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.

Korean Pork Tacos

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Korean Pork Tacos! Once you get a taste for spicy food, the cravings thrive. That doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring, to say the least. Be creative. I like corn tortillas so I transformed an ordinary pork loin into slightly hot Korean tacos. Forego the kimchi and traditional greens by substituting with crispy broccoli strips and shredded carrots. Fresh cilantro and green onions add zest, not heat. Trust me, this recipe is not “burn your lips off” hot, it’s just more balanced between flavor and spice.

KOREAN PORK TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound pork loin, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup ground fresh chili paste

1 tablespoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

Corn tortillas, warmed

10-ounce bag broccoli and carrot slaw

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, dried garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, green onions, and yellow onions in a bowl. Add pork chunks, mixing well to coat. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and marinate for 2-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Be sure the meat is no longer pink in the center. Lower heat and shred pork with two forks. Simmer to absorb liquid to enhance flavor. For coleslaw, mix broccoli and carrot blend with mayonnaise. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fill bottom half of corn tortillas with coleslaw. Top with shredded pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Kooky Cucumber Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Kooky Cucumber Salad! Does anyone really count the number of daily servings of vegetables recommended for a healthy diet? I know I don’t. And I suspect I’m not in the minority. What I do pay attention to is how appealing food looks on the plate. It’s one of the reasons I have a Spiralizer among my kitchen utensils. Besides, it takes minimal effort to make ordinary foods look this good. The fact that I’m maintaining a low fat, low carb, and low calorie intake just gives me all the more reason to splurge on something sweet later on. Call me crazy, or call me “kooky”.

KOOKY CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, halved

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped for garnish

Instructions:

Spiralize half the cucumber with the apple core attachment, for wider strips. Spiralize the remaining cucumber half with the noodle attachment, for spaghetti-like spirals. Arrange cucumbers in a serving bowl. Top with chopped tomatoes and red onion slices. Add Kalamata olives. Whisk together olive oil and garlic red wine vinegar. Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano.

Arugula Cherry Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Arugula Cherry Salad! Handpicked cherries, at the peak of ripeness, set the stage for an appealing salad that is sure to be delightful. Don’t have an orchard nearby? No worries. Check the local Farmer’s Market, fruit stand, or supermarket for the season’s bounty. Timing is everything. You’ll want to have enough ripe cherries on hand to pair later with wine and perhaps a little chocolate. Spoiler Alert: I’ve set aside a portion of juicy red cherries to feature in a decadent dessert. Stay tuned.

ARUGULA CHERRY SALAD

Ingredients:

6 ounces baby arugula

16 ripe cherries, stems removed and pitted

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

1 tablespoon tarragon, leaves only

1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

4 ounces Bleu cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

After the pits are removed, cut the cherries in half. Combine arugula, cherries, almonds, and tarragon in a large bowl. Toss gently. In a small bowl, whisk together sherry cooking wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Drizzle over salad and gently toss. Divide into serving bowls. Finish with Bleu cheese crumbles over top. Serve immediately.

Sipping Sangria

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Sipping Sangria! The weather is great, the weekend is here. Get ready to party. Psst. Wine lovers lean in. This crowd-pleasing punch can be thrown together beforehand since the flavor gets better with time. Choose your favorite dry red wine. No worries. It’ll sweeten up from the chopped fruit, juices, and agave nectar. Hold the fizziness until just before serving. The colors are not only festive but invigorating. Then sit back, cool off, and sip away.

SIPPING SANGRIA

Ingredients:

5 cups dry red wine

1/2 cup apricot brandy

1/2 cup orange liqueur

1 1/2 cups blood orange juice

1/4 cup grenadine

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 cups sparkling water or carbonated beverage

1 lime, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 orange, sliced

1 apple, cut in wedges

Grapes for garnish

Instructions:

In a large pitcher, combine dry red wine, apricot brandy, orange liqueur, blood orange juice, grenadine, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice, and fresh lime juice. Stir well. Add lime, lemon, orange slices and apple wedges. Refrigerate for one hour. Before serving, add sparkling water. Stir. Fill stemmed glasses with ice, add sangria, and garnish with fruit.

New Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: New Potato Salad! If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the French have it going on! The more I explore their recipes, the more I feel like a gourmet chef. You can, too. Trust me. When I tell you I’m going to have you make potato salad by skipping the mayo, just pretend you didn’t hear me and forge ahead. The results are worth it. Don’t make a big deal when you serve it as a side dish. You’re husband will do that for you. Husband-tested, rave reviews!

NEW POTATO SALAD

1 pound red-skinned new potatoes

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup celery hearts, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh chervil, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Place quartered potatoes, skin on, in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Add sea salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15-20 minutes. For dressing, combine olive oil, garlic red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. Whisk until blended. When potatoes are cooked, drain well. Transfer them to a bowl to cool. Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Add celery and chervil, gently folding to blend flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature.