Beef and Noodles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Beef and Noodles! I decided to take the day off from cooking so I tag-teamed with Le Creuset. All the ingredients went into the enameled cast iron French oven pretty much all day. This reliable way of slow-cooking gave me the opportunity to spend time ironing tea towels and perusing my towering stack of current magazines. As the day wound down, the mouth-watering aromas filled the air and before I knew it, dinner was ready. The roast had basted in its own juices to blend with the herbs, wine, and vegetables for delicious results. Now leftover recipes will be a breeze. Well done!

BEEF AND NOODLES

Ingredients:

3 pound sirloin tip roast, frozen

1 can beef consommé

1/2 cup ginger beer

1 tablespoon Hawaiian Rub*

8 ounces homestyle noodles

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup red wine

1/4 cup cornstarch

Parsley sprigs

Instructions:

Place frozen sirloin roast in a Dutch oven with a lid. Add the can of beef consommé and ginger beer. Sprinkle Hawaiian Rub over roast. Cover. Put in oven and set the temperature to 225°. After six hours, add noodles and mushrooms. Bake covered 45 minutes longer. Remove pan from oven and ladle the roast drippings into a saucepan. It should be about 2 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil. Mix the red wine and cornstarch, stirring until smooth. Slowly stir into the roast drippings, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps. As gravy thickens, reduce heat to simmer. If necessary add water if it becomes too thick. Remove beef to a platter and shred, as needed. Return shredded beef to the noodle/mushroom mixture. Cover with gravy. Transfer to serving portions. Garnish each dish with parsley sprig.

* Hawaiian Rub is available from the Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts company. I get no recompense for mentioning this product in my recipe.

Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Feel the romantic rhythm of northern Italy in a tropical destination overlooking the beach. This is paradise on the island of Kauai. The food is true Italian cuisine, the wine from cellars across the world. Café Portofino, a family-owned business, offers fresh seafood and locally sourced vegetables as well as classic dishes. Notice the Red Beet Salad and Grilled Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, both celebration-worthy. Chat with the wait staff. Their friendly reception is warm and connected with deep-felt hospitality. For a memorable evening, especially bringing in the New Year, treat yourself to a taste of Italy.

Gruyère Onion Soup

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Gruyère Onion Soup! Everyone, sooner or later, falls in love with French Onion Soup, in my opinion. After all, who can resist the savory taste of caramelized onions, buttered croutons, and gooey melted cheese smothered in a beef broth that’s been splashed with a well-aged cognac? I wish I could tell you it’s as easy to make as opening a can of soup, but it isn’t. Don’t hate me. Let’s just say this…..if you are looking for an evening of mystery, romance, and excitement, then read on. This “soup de jour” may be the love potion that’ll woo the night away. Bon Appetît!

GRUYÈRE ONION SOUP

Ingredients:

3 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

10 ounces beef consommé

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

4 ounces Montamoré cheese, crumbled

Splash of cognac

4 slices baguette, toasted

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

4 slices Gruyère cheese

Parsley flakes to garnish

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, microwave sliced onions on HIGH for 2 minutes. In a large skillet, melt butter on low setting. Do not scorch. Layer onions over butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and Herbs de Provence. Cover and do not stir for 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir occasionally until onions are dark in color, another 10 minutes. Turn heat to High and add white wine and honey. Cook until wine is reduced and consistency is thick. Reduce heat to Simmer. Add apple cider vinegar, beef consommé, low-sodium chicken broth, and worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle soup into four oven-proof crocks placed on a heavy baking sheet. Add Montamoré crumbled cheese. Top with a splash of cognac. Place a toasted baguette slice on top of soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lay one slice of Gruyère cheese over each bowl, with corners slightly overlapping sides. Broil on High for 2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove carefully! Garnish with parsley flakes and serve immediately.

Garlic Butter Mussels

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Garlic Butter Mussels! One of the best ways to experience new foods is to be adventurous at your nearby market. By trying a quality product there first, you can decide if you might want to step out and either order it at a restaurant or perhaps, attempt to make it at home from scratch. That’s exactly what I did with this version of mussels. By making subtle changes that appeal to my palate, it turned my kitchen into a gourmet restaurant. Picture this, my husband was drawn indoors by the enticing aromas of garlic and seafood. I literally stood there at the stove in my bare feet feeding him fingertip morsels of aromatic mussels and herb-infused vermicelli. Talk about romantic!!!

GARLIC BUTTER MUSSELS

Ingredients:

16-ounce package mussels in garlic sauce, frozen*

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons white wine

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

4 ounces vermicelli

Sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Empty contents of mussels pouch into a deep saucepan and cover. Heat on high for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butter, white wine, and garlic to increase juice. Meanwhile, cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain. Return to pan. Add sea salt, olive oil, capers, basil, marjoram, and parsley. Mix well. Transfer vermicelli to individual serving pieces. Split mussels between them. (Serve in the shell.) Drizzle garlic butter wine sauce over all. Serve with crusty bread for dipping in juices.

*The rule of thumb for serving mussels is ALWAYS ensure mussel shells are fully opened before serving.

Jam Session

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Jam Session! This recipe guarantees to be music to your ears. For once, you can make a single jar of your favorite fruit jam without spending an entire day in the kitchen. Simply put: This recipe is an answer to a time-saving prayer. Adapt to whatever is in season. If your craving today is raspberry, or strawberry, or apricot, or peach, have a jam session in minutes.

JAM SESSION

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups fresh peaches; peeled, diced, and stone removed

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon white wine*

3 discs of spiced ginger, slivered

2 cinnamon sticks

1 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

*May be substituted for water.

Instructions:

Pulse half the peaches in a food processor to make the fruit chunky. Transfer to a 2-3 quart saucepan. Add remaining diced peaches, sugar, wine, ginger, and juice of half the lemon. Slice a section of the lemon with rind on, remove seeds, and drop it into the pan. You will fish it back out later. (The lemon is a natural thickening agent.) Add two cinnamon sticks. Mix well. Cook the peaches over medium-high heat at a boil. It should begin to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking until mixture becomes jam, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Before transferring to a jar, remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon wedge. Store in the refrigerator.

White Cheddar Bacon Risotto

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: White Cheddar Bacon Risotto! Risotto. Seeing it on the menu always makes my heart palpitate a little faster. I once asked a chef his secret to creamy risotto. He confessed he cooked it part way and froze it until a customer requested it that night. He said with a wink, “That way, I only have to stir it til half my arm falls off.” Thank goodness my rice cooker knows no difference. If you must know, I had more difficulty coughing up the cost for saffron threads, the most expensive spice in the world. Once I understood that it is grown around the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, and in India, I began to see why it was such a labor-intensive crop. Saffron comes from a Fall flower and it takes more than 80,000 crocus flowers to process one pound of saffron. Perhaps that is why the taste is worth the price.

WHITE CHEDDAR BACON RISOTTO

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup shallot, diced

1 cup Arborio rice

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add diced shallots. Sauté shallots and Arborio rice until translucent, about 5 minutes. In a rice cooker, add chicken broth, white wine, saffron threads, diced shallots, and Arborio rice. Close and lock the lid of the rice cooker. Turn the knob to “Pressure”. Set timer for 7 minutes. When done, release the pressure. Stir in white cheddar cheese, bacon, and parsley. Serve immediately.

Veal Scallopini Piccata

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Veal Scallopini Piccata! Did you know substituting pork cutlets for veal meat is a common practice? If the idea of a baby calf makes you squeamish, you will be delighted with that little bit of news. It’s all about the select few bull calves, but that’s a story for another day. Here again, we’re talking about a time-saving recipe. After all, we’re on the brink of Summer with daylight extending further into the evenings tempting us with outdoor activities that are much more pleasant that cleaning up the kitchen. This recipe calls for pork cutlets, lemon, capers, wine, and butter. Ah, now I have your attention.

VEAL SCALLOPINI PICCATA

Ingredients:

1 pound veal (or pork) cutlets, pounded 1/4” thick

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

14-ounce can chicken broth

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 tablespoon parsley

Instructions:

Warm 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. On a sheet of wax paper, combine flour, sea salt, and pepper. Dredge veal (pork) in flour; shake off excess. Add veal (pork) to skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter; set aside. Add wine to skillet. Cook, scraping bottom of pan until reduced by half. This will take approximately 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and lemon slices. Bring to boil. Cook 8 minutes longer. Add remaining butter, lemon juice, capers, and parsley. Return veal (pork) cutlets to pan. Coat with sauce. Serve immediately.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter V

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Very Berry Icy Sorbet! ‘Tis the season for an abundance of fresh fruit! This is the time to stock up on featured berries at the market. Pop them into freezer bags for easy storage. Later on, when looking for a refreshing dessert idea, combine the flavors of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries! The presentation is elegant as well as delicious. Because I prefer the difference in shades of red, I prepare each berry recipe individually.

VERY BERRY ICY SORBET

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries, slightly defrosted

1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon blackberry wine (optional)

Garnish: Whipped Cream

Instructions:

Using a food processor fitted with the metal blade, blend sorbet ingredients until smooth. Scrape sides as needed. Pour into a covered container and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Using a melon ball scoop, form bite size balls of assorted fruit flavors. Top with more fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.