What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Raspberry Pots de Crème! A taste of France is knocking on the door, and it arrives at your table in a little porcelain dish. The rich dark chocolate, with a hint of liqueur, satisfies that sweet craving at the end of a meal. Top off each pot de crème with luscious whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and a mint sprig for an extraordinary dessert that is sure to please.
RASPBERRY POTS DE CRÈME
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch sea salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey or preferred liqueur
1 1/3 cups half and half
1 pint raspberries, fresh
1/4 cup raspberry jam
In a blender combine eggs, sugar, salt, chocolate chips, and bourbon whiskey. Blend to break up chocolate. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Do not scorch. Pour milk into blender while it is running. Blend 1 minute to cook eggs and dissolve chocolate. Immediately pour into small coffee cups or porcelain ramekins. Refrigerate 3-4 hours until firm. Warm the raspberry jam for 20 seconds in the microwave oven. Add fresh raspberries to make a sauce. To serve, place a dollop of whipped cream over the chocolate. Spoon raspberry sauce over whipped cream. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Festive Foods: Jell-O Shots With Sugared Cranberries! The holidays ring in the cheer with festive activities, enticing food, and snappy beverages. Make things awesome with dressed up Jell-O shots that cap off any occasion. Not only do they have an elegant look, but they satisfy the sweet tooth as a miniature dessert. By creating a garnish of fresh fruit with the sugared cranberries, it’s a classy finish with a gourmet twist!
JELL-O SHOTS WITH SUGARED CRANBERRIES
For Make-Ahead Sugared Cranberries:
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup filtered water
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup filtered water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Add cranberries. To prevent cranberries from bursting, do not boil. Stir until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a wire rack. Let dry for one hour. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Store in airtight container.
Ingredients for Jell-o Shots:
3-ounce package raspberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup ice water
Empty contents of raspberry gelatin packet into a mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and amaretto liqueur and iced water. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate until set, 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs just before serving.
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
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup cherries, stems and stones removed; halved
2 tablespoons brandy
Vanilla Ice Cream
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Sipping Sangria! The weather is great, the weekend is here. Get ready to party. Psst. Wine lovers lean in. This crowd-pleasing punch can be thrown together beforehand since the flavor gets better with time. Choose your favorite dry red wine. No worries. It’ll sweeten up from the chopped fruit, juices, and agave nectar. Hold the fizziness until just before serving. The colors are not only festive but invigorating. Then sit back, cool off, and sip away.
5 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup apricot brandy
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 1/2 cups blood orange juice
1/4 cup grenadine
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cups sparkling water or carbonated beverage
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, cut in wedges
Grapes for garnish
In a large pitcher, combine dry red wine, apricot brandy, orange liqueur, blood orange juice, grenadine, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice, and fresh lime juice. Stir well. Add lime, lemon, orange slices and apple wedges. Refrigerate for one hour. Before serving, add sparkling water. Stir. Fill stemmed glasses with ice, add sangria, and garnish with fruit.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Financier Almond Cake! Not everyone lives around the corner from the best pastry shops in Paris. So we manage by baking at home. My son, Johnny, and his wife, Katie, treated me to their gluten-free version of a popular French sweet. Know what you get when you combine ground natural almonds, luscious brown butter, and airy egg whites? Clue: It’s a French pastry chef’s dream! By choosing a small cupcake mold or ramekin, this springy honey-sweet dessert becomes a star attraction at the end of a meal. Drizzle it with a lightly sweetened St~Germaine glaze, top it with a fresh raspberry crown, and you’re bound to feel a tiny bit Parisienne. Ooh-la-la!
FINANCIER ALMOND CAKE
Ingredients for Cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon natural honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 2 ramekins or coat a 6-count muffin tin with butter or nonstick oil. Set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat. Do not burn. Simmer until brown bits begin to form. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently to scrape the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until butter turns dark brown, not burnt, for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pulse the sliced almonds and coconut flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer flour mixture to a medium bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Fold in the egg whites, mixing until smooth. Gently stir in the honey. Finally, fold in the cooled brown butter. Stir until batter is smooth. Spoon into the greased ramekins or muffin pan. Spread batter evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. If using a muffin pan, invert after 5 minutes to remove mini-cakes from pan.
Ingredients for Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons St~Germaine liqueur
Fresh raspberries for Garnish
1 teaspoon ground almonds for Garnish
Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in St~Germaine liqueur until a smooth consistency is reached. Gently spoon the glaze over the top of the cakes. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of ground almonds.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Kiwi Granita Siciliana! Everyone knows Italy is famous for its pasta, wine, and pizza. It is also known for its granitas, a semi-frozen fruit concoction that can be served as a dessert at the end of a meal or to cleanse the palate between courses. Choose a flavor that mirrors your mood. Or choose one that reflects the season. The liquid can vary from champagne to coffee. I wanted to combine the melon-like fragrance of elderflower liqueur balancing the sweetness of ripened kiwi fruit with citrus undertones of lemongrass green tea. The results, in my opinion, are refreshingly harmonious. Ease into summer with charm and grace.
KIWI GRANITA SICILIANA
6 kiwi, ripe
1 cup green lemongrass tea, chilled
1/2 cup St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
Peel kiwi fruit and place in a mini chopper. Pulse until smooth; it should appear the consistency of a purée. Transfer to a freezer-safe dish. Add green lemongrass tea, elderflower liqueur, sugar, and fresh lime juice. Mix well. Cover and freeze overnight. Using a fork, scrape icy shavings into the middle of the container until the entire mixture is in the form of flaky crystals. Keep frozen until ready to serve. Garnish with lime wedge.
As many of you are aware, my husband and I recently travelled to Boston, Massachusetts. Our visit there enveloped us in historical harmony and direct presence with local residents who live and work there every day. Because the outreach of friendship and good will impacted us as such a positive experience, I felt compelled to share one of those delightful encounters.
One afternoon as we strolled along the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, passing eye-catching windows adorned with overflowing flower boxes, the distant music and savory scents transported us to an Old World country rich in charm, spirit, and passion. Over the threshold, featuring Tuscan-style architecture, we entered a casually elegant corner specialty shop. Taste the “Dreams of Sorrento” was the personal invitation we received inside from Jeff Cirace, an established pillar in the community.* His masterpiece, Sorrento Lemoncello, is an extraordinarily distinguished lemon liqueur. It tells a story all its own. It brings the romance of Italy to your very own home. (And who doesn’t love romance?) The exceptional quality of organic lemons grown on the hillside of the Amalfi Coast is the secret to its intense aroma and exquisite citrus flavor. Not only were we intrigued and fascinated by our conversation with Jeff, but his personal attention to detail had us spellbound. We had to get some of this Lemoncello! And, without regrets, we ordered a gift basket. I look forward to sharing recipes with you that are enhanced by this fabulous flavor. Stay tuned…
*V. Cirace & Son is a family-owned business continuing the tradition of selling fine wine and spirits since 1906 in Boston’s vibrant historic North End of Little Italy.