Icebox Lemon-Lavender Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Icebox Lemon-Lavender Pie! Are you ready for a decadent dessert that is light, luscious, and requires no baking? Take a trip with me down South, where the summers are balmy and the desserts are as cool and refreshing as a glass of southern iced tea. The dessert begins with a foolproof graham cracker crust, store-bought is fine. The filling is a blend of tart lemon and flowery lavender swaddled in a lush sweet creamy texture that literally melts in your mouth. Mix it all together and pop it in the freezer, although it won’t stay there for long.

ICEBOX LEMON-LAVENDER PIE

Ingredients:

1 graham cracker crust

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon lavender extract

3/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon citrus peel, granulated

1 tablespoon organic lavender buds, dried

Lavender sprigs for garnish

Instructions:

Chill prepared pie crust, stand mixer bowl, and beater beforehand. Mix sweetened condensed milk, lemon extract, and lavender extract on Low setting until blended. Add lemon juice and citrus peel, mixing until filling thickens and is smooth. Fold in lavender buds. Pour into chilled pie crust. Cover and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer, cut, and serve. Garnish with fresh lavender sprigs. Store leftovers in the freezer.

Flaming Cherries Jubilee

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Flaming Cherries Jubilee! Here’s a dessert that always leaves a nice impression. And why wouldn’t it? After all, it was specially prepared for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration in the late 1800’s. Hence the name. Begin with the season’s plump and juicy cherries found at the local Farmer’s Market or neighborhood grocery. Gently warm them in a sweet simple syrup. Add brandy and ignite for an amazing presentation. Then serve over bowls of ice cream. Super-simple yet super-delish!

FLAMING CHERRIES JUBILEE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

Lemon rind

1 cup cherries, stems and stones removed; halved

2 tablespoons brandy

Vanilla Ice Cream

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and lemon rind. Stir to dissolve sugar. Boil for 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens. Reduce heat to simmer, add cherries. Cook over low heat until fruit is softened. The syrup will turn color to match the cherries. Remove the lemon rind; discard. Add the brandy, but do not boil. Turn off stove. Flame the cherries with a kitchen torch. Using a spoon, baste cherries with liqueur and juices until the flames extinguish. Spoon over bowls of vanilla ice cream. Serve warm.

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.

USA Happy Snack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: USA Happy Snack! Did I ever tell you I spent my childhood surrounded by apple trees? It’s one of my favorite memories, growing up in the Midwest. If I was in a feisty mood, I’d nibble on sour green apples. Forget that my impatience may have caused a tart pursing of the lips and a slight ache in the stomach. As the apples ripened, I’d pluck the prettiest one off the tree, rub it against my knee for a mirrored sheen, and admire its beauty. Sometimes I’d twist the stem until it broke, reciting my ABCs. Whatever letter I was on when the stem splintered away became the name of my next boyfriend. But not if it matched my brothers’ names. That didn’t count. Here’s to all-American healthy food wrapped up in a little nostalgia.

USA HAPPY SNACK

Ingredients:

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 slices smoked Virginia ham

4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thick

Fresh mint

Instructions:

Brush the sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut the ham slices in half. Take one apple slice and place it on top of a piece of cheddar cheese. Wrap them with one piece of ham, seam side down. Tuck a sprig of fresh mint into the snack. Enjoy!

Lemon Pepper Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Lemon Pepper Pasta! Have you ever had one of those days when things just fall into place and you cook like a gourmet chef? And then, because everyone is starv-ing, you are halfway through the meal before you realize you forgot to take the food photo? Well, this is what an (almost) clean plate looks like! lol Perhaps it’s absent-mindedness, or maybe….yes, maybe…it’s just that good!

LEMON PEPPER PASTA

Ingredients:

8-ounces lemon pepper pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 green onions, chopped

8-ounces ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed on package. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm olive oil and bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shiitake mushrooms sprinkled with garlic powder; cook until soft. Add Roma tomatoes. Sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Reduce heat and stir gently. Add chopped green onion. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in spinach and heat on low 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain lemon pepper pasta. Add to spinach mixture. Toss to coat. Heat through and serve immediately.

Island Coconut Shrimp

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Island Coconut Shrimp! After making this popular seafood appetizer at home, I realized what a bargain it was to do it myself. No more puny orders of 4 or 5 shrimp to share like when we go to a restaurant. lol. I’m sure my husband appreciates that little detail. Every ingredient was already on hand in my kitchen, making it a breeze. If you’re a shrimp-lover, like I am, put this recipe in your file entitled, “My Favorites!”

ISLAND COCONUT SHRIMP

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen shrimp, thawed with tails on

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened

Vegetable oil for frying

Jezebel Sauce for dipping*

Fresh Pineapple chunks

Instructions:

Combine coconut flour, sea salt, and cracked black pepper on a sheet of waxed paper. Set aside. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs until blended. Set aside. In a bowl, mix together Panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut. Set aside. Working one at a time, dust the shrimp with the flour mixture. Dip the flour-coated shrimp in the egg batter, then dredge it in the coconut mixture. Coat well. Place the shrimp on a platter. Repeat until all shrimp have been breaded. Using an iron skillet, add enough vegetable oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Heat oil on medium heat. Working in batches if 5-6 shrimp, fry the coconut shrimp 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Watch carefully. Remove shrimp and place on a paper towel-lined platter. Repeat until all shrimp have been fried. Serve on skewers with Jezebel Sauce* and pineapple chunks.

*Follow the link for this tasty Jezebel Sauce.

https://snapshotsincursive.com/2017/03/30

Zinfandel Pairings

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Zinfandel Pairings! Just when I thought I’d seen it all, there in the produce department perched on the bottom shelf below its green and red cousins, was a small bin of larger-than-life black seedless grapes. Immediately I was intrigued. The hand-scribbled sign boasted sweet and tart beyond your wildest dreams. That’s it. Nothing more than “Product of USA” on the package. It didn’t matter. It was love-at-first-sight. I knew immediately that a Zinfandel wine and tangy cheese would join the impromptu Date Night that was forming in my mind. Later on, after I got home, I read all kinds of powerful benefits these precious little gems do for the body, mind, and soul. What a perfect prologue for guilt-free delicacies.

ZINFANDEL PAIRINGS

Ingredients:

1 pound black seedless grapes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, block

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup honeycomb

Multigrain French Bread slices, lightly toasted

Raw Honey, for drizzling

Lemon Thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small dish, combine olive oil, sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Wash cluster of black grapes; pat dry. Place grapes on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, generously coat the grapes with the olive oil mixture. Roast for 30 minutes. Grapes will release juice and begin to wrinkle. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 375°. Break the feta cheese into rough chunks. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with nonstick oil. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon zest. Drizzle with raw honey. Bake for 15 minutes until softened. Broil until slightly golden. Watch carefully. To serve, spread warm cheese on toasted baguette slices. Top with a piece of honeycomb. Place a roasted grape over the cheese. Drizzle with raw honey. Garnish with lemon thyme. Serve with a slightly chilled glass of red Zinfandel.

Versatile Fig-Glazed Cornish Hen

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Versatile Fig-Glazed Cornish Hen! When an evening meal becomes a dinner date for two, make it extra-special by choosing something out of the ordinary. A luxury, so to speak. Cornish hens are an individual serving, which makes them that much more appealing on the dinner plate. Typically they run in size around 1 1/2 pounds, which is perfect. The meat is quite tender and moist with a subtle chicken flavor. Whether it’s a romantic celebration or just because, turn on some music, open a bottle of wine, gaze into each other’s eyes, and enjoy the ambiance. Candlelight is purely optional.

VERSATILE FIG-GLAZED CORNISH HEN

Ingredients for Cornish Hens:

20-ounce each Cornish hens, twin pack, frozen and thawed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Ingredients for Fig Glaze:

1/4 cup chili-fig jam

1/4 cup port wine

1/4 cup balsamic reduction

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, quarter lemon

Pinch of kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a dutch oven with nonstick oil. Set aside. Wash the Cornish hens; pat dry. Season the cavities with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place a rosemary sprig inside. Secure the legs and wings with cooking twine. Transfer birds to the dutch oven. Dot the top of each Cornish hen with butter. Bake 45 minutes. While the hens are roasting, make the fig glaze. Place a small pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add chili-fig jam, port wine, balsamic reduction, butter, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Allow mixture to reduce to a syrupy consistency, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Baste the birds with the fig sauce during the last 10 minutes of roasting. The Cornish hens are done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°, and juices run clear. The skin should be golden brown and crispy. Remove pan from oven. Tent the pan with aluminum foil to keep warm. Allow the birds to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tails of Maine Lobster

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? After the Holidays: Tails of Maine Lobster! There’s an upside to living through a pandemic. Practically everything is available to order from computer-to-doorstep. And that includes Maine hard shell lobsters, especially when you live in a state that is landlocked. Of course, you still have to do a little homework by reading reviews and asking questions on Live Chat websites. We found talking directly to a customer service representative can answer a lot of confusing questions and bring clarity. In turn, you never know when an actual salesperson of the company will offer an unexpected special to entice the purchase further. I guarantee you, it’s absolutely worth the time. The results are simply delicious.

TAILS OF MAINE LOBSTER

Ingredients:

2 6-ounce frozen lobster tails, thawed

2 tablespoons sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 lemon, for zest

1 lemon, quartered for garnish

Instructions:

Before cooking the lobster tails, make the clarified butter. In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Do not stir. Allow the butter to melt without turning brown. Gradually a white foam will appear on the surface. Allow the melted butter to stand for 5 minutes. Tilt the saucepan to carefully spoon the white foam off the top. This may take several steps. Strain the clarified butter through a cheesecloth to remove any milk solids. This will discard any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer clarified butter back to the saucepan to keep warm. Divide the lemon zest into single-serving dipping bowls. Set aside. To make the lobster tails, bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and add sea salt. Drop tails in one at a time. Cook the lobster for 5 minutes. Set a timer to avoid overcooking. The lobsters will be bright red when done. Using metal tongs and a large strainer, take the tails out of the boiling water. Transfer to two dinner plates. Pour the clarified butter over the lemon zest in the dipping bowls. Garnish with lemon wedge. Serve immediately.