What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Turmeric Chicken Curry! For those who dabble in traditional ethnic dishes, turmeric is a well-known spice that typically gives food a rich golden yellow hue. Although turmeric has a slightly bitter taste, curry powder combines it with cumin and chili powder to catapult the flavor from mild to very spicy. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way when adding flavor and color. I find turmeric mildly aromatic with a slight scent of ginger, which is appealing when added to chicken. Also, it can jazz up boring white rice by making an ordinary dish look a bit fancy.
TURMERIC CHICKEN CURRY
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 teaspoons turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Add onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Sauté for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, turmeric, cloves, thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Perfect Pot Roast! Today all chefs get the day off from cooking. Seriously. This one-pot meal will turn out perfectly, as long as you ignore it. Use a slow-cooker or a Dutch Baker in a low temperature oven. I actually begin with a frozen chuck roast and forget about it, that is until the savory aromas lightly waft throughout the house. The liquid turns into a pleasant au jus or can be thickened into gravy. Personally, I ladle the juice into a food storage container to use as a sauce for beef carnitas, but that’s another story. Leftovers promise delicious options.
PERFECT POT ROAST
3-4 pound chuck roast, frozen
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup kosher salt (or less)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 pound baby carrots
3-4 white potatoes, skin on, quartered
2-3 sprigs thyme
Preheat oven to 275°. Place frozen roast in Dutch Baker. Combine vinegar, orange juice, and melted butter. Pour over roast. Sprinkle roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Lay thyme sprigs across the top of the meat. Put the lid on the Dutch Baker and bake for 4 hours. Then add carrots and cut-up potatoes to the pot. Reduce oven temperature to 185°. Bake 4 hours longer. The roast is fall-apart tender and ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Xtra Tender Grilled Radishes! If you’ve avoided radishes because of their bitter earthy taste when eaten raw, perhaps it’s time to give them another chance. Keep in mind radishes are simply a root vegetable, no different than a potato or turnip. Once they are cooked, a natural sweetness emerges. Surprise! The slightly crisp outer core reveals a nice soft middle that makes your mouth go “Mmmm.”
XTRA TENDER GRILLED RADISHES
4 cups radishes, stems removed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Warm an iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the radishes in olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with garlic and herb seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium. Place the radishes, cut side down, on the iron skillet. Sear the radishes for 3-4 minutes per side. They will start to soften without losing their crunch. Remove pan from heat. Drizzle the radishes with melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped thyme leaves, sea salt, and black pepper. Serve immediately.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Zinfandel Pairings! Just when I thought I’d seen it all, there in the produce department perched on the bottom shelf below its green and red cousins, was a small bin of larger-than-life black seedless grapes. Immediately I was intrigued. The hand-scribbled sign boasted sweet and tart beyond your wildest dreams. That’s it. Nothing more than “Product of USA” on the package. It didn’t matter. It was love-at-first-sight. I knew immediately that a Zinfandel wine and tangy cheese would join the impromptu Date Night that was forming in my mind. Later on, after I got home, I read all kinds of powerful benefits these precious little gems do for the body, mind, and soul. What a perfect prologue for guilt-free delicacies.
1 pound black seedless grapes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, block
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup honeycomb
Multigrain French Bread slices, lightly toasted
Raw Honey, for drizzling
Lemon Thyme, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small dish, combine olive oil, sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Wash cluster of black grapes; pat dry. Place grapes on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, generously coat the grapes with the olive oil mixture. Roast for 30 minutes. Grapes will release juice and begin to wrinkle. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 375°. Break the feta cheese into rough chunks. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon zest. Drizzle with raw honey. Bake for 15 minutes until softened. Broil until slightly golden. Watch carefully. To serve, spread warm cheese on toasted baguette slices. Top with a piece of honeycomb. Place a roasted grape over the cheese. Drizzle with raw honey. Garnish with lemon thyme. Serve with a slightly chilled glass of red Zinfandel.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes! Turn ordinary tomatoes into a savory side dish with earthy vigor. Have you experienced roasted garlic lately? Don’t hate me if I describe it as smooth and sweet as a dab of butter. Having said that, I can tell by the look in your eye, you’re gonna roast more garlic cloves than I pictured here. Go for it. By quick-roasting vegetables on high heat in the oven, you’ll notice a natural hint of smokiness that satisfies the palate. Although they turn from shiny smooth to a dull luster when finished, the taste is what will win you over. I promise you this, here’s a down-home recipe that will not disappoint.
GARLIC ROASTED THYME TOMATOES
6 medium tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, peeled
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°. Rub tomatoes with olive oil and place in a baking pan. Add garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season, to taste, with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Bake 25-30 minutes, occasionally brushing tomatoes with olive oil from the pan. Skins may split. Remove from oven. Spoon tomatoes, garlic, and thyme into serving bowls. Drizzle with pan juices. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Honeycomb Cheese Wheel! Remember when you were a kid and for fun you puckered up with those candy red wax lips? Me and my girlfriends would put them on, batt our eyes, sashay our hips, and laugh hysterically. Most often we’d find ourselves chewing on the sugary insides before spitting them out into tiny red blobs on our way home from school. I’m sure that made quite an impression on the neighborhood boys. Well today’s honeycomb is a distant cousin, twice-removed, to those artificial candy lips. Even better, raw honeycomb is completely safe to eat and naturally sweet. A little goes a long way simply because it is seeping with honey. Dress it up with a wheel of Camembert or Brie cheese, seasoned with a clove of garlic and a couple of sprigs from the herb garden. Spread it across baguette slices for an open-air treat.
HONEYCOMB CHEESE WHEEL
1 wheel Camembert cheese
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Small section honeycomb
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove cheese from plastic wrap. Return cheese to its wooden box. Place box on a baking sheet. Take a knife and score a criss-cross pattern halfway through the cheese. Tuck garlic clove slices in the cuts. Sprinkle rosemary and thyme herbs over top. Drizzle butter over all. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes until cheese is soft, bubbling, and fragrant. Serve immediately by spreading the golden cheese over toasted baguette slices. Then spoon the oozing honeycomb pieces over all. Garnish with fresh herbs.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Nutty Cherry Crostini! Go international with an Italian appetizer that has become a timeless classic. Crostini is a fancy word for “little crusts”, according to Wikipedia. Did you know during medieval times it was pretty normal for Italian peasants to eat their meals on slices of bread instead of using pottery? Lucky for us, the idea caught on. I can’t think of a better way to socialize before dinner.
NUTTY CHERRY CROSTINI
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
4 baguette slices, toasted
4 ounces Danish bleu cheese, room temperature
1-2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
Fresh sprigs if lemon thyme, for garnish
In an iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add sliced cherries, stirring gently to soften. Meanwhile toast baguette slices. Spread on bleu cheese. Add a spoonful of cherries. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme leaves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Avocado Breakfast Toast! Nothing looks more appealing in the morning than an open face breakfast sandwich, in my opinion. Avocado and salmon step things up a notch when paired with a nice yolk-drenched piece of artisan toast. I love French butter, but if you choose to omit slathering the toast with it, I’ll understand. My husband and I don’t mind a little taste sensuality in the morning. You choose.
AVOCADO BREAKFAST TOAST
2 slices artisan bread, toasted
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
1 avocado; halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs, cooked over easy or poached
1/2 cup grilled salmon, flaked
1 teaspoon capers
Pinch Herbes de Provence
Fresh thyme for garnish
Take the chopped avocado and mash it until chunky. Fold in the lemon juice and garlic powder. Set aside. Toast bread as desired. Spread with sea salt butter and keep warm. Cook the eggs over easy so the yolks are still runny. Place one piece of buttered toast on a plate. Spoon a thick layer of avocado over toast. Next divide flaked salmon between the two servings. Sprinkle with capers. Place one egg on top. Garnish with Herbes de Provence and fresh tarragon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Zen Himalayan Plate! Go above ordinary ingredients and transform your palate with a meal on the Himalayan salt plate. Foods pick up a delicate saltiness that transcends the flavor and leaves behind monotony. By creating bite-size pieces of fish, shellfish, and cucumber sushi, nourishment balances out the inner peace from within. Good for health-crazed affenciados as well as those soul-searching for expression.
ZEN HIMALAYAN PLATE
3.75-ounce tin Wild Caught Sardines, in olive oil
1 lemon, sliced and quartered
3.75-ounce tin smoked oysters
Fresh lemon thyme
7-ounces prepared crab dip
4 mini cucumbers, seedless
Arrange sardines on a Himalayan salt plate. Drizzle with olive oil from the tin. Place lemon wedges on fish and garnish with fresh lemon thyme. Smoked oysters may be served in individual sea shells. Drizzle with sauce from the tin. Oysters may also be served on a cracker. To assemble the cucumber sushi, slice mini cucumbers into thick rolls. To remove the inside portion of each disc, place the cucumber on a cutting board, use a sharp knife, and rotate the cuke until the center is cut out. Make sure the walls remain. Discard fleshy pulp. Place the cucumber “rings” on the Himalayan salt plate. Spoon prepared crabmeat dip into each ring. Press gently to fill the sushi roll. Garnish with dill.