Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Culinary IQ: Tuesday, December 20, 2011; Food Gifts

Give the Gift of Food!

The holidays usually find most of us either hosting or attending gatherings from small to large. As guests, it is always appropriate to take the host a small personal gift. As the host it is always nice to send your guests home with a nice parting gift. Food gifts are always nice and well appreciated, especially if you are known for your cooking abilities.

The rest of this week I will be sharing some simple ideas that can be made and packaged for your host or guests. These ideas are from Gourmet Live, the new app for iPhone and iPad.

The first idea I really like because the holidays often find us overflowing with good food and this gift can be made long after the holidays are over.

Cake Mix: Instead of baking a cake for your holiday hosts, make them a mix! This way, you’ll share a favorite sweet with them without making them feel obligated to serve it that day.

Here’s How: Choose a favorite cake, muffin, biscuit, or cookie recipe and pour the dry ingredients (in layers for an attractive presentation) into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Use a pretty ribbon to tie a tag to the jar with a list of wet ingredients and baking instructions.

I especially like this idea for granola, your hosts or guest will have fond memories of you the next morning!

Signature Granola: Give harried hosts homemade granola and save them from having to make a fancy breakfast the morning after preparing a big dinner.

Here’s How: In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, bits of dried fruits, seeds, and nuts with a touch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt (optional), vegetable oil (about 1 teaspoon per cup of dry ingredients), plus the sweetener of your choice, such as brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Make your own creative mix or follow a recipe like Maple Apricot Granola. Pour the mixture onto a parchment paper–lined, rimmed sheet pan and toast at 350°F; for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place the cooled finished product in Mason jars or cellophane bags, and gussy them up with festive ribbons or bows.

One of my favorite mixes in a jar that I have used many times is Friendship Brownies. If you don't have a favorite recipe to use this one, it will please the recipient.

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