What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Jacksonville Shrimp Boil! Whoever came up with a one-pot feast of seafood heaven is pure genius. Succulent shrimp, baby red potatoes, sweet corn on the cob, and smoky sausage. Throw everything into the biggest pot you have and let the flavors intermingle with fresh herbs and aromatic spices. The secret is to stagger the cooking process of the ingredients. After all, potatoes take longer to cook fork-tender than shrimp does. Don’t get impatient or you’ll end up with a bowl of slush. Whatever you do, don’t discard the broth. By adding butter, and serving it in small ramekins, it instantly becomes a great dipping sauce for drizzling over everything or sopping up with a crusty bread.
JACKSONVILLE SHRIMP BOIL
2 lemons, halved plus wedges for serving
1/2 cup Old Bay Seasoning*
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 red onion, quartered
6 sprigs lemon thyme
1 pound baby red potatoes, halved
4 ears corn, husked and snapped in half
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into chunks
1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, unpeeled
2 tablespoons butter
Hot sauce, for serving
Fill a large pot with 4 quarts water. Squeeze lemon juice into the water. Drop lemons into the pot. Add Old Bay Seasoning, smashed garlic, and red onion. Tie the lemon thyme sprigs with kitchen twine and drop into the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add red potatoes to the pot; cook just until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and smoked sausage; cook 5 minutes. Finally, add the shrimp to the pot. Cover and cook until the shrimp curl and turn opaque in color, about 2-3 minutes, tops. Transfer the shrimp, sausage, and vegetables to a deep platter using a slotted spoon. Arrange lemon wedges. Ladle 1 cup broth into a serving bowl and add butter. Stir until well blended. Place in the center of the platter. Serve immediately with hot sauce, if desired.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Chive Blossom Vinegar! Dress up fresh salads and garden vegetables with homemade chive blossom vinegar. Splash it on fish fillets or french fries. You can even add a tablespoon to potato salad and deviled eggs. Do you see where this is going? Infused vinegars, especially from your own garden, promise to elevate the taste buds with just a hint of subtle flavor. The ever-so-mild essence of chives releases a delicate sweet onion flutter that balances on the palate like a gracefully poised ballerina. Have I piqued your interest?
CHIVE BLOSSOM VINEGAR
12 purple chive blossoms
1 cup rice vinegar
Small jar with lid, sterilized
Wash freshly cut chive blossoms. Plunge them upside down into a bowl of cold water, holding by the stems. Swish around to dislodge dirt or insects. Pour out water and repeat 3 more times. Pat blossoms dry with a paper towel. Snip off each blossom; discard stem. Pack blossoms loosely to fill the jar. Set aside. Warm vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, 3-4 minutes. Pour hot vinegar over blossoms to fill jar. Secure lid. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Strain out blossoms and discard. Place strained vinegar in another sterized jar. Store in refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Oregano Hasselback Sweet Potato! Have you ever stepped foot in a grocery store and been greeted by a warmer filled with foil-wrapped oven-baked sweet potatoes? The naturally sweet, earthy aromas trigger the tastebuds the same way rotisserie chicken and sizzling bacon do. You want it and gotta have it. Wait until you bite into the creamy texture infused with oregano and cinnamon. Sounds like a sensual adventure, doesn’t it?
OREGANO HASSELBACK SWEET POTATO
2 sweet potatoes, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Leaving skin on potatoes, wash thoroughly and pat dry. Put one potato on a cutting board. Beginning at one end, slice in strips, being careful to stop before slicing the bottom skin. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Continue until both potatoes are sliced. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, crushed oregano, seasoned salt, and cinnamon. Brush each potato with olive oil mixture, separating slices to coat both sides. Drizzle remaining oil over all. Bake potatoes one hour until crispy, basting occasionally. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Okinawan Sweet Potato Medley! Way back when I was in middle school, my home economics teacher actually graded us on how colorful the foods looked on the plate. Her thoughts were “If it tempts your eyes, your stomach will want it.” I never forgot that message. She was pretty adamant about food presentation. So having mashed potatoes, rolls, and cauliflower was kind of a no-no when meal planning. That’s one of the reasons I was intrigued by Okinawan sweet potatoes when visiting Kauai. They are buff-skinned on the outside with a violet-purple flesh inside. It’s not as sweet as the orange variety I’m accustomed to, but nonetheless, it’s pretty tasty. And as you can see, it passes the color test.
OKINAWAN SWEET POTATO MEDLEY
1 large Okinawan sweet potato, skin on, washed and sliced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
2 each of mini sweet peppers in red, yellow, and orange; stems and seeds removed, cut in wedges
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
Spray a sheet of heavy aluminum foil with nonstick oil. Arrange Okinawan sweet potatoes on foil. Add sweet onion slices and mini sweet pepper wedges. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, oregano, and cinnamon. Dot with pats of butter. Place another sheet of heavy aluminum foil over top of vegetables. Fold sides twice to seal. Fold ends twice to seal. Avoid puncturing foil. Place packet on a 425° preheated grill. Close lid. Cook 25 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from grill. Carefully open one corner of foil packet to release steam. Then remove top layer of foil. Transfer sweet potatoes and vegetables in the herbed butter to a platter. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: X-Treme Fudge Bouchons! These chocolate fudge brownies are the perfect bite-size dessert at the end of a meal. Because they are baked in a popover pan, their shape resembles a cork, or French bouchon. The dense chocolatey cake is filled with rich dark chocolate morsels and dusted with powdered sugar making it an appealing dessert, no matter the occasion. Picnic season is upon us. Treat yourself to a taste of France.
X-TREME FUDGE BOUCHONS
3/4 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces butter, unsalted and melted
6 ounces semisweet mini chocolate morsels
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour popover pan. Set aside. Sift together flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and kosher salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes. It will appear thick and very pale in color. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce to low speed alternating 1/3 of dry ingredients, then 1/3 of warm butter until all is blended. Add semisweet chocolate morsels. Place popover pan on a baking sheet and fill each mold two-thirds full. Place in the oven. Bake for 25-28 minutes until tops look shiny and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack for 3 minutes. Invert mold and allow bouchons to cool upside down. Lift off popover pan. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! Now you have no reason to sneak a teaspoon of cookie dough when that sweet craving strikes. Since this recipe eliminates the need for a raw egg, it removes the worry of allergic reactions. Whip up a batch in minutes. I like the idea of spooning half the dough into a canning jar to keep in the refrigerator. Makes snacking unbelievably yummy! The remaining dough can be formed into truffle-size portions and stored in the freezer for later. Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough makes a great gift from your kitchen as well, that is if you have any left to share.
EDIBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons light cream
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
In a food processor, combine butter and brown sugar. Cream together. Add vanilla extract and sea salt. Pulse to blend. Gradually add flour. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Add light cream. Pulse to mix well. By hand gentle fold in semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Transfer dough to a jar and store in the refrigerator. For snack size portions, use a small cookie scoop to keep them uniform.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Yams Topped with Pecan Streusel! One of the advantages of being married is the blending of traditions, especially when it comes to family recipes. “My mama always put marshmallows on our sweet potatoes,” my husband volunteered as I sat planning my holiday menu. I’d heard of it, but had no idea why people raved about it. ‘Til now. OMG! This yam dish is about as close as you can get to eating dessert throughout the meal. Seconds, please.
YAMS TOPPED WITH PECAN STREUSEL
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 1/2 pound can of yams; drained, cut into 1″ cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup natural honey
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup glazed pecans, chopped*
1 3/4 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round casserole dish with one tablespoon unsalted butter. Arrange cut yams evenly. Drizzle the yams with olive oil, natural honey, and pure maple syrup. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, sea salt, and white pepper. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add melted butter. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and topping resembles small peas. Spread over the top of the yams. Sprinkle pecans over all. Bake 25 minutes. Remove and carefully arrange miniature marshmallows around the perimeter of the casserole dish. Return to the oven and additional 5 minutes until marshmallows appear toasted. Watch carefully. Serve warm.
*Glazed Pecans can be referenced at the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Sweet and Sour Spicy Pork! Too busy to cook? This is where the leftover meat from a pork roast comes in very handy. A little bit goes a long way, especially when paired with fruit, vegetables, and a yummy sauce. Dinner can be on your table in less than 30 minutes, leaving more time for your favorite programs on the DVR or Netflix.
SWEET AND SOUR SPICY PORK
2 cups cooked pork, cut up
13-ounce can pineapple chunks, reserve liquid
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound mini carrots
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 green onions, snipped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
In a large skillet, combine ketchup, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, water, garlic powder, and chili paste. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Blend lemon juice and corn starch. Stir into skillet. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir one minute. Add cut-up pork, pineapple chunks, green pepper, and mini carrots. Heat through. Garnish with green onion snips and toasted sesame seeds. Serve over rice.