What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Icebox Lemon-Lavender Pie! Are you ready for a decadent dessert that is light, luscious, and requires no baking? Take a trip with me down South, where the summers are balmy and the desserts are as cool and refreshing as a glass of southern iced tea. The dessert begins with a foolproof graham cracker crust, store-bought is fine. The filling is a blend of tart lemon and flowery lavender swaddled in a lush sweet creamy texture that literally melts in your mouth. Mix it all together and pop it in the freezer, although it won’t stay there for long.
ICEBOX LEMON-LAVENDER PIE
1 graham cracker crust
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lavender extract
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon citrus peel, granulated
1 tablespoon organic lavender buds, dried
Lavender sprigs for garnish
Chill prepared pie crust, stand mixer bowl, and beater beforehand. Mix sweetened condensed milk, lemon extract, and lavender extract on Low setting until blended. Add lemon juice and citrus peel, mixing until filling thickens and is smooth. Fold in lavender buds. Pour into chilled pie crust. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer, cut, and serve. Garnish with fresh lavender sprigs. Store leftovers in the freezer.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Harvest Snap Beans! If you’ve ever planted a garden, you already know how easily and quickly green beans are to grow. They produce so well, even a novice takes pride in their bounty. When it’s time to harvest, choose smooth green (or yellow) pods. Lumps are a sign of an overripe bean, which means it could be dried out or damaged inside. Be particular. You can always tell how fresh it is by the “snap” sound it makes when broken. Perhaps that’s why my aunt on the farm used to call them “snap beans”. Taste is everything.
HARVEST SNAP BEANS
1 pound frozen yellow wax and green beans, thawed
6 slices bacon; cooked and broken into chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange yellow wax beans and green beans in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle bacon pieces over beans. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and agave nectar. Mix well. Pour over green beans and bacon. Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Ginger-Orange Salmon Lettuce Cups! Is it an Appetizer or an Entrée? Both. Ginger paired with orange creates amazing flavor, not to mention health benefits galore. Adding grilled salmon for omega-3s is a bonus. But enough about that and back to the lettuce cup popularity. Anytime you cut down on calories, carbs, and gluten it adds up to guilt-free options. Mix things up with seasonal fruits, garden veggies, grilled seafood, and roasted meat for creative favorites. Anything goes!
GINGER-ORANGE SALMON LETTUCE CUPS
1 cup grilled orange-ginger grilled salmon, flaked
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon capers
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup mandarin oranges
Bibb lettuce leaves
Fresh chives, for garnish
Ground Pistachio nuts, for garnish
Grill ginger-orange salmon according to package directions. Flake salmon; set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese and horseradish until smooth. Gently fold in chopped dill, capers, and green onion. Spread onto Bibb lettuce leaves. Equally divide salmon over cream cheese mixture. Add mandarin orange slices. Garnish with fresh chives and pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Flaming Cherries Jubilee! Here’s a dessert that always leaves a nice impression. And why wouldn’t it? After all, it was specially prepared for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration in the late 1800’s. Hence the name. Begin with the season’s plump and juicy cherries found at the local Farmer’s Market or neighborhood grocery. Gently warm them in a sweet simple syrup. Add brandy and ignite for an amazing presentation. Then serve over bowls of ice cream. Super-simple yet super-delish!
FLAMING CHERRIES JUBILEE
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup cherries, stems and stones removed; halved
2 tablespoons brandy
Vanilla Ice Cream
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and lemon rind. Stir to dissolve sugar. Boil for 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens. Reduce heat to simmer, add cherries. Cook over low heat until fruit is softened. The syrup will turn color to match the cherries. Remove the lemon rind; discard. Add the brandy, but do not boil. Turn off stove. Flame the cherries with a kitchen torch. Using a spoon, baste cherries with liqueur and juices until the flames extinguish. Spoon over bowls of vanilla ice cream. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream! Before I begin, let me assure you this recipe does not require any special equipment other than a stand mixer. Truth. No ice cream maker is needed. It’s also done in stages. That means you can steep the tea and refrigerate it overnight before combining all the ingredients to store in the freezer. And the taste, you wonder? Bold, creamy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth smooth. Now let’s get started. You’re going to love this.
EARL GREY TEA ICE CREAM
2 cups heavy cream
2 Earl Grey Tea bags
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk*
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons natural honey
Be sure the mixing bowl, whisk, and loaf pan are chilled before using. (I placed mine in the freezer overnight.) Measure heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes on HIGH; just until little bubbles form around the edge of the bowl. Watch carefully. Do not allow the cream to boil or froth up. Remove from microwave. Immediately add tea bags to cream and cover. Steep the tea bags for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Place the covered bowl in the refrigerator until chilled or overnight. In the chilled bowl of the stand mixer, combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and natural honey. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the chilled loaf pan. Freeze 6 hours or overnight before serving.
*If the ingredients are warm, the mixture won’t thicken to desired texture. I put the can of sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator beforehand.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Dijon Deviled Eggs! Those who know me well fondly refer to me as a Francophile, someone who loves everything French. It goes all the way back to my school days when a sixth grade Social Studies teacher introduced the class to France, after having traveled there herself. From that moment on, it became a dream of mine to take a trip there someday. I studied the French language and Impressionist art. I admired the historical connection, the romantic countryside, and most of all the incredible food! Is it any surprise I chose to share today’s recipe of something a little French?
DIJON DEVILED EGGS
6 hard boiled eggs
1 tablespoon French Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon light cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1-2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
Fresh Basil for garnish
Once the eggs have cooled, remove the shells, and slice each egg in half lengthwise. Gently remove yolk and place in a bowl. Arrange the egg on a plate. Repeat until all eggs are divided. Lightly mash the egg yolks until crumbly, leaving a few chunks. Add Dijon mustard, Greek yogurt, light cream, mayonnaise, sea salt, and white pepper. Mix until almost smooth. Fold in a few red onion pieces. Spoon yolk mixture into egg halves. Garnish with chopped red onion and fresh basil snips. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Cincinnati “Cottage” Ham! W-h-a-a-a-t? When my husband requested something his mother used to cook that conjured up pleasant memories of his youth, I couldn’t refuse. He was raised in southwestern Ohio where traditional foods, like Cottage Ham, make up comfort food thrown together in one pot for a meal that practically makes your eyes roll back. Local butchers recognize the term since they’ve been using it for over a hundred years. Secret recipes include tender meat taken from the shoulder of the pig, salt-and-sugar cured, and then hickory wood-smoked. The name became popular in the 1800s because the Cottage Ham is small in size, just like a tiny house.
CINCINNATI “COTTAGE” HAM
2-3 pound smoked pork shoulder butt
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
Place cottage ham in a slow cooker. Cover with water. Add green beans, sea salt, black pepper, and onions. Cook on Low 8 hours. Add quartered red potatoes. Cook 2 hours longer. Cut ham into thick pieces with green beans and potatoes. Ladle juice over all. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Banana Toffee Pops! It’s no secret kids love bananas. Adults do, too. With the dog days of summer upon us, make a treat with frozen bananas. Turn them into tasty pops covered in sprinkles or throw them in the blender for a refreshing smoothie. Can’t make up your mind? Do both! 🐵Question: How do you get a monkey down the stairs? 🐒Answer: Have it slide down the banana-ster! 🍌🍌🍌Have a great day!
BANANA TOFFEE POPS
3 firm bananas, peeled and cut in half
6 popsicle sticks
8 ounces Greek yogurt
1/3 cup toffee pieces, slightly crushed
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. Set aside. Combine toffee pieces and mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle onto a sheet of wax paper. Once the banana is coated in yogurt, you will roll the banana in the toppings before placing on the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Peel bananas. Slice each banana in half. Insert one stick into the bottom end of a banana segment. Working one at a time, spread yogurt all over the banana until it is completely covered. Coat in candy pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat. When all six are complete, place baking sheet in the freezer. Freeze 4 hours or overnight. Keep treats frozen in storage bags until ready to serve.*
*Serving Suggestion: For smaller portions, slice bananas into 2″ chunks.