What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: French Toast Bananas Foster! For that daily dose of potassium you get in bananas, think French Toast for breakfast. With an added twist of Bananas Foster, you may feel as though you’re dining on a private balcony overlooking the French Quarter in New Orleans. It’s that good! For starters, I used Hawaiian sweet bread for its unique fluffy texture. By soaking the slices in a custard-style egg mixture and browning them in a buttered iron skillet, the results were luscious.
FRENCH TOAST BANANAS FOSTER
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons dark rum
3-4 bananas, cut into thick slices
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 smidgen nutmeg
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Do not scorch. Add brown sugar; stir. Gradually bring to boil and add cream, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to lowest setting. Add maple syrup and dark rum. Stir until smooth. Add sliced bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook until tender.
Ingredients for French Toast:
4 slices Hawaiian sweet bread, sliced thick
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 cup half and half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons butter
Mini chocolate chips
Whisk together eggs, half and half cream, and vanilla extract. In a shallow dish place 4 slices of Hawaiian bread, single layer. Pour custard egg mixture over bread; turn bread to coat both sides completely. Let moistened bread rest to soak up liquid. In an iron skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter on medium-low heat. Transfer the soaked bread to the skillet. Cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Add butter as needed. If cooking in batches, transfer browned French toast to a wire rack on a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200° oven. To serve, place a piece of French toast on a plate. Cover with banana sauce and dollop of whipped cream. Top with a second slice of French toast. Add more banana sauce. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and pecan pieces.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Yogurt Tomato Bisque! Before you turn up your nose at the sound of yogurt, hear me out. Here’s a couple of facts you may not have heard about yogurt. Number One, it’s healthy. Number Two, it makes the soup creamier, which is always a plus in my opinion. Number Three, Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as regular yogurt. And, Number Four, it has about half as many carbs, if that’s something that is important to you. All together, that makes it a Superfood. Yada-yada-yada. In the end, what it all comes down to is flavor. Tomatoes can be sweet, so the yogurt adds a little tang, which goes well with a dab of butter. Add herbs and cheese with a slice of garlic toast and you have the “pièce de résistance”. Nicely done.
YOGURT TOMATO BISQUE
10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup Greek yogurt
Dab of butter
Colby cheese, finely shredded
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
Preheat oven to 400°. Place plum tomatoes and chopped onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper, sea salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Roast 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor to purée. In a stock pot, combine vegetable broth and puréed tomatoes. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Divide into soup bowls. Garnish with a dab of butter and finely shredded Colby cheese. Sprinkle with marjoram. Serve with garlic toast.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Vermont Cheddar Multigrain Toast! Just because you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock does not mean you lose out on a healthy breakfast. Grab a slice of multigrain bread, a hard-boiled egg, and a wedge of white cheddar cheese. Why white, you ask? Um, because I like the deeper flavors of the older extra-sharp varieties. The longer a cheese ages naturally, the more pronounced the flavor. Besides, it tastes incredibly delish with the slightly salty applewood-smoked bacon as its companion. So, while the coffee’s brewing and the toast is browning, get slicing.
VERMONT CHEDDAR MULTIGRAIN TOAST
1-2 slices multigrain toast
1-2 tablespoons sea salt butter
3-4 slices Vermont White Cheddar cheese
1-2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, precooked
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Snipped chives for garnish
Chia seeds for garnish
Toast multigrain bread on desired setting. Remove from toaster; place on a plate. Spread sea salt butter over toast. Next, layer with Vermont cheddar cheese, thick bacon, and sliced egg. Top with snippets of fresh chives. Sprinkle chia seeds over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Violet Crostini! Edible flowers are kind of a new thing for me this year. Everywhere I look, nature has exploded with beauty and color. Because I take special care in avoiding chemicals and pesticides in my herb garden and on the grounds, I can reap the benefits of sweet edible flowers high in vitamins. This recipe for Violet Crostini is one step up from an ordinary salad of mixed greens. By toasting a sesame artisan bread and slathering it with Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread, the salad greens and fresh violet petals create an open face sandwich or crostini. Top it off with a pretty, light purple edible chive blossom for a light onion taste. Doesn’t it look delicious?
2-4 slices sesame bread, toasted
4 tablespoons Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread*
1 cup mixed salad greens
2 tablespoons violet petals
2 chive blossoms, stems removed
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
2-4 sprigs lemon thyme
Toast sesame seed artisan bread. Spoon two tablespoons of Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread on each piece. Divide salad greens between the crostini. Top with violet petals and chive blossom. Drizzle lemon olive oil over all. Garnish with lemon thyme.
* Follow the link for the Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread recipe.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Creamed Honey on Toast! Begin today at the Farmers Market on a quest for liquid gold. This version of natural honey is thicker in consistency, lighter in color, and creamier than ordinary honey varieties. For one, it does not contain the noticeable sugar crystals that can often leave a grainy aftertaste. Trained beekeepers put more effort into this little delicacy but, in my opinion, it is worth the extra time and effort. Pick up a couple jars this summer. Store them at room temperature and they will be good until you scrape the bottom of the jars.
CREAMED HONEY ON TOAST
Artisan bread, sliced
Sea salt French butter
Choose a nice artisan bread for toasting. Slather on a tablespoon of sea salt French butter and watch it melt. Next, drizzle a generous swirl of creamed honey over the butter layer. Finally, top it off with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Peppy Parmesan Egg Toast! What do you get when you morph a Croque Madame with a BLT? The end result is a spot on open-faced healthy start for the day that will keep you energized for hours. Challenge yourself. Resist the temptation to take a fork and pierce the luscious center of the egg. The silky golden yolk may find you practically licking the plate clean. I won’t tell.
PEPPY PARMESAN EGG TOAST
4 slices thick bacon
2 slices rustic sesame bread
2 pats butter
4 slices Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
2 green onions
Sriracha Sauce to taste
Fry bacon to crisp. Drain on paper towels. Toast bread slices to golden brown. Butter each piece. Slice Parmesan cheese with diagonal pieces to cover toast. Later crispy bacon on cheese. Crack eggs into a small skillet treated with nonstick spray; cook until whites are set, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip without breaking yolk. Reduce heat for one minute longer. Remove from burner and carefully transfer fried eggs to Parmesan toast. Drizzle with Sriracha sauce to taste. Garnish with green onion snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Open-Faced Sammie! The popularity of open-faced sandwiches has been brewing since the 15th century, when it was typically eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper. Although the layers have changed, butter or cheese remain the favorites as spreads, plus any combination of meat and vegetables. This is where your personal palate comes in. Or, perhaps whatever you have on hand in the refrigerator. Gardens abound with peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. But don’t limit yourself there. I find avocados to be perfectly satisfying, especially with a crispy slab of applewood smoked bacon. Like I said, the choice is yours. One thing is for certain, it’s definitely easier to eat an open faced sandwich with a fork and knife.
2 slices pumpernickel rye bread, artisan-style
1 tablespoon sea salt butter
3 slices Swiss cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 ripe avocado, pitted and mashed
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tomatillo, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon Everything But Bagel seasoning
Toast artisan pumpernickel rye bread. Butter with sea salt. Place 1 1/2 slices of Swiss cheese on each piece of toast. Microwave on High 15 seconds to melt cheese. Layer with 1 1/2 slices crisp bacon. In a small bowl, combine mashed avocado, lime juice, and garlic powder. Mix well. Fold in chopped tomatillo. Spread over each sandwich. Place two tomato slices over avocado mixture. Spoon chopped hard-boiled egg pieces over tomatoes. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Makes two open-face sandwiches.
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
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
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Angel Hair Pasta Partners! When you’re short on time and need things at your fingertips, turn to this quick weeknight dinner option. You’ll appreciate the convenience without sacrificing flavor. The texture is pleasing and the presentation is reward enough. Make this and you’ll be able to put your feet up and enjoy the evening.
ANGEL HAIR PASTA
6 ounces angel hair pasta, uncooked
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 green pepper, cut up chunks
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
16 Italian-style meatballs, fully cooked
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Cook and drain pasta per package directions. As pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and green peppers. Cook 2 minutes until tender; remove from heat. Stir in Roma tomatoes and meatballs. Return to low heat and warm through. Add drained pasta and gently toss with basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Serve pasta meal sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Add a side of crusty garlic toast.