Friday, December 23, 2011

Culinary IQ: Friday, December 23, 2011; Holiday Spirits

Just Around the Corner!

Just one more day to get some gifts together and if you don't have the time you might consider giving New Year gifts! 

Here are two more gift ideas from Gourmet Live. Both would be appropriate for New Year gifts. The brightened spirits will need to be started soon if you want them ready to give for New Years.

Brightened Spirits: Wine is a lovely holiday gift, but home-infused alcohol is much more personal and distinctive—and it’s incredibly easy to stir up.

Here’s How: In a large glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine a 750-milliliter bottle of alcohol with 2 to 3 cups of chopped fruits or vegetables. Some great combinations: tequila with jalapeƱos; vodka with pineapple; gin with berries; and rum with oranges and cloves. Cover and let sit for 7 to 10 days in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator, then strain out the solids and return the alcohol to its original bottle or another decorative bottle and add a personalized label.

Nuts with a Kick: Spiced nuts are perfect for nibbling on between meals, and the right combination of spices gives them a seasonal twist.

Here’s How: Toss plain unsalted nuts (one kind or a combination) with sugar, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little water (just enough to make the dry spices stick to the nuts). Spread the mixture out on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan and toast in a 350°F oven until golden and aromatic, about 7 to 9 minutes. Use any baking spices you like—pumpkin pie spice is wonderful with pecans or hazelnuts, and cayenne pepper adds a kick to any nut mix. When the nuts have cooled completely, put them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a pretty, parchment paper-lined box.

Have a very Merry Christmas, I hope to see you back here on Monday!

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