Poppyseed Dressing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Poppyseed Dressing! Behold, the mystical, magical world of poppyseeds. It’s not just for sprinkling on bagels, breads, and lemon muffins. Poppyseeds are kind of like that wild free-spirited girlfriend your mother didn’t really want you hanging around with in high school. She had a dark side that sometimes ditched school to hang out at a local coffee shop to smoke cigarettes and hear stories about the waitress’s latest boyfriend who rode a motorcycle and smoked pot. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about avoiding drug tests that detect a positive result for opiates. Alas, poppyseeds are a source of morphine and codeine. But that doesn’t mean the blueish-black seeds will get you high. Just happy. Their deeply nutty toasted flavor also reveals an enjoyable crunch. Maybe that’s the attraction after all.

POPPYSEED DRESSING

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon poppyseeds

1/4 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and sugar. Add dried mustard, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and poppyseeds. Stir well. Add garlic wine vinegar; continue stirring. Slowly add olive oil, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a jar. Allow flavors to enhance at room temperature. Drizzle over prepared salad.

Lavender Lemon Meltaways

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Lavender Lemon Meltaways! Are you still on the fence about tasting the flavor of lavender? Is it possible you believe it’s way too close to air freshener or bath soap? Think about this a moment…one of the most popular cooking staples in France is dried herbes de Provence. Lavender is in there. It’s a distant cousin to rosemary, which is one reason the leaves can appear similar in young plants. The taste of lavender has a slight undertone of fresh mint, making it a perfect partner for lemon in homemade cakes, creamy frostings, and sprinkled on ice cream. Now I see I have your full attention.

LAVENDER LEMON MELTAWAYS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs

Lavender Glaze Ingredients:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon lavender extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Lavender buds, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. One at a time, beat in eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients; mix until combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. To make the lavender glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add lavender extract and lemon zest. Stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the lemon cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle with lavender buds. Allow glaze to harden before cutting into bars.

Donut Strawberry Shortcake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Donut Strawberry Shortcake! Whether you celebrate your own version of “Doughnut Day” or stick to the declared ones on the national calendar twice a year, here is one more reason to indulge yourself. Transform an ordinary glazed donut into a strawberry shortcake. Begin with a delicious deep-fried glazed doughnut, bakery-fresh. Slice it horizontally to remove the top. Ladle on the ripe and juicy strawberries. The fruit filling is nothing but fresh strawberries mixed with a little sugar. For a thicker sauce simply warm a spoonful or two of strawberry jam and stir. Cover the strawberry layer with a luscious blanket of whipped cream. Replace the top and add more berries, if desired. Perhaps now you, like me, see no reason to wait until the declared holidays roll around.

DONUT STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

Ingredients:

4 glazed cake donuts, split lengthwise

1 pound fresh strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1-2 tablespoons strawberry jam, warmed

1 cup heavy cream, cold

1/2 cup Greek yogurt, cold

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, and warmed jam. Partially mash some of the berries. Gently stir; rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, make whipped cream. Combine heavy cream and Greek yogurt. Whip 4-5 minutes until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whip 1 minute longer until fluffy. Place each donut on a dessert plate. Remove top. Fill with strawberry mixture, then whipped cream. Replace top; spoon additional strawberries over donut hole. Serve immediately.

Zucchini Brownies

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Zucchini Brownies! There’s only one reason you ever need to mention the title of this dessert, and that is to avoid a food allergy to zucchini. Honestly, most people will raise their nose and never give it a chance if they know it’s in there. You cannot taste it. To prove it, I served this sweet treat to adults as well as kids. I heard comments like, “That fudge is super amazing!” These brownies are truly rich and fudgy, not to mention packed with healthy nutrients. Go for it.

ZUCCHINI BROWNIES

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

Powdered Sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs, one at a time for one minute each, until the mixture is light and creamy. Gently stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until just blended together. Fold in the grated zucchini. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-50 minutes. Brownies are done when center is set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with tiny crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Quandary About Pearl Onions

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Quandary About Pearl Onions! What can you do with a jar of pickled pearl onions, besides the obvious Gibson Martini? Believe it or not, these tiny jewels can be eaten as a snack. They also add an amazing zest to garden salads, charcuterie boards, soups, and grilled or roasted meats. Their refreshing taste might even be served to cleanse the palate between dinner courses. Eat them whole or sliced in half. Be adventurous. And when you get to the bottom of the jar, take heart. You can always make another.

QUANDARY ABOUT PEARL ONIONS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup dry vermouth

4 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

8 ounces pearl onions, frozen

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Instructions:

Bring rice vinegar, dry vermouth, sugar, and kosher salt to a boil. Pack frozen pearl onions, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns into a glass jar. Pour in liquid. Allow to cool completely. Cover; refrigerate one week before using.

Pickled Red Onions

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Pickled Red Onions! What’s the buzz over pickled red onions? This relatively new condiment seems to be grabbing center stage with pizza, burgers, and tacos. True, the raw red onion can come across a lot more potent than its yellow cousin. Some even consider it bitter. I find it very appealing when sliced razor thin. Now you have another alternative. When pickled, their tangy sweetness becomes so unique it may appear as though a secret ingredient suddenly turned the dish into a gourmet delight. Before long pickled red onions may find themselves as popular as ketchup and mustard.

PICKLED RED ONIONS

Ingredients:

1 red onion

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup garlic wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Slice the top and bottom off the onion. Slice onion in half from top to bottom. Remove outer skin; discard. Slice red onion into half moons, about 1/8” thick. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together apple cider vinegar, garlic wine vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt. Place over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Whisk until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove pan from heat and whisk in allspice and red pepper flakes. Add sliced onions to the pan; gently stir to combine. Allow mixture to cool completely at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour into a glass container. Cover tightly with a lid. Refrigerate overnight. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Lemon Curd Tarts

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Lemon Curd Tarts! Attention all lemon lovers. There comes a time in every woman’s life when she is in dire need of a sweet-tasting dessert. I have a secret that will blow your mind. Go halfway down the bakery aisle at your favorite grocery store and keep your eyes wide open along the top row of jars. In between the maraschino cherries and the blueberry pie filling is a small jar of gourmet lemon curd. Grab it fast. If you need to glance at the list of ingredients, be my guest. You’ll find lemon, eggs, butter, sugar, and usually tapioca starch as a thickening agent. All good stuff, in my opinion. Buy it, refrigerate it, and guard it like the holy grail. Read on and you’ll understand why.

LEMON CURD TARTS

Ingredients:

15-count box frozen phyllo shells, thawed

10-ounce jar lemon curd

1/2 pint fresh blackberries

Mint leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove phyllo shells from packaging. Place empty shells on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 3-5 minutes until crisp. Allow shells to cool before filling. Rinse blueberries and pat dry with a paper towel. Place a dollop of lemon curd in each phyllo shell. Add a blackberry. Garnish with a mint leaf. Place the pretty lemon curd tart on a serving tray. Repeat with remaining shells until all are filled. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Instant Dutch Baby

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Instant Dutch Baby! Be innovative. When my Hawaiian friend, Dillyn, sent me a care package of unique foods from the island, I knew I would make something special to show her. I began with the popular chocolate macadamia nut pancake mix, tweaked it a little, and transformed it into a festive weekend breakfast for two. Everything tastes better with chocolate, doesn’t it? With mini morsels in the batter as well as a sprinkling on top, the flavor was ribboned throughout making one forget about the need for extra syrup. A final dusting of powdered sugar provided a tempting image to share long distance. She approved with glee and open delight. Mahalo!

INSTANT DUTCH BABY

Ingredients:

6 ounces chocolate macadamia nut pancake mix

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus 1 tablespoon for topping

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a one-quart ovenproof baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine pancake mix, egg, and milk in a bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix until the large lumps are gone. Fold in 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 25 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Flaky Strawberry Turnovers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Flaky Strawberry Turnovers! Let the experts do what they do best, I always say. That’s the reason I begin with a prepared puff pastry easily found in the freezer section of the grocery store. The flaky light dough is filled with yummy butter and then repeatedly folded and rolled before baking. For you, my peeps, it simply involves thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Pure genius, if you ask me, making the rest of the recipe is a walk in the park.

FLAKY STRAWBERRY TURNOVERS

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, prepared

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup strawberries, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Unroll thawed puff pastry. Cut into four squares. Set aside. In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and almond extract. Mix well. In another bowl, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Gently toss until coated. Spread the cream cheese onto the squares of dough, keeping it towards one corner, forming a diagonal. Spoon strawberries over cream cheese. Gently fold the corner over the mixture. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each turnover with beaten egg white. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over strawberry turnovers.