Iced Peach Spritzers

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

Ingredients:

4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 8 wedges each

1/4 cup sugar

1 bottle white wine, chilled

12 ounces seltzer water

Instructions:

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.

Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Nutmeg Cinnamon Popovers! Don’t hate me. These bakery-style popovers come with a warning label: Highly Addictive! Perhaps I might include a disclaimer. If you never suffer with sweet tooth cravings or for some unknown reason dislike cinnamon, no worries. For the rest of us, all I can say is “Try to resist licking your fingers!”.

NUTMEG CINNAMON POPOVERS

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

2 cups light cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons almond extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 cups flour

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Move the oven rack one setting below the middle row. Grease a 12-count bouchon pan. In a food processor, combine eggs, light cream, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, sea salt, sugar, and flour. Blend until no lumps remain and batter is light yellow and frothy, approximately one minute. Fill each bouchon cup 2/3 full. Do not overfill. (Refrigerate leftover batter until ready to make the next batch. At that time, use a whisk to vigorously stir the batter.) Place bouchon pan in the oven; bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven door during baking or the popovers will deflate. When golden brown, remove from the oven. After 2 minutes in the pan, transfer popovers to a wire rack. Do not allow them to cool in the pan or they may turn soggy. Meanwhile place melted butter in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Take a popover and brush it with melted butter to coat. Place the popover in the sugar mixture and roll to coat. Repeat with entire batch of popovers.

Foolproof Strawberry Galette

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Watermelon Waffle Wedges

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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

Rum Raisin Cookies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Rum Raisin Cookies! Before you turn the page, let me clarify…you can choose to omit the rum in this recipe and substitute with water and opt for rum extract instead. Either way, if you’re a raisin-lover, this version puts the “plump” in raisin to make them moist and chewy. In the time it takes to preheat the oven and assemble the remaining ingredients, the raisins are ready to use. Trust me, everyone will thank you!

RUM RAISIN COOKIES

Ingredients:

2 cups raisins

1 cup dark rum

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine raisins and rum. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside; do not drain. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add the slightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix thoroughly before folding in the raisins and chopped almonds. Drop with a tablespoon 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cool on wired rack.

‘Mazing Mango Salsa

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: ‘Mazing Mango Salsa! Turn Taco Tuesday into one more reason to celebrate. Take ordinary salsa and kick it up a notch into a flavor explosion that is as sweet as it is spicy. Honey mangoes make all the difference when paired with tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro. One scoop of a chip and you may find yourself filling up before the meal is served. No worries. Sit back, relax, add a classic lime margarita on-the-rocks, and turn it into “Happy Hour”.

‘MAZING MANGO SALSA

Ingredients:

2 honey mangoes, peeled and diced

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 tablespoon pimento, chopped

3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss gently to mix. Refrigerate one hour. Serve with warm salted tortilla chips.

Pig Candy Bacon

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Pig Candy Bacon! If you ever needed a reason to eat candy for breakfast, permission granted. This marriage of brown sugar, spices, and hickory smoked bacon is the best idea since sliced bread! You’ll want to choose thick bacon to hold all the seasonings. Line a pan with foil despite the fact a rack is used; it just makes clean up that much faster. If you don’t….well, let’s just say the other people in your house won’t be waiting around for you. Once the glazed sweetmeat is taken out of the oven, all bets are off. The line forms here.

PIG CANDY BACON

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon wasabi powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons chili powder

8-10 slices bacon, thick cut

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix brown sugar, black pepper, wasabi powder, cayenne pepper, and chili powder in a deep baking dish. Add bacon, one strip at a time; toss to coat well. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place a wire rack on pan. Lay bacon strips on rack in a single layer without overlapping. Place baking sheet one setting below top rack in oven. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until crisp. There is no need to turn the bacon. Carefully remove pan from oven. Let caramelized bacon cool slightly before transferring with a tongs to parchment paper.* Serve as a breakfast companion, appetizer, or snack.

* The second time I made Pig Candy, I pierced them with bamboo skewers after they were baked and they were spot on!

Kiwi Granita Siciliana

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

Ingredients:

6 kiwi, ripe

1 cup green lemongrass tea, chilled

1/2 cup St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

Instructions:

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.