Limoncello Upside-Down Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Limoncello Upside-Down Cake! I love everything lemon, so imagine my excitement at trying this exquisite dessert with limoncello lemon liqueur. Limoncello is produced mainly along Italy’s scenic Amalfi Coast. Every sip transports you to the rugged hillsides along the deep blue cerulean waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Imagine the lemon trees engorged with ripe fruit. You can almost smell the heady scent of natural citrus wafting from the arbors. Now that I have your complete and undivided attention, read on.

LIMONCELLO UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 thin lemon slices, seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 egg, room temperature

2 tablespoons limoncello lemon liqueur

1/2 cup flour plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray ramekins with nonstick oil. Cut 6 parchment paper circles to fit ramekins. Place a circle in the bottom of each. Set aside. Bring brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar, and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until reduced and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Submerge lemon slices in syrup. Let sit until rind and pith are translucent, 20-30 minutes. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sea salt, egg, remaining sugar, and limoncello just until blended. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Gradually add wet mixture, beating just until blended. Pour one tablespoon syrup from lemon slices into each ramekin. Using tongs, gently place a lemon slice in each ramekin. Reserve remaining syrup. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Evenly divide batter between them. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the cake before inverting onto a platter. Remove parchment paper circles. Brush with remaining syrup. Dust with powdered sugar.

Lavender Lemon Meltaways

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Lavender Lemon Meltaways! Are you still on the fence about tasting the flavor of lavender? Is it possible you believe it’s way too close to air freshener or bath soap? Think about this a moment…one of the most popular cooking staples in France is dried herbes de Provence. Lavender is in there. It’s a distant cousin to rosemary, which is one reason the leaves can appear similar in young plants. The taste of lavender has a slight undertone of fresh mint, making it a perfect partner for lemon in homemade cakes, creamy frostings, and sprinkled on ice cream. Now I see I have your full attention.

LAVENDER LEMON MELTAWAYS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs

Lavender Glaze Ingredients:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon lavender extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Lavender buds, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. One at a time, beat in eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients; mix until combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. To make the lavender glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add lavender extract and lemon zest. Stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the lemon cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle with lavender buds. Allow glaze to harden before cutting into bars.

Flaky Strawberry Turnovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Flaky Strawberry Turnovers! Let the experts do what they do best, I always say. That’s the reason I begin with a prepared puff pastry easily found in the freezer section of the grocery store. The flaky light dough is filled with yummy butter and then repeatedly folded and rolled before baking. For you, my peeps, it simply involves thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Pure genius, if you ask me, making the rest of the recipe is a walk in the park.

FLAKY STRAWBERRY TURNOVERS

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, prepared

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Cut into four squares. Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and almond extract. Mix well. In another bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Gently toss until coated. Spread the cream cheese onto the squares of dough, keeping it towards one corner, forming a diagonal. Spoon strawberries over cream cheese. Gently fold the corner over the mixture. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each turnover with beaten egg white. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberry turnovers.

Yams in Pecan Glaze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Yams in Pecan Glaze! Oh. My. Gosh. You have got to make this recipe. There’s still plenty of time before the holidays to switch back to your traditional family favorite if you don’t like it, but think about this a moment. By using canned yams, or sweet potatoes, preparation is a snap. Who knows? You could end up making both. Remember what I said about “Start Smart”? Sometimes that means taking advantage of the numerous products that eliminate the extra leg work. Sugared pecans are such a gourmet treat. Pick up a package of those to add to the decadent pure maple syrup sauce. Read on if you’re curious.

YAMS IN PECAN GLAZE

Ingredients:

29-ounce can cut sweet potatoes in syrup

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sage, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

For Pecan Glaze:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup sugared pecans

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Drain liquid from sweet potatoes into a saucepan. Carefully slice and arrange yams in a casserole dish. Set aside. Boil the liquid over medium heat until only 1/4” covers the bottom of the saucepan. Add butter, sage, thyme, cinnamon, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Mix well. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake 15 minutes. While potatoes are baking, make the pecan glaze. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat. Add sugared pecans. Toss to coat. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add pure maple syrup. Cook 5 minutes longer, or until the pecans are caramelized and syrupy. Pour over sweet potatoes. Return casserole to the oven and bake 5 minutes longer, or until the glaze becomes thick. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs before serving.

Mandarin Orange Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Mandarin Orange Cake! For all those gloomy days out there, a taste of sunshine comes to greet you in a naturally sweet cake. Did you realize mandarin oranges don’t only come in a can? Actually, you know them by other names in the produce department: “Halos” and “Cuties”. Sometimes people refer to mandarin oranges as clementines or tangerines. Small world, huh? Whatever you choose to call them, their pretty color and ease in peeling make them a popular choice. This cake recipe is versatile enough to be baked in a muffin tin, miniature bundt molds, or as a single-layer coffeecake. Something else to think about. The sugary glaze tops it all.

MANDARIN ORANGE CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one orange

1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Orange Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

Orange peel zest, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray miniature bundt molds with nonstick oil with added flour. Sift together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Add egg; mixing well before adding orange extract, vanilla extract, and zest of one orange. Gently fold in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Stir until combined. Divide mixture into miniature bundt molds, filling 2/3 full. Bake 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Prepare orange glaze by combining powdered sugar and orange juice. Stir until smooth. When cakes are golden brown, remove from oven. Cool slightly before inverting molds onto a wire rack. Remove molds. Transfer cakes to a platter to finish cooling. Drizzle with orange glaze and garnish with orange zest. Serve warm.

Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones! Question: What do you get when you cross a cake and a quick bread? Answer: An English Scone, of course! Now here’s an excuse to eat something lightly sweetened in the middle of the day. Scones are popular with brunch or afternoon tea in some countries. They are made in a single-serving size and come in several variations. By adding fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sanding sugar, the results are astounding. Drizzle a lemony glaze on top to transform this beauty into a dessert as well.

ZINGY LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup milk

White sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon Glaze Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large with sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon citrus peel in a large bowl. Add butter and blend until crumbly. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Stir in the milk. On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough. Form into two 6-inch disks. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Gently transfer wedges to the prepared sheet; brush with milk; sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool on the pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze. Serve warm.

Lemon Glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over warm scones.

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Glaze

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Sauce! In honor of an Irish tradition, this classic staple is made with simple ingredients. The hard crust and dense center is very filling and meant to be eaten often with meals. The sign of the cross on top symbolized protection of the family. Since yeast is not used, preparation comes easily and on short notice for unexpected guests who pop in. Make this bread today and the aromas linger to keep your home smelling nice in the days ahead.

IRISH SODA BREAD WITH WHISKEY GLAZE

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup Irish Whiskey, or water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup buttermilk

Irish Whiskey Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon butter, softened

3 teaspoons Irish Whiskey*

*For nonalcoholic glaze, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 2 1/2 teaspoons milk.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease baking sheet. In a small saucepan, combine raisins, Irish whiskey or water, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce to a simmer until the raisins are plump and the liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat. Do not drain. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Add raisins plus liquid. Stir to blend. Gradually stir in buttermilk until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes until smooth. Shape into a round loaf. Transfer to baking sheet. Cut an “X” in the top before baking. Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. While the bread is is in the oven, combine powdered sugar, butter, and Irish whiskey. Stir until creamy. When the bread is finished, brush with glaze. Serve warm.

Danish Pumpkin Spice

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Danish Pumpkin Spice! The mere mention of pumpkin spice sends people into a tizzy. It could be simply because it signifies the turning of a new season and screams, “limited time only!”. The crisp Autumn leaves, smell of woodsmoke, and anticipation of holidays looming on the horizon resurrect desires of nostalgia. We can’t help it. Longings of yesteryear where childhood memories and romantic flashbacks are pause for distraction. Family traditions and customs return to life. This is us.

DANISH PUMPKIN SPICE

Ingredients:

2 tubes crescent rolls (8 count each)

3/4 cup pumpkin purée

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, room temperature

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon chestnut praline syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Unroll crescent rolls into a rectangular shape. Cut along the seam to separate into two equal rectangles. Each rectangle will container four crescent rolls. Press seams together, cutting each rectangle into four squares. When you do this, you will have 8 squares from each tube. Place squares on the silicone baking mat before filling. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin purée, sugar, vanilla extract, allspice, and egg. Whisk until smooth. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin spice mixture into the center of each square. Fold the edges around, by rolling and crimping, to form the Danish. Sprinkle chopped pecans over all. Bake 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cool before glazing. Repeat with remaining dough. To make the glaze, beat Neufchâtel cheese until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Stir gently. Add vanilla extract and chestnut praline syrup. Transfer glaze to a zipper sandwich bag. Snip off the tip of one corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle glaze in stripes over each Danish.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter I

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Icing Glazed French Toast! This is one of those days where little effort produces extraordinary results. I recently purchased a loaf of homemade raisin bread at the Amish Market, the kind smothered in gooey white icing. Later on, I plumped some raisins to add to the glaze, beat a couple eggs, and Voilà. Within minutes, it was transformed into a bakery-fresh gourmet breakfast. The best part, in my opinion, is being able to slice and eat as the craving hits. You can thank me later.

ICING GLAZED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients:

1/4 cup raisins

Boiling water

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons boiling water

2 large eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 slices raisin bread, cut into quarter triangles

Instructions:

Place raisins in a heatproof dish. Boil water. Pour just enough water over raisins to cover. Stir. Let raisins sit 10 minutes to absorb liquid. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Gradually add enough boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and appears like thick cream. It should coat the back of the spoon. Fold the raisins into the icing glaze. Set aside. In a shallow dish, whisk beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm vegetable oil. Dip each portion of raisin bread into the egg batter. Flip to soak bread completely; coat both sides evenly. Transfer to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drizzle with raisin icing glaze. Serve immediately.