December – Gifts From the Kitchen

December – Gifts From the Kitchen

This year I am having fun making many of the gifts I am giving during the holidays. As well, it is wonderful to have something ready for hostess gifts when invited to a party. Wrap any of these in a pretty tea towel for a personalized gift.

Here are some ideas, most have been posted on my blog over the past few years.

II didn’t realize I had so many recipes for lemons! Skip past this section if they are not available to you. But, if you are lucky enough to a backyard lemon tree (or don’t know what to do with ALL THOSE LEMONS), here are some options, make:

Meyer Lemon Confit

Confit Meyer Lemons in Olive Oil

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices (would work with regular organic lemons, wash and maybe add more sugar as Meyers are sweet):

Candied Meyer Lemon Slices

Meyer Lemon Indian Spiced Pickle

What about preserved lemons? Use some holiday spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in the preserving process.

Preserved Lemons 

Preserved lemons

There is Lemon Marmalade

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Just the thing for Christmas tea.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Toast and Tea

There is Meyer Lemon Aigre-doux. This is an Italian sweet and sour preserved lemon recipe, wonderful blended with olive oil for a lemony salad or roasted vegetable dressing.

Meyer Lemon Aigre-Doux,
Preserved Lemons

And lastly Lemon-Lime Curd, amazing on any kind of holiday bread or toast. You could also make this all lemon curd or even all lime curd. Panettone anyone?

Lemon Curd

Lemon Lime Curd

What about homemade applesauce? Apples are readily available in many areas. Add a few cranberries to the simmering apples to color them pink or red. Homemade applesauce is so much better than any commercial one you can purchase.

Gala Applesauce

Consider a pretty crock of cheddar beer dip or spread. Use a sharp cheddar and one that is the darkest orange for the best color (I used a white sharp cheddar which wasn’t as pretty).

Cheddar-Beer Dip

Or a jar of homemade mustard, there are two recipes on my blog. Choose the one that fits your schedule. Here is the second for hot and sweet mustard, it’s quick and easy.

Hot and Sweet Mustard

Give it in a pretty container for a special treat.

What about spice mixes? Most of the commercial spices are full of sugar, preservatives and other ingredients you don’t want to put in your food.

A popular mix with my friends is the Fennel Spice from Michael Chiarello. Although it is easy, I find most folks would rather receive a jar than make it themselves. I have given it many times in the past and it is always a much appreciated gift. He also has an excellent toasted chili spice. I use it to coat port tenderloin (or a slow cooked shoulder of pork) before I cook it sous vide. It’s also great on grilled chicken. For a vegetarian or vegan option it is wonderful coating slices or wedges of sweet potatoes.

Fennel Spice Before Being Blended – Can’t you just smell those fennel and coriander?

Pork Tenderloin Coated with Vinegar Then Coated with Toasted Spice Rub

There are other bloggers who have amazing spice mixes, Mollie from the Frugal Housewife has a delicious “smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning‘. Any Mexican food fan would love a jar. She has a number of other spice mixes and blends, all of which don’t contain any preservatives or additives you don’t want to feed your family. Plus, they taste better than commercial blends. The Foodbod is another source of various spice blends, focused on vegetarian cooking. She is also the queen of sourdough. She sells her own starter on her bread website, which is full of tips and instructions.

You’ll also find a number of spice mixes on my Pinterest page.

I am taking these last minute ideas to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #254. Join the party by adding your own link. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives

December in the kitchen – Last minute presents from the kitchen

December in the kitchen – Last minute presents from the kitchen

Is anyone else in a panic this year? Christmas snuck up on me, it seems like it was only just Thanksgiving! How did that happen? I need more time! I spent last week on the East coast for a job interview (yes, after a year of retirement I am going back to full time work), and visits with friends in Annapolis, MD and Boston, MA. I had a wonderful time but, (it’s a big BUT) when I got home, Christmas was suddenly on top of me and I AM NOT prepared. Add to that, guilt. Why guilt? Because I am reading a lot of blogs, and they are full of amazing holiday baking of which I have done NONE.

To put it calmly (and I am not feeling very calm), I am way behind on my holiday shopping.

I usually make gifts from my kitchen for family, friends and as hostess gifts. On the short list this year is hot-and-sweet mustard, lemon curd, and a “kit in a jar” for making gluten free pizza dough.

Just in case you are in the same boat as I am, the first two can be quickly put together. And, the pizza kit only needs a trip to a well supplied market.

Lemon-Lime Curd is a variation of the popular lemon curd. If you prefer to use only lemons, use all lemon juice and lemon zest. Home made curd is infinitely better than anything you can get in the store. I like it on toast in the morning, it is excellent as a filling for tarts, and a dollop on a plain custard or cake is transforming. It keeps in the refrigerator for a week and can be frozen for 2 months. This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking. It’s remarkable in that it turns out smooth and silky curd without any droplets of egg white.

Lemon-Lime Curd                          (makes about 2 cups)

  • 3 oz. (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup of combined lemon and lime juice (I used 1/3 cup of lemon juice and 1/3 cup of lime
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated lime zest
  1. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter with the sugar using an electric mixer, about 2 minutes.
  2. One at a time add the whole eggs, then the egg yolks, beating between each. When all are added continue to beat for another 1 minute.
  3. Add the lemon and lime juice, the mixture will curdle. Don’t worry, it will smooth out once heated.IMG_2231
  4. Transfer the mixture to a heavy saucepan and heat on on low until smooth.

    Smooth curd after heating

    Smooth curd after heating

  5. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It will take about 15 minutes. You’ll know it is cone when it leaves a path on the back of your spoon (about 170 degrees).
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime zest.
  7. Transfer to individual jars and chill.


Lemon Curd

Lemon Lime Curd

The mustard recipe comes from 2012 Bon Appetit. You will be shocked at how easy it is to make your own mustard and this one is a winner.

Hirsheimer’s Hot & Sweet Mustard       (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 4 oz. jar of Coleman’s dry mustard
  • 1 cup good quality apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  1.  Whisk the brown sugar and mustard powder together to combine.
  2. Add the vinegar and honey, whisk well.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large metal bowl.
  4. Add the eggs and whisk until blended.
  5. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, be careful that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

    Spicy mustard

    Spicy mustard

  6. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the bowl frequently, until the mustard is thick. An instant read thermometer will read 160 degrees F, it will take about 5 minutes.
  7. Divide the mustard among small jars. Screw on the lids and chill.
Hot and Sweet Mustard

Hot and Sweet Mustard

The mustard keeps for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough Kit

The gluten free pizza recipe comes from the blog, “The Bojon Gourmet“; it’s a blog with beautiful pictures and  great recipes. Many of them are both gluten free and vegetarian. Do you find, as I do, that increasing numbers of your friends are giving up gluten? It wasn’t even on my radar a few years ago. Now I find myself reading labels and researching the internet for gluten free recipes when I am planning a dinner party…however, I digress.) Her thin and crispy gluten free pizza dough is a winner, however it contains 6 types of flour plus chia seeds. That’s a lot of pantry items! My friend, Wendy, from Quilt Mamas, had an idea. What about a premixed jar of the flours? It would be a great holiday gift. She’s very creative, what a wonderful idea! A one time purchase on your part would gift several of your pizza loving but gluten intolerant friends.

Include a package of dry yeast and a small bottle of olive oil for extra pizazz. Or, include one of several items it is suggested you have on hand for making the pizza:

baking stone (or an inverted heavy-duty baking sheet)
parchment paper
pizza peel (or rimless baking sheet/large cutting board)
pizza wheel (or large, sharp chef’s knife) 

Mix the following dry ingredients together:

  • ¾ cup of GF oat flour (24 oz./7 grams)
  • ½ cup of sweet white rice flour (mochiko) (2.75 oz./80 grams)
  • ½ cup of millet flour (2.25 oz./60 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons of brown rice flour (2 oz./55 grams) plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch (1 oz./30 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour (.5 oz./15 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons of ground chia seed (.5 oz./15 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar

Olive oil                                                                                                                                                       1 packet active dry yeast (24 oz/7 grams)

Her blog has very detailed instuctions for making the pizza, You can either reprint the instructions or give a card with the web address:

The Bojon Gourmet – Thin and crisp gluten free pizza dough

I don’t have a picture because I am madly trying to get this post out so you have time to make these for your friends and family. I’ll post a picture when I get it put together. Picture in your mind a quart canning jar with a big red ribbon, package of yeast attached.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Just in case anyone else is in a panic, I’m taking this to the special addition of full plate Thursday coming out early this week.