What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Luscious Lavender Puff Cookies! Before we begin, let me assure you, baking the cookies for 45 minutes per batch, IS NOT a misprint. Dried lavender buds as well as lavender extract can be found at farmers markets, organic health food stores, or your local co-op. (I went one step further and made my own lavender extract from dried buds, which took longer to ferment.) I also have the convenience of a nearby Amish community as a resource for dried herbs and spices. These cookies are definitely worth the effort. Put on a pot of coffee or tea…. and enjoy!
LUSCIOUS LAVENDER PUFF COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lavender buds
1 teaspoon lemon citrus peel, granulated
1 teaspoon lavender extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 cups flour
Powdered Sugar for rolling
Lavender buds for garnish
Preheat oven to 300°. Beat butter until soft. Crush lavender buds in sugar using a mortar and pestle; then combine sugared lavender buds with butter. Blend until creamy. Mix in citrus peel, lavender extract, and lemon extract. Add pecans, flour, and salt to butter mixture. Combine thoroughly. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, then place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 45 minutes or until set, but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar to coat when cookies are still slightly warm. Sprinkle with dried lavender buds. Cool completely on wire rack.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Kauaiian-Rub Pork Medallions! Natural Pacific sea salt, combined with herbs and spices, lock in flavor for the most tender cut of grilled pork you’ve ever tasted. Don’t scrimp on the cut; it’s worth a little extra cost since there is no fat, no bones, and absolutely no waste.
KAUAIIAN-RUB PORK MEDALLIONS
2-3 pound Pork Filet Mignon, sliced in 3/4″ portions
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons soybean seasoning sauce
1-2 tablespoons Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Rub*
Marinate at room temperature sliced medallions in a shallow dish with olive oil, soybean seasoning sauce, and gourmet rub on both sides of the pork. Preheat the outdoor gas grill to 500°. Place the tenderloins on the non-stick grate and lower the lid. The temperature should remain around 450°. After 4-5 minutes, turn medallions over, close lid, and grill for 5 minutes longer. To check for doneness, the internal temperature will register at 150°. Remove medallions and let them rest for 5 minutes in order for the juices to draw back inside.
*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. (I receive no recompense for promoting their product.)
“Our character is what we do
when we think no one
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Carry out a random act
of kindness, with no expectation
of reward, safe in the knowledge
that one day someone might do
the same for you.”
~ Princess Diana
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.
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
Pinch of sea salt
*May be substituted for water.
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Indian Couscous with Saffron! This side dish is wonderful to have with poultry instead of potatoes or stuffing. I like its versatility because it doesn’t weigh me down, but offers appealing flavor. You can add or subtract herbs and vegetables to your heart’s delight, choosing what you have on hand. I tend to serve it warm rather than cold. Others make a meal out it. Either way, it’s very economical as well as exotic.
INDIAN COUSCOUS WITH SAFFRON
1 cup couscous
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon chives, snipped
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons hot water
4 threads saffron
Dissolve saffron in hot water. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan, combine chicken broth, olive oil, parsley, turmeric, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, celery, and carrots. Add saffron mixture. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous. Cover and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Couscous will be tender. Fluff with fork. Add the snipped chives and pine nuts. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Holy Capers-Salmon Avocado Toast! Whenever I have leftover grilled salmon, this is my favorite indulgence. The first time I made it, my husband and I literally stood at the kitchen counter nibbling on it until it was completely gone. Each morsel had us licking our fingers and begging for more. The combination of lemon thyme and salty capers balance the slightly smoky texture of the salmon. It’s followed by a crunch of sesame seed artisan toast with a creamy avocado finish. If you take the time to sit down and enjoy this delightful open-face sandwich, think about pairing it with a light and fruity rosé wine. It’ll tickle your palate and have you giggling all afternoon or evening long.
HOLY CAPERS-SALMON AVOCADO TOAST
6 ounces of grilled salmon fillet, flaked
Sprigs of fresh lemon thyme
2 teaspoons imported capers, non-pareil
2 slices of sesame artisan bread, toasted
1 small avocado, mashed
1 small tomatillo, diced
Pinch of garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Make sure the grilled salmon fillet is flaked. Set aside. Combine the mashed avocado, diced tomatillos, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a bowl. Blend well. To assemble the open-face sandwich, place the toasted artisan sesame slice on a luncheon plate. Next spoon avocado mixture over top. Layer flaked salmon over all. Sprinkle with capers and garnish with lemon thyme.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Giddyup Gazpacho! Yee-haw! Get set to gather the bounty of your garden because this dish has quite a variety of appetizing vegetables! You’ll experience an explosion of flavor in every mouthful. Gazpacho is one of those mysterious soups that is meant to be eaten COLD. Sound bizarre? I know, right! Trust me, the fusion of wholesome produce is unsurpassed. And the temperature is perfectly refreshing this time of year.
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1/2 cup baby carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
2 cups 100% vegetable juice, low sodium
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the top of the list to the bottom. Stir well. The vegetable juice is added last so you can determine the consistency of the soup. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Five-Minute Grilled Steak! In the time it takes to caramelize the onions, you can have a no-fuss mouth-watering T-bone steak. Make sure the steak is Choice beef from the loin and rib so it will taste tender and juicy. It has a little less marbling, but is well-suited for the dry heat of a gas grill. I gave my sliced onions a head-start by microwaving them for 2 minutes on high while the grill was preheating.
FIVE-MINUTE GRILLED STEAK
1 pound USDA Choice T-bone steak, 1/2″ thick at room temperature
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced
1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon butter
Instructions for Grilling Steak:
First of all, let me clarify that my husband and I prefer steak to be cooked Medium Rare, which is seared on the outside and pink in the middle.
Salt and pepper both sides of the steak while the gas grill is preheating from 450°-500°. At this time sprinkle the steak with garlic powder as well. The salt begins to draw out a little bit of moisture which makes the steak sizzle when it hits the grill grate, sealing in the flavor. For accuracy in grilling, my husband sets the timer on his cell phone, which is quite handy. Grill the T-bone steak for 2 1/2 minutes on one side before flipping over for the remaining 2 1/2 minutes. The finished steak will be medium-rare. Now this is the most difficult part. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The juice will reabsorb back into the steak to give you that moist and meaty taste.
Meanwhile, in Gail’s Kitchen the microwaved onion slices have been transferred to a medium skillet on the stove. They continue to sauté on medium high heat in the olive oil and seasoned salt. Turn and coat the onions without allowing them to burn. If necessary, reduce the heat. The onions will brown as they cook down. The rich flavor and caramelized color are the results of allowing the onions to breathe and have room to finish. When this happens, I add a tablespoon of butter for additional flavor.