Vine Tomato Relish

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Vine Tomato Relish! Here’s a farm fresh recipe that can be substituted for a side salad, vegetable accompaniment, or sandwich condiment. I’ve even used it in pasta salad as well as on homemade pizza instead of marinara sauce. It’s that versatile. The fact that tomato relish is chunky makes it appealing no matter how you serve it. The herbs and spices enhance the flavor of the garden tomatoes making it a tasty treat that will surprise you. Keep a jar in the refrigerator and watch it disappear.

VINE TOMATO RELISH

Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes on the vine, halved and stems discarded

2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Italian spices

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine cherry tomato halves, red onions, and green onions. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian spices, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle vinaigrette over tomato mixture. Lightly toss. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Grill Pan Kabobs

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Grill Pan Kabobs! Sooo, what do you have for dinner when you plan on kabobs, but can’t find the skewers among all the kitchenware you’ve unpacked during the recent move? The answer: Improvise, by using a grill pan. After all, once the ingredients are cooked and presented for dinner, everyone grabs a fork to “shish” the food off the skewer onto the plate anyway. I see your eyes glazing over as you nod your head in agreement. Focus. The end result is still phenomenal. Now dig in. Your tummy will thank me.

GRILL PAN KABOBS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pound beef tenderloin, cut into chunks

1/2 pound chicken tenderloin, cut into cubes

1 red onion, cut into wedges

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, stems removed

4 ounces cherry tomatoes

Instructions:

In a measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, dry mustard, thyme, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper. Place the beef tenderloin chunks and chicken tenderloin cubes in a large zip-lock plastic bag. Pour half the marinade mixture into the bag, seal, shake, and refrigerate for one hour. Set aside remaining marinade for basting sauce while grilling. Preheat gas grill to 500°. Remove beef and chicken pieces from bag; discard marinade. Allow beef and chicken to “rest” at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Transfer beef chunks, chicken cubes, red onion, green pepper, red pepper, mushroom caps, and cherry tomatoes onto a large grill pan that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Brush kabobs with reserved marinade. To cook medium-rare steak kabobs (charred exterior, pink center), place the grill pan on the hot grill. Chicken tenderloins will cook in the same amount of time, with edges turning white. Close the lid to retain heat temperature. Set timer for 5 minutes. Then using a long-handled tongs, flip, rotate, and move larger pieces of beef and chicken on the grill pan to be in the center of the flame. Vegetables will char faster than the meat. Watch carefully. Cook the kabobs an additional 5 minutes, with the lid closed. Once finished, remove grill pan and turn off the grill. Allow food to “rest” for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Kumquat Cilantro Salsa

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Kumquat Cilantro Salsa! For those of you who love the taste of oranges, but hate the idea of peeling the skin, let me introduce you to its distant cousin. The Kumquat; native to Southeast Asia. It’s about the size of an olive and can be either round or oblong. But here’s the best part: you can eat the outer skin. No peeling required. The kumquat has a sugary sweet citrus flavor that makes your taste buds boomerang between sour and tangy. Please note, there are tiny seeds, much like those in a grape, so you can either eat them or remove them.

KUMQUAT CILANTRO SALSA

Ingredients:

1 pound kumquats, washed and sliced with seeds removed

1 Roma tomato, diced

1/2 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Tortilla Corn Chips

Instructions:

Make sure the skin of the kumquat is blemish-free and not dimpled. Discard if necessary. In a bowl, combine sliced kumquats, diced tomato, sweet onion slices, and chopped cilantro. Gently toss. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and sea salt. Drizzle over kumquat mixture. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve with tortilla corn chips.

Iceberg Lettuce Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Iceberg Lettuce Salad! Generally speaking, we all become pretty accustomed to grocery prices in our home town. We know, when it comes to produce, we can expect to pay a little more for berries than bananas. Just like the many varieties of leafy greens. Typically, spinach, kale, and romaine are always way more than iceberg lettuce. Right? So recently while visiting Kauai, knowing that a lot of food is imported, I made the decision to make some compromises. I picked up a head of iceberg lettuce listed at $3.99. In the States it’s around $1.49 a head. Okay. When I checked out, the register rung up $6.00. Imagine the sticker shock. Come to find out, the sign actually said iceberg lettuce was $3.99 a pound. Let me tell you, I stretched that head of lettuce over many meals and savored every bite.

ICEBERG LETTUCE SALAD

Ingredients:

3 leaves of lettuce, gently torn

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1 green onion, snipped

2 tablespoons Caesar dressing, prepared

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

1/8 teaspoon oregano

Instructions:

Divide the gently torn lettuce leaves between two salad plates. Arrange chopped tomatoes over lettuce. Using a kitchen shears, snip the green onion pieces over top. Drizzle with salad dressing. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and oregano. Serve chilled.

Grass-Fed Beef Tostadas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Grass-Fed Beef Tostadas! If you like the taste of corn tacos, the tostada is a distant cousin. Basically, one is folded, the other is flat. Brushed with oil, then “toasted” crisp, the tostada is made to hold the toppings. This recipe allows you to bend the tortilla if you prefer to eat it that way. Whatever falls onto the plate can be scooped back up into your mouth. No judgment here. Now, about grass-fed beef. It’s going to cost a little more per pound due to the lack of fat content, compounded by the extra time it takes to fatten the cow. Grain makes cows get fat faster, just like it does for humans. I like grass-fed because it is more nutritious with heart-healthy omega 3s plus vitamins. It’s all about the choices we make.

GRASS-FED BEEF TOSTADAS

Ingredients:

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

1 packet fajita seasoning dry mix

1/3 cup canola oil

8 corn tortillas

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, gently torn

1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Fresh cilantro, leaves only

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250°. Because grass-fed beef has a lower fat content, steaming it is a good option. In a medium skillet, cover the bottom with water. Crumble the ground beef into the water. Set the stovetop temperature to medium-high. Break up any large clumps. Allow the water to boil. Stir the meat to cook evenly. Turn often. When the meat is brown, it is done. Drain the cooked ground beef using a strainer. Dispose of water and grease. Return ground beef to the pan. Sprinkle with fajita seasoning mix. Stir well to coat. Have the burner on lowest setting to keep warm. Spray a shallow skillet with nonstick oil. Set heat to medium-high. Brush one side of corn tortilla with canola oil. Place oiled side down in skillet. Brush the remaining side with canola oil. Fry the shell until golden for 30 seconds to a minute per side. This makes the shell fairly stiff. If the pan begins to smoke, lower the heat setting slightly. Remove the tortilla and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Keep tortillas warm in the oven. Repeat process with remaining tortillas. To assemble, begin with a fried tortilla. Layer with iceberg lettuce, seasoned ground beef, chopped tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with guacamole and salsa.

Angus Beef Burger

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Angus Beef Burger! Anyone who is a beef-eater understands that when meat has a high level of marbling, it keeps it moist for longer when cooking. Why is marbling important, you wonder? Because the fat ratio is scattered throughout creating juicy, tender, and more flavorful results. Long story, short, angus beef means better burger. No one wants a hockey puck for a hamburger. Right? Although it may cost a little more per pound, the end results are worth it.

ANGUS BEEF BURGER

Ingredients:

1 pound Angus beef, ground

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Lettuce, tomato, bacon and condiments as desired

Instructions:

Preheat a gas grill on High temperature. Form the ground beef into four equal portions. Season both sides of each patty with sea salt and black pepper. Brush the burgers with olive oil. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes until brown and slightly charred. Flip over. Do not press down to release juices! Cook 4 minutes longer, for medium rare, until golden and charred. Grill longer for desired results. Assemble the burgers on toasted buns. Add fixings and condiments to taste. Serve immediately.

Feta Morning Fried Egg

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Feta Morning Fried Egg! Thank goodness this is a healthy way to begin my day. Honestly, I think I might be seriously addicted to it. Remember when your kids were little and could go days eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches? We’d roll our eyes as the pediatrician assured us they would be fine. “It’s a phase”, he’d say, “You’ll see.” And he was right. My kids grew up to be healthy, active teens, and so on. But I’m an adult. And I’ve been making this breakfast for 3 weeks now. Granted, the avocados are in abundance along with the price of eggs being so affordable I feel as though the grocery store is practically paying me to take them home. Do me a favor, try this recipe yourself and give me your feedback. I’d like to know it’s just not me going through a midlife crisis.

FETA MORNING FRIED EGG

Ingredients: (Serves two)

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread, toasted and buttered

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

2 eggs, sunny side up

1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

2 tablespoons herbed feta cheese, crumbled

1 Roma tomato, sliced

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Green onion, for garnish

Instructions:

While quinoa bread is toasting, cook two eggs in melted butter or nonstick oil, over medium heat, according to taste. Set aside. Butter toast. Divide avocado slices between toast. Slide cooked egg onto avocado toast. Sprinkle with herbed feta cheese. Garnish with green onion strips. Serve with sliced Roma tomatoes sprinkled with Italian seasoning.

Basil Pesto Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Basil Pesto Pasta! I’m tired. And I’m hungry. What in the world can I cook for dinner that doesn’t take forever? But I want the taste to make me feel like I’m someone special. First of all, go over to the wine rack and open a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Pour a little into a stemmed glass. Swirl and take a sip. This will put you in the mood. The wonderfully sweet herbal notes of the fresh basil will complement the flavor of the wine. Plus, the olive oil and parmesan cheese in the pesto sauce enhance the richness of fruit in the Cab. Take another sip. Now let’s get started. (Footnote: Obviously if you already have a jar of your favorite Basil Pesto in the kitchen pantry, you’re one step ahead.)

BASIL PESTO PASTA

Ingredients:

10.5 ounce package of cherry tomatoes

12 large basil leaves

1/3 cup almonds, slightly toasted

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 pound spaghetti

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Combine cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, toasted almonds, garlic clove, and kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse to blend into a fine purée. Scrape the sides and turn the processor on Low setting. Slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture in a continuous stream. The pesto will thicken nicely. Set aside. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, according to package directions. Drain well. Transfer spaghetti to a bowl. Quickly toss with pesto sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over all. Garnish with basil leaves.

Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Vine-Ripened Tomato Pie! Oddly enough, I’ve had a couple people tell me they’ve never heard of tomato pie. It may be more of a southern dish, or perhaps its more familiar to those of us who live in the country and can’t figure out what to do with the abundance of garden tomatoes. Who knows? I must admit there is a secret ingredient that I discovered from the Savannah restauranteur and popular chef, Paula Deen. Maybe you can pick it out, too.

VINE-RIPENED TOMATO PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared deep-dish pie shell

4-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup mayonnaise

Cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pie shell according to package directions. Remove from oven and set aside. In a bowl, combine sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Allow tomatoes to “weep” for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seasoned tomatoes to the pie shell. Layer sweet onion over tomatoes. In another bowl, combine mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and parmesan cheese with mayonnaise. Mix well. Spread cheese mixture over top of tomatoes and onions. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.