What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Impromptu Pretzel Crust Pecan Pie! Sometimes a crunchy pie crust satisfies primal needs. After all, it’s second nature to crave foods that sound good when you bite into them. Admit it, we like different tastes. The desire for crispy and crunchy foods never seems to grow old. Because we associate tastes and aromas with feelings, our brain is already satisfied before the first bite. Combine sweet and salty for the ultimate dessert experience. Crunch away.
IMPROMPTU PRETZEL CRUST PECAN PIE
Ingredients for Crust:
1 1/4 cups pretzel crumbs
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted
Ingredients for Filling:
6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pretzel crumbs, corn starch, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Stir well. Press evenly into a 9” pie plate, making sure the sides and bottom are covered. Put pie plate on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes until crust is firm. To prepare filling, take a medium saucepan. Combine butter chunks, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Whisk in beaten eggs. Fold in chopped pecans. Pour mixture into pretzel crust. Bake 50 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Xmas Pizzelle Cookies! I’m obsessed with food that has eye appeal. That’s one reason I was drawn to pizzelles, a traditional Italian waffle cookie. I could make you crazy by telling you we’re going to make them from scratch, but hey, my time is in high demand just like yours. Besides, since I don’t own a pizzelle iron, sometimes it’s better to leave things to an expert. I’m here today to save you time when someone suggests a Holiday Cookie Exchange. Pick up a package of Classic Italian Pizzelles on your way home from work, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts. You can thank me later when you’re sitting back relaxing with a glass of wine.
XMAS PIZZELLE COOKIES
7-ounce package Vanilla Flavored Pizzelle Cookies
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces pistachios, chopped
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Heat in microwave on 50% setting for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each pizzelle cookie into melted chocolate. Sprinkle both sides with chopped pistachios. Place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Marble Loaf Quick Bread! When I was a little girl one of my favorite memories was making marble cake from a box mix. Not necessarily the ease of preparation, but the fact that I could be very artistic with the chocolate and vanilla swirls. There’s no way to get it wrong. And it’s pretty. Today’s version is a buttery classic with a moist center using plain yogurt. Just remember to have the melted butter, eggs, and yogurt at room temperature. If not, they won’t blend properly and you may end up with slightly cooked eggs and chunky batter. Nobody wants that, especially the one who licks the bowl.
MARBLE LOAF QUICK BREAD
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract, butter, and Greek yogurt. Whisk until blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix. Pour half the batter into a medium bowl. Gently fold in cocoa powder until mixed. Alternate spoonfuls of plain batter and cocoa batter into the prepared loaf pan. Take a table knife and swirl the two mixtures together. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not burn. Remove from oven and cool slightly on a wire rack before removing from pan.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!
JAVA CHIP COOKIES
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Hawaiian Crunch PB Bars! When I asked my grandson what his favorite food was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s easy, Nana. It’s peanut butter.” It was all I needed to know to head to my kitchen to prepare something special for him for the weekend. By switching things up a bit with Hawaiian shortbread cookies, the results produced an amazing crunch that teamed well with the hazelnut spread frosting. How’s that for double coverage? His opinion, you wonder? Being a teenager, a thumb’s up was approval enough.
HAWAIIAN CRUNCH PB BARS
12 ounces Hawaiian banzai furikake shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky
2 cups powdered sugar
12 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips
13 ounces hazelnut cocoa spread
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped
Pulse cookies in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside. Spray a 9”x13” pan with nonstick oil. Combine butter and natural chunky peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar until blended. Next fold in cookie crumbs and mini chocolate chips. Mix to combine. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Warm hazelnut spread in a microwave until it is easy to spread. Cover the peanut butter layer completely. Sprinkle with chopped honey roasted peanuts. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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
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.
“Chowing Down”, what a charming expression. We’re all familiar with its meaning: to eat, especially at mealtime. It’s no secret I get great satisfaction from food, whether it’s an afternoon snack, evening appetizer, or late night sweet. Nowadays with the flux of farm-to-table and organic options, is it any wonder the allure of food is so enticing? Mealtime then becomes an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my posts have received a nod from Le Cordon Bleu as well as the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail). Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, spotted me on Instagram @gail_dorna. This continuous journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE CHOW DOWN!”
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Zero Candy Bar Cookies! White chocolate fudge has been popular since it was introduced in a candy bar a hundred years ago. At that time it was called the Double Zero Bar due to its “chilling” snowy white color, reminding the public of an ice cube. To this day it is sold in a trademark cool silver wrapper. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. Today’s cookies are nothing short of heavenly.
ZERO CANDY BAR COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 sea salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanuts, chopped
3.4 ounce Zero Candy Bar, chopped
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir until blended. Fold in white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, peanuts, and Zero Candy Bar pieces. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Drop cookie dough, using a melon ball scoop, onto the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 6 dozen.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Xingzi Apricot Tartlets! Apricots have a way of turning simple desserts into gourmet treats. Their rich flavor is similar to a peach, but with a more tender outer skin. The juicy tang blends well with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom for a warm flavorful finish. The buttery dough of puff pastry makes the tartlets as light as air. Guaranteed to impress, and delicious to eat.
XINGZI APRICOT TARTLETS
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed
14-ounce can apricots, halved in syrup
2 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cardamom to taste
1 vanilla bean pod, slivered
Preheat oven to 400°. Unroll the puff pastry and cut it into small rectangles. Place on a nonstick baking sheet. Arrange apricot halves on each pastry strip. Brush with apricot jam. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom to taste. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Garnish with slivers of vanilla bean before serving.