Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Gyro-Mania

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Gyro-mania! The debate continues…do you pronounce the sandwich like the Greeks, “(h)year-oh”, or the American standby, “Jai-roh”? Either way, it’s a taste sensation. Think about it: rotisserie meat crispy shaved into strips wrapped into a soft pita pocket topped with onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. The bold foodie will pick it up with both hands and devour it until not a crumb remains. Others may eat it with a fork. Whatever you choose, with Eastern Mediterranean spices, this sandwich is not for the meek.

GYRO-MANIA

Ingredients:

1 box Kronos Gyros Kit*

1 Vidalia onion, sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tomato, chopped

1 cucumber, diced

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Watercress sprig, for garnish

Dill weed, for garnish

Instructions:

In an iron skillet, lightly grill both sides of pita bread on medium heat until light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Set aside. Add olive oil to skillet and sauté onions until tender. Remove and set aside. Add gyro slices of meat to skillet. Heat both sides on medium heat for 20 seconds per side. In a small bowl, mix Greek yogurt with tzatziki sauce. Stir until creamy. To assemble gyro sandwich, top pita bread with gyro meat slices, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. Garnish with watercress leaves and dill. Enjoy!

* I receive no recompense for the suggestion of using Kronos Gyro Kit in this recipe.

Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches! Here’s a combination you will truly enjoy: crisp sliced cucumbers with juicy sweet strawberries. Together they come across as eye candy. Whip up a creamy spread of sea salt butter, Neufchâtel cheese, and Italian seasonings to slather across the top of a toasted slice of artisan rye bread. Add a sprig of dill, sprinkled with tiny thyme leaves to crown things off. The results may find you believing you embarked on a journey through the charming countryside of Tuscany.

CUCUMBER STRAWBERRY SANDWICH

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons sea salt butter, softened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved

2-4 slices rye bread, toasted

Fresh dill sprig, for garnish

Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Cream together Neufchâtel cheese, butter, and yogurt until smooth. Fold in Italian seasoning and dill to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Slice cucumber; halve strawberries. Toast rye bread; slather with seasoned cheese spread. Top with cucumber slices and strawberries. Add dill sprig and thyme leaves for garnish.

Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Knäckebröd Cucumber Salmon Crispbread! Some days time is in short supply and all we can hope for is a “working lunch”. At least you can treat yourself to something a little bit gourmet that says “I’m really worth it.” Knäckebröd whole grain crispbread is mighty enough to hold a layer of herbed cream cheese, a mini slice of seedless cucumber, wild Alaskan smoked salmon, fresh dill weed and chopped chives. How’s that for refueling your work day? Be forewarned: your coworkers may gather round the desk in curiosity while you’re nibbling away on finger food. Just hold up a single digit and keep nibbling. After all, it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.

KNÄCKEBÖRD CUCUMBER SALMON CRISPBREAD

Ingredients:

4-6 slices Knäckebröd sourdough crispbread

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning mix

2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced

4 ounces Wild Alaskan applewood smoked salmon

Sprig of dill weed

Fresh chives

Instructions:

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and Italian seasoning mix. Stir until blended. Store in a covered container. To assemble, lightly spread crispbread with a layer of herbed cream cheese. Next add one or two slices of seedless cucumber. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with dill weed and fresh chives.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Y

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: You Are What You Eat! I’ve been hearing this phrase my entire life, and it wasn’t until recently I actually began paying attention to it again. Oh sure, I knew moderation was key, exercise important, and water essential. I tried to maintain a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, and even fats because it made a difference in how well I felt. Plus it reflected in my energy level as well. So, as I was collecting all this produce, it seemed like a no-brainer to share the snapshot with everyone. Bon Appétit.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Ingredients:

Tomatoes

Green Beans

Assorted Peppers

Corn on the Cob

Zucchini

Onion

Garlic

Squash

Instructions:

Wash the vegetables. Eat them raw, cooked, puréed, chopped, minced, buttered, grilled, roasted, par-boiled, or baked.

“Make food simple

and let things taste

of what they are.”

~ Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland)

French Writer (1872-1956)

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter U

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home Cooking: Unique Greek Salad Dressing! For those who are addicted to that dab of tzatziki sauce you get on a gyro, now you have a way to make a variation of it yourself. Simply made, it’s a refreshing low-fat alternative to the creamy classics. Top off your sandwich or salad for lunch and then try it on baked potatoes later on. Win, Win!

UNIQUE GREEK SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

2 green onions, snipped

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and grated

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh dill weed

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:

Peel cucumber. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Grate and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Put in strainer over a bowl to drain excess water. It takes about one hour. Then squeeze more water out of cucumber and pat dry. Put yogurt, onions, and chives into a medium bowl and set aside. In another bowl add cucumber and whisk in vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dill, sea salt, and pepper. Mix well until blended. Fold into the yogurt until combined. Chill one hour to enhance flavors.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter L

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Lamb Flatbread! I think I could eat my weight in flatbread simply because of the endless combination of ingredients. When I’m in the mood for something with a Greek twist, I turn to lamb meat permeated with ethnic spices such as oregano, dill, parsley, and coriander. A sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese is nice, especially when it melts around Kalamata olives grown under Grecian sunshine. At least, that’s what I imagine. Maybe you will, too. 
LAMB FLATBREAD 
Ingredients:

1 pound organic lamb, ground

1/2 cup water

1-2 beef bouillon cubes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/4 teaspoons coriander 

1 1/4 teaspoons cumin powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1 teaspoon dried parsley 

1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing 

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

2 baby cucumbers, chopped

1 garlic flatbread 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal 

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

4-5 cherry tomatoes, sliced 

1 shallot, sliced

3-4 Kalamata olives, sliced

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Fresh arugula leaves

1/8 teaspoon oregano 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet, combine ground lamb, water, bouillon cubes, sea salt, coriander, cumin powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley. Bring to boiling, crumbling meat with a fork to cook thoroughly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until all moisture is absorbed and meat is browned. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix ranch dressing, Greek yogurt, and dill weed. Stir until smooth. Brush bottom of garlic flatbread with one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread half the ranch dressing mixture over the flatbread. Add the chopped cucumbers to the remaining sauce. Set aside. Top flatbread with mozzarella cheese, crumbled lamb mixture (you will have extra to use later on), cherry tomatoes, sliced shallot, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, arugula leaves, and oregano. Bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, slice accordingly, and use reserve cucumber dip as side condiment. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Kooky Cucumber Salad! Does anyone really count the number of daily servings of vegetables recommended for a healthy diet? I know I don’t. And I suspect I’m not in the minority. What I do pay attention to is how appealing food looks on the plate. It’s one of the reasons I have a Spiralizer among my kitchen utensils. Besides, it takes minimal effort to make ordinary foods look this good. The fact that I’m maintaining a low fat, low carb, and low calorie intake just gives me all the more reason to splurge on something sweet later on. Call me crazy, or call me “kooky”.
KOOKY CUCUMBER SALAD
Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, halved

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic red wine vinegar 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped for garnish
Instructions:

Spiralize half the cucumber with the apple core attachment, for wider strips. Spiralize the remaining cucumber half with the noodle attachment, for spaghetti-like spirals. Arrange cucumbers in a serving bowl. Top with chopped tomatoes and red onion slices. Add Kalamata olives. Whisk together olive oil and garlic red wine vinegar. Drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Zen Himalayan Plate! Go above ordinary ingredients and transform your palate with a meal on the Himalayan salt plate. Foods pick up a delicate saltiness that transcends the flavor and leaves behind monotony. By creating bite-size pieces of fish, shellfish, and cucumber sushi, nourishment balances out the inner peace from within. Good for health-crazed affenciados as well as those soul-searching for expression. 
ZEN HIMALAYAN PLATE
Ingredients:

3.75-ounce tin Wild Caught Sardines, in olive oil

1 lemon, sliced and quartered

3.75-ounce tin smoked oysters

Fresh lemon thyme

7-ounces prepared crab dip

4 mini cucumbers, seedless

Fresh dill

Assorted crackers
Instructions:

Arrange sardines on a Himalayan salt plate. Drizzle with olive oil from the tin. Place lemon wedges on fish and garnish with fresh lemon thyme. Smoked oysters may be served in individual sea shells. Drizzle with sauce from the tin. Oysters may also be served on a cracker. To assemble the cucumber sushi, slice mini cucumbers into thick rolls. To remove the inside portion of each disc, place the cucumber on a cutting board, use a sharp knife, and rotate the cuke until the center is cut out. Make sure the walls remain. Discard fleshy pulp. Place the cucumber “rings” on the Himalayan salt plate. Spoon prepared crabmeat dip into each ring. Press gently to fill the sushi roll. Garnish with dill.