Zen Himalayan Plate

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.

Tzatziki Ranch Chip Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Tzatziki Ranch Chip Dip! When you shop the produce department of the grocery store, pay close attention to the different kinds of cucumbers. The fancy ones, wrapped in plastic wrap, are known as English cucumbers. There’s a reason for their madness. The skin is extremely thin and tender. The plastic wrap actually serves a purpose of protection against bruising, punctures, and dehydration. Hmmm. The seeds are much smaller, too. Because the skin is thinner and tender, there is no need to peel the tubular vegetable before proceeding with the recipe. I think you’ll be impressed. The English cucumber is less bitter, making it almost sweet and wonderful for transforming into a fabulous party dip. Be kind to others. No double-dipping.

TZATZIKI RANCH CHIP DIP

Ingredients:

1 English cucumber, seeded, coarsely grated, and squeezed dry

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 envelope ranch seasoning mix

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons light cream

2 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine grated cucumber, kosher salt, mayonnaise, ranch seasoning mix, Greek yogurt, and light cream. Stir well. Cover and chill one hour, or until ready to serve. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill. Serve with crinkle-cut potato chips.

Kentucky Benedictine Dip

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Kentucky Benedictine Dip! Each State seems to have its claim-to-fame. Kentucky is no exception. Around the turn of the 20th century, a Louisville chef came up with a tasty alternative to the club sandwich. By combining crisp cucumbers, softened cheese, and a few other subtle ingredients, the freshly sweet cucumber sandwich was born. I imagine in the beginning the bread crusts were eliminated creating bite-size “finger” sandwiches served with afternoon tea. As time wore on, vegetable dips became the rage making it less work and more appealing. After all, who doesn’t love eating with their hands? Graze through your next gathering with the cool refreshing taste of cucumbers.

KENTUCKY BENEDICTINE DIP

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Instructions:

Grate the cucumber with a food processor. Add softened cream cheese, grated onion, sea salt, black pepper, and mayonnaise. Pulse until mixture is well blended and smooth. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with fresh vegetables and multigrain crackers.

East-West Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: East-West Shrimp Salad! Shrimp, on its own, is a star attraction for a special meal. That pretty much goes without saying. I like the idea that shrimp makes a main course look complex, or restaurant-worthy. By adding steamed mukimame, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, and soy sauce, suddenly an everyday garden salad sings a different tune. The fusion of flavors becomes enlightening, like the eternal knowledge of an Eastern sunrise. Is it any wonder I heart shrimp?

EAST-WEST SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cooked

1/2 cup mukimame, steamed

1/2 cup mandarin orange segments

1/2 cup baby cucumber, skin on and sliced

1/4 red pepper, cut into strips

Lettuce greens

Ingredients for Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

Prepare the shrimp according to package directions. Set aside. Arrange lettuce greens on a salad plate. Add steamed mukimame, mandarin orange segments, sliced cucumbers, and red pepper strips. In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic wine vinegar, agave nectar, mayonnaise, Italian seasoning mix, soy sauce, ground ginger, and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well. Pour dressing over salads and toss to coat. Arrange shrimp on top to spotlight. Serve immediately.

Lamb Burger Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Lamb Burger Sliders! For all the meat-lovers out there, lean lamb is a healthier choice simply because it is good for the heart. Personally, I prefer the tender cut of meat with its mellow flavor, especially when partnered with garden fresh vegetables. By adding a touch of spice, it actually enhances the flavor. If you’re looking for a break from beef, chicken, or pork…think lamb.

LAMB BURGER SLIDERS

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb

1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tomato, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 cup tzatziki sauce with feta chunks

6 ciabatta slider buns

Instructions:

Form ground lamb meat into six mini patties. Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash Herb and Garlic Seasoning; sprinkle with sea salt. Brush both sides of patties with olive oil. Grill lamb patties 2-3 minutes per side over medium-high heat, turning once. Set aside. Toast ciabatta buns. To assemble lamb sliders, spread tzatziki sauce on the bottom of the buns. Next layer buns with cucumber slice, tomatoes, lamb burger, and red onion. Serve immediately.

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.