What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Quark Raspberry Swirl! Quark, quark, quark. Yep…it’s a real thing. Probably the easiest way to explain what quark is would be to say, “Think about a cross between sour cream and greek yogurt”. It has the smoothness of both when mixed with veggies or fruit. Obviously when using raspberries, a little sugar makes it super-delicious. I like the fresh pleasant zing of lime juice mixed in, too. And what can I say? The coconut flavor just makes the dessert that much better.
QUARK RASPBERRY SWIRL
2 cups quark
I teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice
8 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
Lime Zest, for garnish
Reserve several whole raspberries for garnish. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine quark, coconut extract, powdered sugar, and lime juice. Mix well. Fold in thawed raspberries, gently swirling until they leave pink streaks. Scoop into dessert cups. Top each with a whole raspberry. Garnish with lime zest.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Unagi Sauce! Anyone who likes Japanese cuisine is familiar with the term “unagi”. You may have seen a squeeze bottle, among other sauces, in a condiment caddy placed on each table at a restaurant specializing in sushi. Those who use unagi regularly may choose to call it “Eel Sauce”, but I’ve found that term used for shock-value more than anything else, especially among family members. If you were ordering grilled eel, well sure by all means, call it that. More importantly, let’s talk about taste because unagi sauce is that thick, sweet, salty stuff you could literally slurp with a spoon. I’d recommend adding a mound of steamed rice to your plate so it wouldn’t be so obvious.
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mirin
3 tablespoons sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
Place a saucepan over Medium heat. Add sugar, mirin, and sake. Mix well. Add the soy sauce; stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. It allows the sugar to dissolve equally. Reduce heat to Simmer. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes longer. Bubbles will appear around the surface of the liquid. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, it is ready to serve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Hawaiian Mac Salad! Some things get a reputation for being “island food”. This is one of them. It was created out of economic necessity, just as SPAM® became a household staple. Both survived due to their lack of being perishable in a tropical climate as well as being tasty and affordable. The flavor of this Mac salad is so unique, it continues to remain a constant plate lunch for workers, surfers, schools, and just about anyone. Check out fish markets, food trucks, roadside stands, diners, and grocery store delis. Hawaiian Mac Salad pairs beautifully with fresh fish and a scoop of white rice. Now you can make it yourself without the cost of a plane ticket to the Hawaiian Islands.
HAWAIIAN MAC SALAD
8 ounces macaroni pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, grated
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
Green onion snips, for garnish
Boil the macaroni in lightly salted water. Cook al dente; one minute less than package directions. Drain the macaroni and rinse with cold water. Set aside. For the sauce, in a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Add the cooked macaroni, diced celery, grated carrots, and diced onions. Gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Toss before serving. Garnish with green onion snips.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Bright Ideas: Apple Dumpling Dreams! There’s something special about an apple dumpling, don’t you think? Perhaps it reminds you of the changing seasons. Perhaps it conjures up childhood memories. Perhaps the earthy spices and syrupy sweetness crank up your comfort level. No matter the hypnotic effect, apple dumpling dreams can reflect the way we look at our lives. Do we deny sweets or do we nourish our bodies? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It’s all about perspective, moderation, and control. Thank goodness we have freedom of choice. When it comes to apple dumplings, especially now, dreams really do come true.
APPLE DUMPLING DREAMS
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 package refrigerated pie crusts
4 star anise pieces
Ingredients for Syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
Ingredients for Apple Filling:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a 9” square baking dish; set aside. To make the syrup, combine sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients for apple filling. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter until consistency is crumbled. Cut each pie crust in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into 8-inch circles. To assemble, place an apple in the center of a dough circle. Fill the empty core with crumb filling. Fold the dough over the apple, pinching at the top to seal. Transfer apple dumplings to the baking dish. Drizzle with syrup. Place a star anise on each apple. Bake for 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown. Tent with foil, if necessary, to prevent over browning. Serve warm.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Yogurt-Dipped Waffles! How many of you were told, as a child, not to play with your food? I know I was, especially when I was supposed to clean my plate of something I didn’t want to eat. But that’s a lot different than finger food. Now you are allowed to take slightly toasted waffles and dip them in flavored yogurt. Since my tastes change from day to day, I prefer to add flavors to Greek yogurt, but you may certainly purchase flavored yogurts to save time. In addition, I make extra waffles on the weekend to serve during the week. If you have toaster waffles on hand, you’re in good shape.
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon coconut syrup
2-3 prepared waffles, separated into wedges
Fresh strawberries, sliced
Fresh black raspberries
Nutmeg, for sprinkling
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Combine Greek yogurt and coconut syrup. Mix well. Set aside. Using a toaster on low setting, warm waffle wedges. Remove waffles to a plate. In a bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries, and black raspberries. Gently toss. To serve, dip waffle wedges into Greek yogurt. Spoon fresh fruit over yogurt. Sprinkle with nutmeg and powdered sugar. Garnish with mint leaves. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Quite Tasty Peanut Butter Cookies! One of the benefits of touching base with friends in the blogosphere is sharing blessings and paying it forward. Today’s recipe gives a “shout out” to Linda, The Dutch Baker*. She featured a fabulous peanut butter cookie recipe that absolutely made my mouth drool. So much so, I ran to my kitchen to insure I had all the necessary ingredients to whip up a batch. That’s one of the advantages of social distancing, in my opinion. Some even refer it as “stress baking” or “anxiety baking”. Quarantine cooking has even become a thing. It releases tension, challenges our skills, and satisfies the craving for a reward. Whatever way you choose to look at it, we’re all in this together.
QUITE TASTY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
White sugar for rolling (optional)
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. In a food processor, cream softened butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add crunchy peanut butter. Pulse to blend. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture only until slightly combined. Do not over mix. Transfer cookie dough to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The following day, remove bowl from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. By the teaspoonful, form the dough into balls. Roll in white sugar. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 11 minutes. Remove pan and allow cookies to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool peanut butter cookies completely before storing in an airtight container.
*Linda, The Dutch Baker, featured this recipe first. You may visit her at
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Cottage Ham! I’ve made this dense cottage ham three different ways: slow-cooker, stove-top, and oven-bake. The best results came when I used the Le Creuset cast iron enameled Dutch oven.* It seemed to distribute the heat more evenly. The ham was fork-tender, moist, and juicy. Because the pan locks in the moisture, you can keep it warm in the oven until dinner time by reducing the oven temperature after the first three hours. Any leftover cooking water can be used as a soup base the following day.
2 pound smoked shoulder butt
8-10 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse cottage ham to remove excess salt. Place cottage ham in a 3.5-quart Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill 2 inches above ham. Add black peppercorns, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Cover with lid. Bake cottage ham two hours. Check water level to keep the pan from going dry. If it does, add a little more water. The absorption allows the ham to be fork-tender, not chewy. Bake one hour longer, if necessary. The ham is done when the internal temperature is 160°. Serve with potatoes and vegetables of choice.
*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Your Grandma’s Molasses Cookies! For years I was on a quest to bake soft, chewy cookies. No matter what I did, it seemed as soon as the cookies cooled, they turned crunchy rather than chewy. Don’t get me wrong, they still disappeared in my house because…well, kids seem to love homemade cookies no matter how they turn out. Then, the other day I was rifling through a stack of recipes scribbled on random slips of paper tucked away in a ziplock bag. I came across the familiar handwriting of my beloved Grandma Frieda. I remembered visiting her in the summertime when she’d bring out the Game of Cootie for us to play. Afterwards, she serve a plate of sugary molasses cookies with a glass of milk. Those are good memories, that’s for sure.
YOUR GRANDMA’S MOLASSES COOKIES
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon cloves, ground
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar plus 1/2 cup
1/2 cup molasses
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and 2 cups sugar until combined. Add in the molasses and eggs and mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the ingredients of the stand mixer and mix until all is combined. Fill a small bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Form teaspoon-size dough into balls then gently roll them in the granulated sugar. Place onto baking sheet, two inches apart. Repeat until all the cookie dough has been used. Bake only 10 minutes for soft and chewy results. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Walnut Brown Sugar Butter! Ahh, sweet butter. I don’t know if it’s the winter weather or the upcoming holidays that get me in the mood for bakery ideas. Who doesn’t appreciate aromatic cinnamon, sweet nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice? The smell of bread baking in the oven triggers all kinds of emotions. It can lift our mood and impact our behavior. Honestly, it would have been pretty easy to feature today’s compound butter all by itself. But tell me, isn’t it better to imagine slathering it all over those freshly-baked cinnamon rolls?
WALNUT BROWN SUGAR BUTTER
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
In a mixing bowl, combine unsalted butter, brown sugar, and sea salt until smooth. Fold in chopped walnuts. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Spoon compound butter onto plastic wrap. Roll layer of plastic wrap over butter to form a log. Roll tight and place in refrigerator for one hour or until firm. Serve over toast, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, or muffins.