Truly Tasteful Gifts
These easy-to-prepare presents redefine the phrase “food for thought.”
Sweet little tea bags Whipping up homemade tea involves nothing more than mixing dried herbs. The difference lies in the packaging details: petite sacks cinched with thread and labeled with hand-cut, handstamped tags. (For similar: Bags, $4.99 for 100; teavana.com. Linen paper for tags, $8.95 for ten 8½" x 11" sheets. Ink pad, $4.95; paper-source.com. Stamps, $12.99 for alphabet set; joann.com)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CATHERINE GRATWICKE
CALMING HERBAL TEA Makes 12 bags In a bowl, combine ¼ ounce (about 3 heaping teaspoons) each of these dried herbs: lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower, and rosebuds or rose petals; mix well. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the blend into each bag.
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Mustard you can make yourself Surprise friends with this from-scratch version of a condiment that’s typically found at the supermarket. (For similar: 12 eight-ounce jars, $8.99; kmart.com) WHOLE-GRAIN HONEY MUSTARD
Makes 3 cups (about 3 jars) STEP ONE In a bowl, mix together 2 cups mustard seeds (1 cup each yellow and brown), 1¼ cups white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1 six-inch-long cinnamon stick. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. STEP TWO Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Add ¼ cup honey and mix well. STEP THREE Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend three-fourths of mixture to a thick paste. Add reserved mixture and 1 teaspoon sea salt; stir. Spoon into sterilized jars.
A glamorous take on goat cheese Bring artisanal flavor to plain store-bought chèvre with this simple marinade—then display your haute-rustic handiwork in a gorgeous glass jar. (For similar: 34-ounce jar, $5.95; fishseddy.com) MARINATED GOAT CHEESE Makes 1 quart Cut an 8-ounce goat cheese log into 4 equal pieces; form into balls. Pack all 4 balls in a sterilized wide-necked jar. Cut 1 red bird’s-eye chile in half, through the stalk, and pare 2 strips of zest from 1 lemon. Add chile, lemon zest, 2 bay leaves, 1 sprig fresh oregano, ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, and 2 garlic cloves, halved, to jar. Pour in 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil to cover cheese. Seal jar and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
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Breadsticks with European-bakery appeal These savory nibbles strike the perfect balance between crunchy and chewy. Bundled in wax paper and sealed with gold stickers, they become even more tempting. (Wax paper, $7.38 for 75-foot roll; amazon.com. Stickers, $4.99 for roll of 100; sticker.com) PARMESAN GRISSINI
Makes 25 to 30 grissini STEP ONE In a bowl, combine 2 2/3 cups bread flour, 3 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper; make a well in the middle. STEP TWO Pour 3 cups olive oil and 1 cup warmed milk in well. Stir until dough comes together. Add ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce) and mix until incorporated. STEP THREE Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and return to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; set in a warm, draft-free place; and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. STEP FOUR Lightly flour work surface again, then turn dough out and knead lightly for 1 minute. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into strips just under ½ inch wide. Lightly flour hands, then quickly roll strips until they’re slightly rounded. STEP FIVE Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between each strip. Set aside to rise again, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Bake in batches on middle shelf until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping breadsticks halfway through. Let cool completely.
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Photos reprinted and recipes adapted from Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion. Copyright © 2011, by Annie Rigg. Published by Kyle Books.