New Asparagus Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: New Asparagus Spears! Every once in awhile I have an “Ah-ha” moment when I come across fresh produce that I haven’t seen in awhile. This was one of those times. New asparagus smells clean and earthy. It also looks incredibly bright green with splashes of purple on the tips, which should be tightly closed. Make sure the stalks are firm and straight. If they seem to bend quite easily, they’ve already begun to wilt. Put them back. Personally, I prefer the thinner stalks simply because they cook much faster.

NEW ASPARAGUS SPEARS

Ingredients:

15-16 asparagus spears

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 cup caper berries, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

Fennel stalks, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and trim asparagus spears. Place into an iron skillet. Arrange the red onion slices and caper berries. Brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from oven and garnish with fennel stalks. Serve immediately.

Relish Charcuterie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Relish Charcuterie! Everyone knows the best defense is a good offense, especially when it comes to group gatherings and holiday parties. Low-calorie items are always a wise choice. Keep it healthy with a nice assortment of raw veggies packed with nutrients and fiber. Besides, they’re colorful and festive. By filling a plate with appealing choices like these, you can splurge later on with a sampling of dessert.

RELISH CHARCUTERIE

Ingredients:

1 head celery, with stalks and ribs

3 large carrots, cut into strips

7 ounces pimento stuffed queen olives

10 ounces grape tomatoes

1 pint sweet gherkins

8 ounces wild caper berries

6 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted

12 ounces imported pepperoncinis

1 bunch garden radishes

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Pickled garlic

Instructions:

Wash all fresh vegetables in cold water. Pat dry on paper towels. Chop and slice as needed in unique shapes. Use small dip bowls for height and color. Arrange ingredients on a nice platter so designs are appealing to the eye. It is better to keep it looking full by switching around shapes and color. Small plates and toothpicks or skewers encourage snacking.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Buttered Plum Galette! You don’t have to be a perfectionist to create the perfect galette. The whole idea is to make it appear rustic and charming. By forming an irregular pie crust, it conjures images of the bucolic countryside we often yearn for in an unpolished way. This is how plain country kitchens capture that homey feeling. You can, too. Indeed, the Buttered Plum Galette is as delicious as it sounds. 
BUTTERED PLUM GALETTE 
Ingredients for Crust:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, cold

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons ice water
Ingredients for Plum Filling:

4 medium-size plums, stone removed and sliced thin

1/3-1/2 cup mulberries, or blackberries 

Scant lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/8 teaspoon cardamom 

1/3 cup plum jam, slightly warmed

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg yolk
Instructions:

Recipe makes two individual galettes. Preheat oven to 425°. Using a food processor, pulse cold butter, flour, and salt to the size of small peas. Sprinkle in ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Remove wrap and place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each half into an 8” circle. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Beginning in the center, spiral plums like a fan. Be sure to leave a border. Top with berries. Fold edges of dough toward the center, creating a rustic crust. Press gently to seal. Repeat for second galette. Sprinkle fruit with lemon juice. Cover fruit with sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Spread plum jam over fruit. Dot with butter. Whisk together egg yolk and a little water. Brush the egg wash along the edges of the dough. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° but do not remove galettes. Bake an additional 45 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer the buttered plum galettes from the baking sheet by lifting with the parchment paper. Cool on wire rack to keep the bottoms from getting soggy. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter G

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake! You know you love chocolate. Who doesn’t? If you find yourself avoiding baked goods due to its wheat content, worry no more. This cake is completely flourless. The results are rich, chocolaty, and extremely satisfying for any sweet tooth craving. Dust it with powdered sugar and garnish each slice with fresh strawberries for a gourmet finish. Hurray for Chocolate!
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

4 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder 

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting

1/4 cup almond slices (optional)

Whipped cream

Fresh strawberries, garnish
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round cake pan. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes on high. Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans and eggs. Blend until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Pour in melted chocolate and almond extract. Blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Transfer batter to the cake pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with almond slices. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter P

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: PB&J Cupcakes! Mention peanut butter and watch how childhood memories instill sentimental feelings of joy and laughter. Add a dollop of jelly and suddenly the yearning is real. Here is a way to turn the classic sandwich into a yummy dessert that will find you clapping your hands with glee. The fluffy peanut butter frosting will leave you craving “just one more cupcake”! Yes, please. 
PB&J CUPCAKES 
Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake papers. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating. Stir in the flour mixture until no lumps remain. Pour a little in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Form a small well. Put a scant teaspoon of jelly in each well. Add more batter on top to cover. Do not fill cups past 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 
Ingredients for Icing:

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

1/2 cup butter, softened 

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

Fresh Raspberries for garnish
Instructions:

Cream the peanut butter and butter until smooth in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar alternating with the milk. Blend in the vanilla extract until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes and top with a fresh raspberry.