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? Foodstuff Redefined: Drunken Chicken Tenders! For those who hate to drink alone, here’s a recipe even Julia Child would approve. Just kidding. Actually, when cooking with wine, the alcohol evaporates as the food cooks, leaving behind an incredible flavor loaded with natural moisture. There’s nothing worse than dry chicken, in my opinion. And we’ve all been there. If you think of wine as a fat substitute in recipes, it all begins to make sense why the French eat the way they do and still maintain a healthy weight. Give it a try.
DRUNKEN CHICKEN TENDERS
16 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
Fresh parsley for garnish
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and wine. Simmer gently to reduce the wine, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, add cornstarch, cream, and sea salt. Stir as it thickens. Set aside. To prepare the chicken, combine flour, Herbes de Provence, and black pepper on waxed paper. Toss the chicken until coated on both sides. Shake off excess. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pan-fry the chicken tenders for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Add sauce and mushrooms to the skillet with the chicken tenders. Top with cherry tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Garnish with fresh parsley.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Quiche Fromage! If you’ve ever been to Paris, you can’t help but be charmed by the street vendors near Notre Dame along the Seine River. One in particular featured homemade quiche specialties for picnicking tourists. There’s nothing more charming than grabbing a spot on the nearest bench for a lunchtime picnic in the midst of people-watching, that’s for sure. You can relive the moment with today’s version of cheese quiche made with a puff pastry crust. Ooh là là!
One puff pastry sheet
1/3 cup crème fraîche or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup light cream
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6-7 ounces Sartori Montamoré cheese, crumbled
Thaw the puff pastry for 40 minutes. Roll out to fit a 10 1/2″ pie plate. Crimp the edges and pierce the bottom with a fork. Place pie plate in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the pastry with foil and place pastry weights in the bottom. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove the foil and pastry weights, pierce dough again if needed, and bake 5 minutes longer until bottom is golden. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, crème fraîche, light cream, Herbes de Provence, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Fold in cheese crumbles. Spoon mixture into the pastry crust. Bake 30 minutes until the filling is golden and the crust is puffed. To test for doneness, insert cake tester. If pick comes out clean, the quiche is baked through. Serve immediately. Enjoy with a glass of Pinot Noir.
Dining Outside the Home: El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia! You know you’ve hit the jackpot when it’s BOGO on a Saturday night. That translates to buy one margarita, get one free, no matter what brand of tequila you choose. A nice Mexican tequila that is 100% pure de agave goes down smooth and perfect. The cocktail was crisp and citrusy from a squeeze of fresh lime, rather than green and sugar-laden. Perhaps that’s their secret. Being in the mood for a salad did not disappoint. The Grilled Shrimp Salad was, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had. There must have been at least a dozen perfectly-seasoned grilled shrimp served in a crispy flour tortilla shell. Refried beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, cheese and sour cream turned this simple salad into a meal-in-a-bowl. Our waitress, Jasmin, was very accommodating in meeting our needs. Great food is a must, but customer service makes it memorable.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Goat Cheese Wonton Appetizers! If you want an amazing appetizer that can be made in a flash, look no further. We’re all pretty familiar with those tiny pastry cups located in the freezer section of the supermarket. But have you seen the price? It’s ridiculous. Back away and take a turn to the dairy aisle instead. Pick up a package of wonton wrappers, a roll of goat cheese, a block of cream cheese, and a jar of bacon jam.* In no time at all, these festive cuties will have “party” written all over them. Remember, you’re allowed one taste-test, but fight the urge to eat any more than that before the guests arrive.
GOAT CHEESE WONTON APPETIZERS
48 wonton wrappers, 12-ounce package
4-ounce goat cheese
4-ounce cream cheese
12-ounce jar bacon jam*
Preheat oven to 350°. Coat two 12-cup mini-muffin pans with nonstick oil. Cut corners off wonton wrappers to make an octagon shape. Using your fingers, gently press one wrapper into each cup. Press down without puncturing dough. Lightly spritz wrappers with cooking oil. Bake until golden brown, 8-9 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Transfer cups to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Meanwhile, combine goat cheese and cream cheese. Blend until smooth. Drop by scant spoonful in each wonton cup. Top with a dollop of bacon ham. Place the appetizers on a baking sheet. Bake filled wontons for 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.
*To make your own Bacon Jam, use the following link.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Yummy Parmesan Alfredo Sauce! If ever there was a universal sauce, this is it. Alfredo sauce isn’t just for pasta any more. Pizzerias began using it to substitute the tomato base on pizzas, pairing it with bacon, spinach, artichokes, and chicken. It makes a creamy addition to grilled seafood, poultry, or pork dishes, as well. Some enthusiasts even slather alfredo sauce on baked potatoes. It’s pure genius to pour it into a freshly baked bread bowl for dipping crudités, if you’re into that sort of thing. No matter how you spin it…butter, cream, and cheese are the star attractions. These are the ways to a woman’s heart. That, and a bouquet of fresh flowers.
YUMMY PARMESAN ALFREDO SAUCE
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 1/2 cups light cream
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Neufchâtel cheese, softened
2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm butter. Add light cream. Reduce heat and simmer over Low heat for 2 minutes, stirring gently. Whisk in minced garlic, Italian seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper. Add Neufchâtel cheese; stir to incorporate. Slowly add parmesan cheese; whisk until completely melted. Keep warm prior to serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Quasi Cherry Almond Macaroon Slab Pie! Now that’s a mouthful. But truth-be-told when you’re talking about a dessert with mounds of plump cherry clusters, flaked coconut, and sliced nuts…well, nothing else will do. By transforming it all into a slab pie, portions become more manageable over traditional sliced servings. The crust is still flaky, even if there is less of it. Focus instead on a sweet treat with a single shot of Italian espresso or scoop of ice cream. It’s a perfect balance for the taste buds.
QUASI CHERRY ALMOND MACAROON SLAB PIE
1 prepared pie crust
Ingredients for filling:
21-ounce can cherry pie filling
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Ingredients for topping:
1 cup coconut, shredded
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Roll the prepared pie crust to fit the baking sheet. Trim the dough to only fit the bottom of the pan. If necessary, use the extra dough pieces to fill in the corners. Pinch to seal. In a large bowl, combine the cherry pie filling, cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spoon the filling onto the pie crust. Spread in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the topping, fill a mixing bowl with the shredded coconut, sliced almonds, sugar, sea salt, milk, melted butter, almond extract, coconut extract, and beaten egg. Remove the slab pie from the oven. Spread macaroon topping over all. Return slab pie to oven, bake 25 minutes longer, or until bubbly and golden brown. Cut into slices. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.