Yams in Pecan Glaze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Yams in Pecan Glaze! Oh. My. Gosh. You have got to make this recipe. There’s still plenty of time before the holidays to switch back to your traditional family favorite if you don’t like it, but think about this a moment. By using canned yams, or sweet potatoes, preparation is a snap. Who knows? You could end up making both. Remember what I said about “Start Smart”? Sometimes that means taking advantage of the numerous products that eliminate the extra leg work. Sugared pecans are such a gourmet treat. Pick up a package of those to add to the decadent pure maple syrup sauce. Read on if you’re curious.

YAMS IN PECAN GLAZE

Ingredients:

29-ounce can cut sweet potatoes in syrup

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sage, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

For Pecan Glaze:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup sugared pecans

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Drain liquid from sweet potatoes into a saucepan. Carefully slice and arrange yams in a casserole dish. Set aside. Boil the liquid over medium heat until only 1/4” covers the bottom of the saucepan. Add butter, sage, thyme, cinnamon, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. While potatoes are baking, make the pecan glaze. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat. Add sugared pecans. Toss to coat. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add pure maple syrup. Cook 5 minutes longer, or until the pecans are caramelized and syrupy. Pour over sweet potatoes. Return casserole to the oven and bake 5 minutes longer, or until the glaze becomes thick. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs before serving.

Juicy Roast Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.

JUICY ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

10-15 pound turkey, thawed

1/2 cup butter

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 teaspoon thyme

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.

Smoked Turkey Thyme Salad

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Perfect Pot Roast

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Lamb Chop Lemon Thyme

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Lamb Chop Lemon Thyme! Break out the grill! For a tasty alternative to beef and chicken, make today’s choice lamb. It is tender, it is lean, and most of all it has high nutritional value. Yay, low in fat! Did you know lamb is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and protein? Think about shaking up your menu a bit with a different kind of red meat. Everyone knows grilled meats taste better!

LAMB CHOP LEMON THYME

Ingredients:

3 lamb chops, 1″ thick bone-in

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Smidgen herb pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves

Instructions:

In a shallow dish, place lamb chops in a single layer. Pour olive oil over lamb chops. Sprinkle with kosher salt, herb pepper, garlic powder, and lemon thyme leaves. Coat both sides. Marinate for one hour in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Turn a gas grill on HIGH heat. Sear the chops for 3 1/2 minutes on one side. Flip over and cook an additional 2 1/2 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes to absorb juices. Serve immediately.

Roasted Turkey Breast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Roasted Turkey Breast! Life just got a little easier. Instead of cooking an entire holiday bird, it is just as rewarding to roast a turkey breast. You still get the herb seasonings and butter-basted juicy portions, along with drippings for a savory pan gravy, without all the time and effort. It’s simple, economical, and carves up nicely. One more reason to serve turkey for any occasion.

ROASTED TURKEY BREAST

Ingredients:

5-pound bone-in turkey breast, thawed

1/8 teaspoon parsley

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon sage

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey breast side up in a roaster. Insert meat thermometer so the tip is at the thickest part of the breast meat. Brush the bird with butter. Sprinkle seasonings over all. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Do not use a lid. Every hour, baste the breast with butter or pan drippings. Turkey is done when the thermometer reads 185°, approximately 2 1/2 hours. There is no substitute for a meat thermometer for determining the doneness of a turkey, in my opinion. Remove from oven and allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. The skin will be crisp and the breast meat will be moist.

Garlic Roasted Thyme Tomatoes

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

Ingredients:

6 medium tomatoes

6 cloves garlic, peeled

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

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.

Honeycomb Cheese Wheel

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

Ingredients:

1 wheel Camembert cheese

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Small section honeycomb

Instruction:

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.

Holy Capers-Salmon Avocado Toast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Holy Capers-Salmon Avocado Toast! Whenever I have leftover grilled salmon, this is my favorite indulgence. The first time I made it, my husband and I literally stood at the kitchen counter nibbling on it until it was completely gone. Each morsel had us licking our fingers and begging for more. The combination of lemon thyme and salty capers balance the slightly smoky texture of the salmon. It’s followed by a crunch of sesame seed artisan toast with a creamy avocado finish. If you take the time to sit down and enjoy this delightful open-face sandwich, think about pairing it with a light and fruity rosé wine. It’ll tickle your palate and have you giggling all afternoon or evening long.

HOLY CAPERS-SALMON AVOCADO TOAST

Ingredients:

6 ounces of grilled salmon fillet, flaked

Sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

2 teaspoons imported capers, non-pareil

2 slices of sesame artisan bread, toasted

1 small avocado, mashed

1 small tomatillo, diced

Pinch of garlic powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions:

Make sure the grilled salmon fillet is flaked. Set aside. Combine the mashed avocado, diced tomatillos, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a bowl. Blend well. To assemble the open-face sandwich, place the toasted artisan sesame slice on a luncheon plate. Next spoon avocado mixture over top. Layer flaked salmon over all. Sprinkle with capers and garnish with lemon thyme.