What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Zakarian Chocolate Pudding! Sometimes you look to a celebrity chef for inspiration. Today’s feature recipe is brought to you by “Iron Chef”, Geoffrey Zakarian. Although it is filed under Dark Chocolate Pudding, its decadent taste and smooth consistency remind me more of a French Silk Pie. Do I have your undivided attention? Can you hear me now? This is most definitely a chocolate-lovers dream! By serving it in shot glasses, you control the portion and everyone gets a taste. Mr. Zakarian serves it with whipped sour cream. I modified it a bit by adding crushed pistachios and a slice of strawberry.
ZAKARIAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING
6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch sea salt
4 large egg yolks
Whipped sour cream, optional
Strawberries for garnish
Pistachios for garnish
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream and light cream to a bare simmer. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla extract, sea salt, and egg yolks. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking all the while. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into glasses or custard cups. Refrigerate until chief and set, about 3 hours. Serve with whipped sour cream, if desired. Garnish with fresh strawberry slice and chopped pistachios.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Yogurt Tropical Breeze! Breakfast never tasted so good. Elevate an ordinary yogurt serving to something extraordinary by switching to tropical fruits like juicy ripe pineapple and buttery sweet papaya. Instead of granola, sprinkle on toasted coconut for a refreshing taste that will transport you like a summer breeze on a tropical island.
YOGURT TROPICAL BREEZE
16 ounces Greek yogurt
15.25 ounce can tropical mixed fruit; pineapple, red and yellow papaya*
1 small seedless orange, separated into segments
3 strawberries, sliced
2-3 tablespoons toasted coconut
Fresh mint for garnish
Drain fruit, save reserve juice for later. Divide Greek yogurt into serving dishes. Add topical fruit, orange segments, and strawberry slices. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint.
*Kroger brand Tropical Mixed Fruit in fruit nectar, 15.25 oz can. I receive no recompense for recommending this product.
Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: 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: Holiday Party, Book Club, Girls Night Out, Birthday Celebration, Family Gathering, 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.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Foolproof Strawberry Galette! It’s more than the sweet strawberries that make this an appealing dessert. In my opinion, the delicious buttery cream cheese crust is as good as it gets. First of all, to keep your galette foolproof, here are a few tips. Make sure the dough is not too moist or it will turn chewy instead of crisp. Pay attention to the strawberries. If they appear too juicy, add more cornstarch to help the filling thicken. And don’t overfill the galette. Remember, there is no pie plate to contain the abundance. It’s better to make two smaller galettes than a big sloppy one. And lastly, be sure to use parchment paper on the baking sheet or you may find yourself replacing bakeware from the runoff. All that being said, let’s roll.
FOOLPROOF STRAWBERRY GALETTE
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, cubed
1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut up
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sanding sugar
Pulse flour, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor. Add Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Pulse until crumbly. Add 3-4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Remove onto a lightly floured board. Gently knead to tighten dough. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour. Unwrap dough and roll to 1/8 inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Create a 12″ diameter circle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss strawberries with cornstarch, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar. Leaving an inch border, arrange strawberries atop dough. Fold border up and over strawberries to create a rim. Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake galette 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack.
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? Eat More: Cucumber Strawberry Sandwiches! Here’s a combination you will truly enjoy: crisp sliced cucumbers with juicy sweet strawberries. Together they come across as eye candy. Whip up a creamy spread of sea salt butter, Neufchâtel cheese, and Italian seasonings to slather across the top of a toasted slice of artisan rye bread. Add a sprig of dill, sprinkled with tiny thyme leaves to crown things off. The results may find you believing you embarked on a journey through the charming countryside of Tuscany.
CUCUMBER STRAWBERRY SANDWICH
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons sea salt butter, softened
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved
2-4 slices rye bread, toasted
Fresh dill sprig, for garnish
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Cream together Neufchâtel cheese, butter, and yogurt until smooth. Fold in Italian seasoning and dill to blend. Refrigerate one hour. Slice cucumber; halve strawberries. Toast rye bread; slather with seasoned cheese spread. Top with cucumber slices and strawberries. Add dill sprig and thyme leaves for garnish.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Jamba Juice Copycat Smoothie! Everyone gets excited with a copycat version of a well-known brand. Some knockoffs make it, others fall short. I have the advantage of living with a food critic in my own home, my husband. So when I asked him to taste my version of the Caribbean Passion Smoothie, he was very accommodating. Afterward, my favorite question to ask was, “Would you have this again if I made it?” Sometimes the truth hurts, but this time his smile said it all. Here’s a helpful hint: frozen fruit can be thawed slightly and substituted for fresh. Caution: Take it easy. If you slurp it too fast, prepare for a “brain freeze”.
JAMBA JUICE COPYCAT SMOOTHIE
1 cup organic apricot mango juice
1 cup fresh strawberries, tops removed and cut-up
1/2 heaping cup peach slices, if frozen slightly thawed
1 cup orange sherbet
1/2 cup ice
Combine apricot mango juice, cut-up strawberries, sliced peaches, orange sherbet, and ice cubes together in a blender. Pulse to purée, then blend on High until smooth. If necessary, turn off blender to scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Resume. Mixture should be slushy. Pour into glasses. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Sweet Strawberry Salad! Whenever you feel the need to change things up a bit from your ordinary salad, think strawberries! Did you know the strawberry is actually a cousin to the rose family? Truth. In history, they represent love, purity, and perfection. Hmmm. And of course, everyone knows how deliciously sweet they are. Okay, I’m in. Serve a strawberry salad and watch everyone’s face break into a smile. Think strawberries! 🍓
SWEET STRAWBERRY SALAD
1 pound Spring Mix, gently torn
1 quart strawberries, caps removed and halved
4 green onions, snipped
1 cup harvarti cheese, grated
1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped
1/3 cup bacon pieces
1/2 cup lemon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic reduction
Combine Spring Mix salad greens, strawberries, and green onion snips in a large bowl. Gently add cheese to mix. Top with sugared pecans and bacon. Toss with lemon olive oil to coat. Drizzle balsamic reduction over all.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Vinaigrette Vendetta! Every once in awhile it’s nice to step up your game at mealtime. So often we go out to a restaurant and then feel like everything at home is just humdrum and boring. Not true. By changing the ingredients, a completely different flavor is born. Take advantage of the olive oil gourmet shoppes popping up all over. Consultants are eager to have you taste flavored olive oils paired with specialty balsamic vinegars. They will astound you. Flavors like lemon with pomegranate or lime with strawberry are only the beginning. Think about bacon olive oil with maple balsamic. Mmmm. Have I piqued your curiosity?
1/4 cup lime olive oil
1/4 cup strawberry balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons wildflower honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Combine lime olive oil, strawberry balsamic vinegar, red onion, Dijon mustard, wildflower honey, minced garlic, kosher salt, and white pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together until mixed. Pour into a cruet with a stopper. Store in the refrigerator.