Smoky Gouda Fruit Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Smoky Gouda Fruit Plate! What smells like bacon, is salty like bacon, and can be eaten at room temperature like bacon, but isn’t bacon? Give up? Smoky Gouda cheese. Here you have a mild, soft, slightly sweet-tasting cheese that practically gives you the same high as eating bacon. Seriously. The hickory smoked flavor practically makes your eyes roll back. Not to mention, the buttery smooth notes coat your tongue making it practically melt in your mouth. You realize the fruit is for show, don’t you? Just kidding.

SMOKY GOUDA CHEESE PLATE

Ingredients:

7-ounce wheel of Smoky Gouda cheese, wax removed

1 pint strawberries, washed and whole

1 bunch green grapes, seedless

Instructions:

Allow the cheese to come to room temperature. Remove the wax seal; cut cheese I nto bite-sized chunks. Arrange smoky gouda cheese, strawberries, and green grapes on a platter. Serve with crackers, if desired.

Lemon Poppyseed Mini Bundt Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Lemon Poppyseed Mini Bundt Cake! So, apparently mini bundt cakes have been the rage for some time now with quaint little bakeries and countless molds popping up everywhere. My friend, Nancy, was kind enough to gift me with a cute little ceramic mold. I began looking at recipes and couldn’t believe all the variations out there. Choosing the first one came easily with almonds, lemon, and poppyseed ingredients, especially with a lemony sweet-tart glaze. But wait, you utter. You’ve heard me say my husband simply does not like lemon baked goods. I know, but there’s a method to my madness. You see, lemon poppyseed is one of those combinations that can be eaten as dessert or breakfast. Need I say more? Every little bundt helps.

LEMON POPPYSEED MINI BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon poppyseeds

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

Sliced almonds, for garnish

Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a mini bundt pan and 6-mold muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix well; set aside. Using a mixer on Low speed, cream together the softened butter, vegetable oil, sugar, egg, buttermilk, almond extract, and lemon extract. Mix for about one minute. Slowly add flour mixture, poppyseeds, and sliced almonds just until combined. Divide the batter between the mini bundt pan and muffin tin, filling batter to the top. If desired, sprinkle additional sliced almonds over top before baking. Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and bake 15 minutes longer. The tops will be golden brown. Cake is ready when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow cakes to cool another 10 minutes. Drizzle lemon glaze over cakes, if desired.

Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies! One of the benefits of touching base with friends in the blogosphere is sharing blessings and paying it forward. Today’s recipe gives a “shout out” to Linda, The Dutch Baker*. She featured a fabulous peanut butter cookie recipe that absolutely made my mouth drool. So much so, I ran to my kitchen to insure I had all the necessary ingredients to whip up a batch. That’s one of the advantages of social distancing, in my opinion. Some even refer it as “stress baking” or “anxiety baking”. Quarantine cooking has even become a thing. It releases tension, challenges our skills, and satisfies the craving for a reward. Whatever way you choose to look at it, we’re all in this together.

QUITE TASTY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White sugar for rolling (optional)

Instructions:

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a food processor, cream softened butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add crunchy peanut butter. Pulse to blend. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture only until slightly combined. Do not over mix. Transfer cookie dough to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, remove bowl from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. By the teaspoonful, form the dough into balls. Roll in white sugar. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes. Remove pan and allow cookies to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool peanut butter cookies completely before storing in an airtight container.

*Linda, The Dutch Baker, featured this recipe first. You may visit her at

http://thedutchbaker.wordpress.com/2020/03/18

Zakarian Chocolate Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Zakarian Chocolate Pudding! Sometimes you look to a celebrity chef for inspiration. Today’s feature recipe is brought to you by “Iron Chef”, Geoffrey Zakarian. Although it is filed under Dark Chocolate Pudding, its decadent taste and smooth consistency remind me more of a French Silk Pie. Do I have your undivided attention? Can you hear me now? This is most definitely a chocolate-lovers dream! By serving it in shot glasses, you control the portion and everyone gets a taste. Mr. Zakarian serves it with whipped sour cream. I modified it a bit by adding crushed pistachios and a slice of strawberry.

ZAKARIAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Ingredients:

6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch sea salt

4 large egg yolks

Whipped sour cream, optional

Strawberries for garnish

Pistachios for garnish

Instructions:

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream and light cream to a bare simmer. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt, and egg yolks. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking all the while. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into glasses or custard cups. Refrigerate until chief and set, about 3 hours. Serve with whipped sour cream, if desired. Garnish with fresh strawberry slice and chopped pistachios.

X-treme Fudge Bouchons

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: X-Treme Fudge Bouchons! These chocolate fudge brownies are the perfect bite-size dessert at the end of a meal. Because they are baked in a popover pan, their shape resembles a cork, or French bouchon. The dense chocolatey cake is filled with rich dark chocolate morsels and dusted with powdered sugar making it an appealing dessert, no matter the occasion. Picnic season is upon us. Treat yourself to a taste of France.

X-TREME FUDGE BOUCHONS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces butter, unsalted and melted

6 ounces semisweet mini chocolate morsels

Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour popover pan. Set aside. Sift together flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and kosher salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes. It will appear thick and very pale in color. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce to low speed alternating 1/3 of dry ingredients, then 1/3 of warm butter until all is blended. Add semisweet chocolate morsels. Place popover pan on a baking sheet and fill each mold two-thirds full. Place in the oven. Bake for 25-28 minutes until tops look shiny and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack for 3 minutes. Invert mold and allow bouchons to cool upside down. Lift off popover pan. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Spiced Pear Blueberry Cobbler

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Spiced Pear Blueberry Cobbler! For a truly gourmet experience, this dessert is spot on. You may notice a very distinct flavor, but can’t quite put your finger on it. Not only is it different, it’s alluring and extraordinary. I’m here to tell you, the secret ingredient is cardamom. Not only is it a key ingredient in the spiced pear combination, but if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find it’s the grande finale and the perfect compliment for this exotic cobbler. Cardamom sprinkled on ice cream that has been drizzled with honey is practically like eating two desserts…in one. Bonus points!

SPICED PEAR BLUEBERRY COBBLER

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup blueberries

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

1/4 cup orange marmalade

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

In a shallow bowl, place blueberries. Sprinkle with corn starch. Turn to coat. Set aside. In a medium bowl, toss pears with orange marmalade, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Add ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. Gently fold in blueberries.

Ingredients for Batter:

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cups almonds, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Mix flour, sea salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients. Batter will be crumbly. Spread 3/4 batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Layer fruit filling, spreading to edges. Crumble remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and sliced almonds. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm, a la mode with vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with natural honey and sprinkled with cardamom.

Duke’s Kauai in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Duke’s Kauai in Lihue, Kauai! An open-air view of the deep blue Pacific Ocean may leave you wondering what tasty sea creatures lie beneath the surface. One glance around the dining room may answer that thought. The chefs at Duke’s Kauai respect the Hawaiian tradition of local fishermen. Their catch-of-the-day is determined by the season. It could be Ahi with its steak-like texture seared and crusted in furikake seasoning. Or it may be Ono with its juicy and mild flavor grilled in a spicy sesame-ginger glaze. Other island favorites are always an option. Add vegetables, fruit, and bread selections from their famous salad bar to complete the entree. When it’s all said and done, no one walks away hungry from Duke’s Kauai.

Lovely Lace Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Lovely Lace Cookies! For the keen observer, you may notice this is the same recipe I used for Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough*. There is a simple explanation. For those who are unable to eat an entire batch of raw cookie dough, there is an alternative. Simply split the portion and bake a batch of Lovely Lace Cookies. But be forewarned. Once you drizzle them with chocolate, you may eat them faster than ever. I did. No shame!

LOVELY LACE COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons light cream

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Syrup for drizzling

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor, combine butter and brown sugar. Cream together. Add vanilla extract and sea salt. Pulse to blend. Gradually add flour. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Add light cream. Pulse to mix well. By hand gentle fold in semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. Drop by level teaspoons onto nonstick baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Watch carefully. Do not burn. Cool on baking sheet until firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with chocolate syrup before serving.

*Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough can be referenced under Letter E at https://snapshotsincursive.com/2017/03/23

Gluten-Free PB Blonde Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor.

GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES

Ingredients:

15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/3 cup pure honey

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Coarse sea salt for garnish

Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve.