What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Rainbow Fruit Cup! As the seasons roll on, here’s a friendly reminder about buying fresh fruit. Most grocers feature fruits that are always in season, such as apples, bananas, and grapes. If you pay attention to the first ones you see as you walk in the door or in high traffic areas, most likely you’ll reap the savings. That’s one clue. If the store has an abundance of something on hand, they focus on “pushing” it through quickly, which translates BEFORE it becomes overripe. Consumers can take advantage of the prices while enjoying healthy options. Rainbow fruit simply means combining different colors for plate appeal. Keep in mind that canned fruit can be substituted at times. I like balancing out pineapple chunks or mandarin oranges along with fresh fruit. No worries. The citrus dressing will pull everything together nicely.
RAINBOW FRUIT CUP
1 cup strawberries, stems removed and quartered
1 cup blueberries
1 peach, sliced with skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons organic mango orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon raw acacia honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon citrus peel, granulated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Combine sliced strawberries, blueberries, and peaches in a bowl. Toss lightly to mix. For dressing, combine lemon juice, mango orange juice, lemon olive oil, acacia honey, lemon citrus peel, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk together until blended. Pour over fruit salad. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Iced Peach Spritzers! Ripe peaches are succulent and running-down-your-chin juicy. When you have an abundance of them, think peach cocktails. By adding a sparkling mixer, such as seltzer water or Prosecco, you’ll feel as though every meal is as special as dining out. The blend of flavors and textures is far from ho-hum. Both versions are suitable for mixed company. Go completely non-alcoholic or throw together a grown-up concoction made with a nice white wine and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.
ICED PEACH SPRITZERS
4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 8 wedges each
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle white wine, chilled
12 ounces seltzer water
Layer peach wedges on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. To serve, place 3-4 frozen peach wedges into a stemmed glass. Add 3 ounces of white wine. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of seltzer water over top. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Date Chile Salad! One of the best kept secrets in cooking is infused olives oils. It kicks things up a notch. The flavors intensify ordinary ingredients by beginning with organic and aromatic extra virgin olive oils, which in turn, are infused with delightful natural flavors. Some oils contain the essence of herbs, while others may be crushed with fresh citrus or toasted seeds. Be adventurous. Visit a specialty store where premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold. Most stores offer samples to encourage “taste testing”. One of my favorites is Lime Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. Another is Sicilian Lemon Olive Oil paired with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar. Recently I added an Italian Black Truffle Oil to my collection. I was told it tastes divine drizzled over popcorn or as a finishing oil on pizza. I can’t wait!
DATE CHILE SALAD
2 navel oranges, pith and peel removed
1/3 cup dried dates, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 red or green jalapeño pepper, sliced into rings
1/2 serrano chile pepper, sliced into rings
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1-2 tablespoons lime olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Slice oranges into thin rounds. Arrange on two salad plates or bowls. Divide chopped dates between them. Sprinkle on crumbled feta cheese. Add jalapeño and serrano pepper rings. Tuck in mint leaves. Drizzle lime olive oil over salads. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Watermelon Waffle Wedges! Bring back childhood memories of lazy summer days leaning against the back porch chomping on a mouthwatering slice of watermelon. As the juice runs down your chin, a swipe of the shirt sleeve doubles as a napkin. Your mischievous brother takes aim at your bare feet, shooting tiny black seeds as if his mouth is a pea shooter. You squeal with delight and sometimes run away. Those were the days. Now we think about nutrition. That’s okay. Watermelon, with its juicy red flesh, is high in lycopene which makes it heart-healthy. Chomp away.
WATERMELON WAFFLE WEDGES
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 slices watermelon, cut in wedges
Maple syrup, to taste
Butter, to taste
Strawberries, cherries, almonds, powdered sugar, mint sprig for Garnish
Preheat waffle iron. Place eggs in a bowl and beat on medium-high using a hand mixer. Eggs will get fluffy. Slowly add flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat just until smooth. Brush waffle iron with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray. Pour mix into waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve warm with watermelon wedges, strawberries, cherries, almond slices. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh mint.
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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Iced Sorbet Bombe! This dessert is refreshing, cold, and light. It is so versatile, any combination of ice cream, fruit sherbet, frozen yogurt, or gluten-free sorbet can be used. No baking is necessary, assembly is a snap, and the presentation is spot on! Make it as healthy as you choose….or as decadent as you deserve. Everyone wins! Be warned, you may find yourself tip-toeing to the freezer for “just a bite” now and then. It doesn’t take long to disappear until the next one is made. No worries.
ICED SORBET BOMBE
1 pint raspberry sorbet, softened
1 pint lemon sorbet, softened
1 pint pomegranate açai blueberry sorbet, softened
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur, optional
1/3 cup frozen raspberries
Fresh mint for garnish
Choose a fluted jello mold, small bundt pan, or glass bell jar. Step one: pack the raspberry sorbet into the bottom of the mold. Smooth the top to keep the layer even. Transfer the mold to the freezer for one hour or until sorbet is firm. Step two: pack the lemon sorbet on top of the raspberry layer. Smooth the top to keep the layer even. Freeze again for one hour. Step three: repeat process with the pomegranate açai blueberry sorbet. Make sure the final layer is completely smooth. It is helpful to cover the mold with foil and place a plate on top to double check. Freeze for two hours. Warm the raspberry jam just enough to make it a thick sauce. Add the Amaretto liqueur and stir. Gently fold in frozen raspberries. To un-mold the Bombe, dip the upright container in warm water to the rim only. Invert onto a decorative plate. Tap to release and carefully raise the mold. Garnish with raspberry sauce and fresh mint. Slice to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Mouth-Watering Strawberry Mint Salad! Before the frost sets in, I wanted to take advantage of the lingering crop of fresh mint in the herb garden. What better way than to give it center stage in this appetizing side salad? It’s refreshing, light, aromatic, and appealing to the eye. Experience your first bite through the sense of sight, then follow your heart to the nearest market and pick up 3 simple ingredients to create your own masterpiece.
MOUTH-WATERING STRAWBERRY MINT SALAD
1 quart of fresh strawberries
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 sprigs of fresh mint leaves
Rinse strawberries and pat dry. Remove tops and discard. Slice strawberries into quarters. Place portions into chilled salad bowls. Spoon feta crumbles over strawberries. Tuck mint leaves throughout. Serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Quinoa Buckwheat Pancakes! Before you roll your eyes and walk away, let me assure you these pancakes are amazing. My husband had no idea the secret ingredient was quinoa. Honestly. Since I cooked the quinoa the day before, it blended nicely with the buckwheat batter resulting in moist and light pancakes. Better yet, there was no heavy feeling afterwards. You should try it.
QUINOA BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES
1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup buckwheat pancake mix
1 egg plus 1 egg-white
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Mint for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa and buckwheat pancake mix. In another bowl, whisk together egg, egg-white, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix well. Coat a hot griddle with butter, vegetable oil, or nonstick spray. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons. Cook 2 minutes until bubbles appear. Flip buckwheat cakes to cook underside for 2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter. Reduce heat to medium to avoid burning, if necessary. Serve a stack of quinoa buckwheat pancakes with fresh blueberries, unsalted butter, and pure maple syrup. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Garnish with chopped mint.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Vodka Jello Shots! As a child of the ’60s, one of my favorite desserts was fruit-flavored gelatin. Sometimes it would have sliced bananas, strawberries, carrots, or fruit cocktail mixed in. The recipe was pretty simple. Add water and stir. Nowadays, substituting part of the water for a popular distilled spirit turns a childhood dessert into a slurpable cocktail. Drink responsibly.
VODKA JELLO SHOTS
3-ounce package orange gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup iced water
1/2 cup vodka
Fresh mint leaves
Empty contents of orange gelatin packet into a large bowl. Add boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add iced water and vodka. Stir well. Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate four hours or until set. Garnish with fresh mint before serving.