Donut Strawberry Shortcake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Donut Strawberry Shortcake! Whether you celebrate your own version of “Doughnut Day” or stick to the declared ones on the national calendar twice a year, here is one more reason to indulge yourself. Transform an ordinary glazed donut into a strawberry shortcake. Begin with a delicious deep-fried glazed doughnut, bakery-fresh. Slice it horizontally to remove the top. Ladle on the ripe and juicy strawberries. The fruit filling is nothing but fresh strawberries mixed with a little sugar. For a thicker sauce simply warm a spoonful or two of strawberry jam and stir. Cover the strawberry layer with a luscious blanket of whipped cream. Replace the top and add more berries, if desired. Perhaps now you, like me, see no reason to wait until the declared holidays roll around.

DONUT STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

Ingredients:

4 glazed cake donuts, split lengthwise

1 pound fresh strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1-2 tablespoons strawberry jam, warmed

1 cup heavy cream, cold

1/2 cup Greek yogurt, cold

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and warmed jam. Partially mash some of the berries. Gently stir; rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, make whipped cream. Combine heavy cream and Greek yogurt. Whip 4-5 minutes until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whip 1 minute longer until fluffy. Place each donut on a dessert plate. Remove top. Fill with strawberry mixture, then whipped cream. Replace top; spoon additional strawberries over donut hole. Serve immediately.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Chive Blossom Vinegar! Dress up fresh salads and garden vegetables with homemade chive blossom vinegar. Splash it on fish fillets or french fries. You can even add a tablespoon to potato salad and deviled eggs. Do you see where this is going? Infused vinegars, especially from your own garden, promise to elevate the taste buds with just a hint of subtle flavor. The ever-so-mild essence of chives releases a delicate sweet onion flutter that balances on the palate like a gracefully poised ballerina. Have I piqued your interest?

CHIVE BLOSSOM VINEGAR

Ingredients:

12 purple chive blossoms

1 cup rice vinegar

Small jar with lid, sterilized

Instructions:

Wash freshly cut chive blossoms. Plunge them upside down into a bowl of cold water, holding by the stems. Swish around to dislodge dirt or insects. Pour out water and repeat 3 more times. Pat blossoms dry with a paper towel. Snip off each blossom; discard stem. Pack blossoms loosely to fill the jar. Set aside. Warm vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, 3-4 minutes. Pour hot vinegar over blossoms to fill jar. Secure lid. Store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Strain out blossoms and discard. Place strained vinegar in another sterized jar. Store in refrigerator.

Bacon and Egg Mac ‘n Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Bacon and Egg Mac’n Cheese! Grab onto your seat because this dish is going to leave you shouting to the rooftops like a kid on a tire swing. Remember how everyone in the neighborhood would congregate around the sturdy oak, count to three, and then pile on the tire like a bunch of monkeys? The biggest guy was always left behind to spin it around like a giant top before grabbing the rope and jumping aboard. The peals of laughter echoed around the block and seemed to go on forever. It’s a wonder the branch didn’t break, or worse.

BACON AND EGG MAC ‘N CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 cup bow tie pasta

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

3 slices American cheese

1/4 cup feta cheese

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

4 strips precooked bacon, crumbled

2 tablespoons red peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs, fried according to preference

2 green onions, snipped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 individual casserole pans with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Add the drained pasta and skim milk. Stir. Add cheddar cheese, American cheese, feta cheese, and parmesan cheese. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Fold in crumbled bacon and chopped red peppers. Divide between the two casserole pans. In a small dish, combine panko seasoned bread crumbs and olive oil. Stir to moisten. Sprinkle over top. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the eggs, according to preference. Remove the casserole pans from the oven. Place one fried egg on top of each. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

April’s Potato Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: April’s Potato Salad! For years whenever I made a six-hour road trip to visit my best friend, April, I would request her famous potato salad. Upon arrival, between hugs and laughter, we’d eventually meander to the front porch with a couple of ham sandwiches and a plate of homemade potato salad. As we’d sit there gazing out over cornfields at sunset, I’d inhale the intoxicating scent of juicy sweet corn, the pleasant odor of dewy stalks, humid green earth, and maybe even a touch of honey from waning wildflowers. I probably said the same thing over and over every year, “Life doesn’t get any better than this.”

APRIL’S POTATO SALAD

Ingredients:

7 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

Instructions:

Boil potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Set aside. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, yellow mustard, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. In a large bowl, add cooked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, chopped celery, and chopped onions. Toss to combine. Pour mayonnaise mixture over all. Coat well. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

Elevated Edibles

You don’t need to go to a culinary school to step up cooking at home. By changing or adding a couple simple things in the way you prepare food, you can elevate the results from ho-hum to spectacular. There is no magic wand to wave or nose to twitch that guarantees creations like a celebrity chef, but then again we’re talking about feeding your family. That simply translates to taste-testing as you cook. I remember watching my grandma do exactly that. She’d say, “Trust your instincts,” as she’d sip the tomato sauce off the end of a wooden spoon. If you are aware your partner gags at the thought of mushrooms in a sauce, then forget the idea and tweak the recipe to make it work for you. Just remember to balance out the five basic flavors: sweet, salty, spicy, savory, and acidity. That’s half the battle. And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Elevated Edibles!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement.

Zucchini Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Zucchini Brownies! There’s only one reason you ever need to mention the title of this dessert, and that is to avoid a food allergy to zucchini. Honestly, most people will raise their nose and never give it a chance if they know it’s in there. You cannot taste it. To prove it, I served this sweet treat to adults as well as kids. I heard comments like, “That fudge is super amazing!” These brownies are truly rich and fudgy, not to mention packed with healthy nutrients. Go for it.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time for one minute each, until the mixture is light and creamy. Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until just blended together. Fold in the grated zucchini. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Brownies are done when center is set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with tiny crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Yellow Cheddar Potato Rounds

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Yellow Cheddar Potato Rounds! Who likes potatoes? I do, I do. Buy a bag of potatoes and you’ll never go hungry, I always say. The versatile potato is a chef’s marvel. It can be baked, fried, mashed, hashed, creamed into soups, stirred into casseroles, and even eaten raw. Add a sharper-flavored cheese and you can reach a perfect combination that will make a strong soul swoon. This is why we cook at home, we remind ourselves. It’s simply rich and made fresh. Enjoy, my peeps.

YELLOW CHEDDAR POTATO ROUNDS

Ingredients:

1/2 pound russet potatoes, skin on, washed, and sliced 1/2” thick

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon rosemary leaves

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

3 chives, snipped

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss sliced potatoes with melted butter. Coat well. Arrange buttered potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic and herb seasoning, sea salt, and rosemary leaves. Bake potatoes 20 minutes; flip and bake 10 minutes longer. Top potato rounds with shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with fresh chives and rosemary sprigs.