Five easy recipes for a homemade holiday gift



With all due respect to the pillars of the gourmet gift, namely boxes of peppermint bark and bags of homemade granola, this year, maybe, it’s time for something different.

The golden peanut treat boxes were a holiday staple growing up, made in giant batches by my mom, who passed the recipe on to me. Using a candy thermometer, the brittle is easy to prepare, keeps forever, and is a little more special than a batch of sugar cookies. If you prefer, almonds or pecans can be swapped out for peanuts.

If you want something even easier, but no less delicious, make a salted caramel sauce. It only requires four ingredients, and the ambrosia sauce makes vanilla ice cream funky, enhances apple pie slices, and is great to eat straight from the jar.

For my friends who cook, I like to make multi-purpose condiments that they can use for future meals. Packaged spice blends can often be a dull, underwhelming dust, which is why I prefer to make my own. My friend Anne O’Driscoll, the former chef-owner of Cafe Cuvee in San Francisco, gave me a jar of her mole spice blend a few years ago and I was hooked. Spicy and sweet, it’s great sprinkled over chicken, added to ground meat for a simple taco filling, or tossed with chunks of sweet potato before roasting. The homemade harissa is revealing; the brick red dough, made with roasted red peppers and spiced with cumin, cilantro, cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika, enlivens everything from store-bought hummus to daily fried eggs.

A bottle of wine is always welcome, but better still a bottle of cocktails in batch. Boulevardiers – a spirited version of a Negroni, with bourbon replacing gin, is my favorite classic cocktail for the colder months. To offer, I make a big batch, pour it into a bottle and tie on dried orange wheels, which not only look beautiful but can be used as a garnish for the cocktail, which only needs a filled glass. of ice to complete it. Or bundle dried oranges and cinnamon sticks together and give them along with red wine for a DIY mulled wine kit.

More sincere than a gift card, more delicious than a box of Trader Joe’s Caramels, any of these five recipes – which can be enlarged, prepped, and stored for several weeks – would make a great gift for all good foodie. on your list.

Jessica Battilana is a freelance writer and the author of “Directory: All The Recipes You Need”. Instagram: @jbattilana Email: Twitter: @jbattilana

Kitchen directory gifts. Pictured: peanut brittle

Jessica battilana

peanut butter jar

Give 1¾ pounds

½ unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan

2 Cup of sugar

1 cup of light corn syrup

1 cup of water

2 cups of roasted and salted peanuts

?? teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

?? teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions: Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with butter and place nearby. In a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (236 degrees on a candy thermometer). Add the peanuts and salt and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it reaches the hard cracking stage (295 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Remove the pot from the heat and immediately add the baking soda, butter and vanilla and stir to combine; the mixture will foam. Working quickly, pour the mixtures over the prepared mold and spread them in an even layer. Let cool completely until hard, then break into pieces.

Store the brittle in a well-sealed tin can or plastic storage bags in a cool, dry place (if it is particularly humid where you live, you may consider storing it in a sealed plastic storage bag. inside a box). It will keep for one month.

Kitchen directory gifts.  Harissa in the photo

Kitchen directory gifts. Harissa in the photo

Jessica battilana


Give a cup; can be doubled or tripled

1 roasted whole red pepper, in jar

1½ teaspoons of whole cumin seeds (or 2 teaspoons of ground cumin)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1¼ teaspoon ground coriander)

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (or 1¼ teaspoon ground caraway)

4 cloves of garlic

1 2 tablespoons of cayenne

1 sweet smoked paprika

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

?? cup of tomato paste

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions: If using whole spices, in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, combine the cumin, cilantro and caraway seeds and grill until lightly browned and aromatic and a drizzle. of smoke rises from the pan, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, add the garlic and reduce to a paste. In the bowl of a food processor, put the roasted red pepper, tomato paste, garlic and spice paste (if using ground spices, add them now, along with the garlic), 1 spoon cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Process until smooth. With the robot running, pour a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and season with additional cayenne pepper. Harissa can be made ahead of time, transferred to a lidded jar and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.

Kitchen directory gifts.  Pictured: taupe spice blend

Kitchen directory gifts. Pictured: taupe spice blend

Jessica battilana

Rub with mole spices

Makes about 4 cups; can be doubled or tripled

1 cup ancho chili powder

½ cup of dried thyme

½ cup of fine sea salt

½ Sugar

½ cup of granulated garlic

½ cup of sweet paprika

?? cup of ground cinnamon

?? cup of ground cumin

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Transfer to lidded jars and store in a cool, dry place. The spice blend can be kept for six months.

Kitchen directory gifts.  In the photo: salted caramel sauce

Kitchen directory gifts. In the photo: salted caramel sauce

Jessica battilana

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

Makes 1¼ cups; can be doubled or tripled

?? Sugar

4 salted butter

?? cup of heavy cream

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Flaky sea salt, like Maldon, to taste

Instructions: Pour the sugar into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. When the sugar around the edges begins to melt, use a rubber spatula to slide the melted sugar down the center of the pan. Continue cooking until all the sugar is melted, stirring to avoid lumps (if, despite your best efforts, lumps form, do not despair, reduce the heat to minimum and continue cooking, stirring until the lumps melt. If they persist, you can filter the caramel at the end). Cook until the sugar is a dark reddish brown.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, followed by the cream (the mixture will bubble vigorously), whisking until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Let the caramel cool slightly, then taste and season to taste with flaked salt. Transfer to lidded jars and refrigerate; the caramel will keep for 1 month. Reheat before serving.

Kitchen directory gifts.  In the photo, the boulevardier with dried orange

Kitchen directory gifts. In the photo, the boulevardier with dried orange

Jessica battilana

Boulevardiers in batch

Makes 8 cocktails

ten ounces of bourbon or rye

1 Campari mug

1 cup of sweet vermouth

Instructions: In a large jar with a lid, combine the rye, Sweet Vermouth and Campari. Stir to combine. Serve chilled, poured into highball glasses filled with ice cubes. Garnish with an orange zest or a dried orange slice.

Kitchen directory gifts.  In the photo, the boulevardier with dried orange

Kitchen directory gifts. In the photo, the boulevardier with dried orange

Jessica battilana

Dried orange wheels

Makes 20

2 small navel oranges

3 icing sugar

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, slice the oranges into thin, even rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheet; it doesn’t matter if they touch each other, but they shouldn’t overlap. Sift the icing sugar over the orange slices. Transfer to the oven and bake until the slices are crisp, about 2 hours. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.



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