Dining Outside the Home: Giordano’s in Las Vegas, Nevada! Some things you just can’t rush, like world famous deep dish pizza. Made from a family recipe that originated in Torino, Italy, the “stuffed” version of Giordano’s pizza pie begins with a light and buttery focaccia-type crust. Next comes a layer of fresh veggies and savory meats. A thick layer of cheese is essential for gooey chewy goodness. Finally, an herbed tomato sauce is spread completely over the top before it is baked in a hot oven for almost an hour. Can’t wait that long? Order some cheesy garlic bread to nibble on in the meantime. Giordano’s pizza is definitely worth the wait.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Fondue Pizza Party! Revitalize the 1970s by throwing a fondue party. Gather up the dipping forks, where everyone chooses their favorite color. Remember, these forks are for spearing and dipping only. Never allow your guests to eat from the sharp pointed ends. Another reason eating from the fondue forks is a no-no is to avoid adding germs to the fondue sauce. So, set the table and let the fun begin!
FONDUE PIZZA PARTY
1 pound Italian meatballs, pre-cooked and ready-to-serve
8 ounces bite size dry salami or pepperoni slices
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 pound cherry tomatoes
8 ounces mozzarella sticks, cut into chunks
28-30 ounce jar pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce
Heat pizza sauce to boiling, then reduce to simmer, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Transfer to a fondue pot when ready to serve. Set on low heat to maintain a constant temperature. Arrange meatballs, pepperoni slices, green pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese chunks on one or two serving platters. Include breadsticks, crostini, or bagel chips as another option. Spear dippers with fondue forks or rosemary sprigs. Dip ingredients into the fondue sauce for pizza party magic.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup! One thing I love about Fall is the convenience of crockpot meals. Throw all the ingredients together, stir, and then forget about it for a few hours. Do something fun……and I don’t mean raking leaves or shelling walnuts. Take a nature walk, visit an apple orchard, choose a mum plant for your front door, photograph colorful pumpkins and gourds. You get the idea. Don’t let the season pass you by. Autumn is in full swing and Mother Earth has splattered the landscape with vibrant colors.
TEX-MEX TORTILLA SOUP
1 pound lean ground beef
20-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild flavor
10-ounce can diced tomatoes, zesty flavor
15-ounce can black beans, organic
15-ounce can corn, drained
15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
4-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
4-ounce packet ranch seasoning mix
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 green onions, snipped
1/3 cup sliced jalapeño peppers
Brown ground beef. Drain any liquid. Place ground beef, tomatoes (juice included), black beans, corn, kidney beans, taco dry seasoning mix, and ranch dry seasoning mix in a slow-cooker. Mix well. Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours OR on Low for 6-8 hours. Uncover. Ladle Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup into bowl and garnish with Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt, onion snips, and jalapeño pepper rings. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Oil & Vinegar Herbed Tomatoes! Be amazed at the rich and vibrant colors of autumn in this tantalizing harvest side dish of slow-roasted tomatoes. It may become love at first bite. Inspired by herbs from the south of France, first-press olive oil from the Italian countryside, and garden fresh tomatoes from local farms, this dish is sure to please. Don’t take my word for it. Be transformed.
OIL & VINEGAR HERBED TOMATOES
2 pints of tomatoes, assorted sizes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins sauce
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 375°. In a shallow dish, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Lee & Perrins sauce, herbs de Provence, kosher salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until incorporated. Cut the tomatoes in half from end to end. Place cut side down in the olive oil mixture. After a few minutes, turning cut side up, transfer tomatoes to an iron skillet. Arrange in a single layer. Drizzle extra olive oil mixture over all the tomatoes. Bake 20 minutes. Remove iron skillet from oven and snip fresh basil over the tomatoes. Bake 10 minutes longer or until tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Mint Leaf Peach Salad! Sliced peaches with creamy goat cheese medallions, OMG! This delightful salad is ideal for a light lunch, an afternoon brunch, or an early dinner. Indulging in the sweet tangy taste of a ripe, plump peach mixed with the nutty crunch of sugared pecans wrapped around medallions of earthy herbed goat cheese is like taking a bath in a tub of dairy rich cream. At first bite, you won’t mind being pampered. The fresh mint leaf garnish is like icing on a cake.
MINT LEAF PEACH SALAD
1 ripe peach, sliced with pit removed
4-6 cherry tomatoes; halved
2 ounces creamy goat cheese
1/4 cup sugared pecans, crushed
Fresh mint leaves
Cut ripe peach into 7-8 slices. Arrange in a pinwheel design on a salad plate. Cut cherry tomatoes and place seed side up around the peach slices. Crush sugared pecans on a sheet of waxed paper. Take a goat cheese slice and roll in nut mixture to coat; repeat. Arrange medallions on salad plate around the peaches. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Italian Bread Salad! Panzanella. Travel with me to Tuscany for a delightful dinner on a gardened terrace. Indulge in a bountiful salad of artisan bread, juicy tomatoes, sweet onions, and green bell peppers. Appreciate the herbs de Provence perfectly blended with garlic wine vinegar whisked in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s enough to make you swoon. The ingredients are very forgiving. Tomatoes a little soft? Has the bread gone stale? No worries. This classic Italian meal was originally meant to be eaten that way. It’s truly amazing!
ITALIAN BREAD SALAD
1-pound loaf artisan bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, crushed
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine garlic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 300°. Slice and cube the bread in bite-size pieces, leaving crusts on. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Form a single layer of bread cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Bake 10 minutes; flip over and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine garlic vinegar, and sea salt. In a large salad bowl, combine bread with tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Stir occasionally to blend flavors. Just before serving, gently toss with fresh basil. Add cracked black pepper to taste.
* Serving suggestion: Italian Bread Salad is best eaten the day it is made.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Cheesy Burrata! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Burrata cheese, allow me to tell you a little bit about it. Imagine a soft delicate layer of mozzarella cheese stretched thin like a piece of hand-formed pie dough. It is placed into a bowl so the center can be filled like a porcelain white water balloon. Inside is heavy cream as rich as butter and luscious cheese curds. The pouch is then tightly tied at the top to ensure maximum freshness. The taste is extraordinary. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes and swoon.
8 ounce Burrata cheese
Cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
Herbs de Provence
Sea salt to taste
Place the Burrata cheese on a platter surrounded by fresh basil and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Add a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence and sea salt to taste. Serve with crusty artisan breads or crackers.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Burrata Meatballs! Time is of the essence. You can either make your own homemade meatballs, or you can bypass one step and use a store bought variety like I did. I put my energy into the homemade marinara sauce simply because the results are between night and day, in my opinion. If you choose to use your favorite pasta sauce, be my guest. The focus today is actually on that incredible Burrata cheese! I think I could drown in a bathtub of Burrata and happily eat my way out of it. Don’t judge me.
1 pound Italian sausage-style meatballs, precooked
2 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes*
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
7 ounces mushrooms, sliced and drained
6 ounces Burrata cheese, chunks
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine crushed tomatoes, basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, and mushrooms. Simmer until sauce thickens. Add meatballs. Spoon marinara sauce generously over meatballs. Transfer portions to individual serving casseroles. Randomly place Burrata cheese between meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve Burrata Meatballs with garlic bread or spoon over pasta.
* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of San Marzano Certified Italian Tomatoes.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Splatter Pan Roasted Peppers! There’s something comforting about roasted vegetables. Perhaps it’s the amazing flavor as a result of dry oven heat. Ever notice that slightly caramelized texture? Sometimes it results in a toasted nutty-like flavor. Sweetness piques, especially in tomatoes. The soft brown garlic bulbs surprised me most of all. I mashed one against the roof of my mouth. The raw bitterness had been replaced with a savory sweetness that brought sheer pleasure to my taste buds. No wonder people say food can produce a seductive spark. Am I the last one to discover this about roasted garlic?
SPLATTER PAN ROASTED PEPPERS
3 green bell peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
24 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon basil, crushed
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a splatter pan with nonstick oil. Arrange green peppers, cut side up to fit. Brush the peppers, inside and out with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mozzarella cheese between peppers. Arrange cherry tomatoes so they fill each pepper “boat” to overflowing. As they roast the tomatoes will shrink in size. Tuck garlic cloves in between the tomatoes. Finish with capers. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle crushed basil over all. Bake 40-45 minutes. Allow roasted peppers to cool to room temperature before serving.