Monday, December 16, 2013

Gourmet Gifts

'Tis the season of gift giving has arrived upon us.  For some have carefully pick out their gifts and have already wrapped them and put them under the tree.  While others are scurrying to finish up the last few people on their list.  And for those of you who are looking for a last minute, easy and inexpensive gift for that coworker, teacher or friend you almost forgot, here are a few ideas which are way more thoughtful and creative than a gift card.  Oh, and they also make great stocking suffers too!

Basket and oil bottle: T.J. Maxx, Spice jar: Ikea, Flour sack dish towels: Bed Bath & Beyond (no longer available).

Winter Blend Coffee

1-1/2 cups medium or dark roast whole coffee beans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole rainbow or black peppercorns

Place all ingredients into and airtight container.  Cover with a lid and shake to combine.  Grind and use when needed.

Christmas Candy Bark

2 - 12 ounce bags semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle)
6 - .55 ounce Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cut each cup into 8 wedges
3 - 1.4 ounce Hershey's Skor Bars, roughly chopped
1-1/2 cups Christmas red and green M&M's
1/2 cup premium quality white chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)

In a medium sauce pan, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat, constantly stirring.  Pour the melted chocolate onto a 9x13 foil lined rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly to about 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Skor Bar and M&M's over the melted chocolate.  Set aside.

In a small sauce pan over low heat melt the white chocolate chips constantly stirring.  Drizzle the white chocolate over the bark.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight until the bark has hardened.

When the bark is ready, remove it from the refrigerator and roughly chop into large irregular pieces.  Serve on a platter or wrap into small plastic bags.

Meyer Lemon-Basil Sea Salt

1 cup coarse sea salt
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 Meyer lemons, zested

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a small food processor combine the sea salt and basil.  Grind until the sea salt and basil are completely combined.  Add the Meyer lemon zest and pulse to combine.  Pour the sea salt mixture on to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until it has dried out.  Allow the sea salt to cool.  Once cooled enough to handle break apart the sea salt and store in an airtight container or spice jar.  Use as a finishing salt on fish, chicken or salads or simply use it as a seasoning while cooking.

Other Great Gourmet Gifts:
Infused oils
Wine infused compound butter
Five festive beers
Holiday wines