Upcountry Apple Crumble

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Upcountry Apple Crumble! Take a trip to the local apple orchard. It’s overflowing with bushels of newly-picked produce in several varieties. Red Delicious. Jonagold. Gala. Cortland. And the abundance of ready-made market items put visitors to the test: nutty caramel apples, chunky applesauce, icy cider slushes, Dutch apple pies, and gooey apple turnovers. Don’t let Autumn slip away without bringing the crisp textures, bakery goodness, spicy aromas, and locally grown produce back home into your favorite dishes.

UPCOUNTRY APPLE CRUMBLE

Ingredients:

2-3 large apples

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup butter, chilled, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 10″ round baking dish. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. (A Spiralizer does a perfect job.) Combine apples with lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Mix well. Arrange mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. To make the crumble topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, oatmeal, and butter in a food processor. Pulse mix until crumbly and butter is the size of peas. Spoon topping over apples, spreading to the edges. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake 40 minutes or until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

Date Bread with Walnuts

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Date Bread with Walnuts! Treat yourself to remarkable flavors leaning toward exotic ingredients with a gourmet twist. Naturally dried dates have this amazing quality of satisfying a sweet tooth that needs a bit of nurturing any time of day. By adding the salty crunch of walnuts combined in a loaf pan, the results are more cake than bread. Perhaps it’s the splash of cognac that makes all the difference.

DATE BREAD WITH WALNUTS

Ingredients:

2 eggs, room temperature; beaten

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon cognac

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

8 ounces pitted dates, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Slowly combine beaten eggs with boiling water, stirring constantly. Add cognac, baking soda, and chopped dates. Mix well. Set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cream together butter and sugar. Blend with date mixture. Mix flour and baking powder. Stir into date mixture. Fold in chopped walnuts. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Walnut Brown Sugar Butter

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

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

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.

Piquant Pear Passion

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Enjoyable Eats: Piquant Pear Passion! Did you know a little bit of cheese and fruit make a great dessert at the end of a meal? Sure you did. The French have been doing it for years. Europeans, too. Bleu cheese, or its milder cousins Roquefort and Gorgonzola, is a perfect match with sweet ripe pears. Nuts provide that little extra crunch you crave. If making ahead, to keep the pears from turning brown, simply dip them in a wash of lemon juice and water. It works. If you wish to top off the dessert plate with subtle sweetness, drizzle some natural honey over the pears before serving. Obviously I threw in the greens as garnish. Habit, that’s for sure.

PIQUANT PEAR PASSION

Ingredients:

1-2 ripe pears, cored and sliced

4-ounces Bleu cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Arugula leaves, for garnish

Natural Honey, for drizzling (optional)

Instructions:

Arrange pear slices in a dessert dish. Add the bleu cheese crumbles. Sprinkle with walnut pieces. Garnish with arugula leaves. Drizzle pears with natural honey.

Keto Midday Snack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Keto Midday Snack! The funny thing about the Keto diet is discovering I ate that way, but didn’t know it was a “thing”. I’d pack a lunch in the morning because I was one of those people who ate at my desk. Hence, finger food seemed the logical choice. Hard-boiled egg, cheese wrapped in meat, nuts, veggies, and fruit. It was easy to nibble on and never got cold when a phone call or visitor interrupted my break. I wonder how many other people go through the same thing. Now, by choice, I still like finger foods to nibble on. Imagine that.

KETO MIDDAY SNACK

Ingredients:

3 slices smoked ham

3 slices Swiss cheese

Garlic and onion chives

3 cherry tomatoes

2 dill pickle spears

1/4 cup walnut halves

Instructions:

Place the ham on a flat surface. Add a slice of Swiss cheese. Lay garlic chives horizontally over cheese. Roll the pieces tightly into a spiral. Wrap two or three strands of onion chives around each ham roll and tie in a knot. Repeat two more times. Serve with cherry tomatoes, pickle spears, and walnut halves.

Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Xenial Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins! Nix the flour for old-fashioned oats for a healthier version of an old classic. Did you know oats can lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control? It’s a fact we’re all getting older and from time to time need to make minor adjustments in our food consumption. I’m all for small plates. Portion sizes have become insane! When did it happen? As a collector of vintage dishes, modern day dinner plates are now the size of grandma’s meat platter. Did you know “in Europe, the average plate measures 9 inches while some American restaurants use plates that are around 13 inches in diameter. Research has shown that by switching to a 10-inch plate from a 12-inch plate you eat 22% less.”* Snack healthier.

XENIAL CHUNKY MONKEY BANANA MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3 ripe bananas, mashed

3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs, whisked

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick oil. Spread shredded coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, old-fashioned oats, cinnamon, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Mix well. Fold in chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. Scoop mixture into 12 muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin tin. Serve warm.

*How Big Are Your Dinner Plates And Why It Matters, by Penny Klatell, PhD, RN, May 2012. Eatouteatwell.com

Astoria Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Astoria Salad! A classic salad that never loses its popularity, made famous when served at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel over a hundred years ago, gives you the flexibility of turning it into a family favorite. Feel free to add sweet raisins or chopped celery. Some even use yogurt in lieu of a mayonnaise dressing. Be creative, be adventurous, or be satisfied and try my version first.

ASTORIA SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sugar

2 red apples, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup green grapes, seedless and halved

1 cup walnuts, broken into pieces and toasted

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Romaine lettuce, torn

Instructions:

Whisk together mayonnaise and sugar until blended. Set aside. Core and slice red apples. Gently toss in lemon juice. Combine apple slices, green grapes, and toasted walnuts. Coat mixture with mayonnaise dressing. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Cranberry Loaf!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Cranberry Loaf! Like the magic of sugar plums dancing in your head, ordinary bitter-tasting cranberries are transformed into deliciously sweet quick breads simply by creaming butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. The sugar and vanilla extract enhance the flavor while the walnuts give it a nice crunch. If you prefer an orange glaze or dollop of cream cheese, be my guest. Once the Cranberry Loaf popped out of the oven, I slathered on a thick layer of French sea salt butter and forgot about anything else.

CRANBERRY LOAF

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, one at a time

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup light cream

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, slightly chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Set aside. In a food processor, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing to mix. Add vanilla extract and pulse again. Stir together flour and baking soda. Beginning with flour mixture, gradually pulse into food processor with creamed butter, alternating with light cream. Repeat until combined, being careful not to over-beat. Fold in walnuts and cranberries. Spoon batter evenly into two loaf pans. Bake 60-70 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. The loaves will have a rich, golden color.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter M

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Moroccan Stuffed Dates! The next time you throw together a Charcuterie Board, surprise everyone with an elegant delicacy of royal ancestors. Their natural sweet flavor and crunchy texture make pitted dates ideal for snacking. And who doesn’t love finger-food? When stuffed with an amazing almond paste, and a sprinkling of rose water, a superior appetizer is born. Impress yourself by turning ordinary into absolutely delicious. 
MOROCCAN STUFFED DATES
Ingredients:

8 ounces pitted dates

3/4 cup natural almonds

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

dash of cinnamon 

1 teaspoon rose water

1 teaspoon almond extract

1-2 teaspoons water

12-16 walnut halves

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Instructions:

Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Add rose water, almond extract, and one teaspoon of water. Pulse until mixture becomes a paste, adding another teaspoon of water if necessary. Fill each date with the almond mixture, using a demitasse spoon. You want the paste to form a slight bulge over the top of the slit. Repeat until all dates are filled. Place the stuffed dates on a serving platter. Garnish with a walnut half and a dusting of powdered sugar.