What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Fifteen-Bean Ham Bone Stew! This time of year the nights are chilly and the days can still be warm. A slow-cooker makes preparing a satisfying meal pretty simple. Throw everything together and let it “stew” for awhile. Nowadays you can get an assortment of 15 beans ranging from pinto, garbanzo, and northern to split pea, navy, and lentil in the same package. Add that ham bone you stored in the freezer during the holidays and you’re on your way. By adding sweet onion, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves, you’ll make this a classic favorite every time.
FIFTEEN-BEAN HAM BONE STEW
20-ounce package of 15 Bean Soup assortment
1 pound ham bone with ham chunks
32 ounces vegetable broth
32 ounces water
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4-5 bay leaves
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Rinse beans. Place in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water. Allow beans to soak overnight. After soaking, drain water. Transfer beans to a slow-cooker. Add ham bone with meat. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add chopped onion, chili powder, garlic powder, and bay leaves. Cook on High setting for 5 hours (or Low setting for 7-8 hours) or until beans are tender. Remove the ham bone. Let the excess meat fall off into the stew or cut it off the bone and put the meat chunks back into the crockpot. Stir in diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 minutes longer on Low setting. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Jicama Avocado Salad! Allow me to introduce you to the legume family. Jicama is a cousin to beans, peas, and lentils. It provides protein, which is important to everyone, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. Choosing foods that are beneficial to a healthy diet can keep a weekly menu from turning hum-drum and boring. Jicama can be prepared in any number of ways. Eating it raw is just one of them. Its taste slightly resembles a crispy red apple. Only recently I slathered peanut butter all over a slice as a variation from a celery stick. Jicama is also low-carb, if that’s important to you. Not a raw-veggie-kind-of-person? Slice ‘em up and make a batch of french fries. It works.
JICAMA AVOCADO SALAD
I large jicama
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
Zest of 2 limes
1 teaspoon Tajin seasoning
1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of 2 limes
Using a chef’s knife, slowly peel the thick skin of the jicama. Cut a thin slice at the top and bottom so the vegetable can keep from rolling. Working from top to bottom, slide the knife under the skin to remove the tough, fibrous outer covering. Rinse jicama and slice into matchsticks. Transfer to a bowl. Halve the avocado and remove pit. Scoop the flesh away from the skin. Chop avocado into bite-sized pieces. Add to the jicama sticks. Sprinkle with lime zest, Tajin seasoning, smoky paprika, and garlic powder. Squeeze lime juice over all. Add chopped cilantro leaves. Gently toss and serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai. Fusion food is spot on at Oasis on the Beach, an open-air restaurant a few steps from the ocean. This is Hawai’i, after all, where the fish is as fresh as the view is captivating. No humdrum menu here. One of the House specialties is the island catch-of-the-day, seared to perfection. Mmmm. Pair it with Thai curry spices blended into coconut milk for a fabulous sauce. Did you notice the farm-to-table veggie chunks to add flavor? Now you’re talking. Don’t forget a scoop of white rice. It’s a meal in a bowl that does not disappoint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Xenial Spinach Dip! Take a trip down Memory Lane with this hip 1970s all-star party staple. “I called it!”, shouted my best friend when asked to bring an appetizer to share. Maybe it was the presentation of carrying an artisan bread bowl into the room, or perhaps it was the “healthy” alternative to potato chips and onion dip, or it could have been the standing ovation it got from everyone who tasted it. Think about it….how fun is that to tear off a piece of crusty bread and slather it in creamy spinach mingled with a spicy crunch of water chestnuts. “I called it!”
XENIAL SPINACH DIP
1 pound artisan bread bowl
1 pint Greek yogurt
3 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
10 ounces mayonnaise
8 ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 package Swiss vegetable dry soup mix
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped
In a medium bowl, mix Greek yogurt, Neufchâtel cheese, and mayonnaise. Chill one hour. Add water chestnuts, package of Swiss vegetable dry soup mix, and uncooked spinach. Mix well. Chill one hour longer. Hollow out center of bread bowl. Fill with spinach dip. Serve with raw vegetables.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Unlimited Broccoli Tidbits! Here is a salad you can snack on over and over. It keeps for days in the refrigerator as the flavor intensifies. And because the broccoli is fresh, the crunch appeases the taste buds. By adding the sweetness of raisins and the saltiness of bacon, it soothes those unexpected cravings that sabotage even the strictest diet enthusiast. Go ahead, take a bite. Permission granted.
UNLIMITED BROCCOLI TIDBITS
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and stems
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup bacon bits, fully cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 envelope of Italian dry salad dressing mix
Combine broccoli tidbits, raisins, and bacon in a covered bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian dry seasoning mix in a glass measuring cup until blended. Pour marinade over broccoli mixture. Gently stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate salad for two hours. Spoon reserve marinade over salad before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Haricot Vert! From the French countryside to your spacious farm table, this international string bean (haricot vert) is an all-time favorite side dish that is worth the effort. The first savory bite will have you craving for a second one. Watch this specialty disappear.
1 pound green beans, fresh
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons pimento, diced
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Snap the ends of the green beans. Discard. In a medium skillet over low heat, combine butter and olive oil. Increase the heat to medium setting. Add garlic and onions. Cook one minute. Add green beans and cook one minute longer until they turn bright green. Immediately add chicken broth, pimento, seasoned salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Leave the lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. The beans should be soft, yet slightly crisp. Bon Appétit!
Dining Outside the Home: Tortilla Republic Kitchen and Margarita Bar in Koloa, Kauai. Picture this. The sun is super-bright and tropical-warm to the point where ducking into a Mexican cantina for a salt-rimmed margarita would have been a good idea about an hour ago. Nevertheless, the shade on the outdoor patio feels 10° cooler under the turquoise blue umbrella as the breezes are beginning to stir. The house margarita goes down easy on its way to an order of Quesadilla Vegetariano. I’m sure you get the picture. Complimentary tortilla chips and spicy salsa are perfect for snacking. This is a recipe for making my day.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Kohlrabi Fritters! I stumbled onto this odd shaped vegetable at the Farmers Market and was intrigued by the green spiked bulbous shape with its long leafy shoots. It reminded me of a turnip, but had the faint aroma of cabbage. After learning its name, I just had to try it. My mind was already thinking of its seasoned taste fried crisp in olive oil.
1 medium kohlrabi
1 small sweet potato
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 green onion
Olive oil for frying
Peel kohlrabi and sweet potato. Using a food processor, grate the kohlrabi, sweet potato, and yellow onion. It should equal 3 1/2 cups of shredded vegetables. Transfer to a bowl. Add seasonings, baking powder, and flour. Fold in the beaten eggs to coat well. Snip the green onion with kitchen shears and gently mix in. The fritters should stick together. Pour enough olive oil in a skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium high. Drop kohlrabi mixture by heaping spoonfuls into the oil. Pan fry 2 minutes without burning. Turn over and fry another 2 minutes. Watch! Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue making fritters until all mixture is used. Serve warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt and garnish with green onion snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Divine Duchess Potatoes! Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up when serving leftovers. Take mashed potatoes, for instance. By adding a few more ingredients, you can serve them again with first-class results that would make a Frenchman proud. With the holidays coming up, I find this recipe invaluable. I used leftovers from Gail’s Kitchen “Havarti Mashed Potatoes” recipe simply because it was quick and easy. Take a shortcut that treats your family like royalty.
DIVINE DUCHESS POTATOES
3 cups mashed potatoes*
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick oil. Combine mashed potatoes, egg yolks, and cream. Blend well. Transfer to a pastry bag or piping tool with a large star tip. Pipe and swirl upward to form a cone shape in each muffin cup. Brush with melted butter before baking 10 minutes. Switch oven to Broil for a golden brown finish. Watch carefully. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes before serving.
*Havarti Mashed Potato recipe was used for this preparation since it was seasoned with cheese and herbs. Please follow the link.