Violet Crostini

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Violet Crostini! Edible flowers are kind of a new thing for me this year. Everywhere I look, nature has exploded with beauty and color. Because I take special care in avoiding chemicals and pesticides in my herb garden and on the grounds, I can reap the benefits of sweet edible flowers high in vitamins. This recipe for Violet Crostini is one step up from an ordinary salad of mixed greens. By toasting a sesame artisan bread and slathering it with Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread, the salad greens and fresh violet petals create an open face sandwich or crostini. Top it off with a pretty, light purple edible chive blossom for a light onion taste. Doesn’t it look delicious?

VIOLET CROSTINI

Ingredients:

2-4 slices sesame bread, toasted

4 tablespoons Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread*

1 cup mixed salad greens

2 tablespoons violet petals

2 chive blossoms, stems removed

2 tablespoons lemon olive oil

2-4 sprigs lemon thyme

Instructions:

Toast sesame seed artisan bread. Spoon two tablespoons of Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread on each piece. Divide salad greens between the crostini. Top with violet petals and chive blossom. Drizzle lemon olive oil over all. Garnish with lemon thyme.

* Follow the link for the Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread recipe.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2016/06/10

Ultra Charcuterie Board

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Ultra Charcuterie Board! Feel gourmet at home by creating your own charcuterie board the next time you want to serve appetizers. Choose any smoked, dry-cured, or cooked meat to accompany a couple of mellow cheese selections. I like the Edam cheese for its sweet, nutty flavor. It’s nice to have fruit in the form of fresh, dried, or even preserves to balance out the saltiness of the meats. Don’t forget the pickles or olives, which provide a little tang to the palate. Keep the crackers or bread as plain as possible. You want everyone to focus on the flavor explosion going on in every bite. You can go all out and add chocolate morsels and nuts for nibbling. The best part is everyone wins! People pick and choose their own combinations and give you high praise for being such a genius!

ULTRA CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

5 ounces Old World pepperoni, sliced

3 ounces Old World prosciutto, sliced

7 ounce wheel of Edam cheese

8 ounces dried pitted dates

6 ounces mixed olives

10 ounces smoked almonds

1 bag of multi grain baguette slices

Instructions:

Arrange everything on one or two charcuterie boards. The pairing is up to each guest. As long as it is appealing, it definitely promotes conversation. Depending on how large a group you have will determine the number of options you choose. For larger groups I suggest crackers, jam, and spreadable cheeses as a nice complement to smoked meats and fresh fruit. Be creative. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh herbs.

Thai Peanut Noodles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Thai Peanut Noodles! Take advantage of that extra serving, or two, of leftover spaghetti noodles in the fridge right now. As long as you kept them separate from the sauce, you have the option to eliminate one step in making Thai Peanut Noodles to eat with a sandwich for lunch. If not, then boil up a batch of spaghetti first and let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. I like the spicy kick of red pepper flakes blended with the smooth creaminess of chunky peanut butter. The fresh green onion bits give it an added crunch. Have I piqued your taste buds?

THAI PEANUT NOODLES

Ingredients:

2 servings of plain spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ginger powder

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

6 tablespoons green onions, sliced

Instructions:

Make spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and cool. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine chunky peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, and vinegar. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add garlic powder, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Blend well. Add noodles and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with green onion bits and serve.

Sweet Strawberry Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Sweet Strawberry Salad! Whenever you feel the need to change things up a bit from your ordinary salad, think strawberries! Did you know the strawberry is actually a cousin to the rose family? Truth. In history, they represent love, purity, and perfection. Hmmm. And of course, everyone knows how deliciously sweet they are. Okay, I’m in. Serve a strawberry salad and watch everyone’s face break into a smile. Think strawberries! 🍓

SWEET STRAWBERRY SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound Spring Mix, gently torn

1 quart strawberries, caps removed and halved

4 green onions, snipped

1 cup harvarti cheese, grated

1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped

1/3 cup bacon pieces

1/2 cup lemon olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic reduction

Instructions:

Combine Spring Mix salad greens, strawberries, and green onion snips in a large bowl. Gently add cheese to mix. Top with sugared pecans and bacon. Toss with lemon olive oil to coat. Drizzle balsamic reduction over all.

Rose Petal Cupcakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Rose Petal Cupcakes! Before I set out on this journey of the palate, I had no idea how to make crystallized rose petals. So when the miniature rose bush in my own yard presented me with perfectly proportioned soft pink petals, I knew I was going to try. It could not have been simpler to create such beautiful edibles.* Next I chose angel food cupcakes, tasting like sweet fluffy clouds, swirled with a crown of grenadine buttercream frosting. You can almost taste the subtle hint of rose water. Is it any wonder the rose is a symbol of passion and heavenly perfection?

ROSE PETAL CUPCAKES

Ingredients for Rose Petals:

24 rose petals, clean and dry

1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

Instructions:

Using a pastry brush, gently paint each petal on both sides with the egg whites. Toss them in sugar, coating both sides. Place on a wire rack allowing them to dry overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

16 ounce box of angel food cake mix

1 1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon rose water

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place cupcake papers in each muffin cup. Place rose water and coconut extract in 1/4 measuring cup. Add the difference in water to fill liquid to top. In a large metal bowl, empty contents of cake mix. Add the 1 cup of water plus the 1/4 cup of liquid. Blend on low mixer speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat one minute longer. Pour cupcake batter into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake according to package directions 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients for Grenadine Buttercream Frosting:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons grenadine

Instructions:

Using a hand mixer on low setting, cream together Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Blend in almond extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating halfway to add one tablespoon grenadine. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If needed, use one more tablespoon of grenadine to make it spreadable. Beat on medium for one minute. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with crystallized rose petals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

* Always use rose petals that are free of pesticides or other chemicals.

Quiche Cheese Minis

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Quiche Cheese Minis! Cheese can be a weakness, in my opinion. Mostly because there are so many kinds. Think about it: Aggiano, Brie, Cheddar, Danablu, Emmental, Feta, Gouda, Havarti…and the list goes on. I could probably eat my way through the alphabet in CHEESE alone. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Some experts say cheese is bad for you. I disagree. After all, look at the French. Their diet is filled with cheese, baguettes, and wine. Did you know people in France have low rates of coronary heart disease? “By some estimates, the average French person eats 57 pounds of cheese each year—while the average American eats a measly 34.”* My husband and I visited France where we truly enjoyed the superb food and spectacular culture. And became ultimate cheese lovers.

QUICHE CHEESE MINIS

Ingredients:

1 tube of crescent rolls

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

3 eggs

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 cup Smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin with nonstick spray. Place one triangle dough in each muffin cup. Beat Neufchâtel cheese, Greek yogurt, and butter until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time beating well to combine. Stir in chopped onion, sun-dried tomatoes, Herbs de Provence, sea salt, and pepper. Gently fold in Gouda cheese. Spoon into muffin cups. Do not overfill. (If you have extra filling, no worries, you can make a couple crustless mini quiches.) Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and center is set. Remove quiche minis and serve warm.

* “Here’s Your New Science-Backed Reason to Eat More Cheese”, Mandy Oaklander @mandyoaklander

April 13, 2015 TIME.com

Pig Candy Bacon

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Pig Candy Bacon! If you ever needed a reason to eat candy for breakfast, permission granted. This marriage of brown sugar, spices, and hickory smoked bacon is the best idea since sliced bread! You’ll want to choose thick bacon to hold all the seasonings. Line a pan with foil despite the fact a rack is used; it just makes clean up that much faster. If you don’t….well, let’s just say the other people in your house won’t be waiting around for you. Once the glazed sweetmeat is taken out of the oven, all bets are off. The line forms here.

PIG CANDY BACON

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon wasabi powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons chili powder

8-10 slices bacon, thick cut

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix brown sugar, black pepper, wasabi powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder in a deep baking dish. Add bacon, one strip at a time; toss to coat well. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place a wire rack on pan. Lay bacon strips on rack in a single layer without overlapping. Place baking sheet one setting below top rack in oven. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until crisp. There is no need to turn the bacon. Carefully remove pan from oven. Let caramelized bacon cool slightly before transferring with a tongs to parchment paper.* Serve as a breakfast companion, appetizer, or snack.

* The second time I made Pig Candy, I pierced them with bamboo skewers after they were baked and they were spot on!

Onion Basil Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Onion Basil Bread! You have got to try this! Tasty Vidalia onions are unbelievably sweet and mild. They are grown locally in the state of Georgia, yet recognized all over the world. You begin to see them pop up in the neighborhood markets from mid-April to mid-June. Their unique fresh taste makes them an outstanding option for eating raw or cooking in recipes. Packed with nutritional value makes them a bonus. Become a believer; discover why Vidalia onions are all the buzz!

ONION BASIL BREAD

Ingredients:

Loaf of sesame artisan bread

1/3 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 large size Vidalia onion, sliced

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the bread in half, then length-wise, and quarters. Dredge the cut sides in 1/3 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, marjoram, and sea salt. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion slices and seasoned salt. Cover and cook one minute. Stir, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Watch carefully to reduce scorching and stir if necessary. Meanwhile divide Jarlsberg cheese equally over the face of the bread. Top with caramelized onions. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.

Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread! Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Jarlsberg cheese originated in Norway as a buttery mild cow’s milk cheese with a sweet nutty flavor. In some photos it may appear similar to Swiss cheese, full of holes, but in essence it is much smoother and richer. Don’t believe me? Order a grilled cheese sandwich made with semi-soft imported Jarlsberg cheese sometime and try not to faint when you are asked to pay a much higher price for this gooey better-than-generic extravagance.

NORWEGIAN JARLSBERG CHEESE SPREAD

Ingredients:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

4 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons red onion, chopped

1 can (4 ounce size) stuffed green olives, sliced

Sea salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup chives, chopped

1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Instructions:

Mix together Neufchâtel cheese, Jarlsberg cheese, and mayonnaise until well blended. Stir in red onion and green olives. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Form into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour. Roll cheese ball in chopped chives and pecans bits before serving. Spread into crackers or bagel chips.