Saturday, September 20, 2014 Elul 25, 5774

The Gift of Food for Every Occasion

July 24, 2013
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Summer brings graduations, weddings and barbecues. So what better gift for the food lover than the gift of food?
 
Sur La Table and Diane Morgan have joined together to create Gifts Cooks Love, a book filled with recipes and instructions to fashion foods ready to pack into tins, jars, boxes and plastic bags tied with ribbons. From orange-cardamom marmalade and gravlax to Rustic Rosemary-Parmesan crackers, Gifts Cooks Love will help you create the perfect handmade food gift for any occasion, year-round.
 
This book provides suggestions on tools as well as the ingredients for multiple projects. The accessible recipes are delivered with helpful kitchen tips, techniques and ingredients, as well as guidance for artfully wapping and presenting your gift.
 
Home-Churned Lemon-Herb Butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream (preferably not ultra­pasteurized)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. minced lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, churn the cream on medium speed until the butter solids separate from the liquid, about 15 minutes.
 
Occasionally stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. (As it churns, the cream will go through stages — from whipped cream to pea-sized clumps to large hunks of golden yellow butter with liquid whey pooled in the bottom of the mixer.)
 
To separate the butter and whey, transfer the mixture to a mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. Pour the whey into a covered container and refrigerate, reserving for another use. (You can use the whey as you would reduced-fat milk.)
 
Place the butter in the bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Gently massage the butter in the water to remove the excess whey from the surface of the butter. Pour out the water and refill the bowl with fresh cold water. Repeat this process until the water runs clear.
 
Wrap the butter in a triple layer of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and form it into a flattened dish. Put the butter on a plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill and allow excess moisture to seep out and absorb into the cheesecloth.
 
Remove the chilled butter from the cheesecloth and gently scrape the surface with the back of a table knife to remove any residue from the cloth. Cut the butter into large cubes and place them in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tarragon, dill, chives, parsley, lemon zest and salt. Cream the mixture together on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. 
 
Divide the lemon-herb butter into two equal hunks, wrap them in plastic and form them into 11⁄2-inch diameter rolls. Wrap each roll in parchment paper, twist and tie the ends to refrigerate.
 
Note: If you’re not up to making the butter from scratch, combine 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter with the herbs and lemon zest in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until thoroughly combined.
 
Gift-Giving Tips: Tie each parchment-wrapped roll with raffia or ribbon and attach a gift card. To turn this into a gift basket, add some popcorn kernels and Bollywood Coconut Popcorn seasoning (recipe below).
 
Bollywood Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning
1 and 3⁄4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
7 Tbsps. curry powder
3 and 1⁄2 tsps. sugar
2 Tbsps. kosher salt
1 and 3⁄4 tsps. ground ginger
1 and 3⁄4 tsps. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
 
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulverize the coconut into tiny bits, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and garlic powder. Pulse to combine.
 
Divide into 3⁄4-cup portions and transfer to jars or tins with tight-fitting lids.
 
Note: This seasoning can be enjoyed for up to four months if stored away from heat and light. Generously sprinkle it over freshly popped popcorn coated with melted butter. It can also be tossed with microwave popcorn; just be sure to drizzle it with melted butter so the seasoning clings to each kernel.
 
Blackberry-Merlot Jellies
1 pint fresh blackberries
3⁄4 cup merlot
2 and 1⁄4 cups granulated sugar
1 and 1⁄2 Tbsps. freshly squeezed lemon juice
cinnamon stick (1 and 1⁄2-inches long)
1 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 pouches (3 oz. each) liquid pectin
Superfine sugar for coating
 
In a medium saucepan, combine the berries, merlot, 1⁄4 cup of granulated sugar, lemon juice and the cinnamon stick. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
 
Decrease to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the flavors to infuse for 30 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, cut a rectangle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 12x8x1-inch jellyroll pan. Set aside.
 
Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Strain the berry mixture, pressing on the solids with a silicone spatula to extract all the liquid. Add the liqueur, vanilla extract, and salt to the berry sauce.
 
In a deep, 4-quart saucepan, combine 11⁄4 cups of the berry sauce (save the rest to pour over ice cream) and the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the mixture will foam up.
 
To keep the mixture from boiling over, decrease the heat while still maintaining a steady boil.
 
While the mixture is boiling, cut open the tops of the pectin pouches. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the pouches of pectin until conpletely combined.
 
Quickly pour the mixture into the jellyroll pan, covering the bottom of the pan completely and evenly. Do not stir, touch or wiggle the pan, as the sauce jells very quickly and you want the surface to be as smooth as possible. Set the pan aside in a cool, dry spot to set, about 3 hours or up to 12 hours.
 
Place about 1 cup of the superfine sugar on a plate. Set aside. Place a sheet of parchment on a large cutting board.
 
Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the side of the jelly. Invert the jelly onto the parchment paper. Carefully remove the sheet of parchment from the topside of the jelly. Using a long, thin-bladed sharp knife, cut the jellies into 1-inch squares. Rinse and dry the knife as needed.
 
Gently lift the squares from the parchment and toss them in the sugar to coat all sides, gently dabbing any bare spots on the jellies with sugar. Transfer them to a clean, parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the jellies are coated.
 
Makes about 86 (1-inch square) jellies.

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