Unfinished Pecan Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food With Soul: Unfinished Pecan Pie! Before you ask…No, this pie is not made with raw dough and there’s no ingredient missing from the recipe. The “unfinished” word in the title simply means you may choose to eat it as is OR top it with sweetened whipped cream, buttery streusel, or caramel sauce. The choice is yours. ‘Course if I wanted to be snarky, I could say it is unfinished because there’s still a piece or two left in the pie plate. Any takers?

UNFINISHED PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, refrigerated

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 eggs, room temperature

2 cups pecan halves and pieces

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick oil. Unfold pie crust and ease into plate, pressing firmly against the bottom and sides. Fold and roll pastry edges under, even with the rim of the plate. Flute edges or press with fork tines. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, sea salt, and eggs. Beat with an electric hand mixer until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake 40-50 minutes or until center is set. Allow to cool for two hours. Slice and Serve.

French Silk Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Delicious Holiday Foods: French Silk Pie! If you’re a chocolate lover…and I suspect that you are, join me on this decadent chocolate trail of passion. The charismatic power of chocolate may be a mystery to every man out there, but serve up a taste of this incredible creamy silk and others will follow! French Silk Pie has become my Signature Dessert; it’s that legendary!

FRENCH SILK PIE

Ingredients for Crust:

1/4 cup butter, melted

25 vanilla wafers, crushed

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions for Crust:

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine butter, wafers, and pecans until crumbly. Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish. Press remaining crumb mixture into an 8-9″ pie plate. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool.

Ingredients for Filling:

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons oil

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions for Filling:

For best results, use a food processor to get the luscious results. Cream together butter and sugar. Add cocoa powder and oil. Blend well. THIS NEXT STEP IS CRITICAL. Add one egg and beat for 4 minutes. Add the second egg and beat for 4 minutes. Add the third egg and beat for 4 minutes. Finally add the teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat 30 seconds. Pour the filling into the crust. Garnish with reserve crumb mixture. Chill before serving.

Apple Dumpling Dreams

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Apple Dumpling Dreams! There’s something special about an apple dumpling, don’t you think? Perhaps it reminds you of the changing seasons. Perhaps it conjures up childhood memories. Perhaps the earthy spices and syrupy sweetness crank up your comfort level. No matter the hypnotic effect, apple dumpling dreams can reflect the way we look at our lives. Do we deny sweets or do we nourish our bodies? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It’s all about perspective, moderation, and control. Thank goodness we have freedom of choice. When it comes to apple dumplings, especially now, dreams really do come true.

APPLE DUMPLING DREAMS

Ingredients:

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored

1 package refrigerated pie crusts

4 star anise pieces

Ingredients for Syrup:

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Apple Filling:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a 9” square baking dish; set aside. To make the syrup, combine sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients for apple filling. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter until consistency is crumbled. Cut each pie crust in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into 8-inch circles. To assemble, place an apple in the center of a dough circle. Fill the empty core with crumb filling. Fold the dough over the apple, pinching at the top to seal. Transfer apple dumplings to the baking dish. Drizzle with syrup. Place a star anise on each apple. Bake for 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown. Tent with foil, if necessary, to prevent over browning. Serve warm.

Quiche From the Hen House

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Quiche From the Hen House! Certain foods are like time-travel. Take quiche, for instance. Elsewhere it’s no big deal, popular even. But in America, guys couldn’t stand it back in the ‘80s. Too sissy. Never mind that it was economical and the ingredients were pretty much on hand when the grocery budget was stretched to the max. But then came bacon, and everything changed. Suddenly quiche was raised to the level of deep dish pizza.

QUICHE FROM THE HEN HOUSE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust

1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 sweet onion, chopped

3 eggs

1 cup light cream

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a pie plate with nonstick oil. Place prepared pie crust in the pie plate. Crimp edges. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese over bottom. Set aside. In a microwave-safe covered dish, steam broccoli for 2 minutes; drain. Set aside. Place chopped onion in a microwave-safe dish. Cook 2 minutes on High setting. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, light cream, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Arrange broccoli pieces and chopped onion in the pie crust. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes. Quiche is done when center is set and a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve warm.

Autumn Plum Galette

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Autumn Plum Galette! Rustic pies are so forgiving, which is one of the reasons I gravitate to them more. Forget perfection. It just isn’t necessary. A galette is made without a pie plate. Same dough, but no primping and crimping needed. You honestly don’t really need as many fillings either, because there’s no need to pile ‘em high. In fact, you’ll know you’ve overfilled the galette when you see the juices running onto the baking sheet. No fun. And when you taste the galette, the crust may be mushy. So remember, stop yourself and it’ll turn out fine.

AUTUMN PLUM GALETTE

Ingredients:

1 prepared refrigerated pie crust

5 ripe plums, pit removed and sliced

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch ginger

1 pinch cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Ingredients for Almond Filling:

1/2 cup almond flour

5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 egg, beaten

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Fit parchment paper on a baking sheet. Unroll pie crust onto baking sheet. Place galette dough in the refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile, combine almond flour, sugar, flour, butter, and egg in a food processor. Mix until smooth and spreadable. Remove chilled galette from the refrigerator. Spread the almond filling onto the dough*, but stop short of the edges. Arrange plum slices in an overlapping design on top of the almond filling. Sprinkle plums with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Roll the plain edges of the dough over the fruit. Brush the crust with melted butter. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

*I only used half the almond filling and reserved the remaining portion for second galette.

Egg Veggie Tart

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Egg Veggie Tart! Take ordinary ingredients and spread them over a prepared puff pastry crust and I promise you, your family will eat anything you serve. It’s that good. I always keep a box of frozen puff pastry on hand because it is so versatile. From main courses to desserts, they all turn out like a culinary masterpiece. For everyone to take you seriously though, be sure to wear an apron. It makes you look like a chef who means business. I think I have at least five different styles, some with pockets, some without. And I’m always open for more. Today’s version of a breakfast tart incorporates vegetables and prosciutto that not only add color, but eye appeal. Without regrets, add this recipe to your list of easy-to-assemble meals.

EGG VEGGIE TART

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

4 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

3 ounces prosciutto, cut into strips

1/4 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed

3 eggs plus 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup baby peas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons green onion snips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry on prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, pierce the dough evenly across surface, stopping about 1/2” from the edge. At the edges, roll dough once to form a crust. This will keep the ingredients from overflowing. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven to assemble remaining ingredients. Layer the Swiss cheese on the bottom of the crust. Arrange tomatoes, prosciutto, and green beans. Crack 3 eggs onto the dough. Try to place the eggs where the vegetables will “hold” them into place. Sprinkle tart with baby peas. Drizzle with olive oil. Divide grated parmesan cheese over all. Brush the crust all the way around the tart with the egg/water mixture. This gives the crust that beautiful golden color when baked. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is cooked through. Garnish with green onion snips. Cut into squares. Serve immediately.

Apple Orchard Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Apple Orchard Pie! Nothing conjures up autumnal nostalgia like a slice of apple pie, still warm enough from the oven to soften a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Inhale the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s delectable, isn’t it? I realize making pies may not be on the top of the list for everyone who loves it. So, I’m telling you today, it’s okay to begin with a prepared pie crust. There are some pretty decent brands out there for you to try. Some refrigerated brands are made to unroll and crimp the edges; others are frozen and meant to be thawed. Some are buttery, super-flaky, and even taste as good as homemade. That’s where you’ll need the help of an assistant, or taste-tester, so to speak. Just remember, pie doesn’t have to be picture perfect to taste spot on. It’s dessert, after all.

APPLE ORCHARD PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, 9”

4-5 large sweet apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Form prepared pie crust into a pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Crimp edges. Set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sea salt. Sprinkle about a quarter cup of mixture over the bottom of the pie crust. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the remaining sugar mixture. Coat well. Transfer apples to the pie plate, forming a mound in the center. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon for crumb topping. It should resemble small peas when mixed. Carefully add the topping to the apple pie. Bake 30 minutes longer. If necessary, cover the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza in Estero, Florida! You’re probably wondering what the big deal is about mentioning “coal oven” in the name of this pizza joint. Basically, it boils down to the deliciousness of a charred crust enclosing a chewy center without overcooking the toppings. You get this from very high, dry heat contained within the oven walls. The coal oven is a little larger than the others, so it holds more pizzas. Makes sense, amirite? There’s nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a pizza pie loaded with extra cheese only to discover the bottom crust is a bit soggy. That’s not going to happen at Tony Sacco’s. In fact, customize your creation like I do. For cheese-lovers, request shredded mozzarella, smoky provolone, grated parmesan, and fresh mozzarella over authentic Italian marinara. The cheese pulls will practically make your mouth drool in public. Slowly wipe your chin. Then garnish a pizza slice with freshly chopped basil and dig in.

Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida! My husband always says, “It’s more fun to eat at a bar than drink in a restaurant.” At Joey’s you can do both… or choose to eat and drink outdoors in their welcoming patio area. No matter where you settle in, the mood is contagious. Everyone seems to be having a good time. The drinks are cold and thirst-quenching, the food is definitely spot on. That’s probably due to the fact that Italian pasta dinners, specialty pizzas, and sweet desserts are made from family recipes. Pace yourself by sharing appetizers. Pizza is the main attraction offered in the New York style of thin-crust, which can be folded in half to eat, or the popular Sicilian thick-crust version covered in olive oil. Either way, go overboard. Leftovers can be taken home and eaten later when the cravings return.