What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Liptauer Cheese Spread! I love appetizers. Mostly because they give you permission to graze through a meal. Some say by eating smaller meals more frequently, it can lead to a longer, healthier life. So, around dinner time you could find me uncorking a bottle of nice red wine and nibbling on fruit, cheese, and crudités. This mellow cheese spread offers a blend of anchovy-stuffed green olives, sweet onions, salty capers, and spicy French Dijon mustard. Permission granted, my friends.
LIPTAUER CHEESE SPREAD
8-ounce block of Neufchâtel cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely chopped
12 anchovy-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon French Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon imported capers, chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon paprika
Combine softened Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix until smooth. Add Vidalia onion, anchovy-stuffed green olives, French Dijon mustard, imported capers, caraway seed, and paprika. Mix well. Form into a ball. Chill for one hour. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices and vegetable crudités.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Lemon Berry Cheesecake! There’s something about lemon that makes your head spin, especially on a hot summer day. It might be the refreshing burst of citrus that seems to hydrate the senses. Or it could be the charm of living in the South that makes it incredibly desirable. Perhaps you’re just a sweet-tart kinda soul. Whatever the reason, add a little berry to the mix and it feels like a party. Because time may be a factor, I began with a prepared cake mix. The rest is pure magic.
LEMON BERRY CHEESECAKE
16-ounce box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1 pound powdered sugar
8 ounce block Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Sliced strawberries, garnish
Preheat oven to 325°. Combine cake mix, melted butter, and one egg. Press crust into the bottom of a greased and floured 10” deep dish pie plate. Spread a thin layer of strawberry preserves over crust. Mix powdered sugar, 2 eggs, Neufchâtel cheese and lemon extract until smooth. No lumps should remain. Slowly pour cream cheese mixture over the layer of strawberry preserves. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool and cut into wedges. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Dill Pickle Cheese Spread! You’ve heard of pregnant women craving dill pickles, toddlers munching on them, bar patrons dunking a spear in a mug of beer, and families gobbling down an order of fried dill pickle chips. So what’s the buzz? Why is everyone going crazy over dill pickles? First of all, they practically have no calories at all. They have a crunch that makes your mouth smile. Dill pickles ease in digestion, heartburn, and bloating. Plus, their saltiness helps the body absorb water. I’m sure you can come up with a few reasons of your own.
DILL PICKLE CHEESE SPREAD
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup dill pickle relish, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Assorted vegetables, crackers, and pretzels
Combine cream cheese, dill pickle relish, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Beat until smooth. Fold in cheddar cheese. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with veggies, crackers, and pretzels. Also good on deli sandwiches.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Norwegian Jarlsberg Cheese Spread! Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Jarlsberg cheese originated in Norway as a buttery mild cow’s milk cheese with a sweet nutty flavor. In some photos it may appear similar to Swiss cheese, full of holes, but in essence it is much smoother and richer. Don’t believe me? Order a grilled cheese sandwich made with semi-soft imported Jarlsberg cheese sometime and try not to faint when you are asked to pay a much higher price for this gooey better-than-generic extravagance.
NORWEGIAN JARLSBERG CHEESE SPREAD
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
4 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
1 can (4 ounce size) stuffed green olives, sliced
Sea salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
Mix together Neufchâtel cheese, Jarlsberg cheese, and mayonnaise until well blended. Stir in red onion and green olives. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Form into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour. Roll cheese ball in chopped chives and pecans bits before serving. Spread into crackers or bagel chips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Lox and Bagels! Whenever I serve this for an impassioned brunch, I make an extra effort to use top-quality ingredients. For starters, I choose an over-sized gourmet sesame seed bagel freshly baked that morning at the local Bagel Shoppe. The lox is traditionally smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, sliced thin. It smells divine when I break the seal. The creamy Neufchâtel cheese can either be plain or infused with fresh dill. Herbs make everything better, in my opinion. Red onion slices add a slightly sweet taste while the imported nonpareil capers liven up the open face creation with a salty punch that shatters like a fireball in your mouth. Well done!
LOX AND BAGELS
2 sesame bagels, split and toasted
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1/4 red onion, sliced
4 ounces applewood smoked salmon
2 tablespoons imported capers, nonpareil
Fresh dill sprigs
Mix the Neufchâtel cheese and Greek yogurt until smooth, light, and creamy. Slather onto a toasted bagel. Top with red onion slice, smoked salmon pieces, and imported capers. Garnish with fresh dill sprig.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Xenial Spinach Dip! Take a trip down Memory Lane with this hip 1970s all-star party staple. “I called it!”, shouted my best friend when asked to bring an appetizer to share. Maybe it was the presentation of carrying an artisan bread bowl into the room, or perhaps it was the “healthy” alternative to potato chips and onion dip, or it could have been the standing ovation it got from everyone who tasted it. Think about it….how fun is that to tear off a piece of crusty bread and slather it in creamy spinach mingled with a spicy crunch of water chestnuts. “I called it!”
XENIAL SPINACH DIP
1 pound artisan bread bowl
1 pint Greek yogurt
3 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
10 ounces mayonnaise
8 ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 package Swiss vegetable dry soup mix
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped
In a medium bowl, mix Greek yogurt, Neufchâtel cheese, and mayonnaise. Chill one hour. Add water chestnuts, package of Swiss vegetable dry soup mix, and uncooked spinach. Mix well. Chill one hour longer. Hollow out center of bread bowl. Fill with spinach dip. Serve with raw vegetables.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Quick-Set Party Cheesecakes! You’re stopping by a friend’s house later on and were asked to bring something delish. These miniature cheesecakes are super-easy and can be whipped up in a few minutes first thing in the morning. They refrigerate while you’re at work or the gym, so no worries there. Top with fresh fruit, seedless jam, chocolate bits, or candied ginger. Dust with powdered sugar for a professional finish. Another one-bite wonderful dessert can be found in the Fruit Tart recipe at the following link.
QUICK-SET PARTY CHEESECAKES
24 mini cupcake liners
24 Nilla wafers
2 8-ounce packages Neufchâtel cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh Fruit, Chocolate Chips, or Candied Ginger
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat Neufchâtel cheese and sugar. Add eggs, beating well. Fold in lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Put 1 Nilla wafer in each. Fill with 1 heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours. Garnish with assorted toppings.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ravishing Radish Sandwich! There’s something a little French about nibbling on a radish sandwich. And you can pull it off without raising your pinky finger into the air. Choose an artisan bread such as a crusty baguette or toasted sesame loaf. All you really need is a little butter and sea salt. However, I went one step further and used a creamy Neufchâtel cheese blended with pimento-filled green olives. Can you say, “Oooh, La La”?
RAVISHING RADISH SANDWICH
1 bunch of radishes, washed, stalks removed, and thinly sliced
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
1 loaf artisan bread
1/4 teaspoon Chia seeds
In a small bowl, mix Neufchâtel cheese and green olives until combined. Slice bread evenly on a cutting board and then toast lightly. Slather each slice of bread with cheese spread. Layer radishes on top, randomly squeezing on as many pieces as possible. Sprinkle with chia seeds to garnish. Voilá!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Nutella Strawberry Dip! Here’s a match made in Heaven for chocolate-lovers and strawberries. Try it at home and then think about something new for the next social gathering where you’re asked to bring something yummy to share. It’s so Strawberrylicious, my first word of advice is…double the recipe. You’ll have the ingredients on hand, so go for it. It’s easy to make, kid-friendly, healthy, and sweet. Next stop: Book Club, Girls Night Out, Birthday Celebration, Family Picnic, Block Party. The list goes on and on and on.
NUTELLA STRAWBERRY DIP
3/4 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread
1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1 cup Cool Whip, regular or light
1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish
Fresh Strawberries, sliced in half
Combine Nutella, powdered sugar, and Neufchâtel cheese in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on Low until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip topping. Blend well. Pour into covered bowl. Kept refrigerated until ready to serve. Arrange sliced strawberries on a platter. Pour dip into a serving bowl. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.