colors and texture can be mesmerizing without overpowering the intensity of a dish. Now perhaps you may feel as though I am simply trying to butter you up, but tasting is believing.

THAI CURRY COMPOUND BUTTER

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, finely ground

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons Thai curry paste

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon sriracha

Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine unsalted butter, Himalayan pink salt, cracked black pepper, Thai curry paste, ground ginger, and sriracha. Stir until smooth. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto waxed paper. Roll layer of waxed paper over butter to form a log. Roll tight; twist ends. Refrigerate for one hour or until firm. Serve on crackers with cilantro over vegetables, in soups, meats, and noodle dishes.

Volcano Cheese Fries

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Volcano Cheese Fries! Say, Whaaat? I first had these tasty morsels at my fav fish hut in Kauai. But after returning home, I really had a craving for them again. Granted, being a Midwesterner, I simply couldn’t resist adding a glob of queso cheese on top. In my defense, the bonfires we have always mix the colors of fiery red and golden yellow. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. But if you have the willpower, I won’t be offended if you skip it. The furikake seasoning and sriracha sauce are the star attractions anyway.

VOLCANO CHEESE FRIES

Ingredients:

16 ounces shoestring fries, frozen

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1/3 cup Queso cheese dip, warmed

1 tablespoon furikake seasoning

Instructions:

Bake French fried potatoes according to package directions. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt. Toss gently. Transfer to a large bowl so the fries can be piled into a volcano mound. Drizzle sriracha sauce over the top, to taste. Add the warmed Queso cheese dip. Sprinkle with furikake seasoning. Serve immediately.

Wonton Cheese Bites

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Wonton Cheese Bites! Whenever I visit a Chinese Buffet, I practically make a pig of myself nibbling on those wonderful cream cheese-filled wontons. So, I picked up a package of wonton wrappers at the grocery store and decided it was time to make a batch at home. It’s so easy, my grandkids could do it, supervised of course. The results were delicious!

WONTON CHEESE BITES

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce

1 egg

1/2 cup water

24 wonton wrappers

Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions:

Combine softened Neufchâtel cheese, sriracha hot sauce, and green onion pieces. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl combine the egg and water. Mix well. Set aside. One at a time, assemble the wontons. Scoop 1 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture near one corner of a wonton wrapper. Line the edges with egg wash by dipping your finger into it and “painting” the egg wash around the wrapper. Fold the wrapper on a diagonal and gently finger press the seams together. If necessary, dip your finger back in the egg wash to moisten the wrapper so it seals completely, eliminating any air pockets. (This could cause it to burst.) Bring the 2 opposite points of the triangle together to form a bishop’s hat. Apply more egg wash onto a tip, and press to seal. Curl back the top point to resemble a peaked cap. Keep the filled wontons under plastic wrap on a baking sheet to avoid drying out before frying. Heat oil for frying to 350°. Carefully fry a few wontons at a time, until golden brown and crispy. Serve with a sauce for dipping.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Buffalo Chicken Pizza! Combine two bar and grill favorites to equal one outstanding supper on game night. From the creamy ranch dressing slathered over a crispy olive oil crust to the tender rotisserie chicken dotted with robust bleu cheese and crunchy celery, you will not believe your taste buds. This is good stuff. Decide how high you want to crank up the heat by using spicy sriracha sauce and red pepper flakes. Go wingless for a sensational show-stopper that will leave everyone cheering.

BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 prepared naan, flatbread, or pizza crust

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4-1/3 cup ranch salad dressing

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup deli-roasted chicken, shredded

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

1/2 cup chopped celery

2-3 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush both sides of a prepared pizza crust. Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom only. Sprinkle garlic powder over top. Bake seasoned crust on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from oven. Spread ranch salad dressing evenly over top crust. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Layer on shredded chicken. Dot with bleu cheese crumbles. Bake 10 minutes longer. Arrange chopped celery over pizza. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Garnish with red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

Yucca Crispy Sticks

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Yucca Crispy Sticks! From time to time I get a little help from my friends. Recently The Dancing Herbalist* suggested I share a post on the yucca root with my readers. To be honest, I have yucca plants growing all over my yard, and while I enjoy their hardy green foliage year round, and their beautiful white fan of blossoms every summer, I never gave them a second thought as a food source. Apparently they contain dietary fiber advantageous in controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels in subtropical regions. Tasting very much like a potato, with roots that simulate a sweet potato, the yucca root is an healthy option loaded with antioxidants. I admit, I learn something new every day.

YUCCA CRISPY STICKS

Ingredients:

1 large yucca, peeled and cut into sticks

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Panko seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, finely ground

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Peel yucca with vegetable peeler to remove waxy skin. Cut into sticks, as uniform in thickness as possible. Do not make too thin. Place in a 2-quart pan with enough water to cover. Bring to boil. Cook 5-7 minutes. Remove and drain immediately. Submerge in an ice bath. Transfer drained sticks to a large bowl. Coat with olive oil and chili pepper, seasoned salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix together panko crumbs, Italian seasoned bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Spread on waxed paper. Roll each seasoned yucca stick in the crust mixture to coat and line in a single layer on a wire rack nested on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn and bake 5 minutes longer until golden brown. Serve warm with spicy mayo.

Ingredients for Spicy Mayo:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili pepper rings

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix well until smooth. Garnish with chili pepper rings.

* Please visit The Dancing Herbalist at

https://thedancingherbalist.wordpress.com

Unbelievable Cheesy Pimento Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Unbelievable Cheesy Pimiento Spread! If you’re a cheese lover, this is a “must-do” appetizer. It is guaranteed to bring big raves at the next holiday gathering. The smokey-peppery version is sure to test your willpower. Should it just be slathered on crackers or bagel chips? What about apple slices? Or will you take it one step further and build a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread? Whatever you choose, create all sorts of ideas for enhancing this nostalgic Southern favorite.

UNBELIEVABLE CHEESY PIMENTO SPREAD

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons French Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4-ounce jar of diced pimientos, drained

2 green onions, snipped

8 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, finely shredded

10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, medium shredded

1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt, and pepper. Mix well. Fold in pimientos and onions. Stir in both cheeses until blended. Add sriracha for a kick of heat. Chill one hour or overnight.

Serving Suggestion: Serve as an Appetizer with crackers or assorted vegetables. Also excellent as finger sandwiches.

*For block cheeses, grate one kind with small holes and the other with medium holes on a box grater or using food processor blades.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Lump Crabmeat Salad! Be pampered on a sunny porch or backyard patio with a light luncheon for two. Dining al fresco is especially popular with nature’s backdrop of fragrant flowers and tittering birdsong. These are what days are made of. If it’s a late afternoon gathering of light appetizers and spritzers, serve this lump crabmeat salad with crackers instead. Fresh fruit is always a good idea. Take advantage of warm weather and celebrate a party-like atmosphere.

LUMP CRABMEAT SALAD

Ingredients:

8 ounces wild caught lump crabmeat, cartilage removed

1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 rib celery, diced

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

4 teaspoons chives, sliced

1 teaspoon tarragon leaves

1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 dash sriracha sauce

Red pepper, halved and membrane removed

Bibb lettuce leaves

Instructions:

Gently rinse crabmeat in a fine mesh strainer to remove any shell pieces or cartilage. Do not break up crab chunks. Transfer crabmeat to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning mix. Toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, diced celery, diced red pepper, sliced chives, tarragon leaves, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery seed, kosher salt, white pepper, and sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the crabmeat mixture to the mayonnaise mixture, gently coating the lump crabmeat. Spoon the crabmeat into two hollowed out red pepper shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Arrange Bibb lettuce leaves on two saucers; place lump crabmeat salad on each plate. Serve chilled.